Exploring the Great (Lakes) Stateby Richard
04/13/2014 10:40:01 P.M.
The massive lakes surrounding the state of Michigan are not the only things great about the fabulous state to the north.
Here are three of the reasons I love it so, and why you should probably consider visiting:
The place is a veritable playground of wonderfulness.
Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline of any political subdivision in the world, is the largest state—in terms of area—east of the Mississippi River, and has over 10,000 lakes (you're never more than 6 miles from an inland lake at anytime).
There are powerful waterfalls and expansive forests, marvelous mountains and incredible sunsets, grandiose lakes and peaceful
islands, enormous sand dunes, and so much beach that you'd be surprised how quickly you'd fall in love with the cool, freshwater shorelines.
Here you experience 4 resplendently beautiful summer months, 2 1/2 months each for spring and autumn that are so delicious they make you want to feast on them without respite, and 3 months of a fascinating winter that both delightfully calms the land and draws people nearer one another—for both play outside and communion together inside the warmth of their homes.
I love them.
And I cannot tell you how many people I've spoken with from other places in the U.S. that have thought that people from the north are all intrinsically rude, mean, or at least curt. Yet, the character of most Michiganders is tantamount to the attitude that I've found in the Southern U.S. states; kind, thoughtful and purposeful. Granted, there's less pomp. People generally tell you how they feel and don't drape their discontent in faux-amicability.
But, the heart of these people in this state is rooted in hard work, general contentment, and a deep desire to live well with the people around them.
It's surprisingly varied.
Onlookers tend to be scared by low job rates and big cities wrought with violence. But those things are, though real, footnotes to the reality, because many businesses are flourishing, and in Detroit, the biggest city in the state and target for much cynicism, is actually quite superb, save a few highly distressed neighborhoods that the city is actively working on restoring.
Other cities (Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Ypsilanti, Battle Creek, etc.) are wonderful. The arts, health consciousness, and sport were long ago planted there, and have blossomed—serving to strengthen the lake, community-based, and outdoor lifestyle sensibilities. Cities are growing. Unique. And engaging, yet not overbearing like most larger cities can have the tendency of being.
And these are each spaced in between by countryside that vacilates from lake, to farm, to small town (my hometown is a 3,000+ person "village"), to forest, to an unpredictable rolling landscape that is cut into by a bevy of idyllic rivers.
The state of my birth is a magnificent place to visit. I, obviously, love it; as its pleasantness had long ago endeared me, but choose for yourself how you'd like to feel about the place. My encouragement is as follows:
Go to Michigan to hike the forests, run on the dunes, and sail on the open waters.
Go there to sit around the fireplace with loved ones, take friends to visit the orchards, and venture into the wilderness together.
Go to study the the history of the state founded on January 26th—176 years ago, to breathe in the personality of its cities, and to catch a Tigers baseball, or Red Wings hockey, game.
But by all means, go. And if your mind and your heart are open to the new experience, I promise that you won't be disappointed.