News Flash: Michigan is awesome.
I have found that the phrase my mother keeps using to try to get me to stay in Michigan forever, which also happens to be the Michigan state motto, has rung true since I’ve been back in the mitten.
“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”
Some of you have always known how awesome Michigan is, but for those of you who, hypothetically speaking of course, are slightly addicted to adrenaline, tend to be all in, crave epic adventures, and want to live out of your van down by the river, this may be news to you.
When I was in college, I could not get out to Colorado fast enough. I was so ready to get out of Michigan because it didn’t have mountains and therefore, didn’t have any adventure. Now I am not saying that I will be here forever, because the pull of the mountains is still strong and I may have to answer that call, but for now, I am psyched to have discovered this whole new community of adventurers in a seemingly unlikely place.
As I have grown, I realize that adventure is truly a mindset, not a place. Adventure can be found anywhere and in any experience, you just have to seek it. Disclaimer: For those of you like me, you do have to have some outdoor sports options to fuel a certain part of yourself though. I have realized that adventure is to be found in Michigan and even that outdoor sports side of adventure that many of you, like me, crave. Mountain biking, kayaking, paddleboarding, beaches, lakes galore, cliffs, about 627 miles of endless road trip options, camping, skiing, road biking, cross-country skiing, climbing, and the list goes on.
But the thing about adventure and the outdoor community in Michigan, is that you have to seek out those people and experiences. In Colorado, we have it easy. It’s everywhere: downtown stores, events, climbing gyms, world-class outdoor athletes living in your city, the mountains right out your back door, and endless Patagonia- clad Midwesterners flocking to find it. If we are being honest with ourselves, we can sometimes be a bit arrogant and in your face about how adventurous we all are there. It’s something that I love about Colorado and something that drew me there, there’s an energy, it’s a mecca. But Michigan seems to be stereotypically midwestern about the outdoor community. It seems to be a quiet and humble community of adventurers and sometimes a slower pace of life.
My lens of what I’ve come to expect an “outdoorsy person” to look like doesn’t always fit here and it’s a beautiful thing. So when I first looked around, I thought (very judgmentally) to myself, “There are literally no outdoorsy people here” and I was worried that my assumptions were going to be true and I would not be able to find that community.
Luckily, when I got off the trail, my amazing brother suggested I work at Guardian Tree Experts, where he is a sales arborist, for the summer instead of a serving job. He said I could be outside all day, learning about trees, doing hard physical labor, and potentially climb some trees. Climbing? Outside? Physical Labor? Yes to all of those things.
He invited me to come tree climbing with some of his co-workers and when I showed up, I immediately felt at home. I knew that I had found “my people” and that outdoors-people did exist in Michigan! Charity was full of energy, Chris was hilarious, Matt was knowledgable and encouraging, and then Mo showed up and free climbed to the top of the 30-40 foot tree to say hello. We drank beers, talked mountain biking, I was sold.
In the 2 and a half months that I’ve been off the trail, I have been loving my job and super excited to keep learning more, use power tools, lift heavy things, and hopefully climb trees soon. I have mountain biked trails around here, up north, and in the UP. I have biked down roads with miles and miles of trees and beautiful farmland. I have dipped at least my toes in 3 of the 4 great lakes touching Michigan. I have driven Penny 600 miles across the state. I have slept by waterfalls, woken up to lakeside sunsets, and canoed, kayaked, and paddleboarded lakes and rivers. Michigan is awesome. I feel so lucky to be where I am now and am excited to spend the next 10 months seeking adventure in this very pleasant peninsula.