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In a couple weeks, we’re taking a “vacation” – in air quotes, because the entire purpose is visiting family and a couple friends in Michigan.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like these people. And I really like Michigan. I also resent the fact that we always go to them, and no one ever comes to us. We’ll spend a grand total of around 30 hours driving by the time all is said and done, and it’ll cost much more than I feel we should spend.

The biggest detractor, besides expense and time and lack of reciprocity, is that almost all of our family lives in flat, boring places surrounded by corn fields in the lower half of the Mitten. Fortunately, my grandma lives up near the tip of the mitt, which is a gorgeous area. We’ll camp right on Lake Michigan for a couple nights, stroll along the Little Traverse Wheelway, and indulge in pasties and Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. And, of course, hang out with grandma.

But we won’t have time for a side trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes or Pictured Rocks. We can’t take a day for Mackinac Island and we won’t be able to visit our favorite place in Manistee National Forest, a remote location surrounded by swaying birches and fragrant pines, just a small sand dune away from the lakeshore. When I think of what we’re missing out on with this trip, I truly do miss Michigan (my Michigan).

Home of my heart, I sing of thee!
Michigan, my Michigan,
Thy lake-bound shores I long to see,
Michigan, my Michigan.
From Saginaw’s tall whispering pines
To Lake Superior’s farthest mines,
Fair in the light of memory shines
Michigan, my Michigan.

Sentiment aside, our timing is good – we won’t have to deal with home game traffic for Michigan State or University of Michigan football. It’ll only be a few miles out of our way to explore the only location with sightings of Kirtland’s warblers this late in the year (realistically, we probably won’t see any – they’re endangered, after all.) The weather will be at its least crappy. Everyone we’re visiting is available on the dates we requested, so we’ll have an optimal driving schedule. We’ll have opportunity to buy Michigan red tart cherry products at a fraction of the cost of (lesser) cherries anywhere else. We can stock up on some goodies from Trader Joe’s and stroll around Ann Arbor for an afternoon, maybe even meet friends for lunch.



By comparison, however, with the same time and money, we could hike the entire Northville-Placid Trail again, complete with car shuttling, a night in a cute little inn in Piseco for a mail drop and hot shower, and a night in Lake Placid at a resort hotel or at the Adirondack Loj at the end of the hike (1/5 drive time, 1/4 cost.) We could hike half of the Long Trail in Vermont or thoroughly explore the Catskills (under 1/2 drive time, 1/2 cost.) We could go to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and tuck another few AMC high huts and 4000’ers under our hip belts (1/3 less drive time, similar cost.) We could spend my frequent flier miles and go to Glacier National Park, which is my top priority vacation destination because those glaciers are disappearing much faster than predicted (current estimate has them gone by 2020.) We come from the lakes, but we love the mountains; that’s where I want to go to recharge. Every hour we don’t spend in the car is an hour we can spend doing something fun.

But no. We’ll be good little offspring and visit our family, all the while grateful that we escaped the Great Lakes State for the Great State of New York. It’ll be nice enough, but not nearly as fun as a true vacation.