After coming back from a week of glamping at Camp Buttercup in Dexter (story coming soon), I have done a lot of thinking about disconnecting…about shutting down, turning off, recharging. In today’s fast paced world, we definitely need to find times to do this. And, just like each of us has our own wiring formula that dictates HOW we work (and how MUCH we work), the reboot time varies from person to person. For me, just a couple nights under a canopy of trees was enough to redirect my energies away from my laptop and my cell phone to books, magazines and notepads for journaling my thoughts. It wasn’t much…collectively maybe a couple hours, but it was enough for me.
Someone asked me recently to “shut it off…” to STOP talking about Michigan, just for one night. They might have had better luck saying “stop breathing…” “stop loving…” “stop living…” I know I can be too much for some people, my intensity and love for Michigan is overwhelming, even for me, at times.
I guess some could find it annoying the way I sneak something positive about Michigan into nearly every conversation:
Ordering a gin and cocktail? Is that a MICHIGAN gin? Looking for a book to read, have you read this title from this MICHIGAN author? A song comes on the radio…did you know Stevie Wonder, The Knack, DeBarge, Del Shannon (born Charles Westover) were from MICHIGAN? The recent passing of Muhammad Ali…he lived in southwest MICHIGAN.
I could play this game all day (and many of you who know me, know this to be true).
And while some may think I’m spewing all this information to be a show off (in constant used-car-salesman mode), the truth is…I can’t NOT do it. I can’t stop talking about all the great people, places and products that make MICHIGAN such a great place to live, work and play. I didn’t just create Promote Michigan because I thought it was a way to make an easy buck off the state. I created it because I recognized that I could make a living doing what I love to do…telling people true stories about what goes on within the boundaries of the Great Lakes State.
If you asked me to tell you my favorite place, my favorite wine, my favorite museum, golf course, restaurant, concert venue, brewery, etc., in Michigan…I couldn’t do it. Like asking someone to tell you which kid they like best. Each place, each person, each story impacts me in a different way—admittedly, some more than others, but each is unique and important.
I may go off on tangents or have certain themes that are of interest: lighthouses, covered bridges, historic sites, ghost towns…but inside those categories, picking just ONE favorite is tough.
Throughout the course of my travels, I also encounter wonderful people who have wonderful stories they share with me—and often, I find myself so intrigued I begin digging into those stories for more information. The more I find, the more I want to share not only with the original storyteller, but with others.
Currently on my mind…
- The Purple Gang operated a secret speak-easy in Harbor Springs called The Club Manitou, which later became a concert venue called The Club Ponytail. This week, I’m having coffee with someone who has been researching this extensively (after learning about it from another local historian who helped me recently on an article about Ernest Hemingway that appears in the current issue of Michigan BLUE Magazine).
- Henry Ford was a frequent visitor to the Upper Peninsula and found himself on the “wait list” to become an owner / member of the Huron Mountain Club in Marquette. Next week, I’m traveling through the UP to some of the places that Ford and his entourage would have visited. The challenge in telling this story, is that I’ll only have 600 words in which to convey the magnitude of Ford’s adventures as an early tourist. The bonus side of it is, after the story is written, I can verbally tell it in greater detail.
- Vernor’s was invented 150 years ago in Detroit, by a pharmacist. Even though I’m not a fan of ginger ale, the history is fascinating and when I give my “Made in the Mitten” presentation, it is always among the samples offered. It is also often included in Michigan-themed gift baskets that I use for various purposes.
- A friend just told me about his experiences kayaking through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising. Every time I drive through that area, I think “I should have really made time to kayak here…” and then the thought passes. Will this be the year I actually cross this off my bucket list? I WILL be in the area in mid-September for the UP Fall Beer Festival so it is possible.
- The Barn Theatre in Augusta – celebrating its 70th season as Michigan’s oldest resident summer stock theatre company. Every week, they’re presenting a new show (opening tomorrow: Guys and Dolls). Some big names are among the “Barnie” history – including Tom Wopat (Dukes of Hazard), Kim Zimmer (Guiding Light), Jennifer Garner (Alias), Robert Newman (Guiding Light) and Dana Delaney (China Beach), among others.Footnote: I’ve seen two shows here in my life, including Escanaba in da Moonlight (written by Michigan’s own Jeff Daniels, who was raised and still lives in Chelsea—where, ironically, I’m doing some work with the library on promotions and marketing for an upcoming community history project).
- Stafford’s Pier Restaurant in Harbor Springs has recently completed a full renovation of its dining room and outdoor spaces, overlooking Little Traverse Bay. I haven’t seen it yet in person, however I do have guests coming for the evening and they want to go out to dinner. A great meal, with friends, overlooking the water and checking out the new décor. That’s a win-win-win-win!
This list could go on and on, as my ADD brain flips to dozens of topics in a matter of minutes – but almost all of them are related in some fashion to MICHIGAN. Sometimes my digging is work related—tied to a client, a story assignment or an upcoming program, but often, I’m just captured by something someone told me during the course of a casual conversation.
You may call that obsessive, but I call it passion. And, thankfully…I get to call this wonderful place my home! And, honored that I get to share these stories with others who live here, but also those far away through the pages of magazines that I write for.
And what makes my passion different, from let’s say music or cats or golfing, is that it encompasses SO much. It includes rural and urban spaces, it encompasses things that happen indoors and out, it covers two peninsulas, four Great Lakes, dozens of islands, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, countless buildings, thousands of faces, wonderful sights, sounds and tastes, and so much more. It is all encompassing, unwavering, undeniable love affair with my home state.
So…can I shut it down? Can I turn it off? Can I disconnect? From Michigan? Never! I don’t want to, I don’t have to and I shouldn’t be expected to!