Now on to Michigan. I have decided to do 2 posts on Michigan (where Ratty lives coincidentally). This is not because Michigan is more important than any other state or because there is more
information than another state. It is simply because Michigan is made up of two separate and distinct parts. You'll see what I mean as we go on. So I will explore the lower peninsula, also known as the mitten, first. Next week we will check out the Upper Peninsula. Pull a long, cool one from the cooler and pull up a log. I have all my information sources here and I'm ready to ride.
The Wolverine State probably doesn't have any wolverines. The last one known was found dead in 2010. The state stone is the Petosky Stone which is actually fossilized coral. The state bird is the American Robin. Michigan is known for making automobiles but it is also the largest producer of fruit in the United States. It is bordered by 4 of the Great Lakes and has access to the St. Lawrence Seaway. It became the 26th state once it was finally decided whether it would be part of Canada or the United States. As a matter of fact, Windsor, Ontario, Canada, is south of Detroit. And you haven't lived until you've eaten a paczki ( pronounced poonchkee) on Fat Tuesday which is the last day before Lent. There are two brands of soda pop that are made and revered in Michigan... Faygo and Vernors. Michigan used to be an important center for the fur trade. It also had industries such as lumber, mining iron ore, and grain which were shipped to the rest of the country by way of the Erie Canal. Even today salt mines stretch under the city of Detroit. Because of all the opportunities for employment, huge numbers of people immigrated to this state. Around 1930 more than 30 languages were spoken in Detroit public schools.
The longest freshwater shoreline of any political subdivision in the world is in Michigan. You can never be any more than 6 miles from a natural water source or more than slightly over 82 miles from one of the Great Lakes. Needless to say, there is a bounty of water sporting available. Swimming, sun-bathing, boating, you name it. I purposely stay away from hunting and fishing because we are trying to observe nature on my adventures. However, ice-fishing is so popular in Michigan. In the winter, these people drive right out onto the river, put up a small shelter, and auger a hole through the ice to fish. Some fun, huh? Because of all this water there are many places to look for animals and birds that live in and around water. Also the large amount of traffic on theses waterways have made a need for lighthouses to keep ships from running aground. As a matter of fact, Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state.
With 78 state parks, 19 state recreation areas, and 6 state forests, Michigan has the largest state park and state forest system of any state. The Hanson Hills State Recreation Area provides everything from downhill skiing to archery. There are 23 miles of hiking and biking trails here. Then there are the National Parks. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features 35 miles of shore for swimming and just lying on the beach of sugar sand. And the sand dunes get to be as high as 450 feet. There is also a Metro Park system which tries to give city dwellers a nearby place to experience nature. At Kensington Metropark you can visit a Starlab Planetarium, rent paddle boats to spend an afternoon on Kent Lake, check out the Nature Center, or just drive through on the scenic and relaxing drive all around and through the park.
Winter in Michigan is cold. Things to do include skiing, ice climbing, snowmobiling, tobogganing, and dog sledding. Animals of all kinds seem to want to be seen so you can count on sighting a deer or an elk as well as rabbits and squirrels, maybe even a black bear. Colorful birds are visible against the white of the snow that covers everything.
Hiking is very popular throughout Michigan. Our idol, Sharkbytes, hiked the section of the North Country Trail that runs through Michigan. There are literally thousands of miles of hiking trails in this state so a person should be able to find a place to walk no matter where they go.
So go visit Michigan. I'm trying to decide whether to go view some wrecked ships in one of several ship graveyards or to take Ratty to see Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum if he feels up to it. He can always just sit and rest in the electric chair from Sing Sing. I guess I'll play it by ear. There are links below to help you make a decision about what part of Michigan you'd like to explore. When you are home again let me know what adventures you had. I'd love to hear about them.
Official State Site
Department of Natural Resources
Huron/Clinton Metro Parks
Pure Michigan Magazine
Offbeat Tourist Attractions