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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Michigan Changes Everything


My husband and I moved to Michigan from Florida, five years ago. What? Are we crazy? A few people questioned our sanity at the time. But we have never regretted our relocation north. For us, Michigan means four dramatic and distinct seasons, easy access to four of the stunning Great Lakes along with bountiful, beautiful and uncrowded beaches. A short drive brings us high atop some of the highest fresh water sand dunes in the world with magnificent views in every direction and not a mangy palm tree in site. Up and down the Michigan coast line, more than 100 lighthouses stand sentry. There are vast walkable areas of pristine wilderness to hike and thousands of lakes and rivers to kayak...with not a single alligator, Burmese python or snowbird in any of them.

Cherry and apple orchards, vineyards and wineries, green grassy hill sides and farm lands saturate the state with their colorful hues. You can pick fresh fruit right from the tree, go fishing in a cool stream, sit in a shady glade and get snookered on cherry wine...all in one afternoon. Of course, that would be on a summery afternoon. In cold weather, you can snow-shoe through silent, snow-covered forests, cross-country ski, zip about on a snowmobile, go sledding, build a snowman, cuddle by a cozy fire or...you can winter in Florida.

For us, our move north was all about nature, a better quality of life and being able to venture outdoors in the summer without having to change sweat-soaked underwear umpteen times a day. Up here, we can step out to retrieve the morning paper without melting into a pool of sticky, damp mush from the steamy, toxic humidity that zapped our energy in Florida. Now we actually feel healthier and we're much more active. Less traffic, less congestion, fewer but friendlier people. Wholesome Midwest values. Yes, there is abundant snow in the winter but we've learned to embrace it. Summer, fall and spring are glorious with very little humidity, clean fresh air, and we hardly ever have to turn on the A/C.

It's true that Michigan like many states, has been devastated by the disastrous economy. Detroit suffers from massive urban blight, drug violence and rampant crime. But Detroit does not define the entire state. In places like Grand Rapids not far from Lake Michigan, where we live, there exists a sense of vitality and enthusiasm. This is not intended to gloss over the problems Michigan shares with many areas of this country. There is much room for improvement and many people are suffering from economic hardships. On the other hand, cities like Grand Rapids stand out as vibrant, self-sufficient communities with residents who are hopeful, hard-working and entrepreneurial.

Whenever my husband and I explore the attributes that Michigan has to offer, we feel invigorated. Whether we're relaxing in a shady green space at a park under a sprawling canopy of genuine, hard-wood oaks and maples instead of a sliver of shade offered by a scrawny Florida palm tree...or standing on the peak of a mountainous sand dune bluff that overlooks miles and miles of the vast, cobalt majesty of Lake Michigan...we are amazed. We appreciate the awesome diversity of the seasons and the breath-taking beauty Mother Nature bestowed on the exquisite landscapes of this often overlooked state. Here's a sampling of some of our favorite spots.

                    Sand dunes above Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. 

                             Grassy bluff over Lake Michigan near Glen Arbor.

                             The vastness of Lake Michigan is awesome.

               Historic lighthouse at northern tip of Leelanau Peninsula, near Traverse City. 


                                      Cheerful daisies sunbathe by the big lake. 

                       Beach goers brave big waves on Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
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20 comments:

Christopher said...

Nice advertisement speaking as a life-long Michigander here.

Jude said...

While I can't share your enthusiasm for the winters, I LOVE Michigan more than anything else on earth!!!!

Leanne said...

Love this post - and love Michigan! As a midwestern neighbor (Chicagoan here), I have found Michigan is one of our favorite places to visit - that's not too far away. I'm a big fan of Saugatuck and Douglas - both lovely little towns, great shops, inspiring art. Haven't been there in years, but hope to return soon!(And yes, Michigan has some INCREDIBLE fruit!!! Love the peaches and cherries! So yum!) Enjoy your state!!

ReformingGeek said...

Nice! I've never been to Michigan. I will make sure I visit in the summer!

Coffeypot said...

Give a choice, I would live in Michigan before I would Florida. But I will stay in Georgia with my buddy, humidity.

Carolyn Elizabeth Blake said...

Oh I do understand! I was born and raised in Texas. Houston is spectacular for its heat and humidity. I moved to Austin which I loved with all of my heart...great city. But I was indoors all the time-sauna outside! We moved to Michigan, and it is just as you say...then back to Austin, got too hot to enjoy it... then to Duluth MN. The summers in Duluth on the shore of Lake Superiour are a lengthy walk through Heaven. Enjoy!

Janet said...

Have to ditto your remarks about the beauty of Michigan. As a 4 year resident I love it too.

Scriptor Senex said...

What a great advert for Michigan.

Linda Myers said...

We've been thinking about a visit to Michigan!

gayle said...

Sounds like you live in a very beautiful place and love it!!

Wrexie said...

I've lived lots of places...when I was in IL, we would go to Lake M for visits. Looked like the ocean to me! Amazing ...and surrounded by such beauty. I loved it!

I agree... you learn to embrace the beautiy of where you live...but when it's humidity, it embraces you and you can't breathe to talk about it. haha.

...I am convinced that there is nothing more perfectly serene than a cross-country ski through newly fallen snow. The quiet is deafening.

Brenda Grolle said...

What a timely post, considering that we just got back from spending a couple of days in Michigan in the Dearborn/Allen Park area. Overall, I was impressed with the friendliness of the area, and the neighborhoods seemed very well kept-up. We visited the Henry Ford, both the museum and Greenfield Village, also taking in an IMAX film.

I highly recommend this area for a short couple of days away from home.

Barb said...

I grew up in Royal Oak. Michigan is a drop dead gorgeous state.
loved the post.

hugs,
Barb

Heidi said...

Aww, sniffle, sniffle--you're making me so homesick! My email address is missesmichigan. We moved to Wisconsin 9 years ago, but I grew up in West Bloomfield, MI, and raised my kids in Berkley. Thanks for the photos. I think I have something in my eye...

Carol............. said...

That lake is just awesome. We have many lakes in Washington State but nothing like that!

Succot said...

Great post! I've lived in West Michigan most of my life. It is beautiful here. Greetings from Zeeland. :-)

diney said...

it looks gorgeous! We've just come back from Florida and it was amazing how many Americans DO holiday in the sunshine state - there were no other Brits there (which was great!!) and we met so many Americans from other areas. You will probably do the same!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Beautiful photos and a very interesting post. I dont know much about your area so found your post really informative. I can relate to moving away from heat, since I am sweltering in an incompatible climate myself right now.......also a move for better quality of life makes good sense. Good for you. Keep writing!

Sue said...

We used to visit Lake Michigan when we lived in Chicago. Beautiful.

=)

Joyce Pitrone Hawkins--Wrinkles Don't Hurt said...

Just found your blog tonight and am enjoying it. I am a life-long Michiganander. If you'd like to see a short video on the great state of Michigan

http://circlemichigan.com/media_center.php
Enjoy!

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