This week, we have been preparing for our 3 week excursion back to Michigan. It's been a surprisingly calm week: wrapping up photo session edits, trying to give Cali (our cat) extra attention to make up for leaving her behind and getting my hair done (today!). We recently had my baby cousin visit after graduating from high school (Congratulations!) and had a crazy week showing her all that Florida has to offer. My mind has now officially switched to thinking about the things we have missed about Michigan since we left home and what we are looking forward to most about going back. I will be working for a lot of our visit: a wedding, a newborn, my first product shoot and 5 family shoots all in one week. With such a strict schedule to follow during our time home, there are some things we absolutely can't live without while we are in Michigan. Here is our list (mine & Stew's) of 10 Michigan favorites we can't live without.
10. Faygo Pop
Yes I said it: Pop! No matter where I have lived in the world, I always live under the belief that soda is soda water and pop is that sweet, sugary carbonated drink we all love. One of my favorite pops growing up in Michigan was Faygo Rock and Rye. Other honorable mentions: Red Pop, Orange Pop and Grape Pop. Faygo started in Detroit in 1907 as Feigenson Brothers Bottling Works. According to their website, the original flavors were strawberry, grape and fruit punch. They now have over 50 flavors, for those of you who like a LOT of choices.
Located in Traverse City, MI, Moomers Homemade Ice Cream has been listed as the nation's best ice cream by Good Morning America in May 'o8 and has remained on many lists since then as one of the best ice cream shops in the country. I was first introduced to Moomers by Stew and his family last summer and I can't imagine a trip back home to Michigan without it.
Zingerman's is a community of businesses in Ann Arbor, MI that each have their own specialty. Everything, and we mean EVERYTHING at Zingerman's is amazing. Zingerman's Deli, Zingerman's Bakehouse, the Zing Train, Zingerman's Catering and Events, Zingerman's Creamery, Zingerman's Mail Order, Zingerman's Coffee Company, Zingerman's Candy Manufactory and Zingerman's Roadhouse all create this community that has become a staple for anyone living or visiting the Ann Arbor area. President Obama recently visited the Delicatessan and had this to say during his University of Michigan visit:
"So one of the reasons I went was because the sandwiches are outstanding. The second reason, though, is Zingerman’s is a business that treats its workers well, and rewards honest work with honest wages."
7. Traverse City Cherries
The Grand Traverse Region is known for it's world record cherries. With most of Michigan's sweet cherry production in Traverse City, Michigan produces 70-75% of the countries cherries. In order to truly recognize the cherry, the annual National Cherry Festival boasts over 150 events and has been featured on USA Today's Top Ten Festivals for years running. The 2014 Cherry Festival will run from July 4-12.
6. Michigan Sweet Corn
It's not unknown that corn on the cob is a summer favorite all over the country, however, there is NO corn like Michigan Sweet Corn. Last summer (thanks again to Stew), I tasted the best corn on the cob I've ever had and have refused to buy it anywhere since. Of course, the corn won't be in harvest until August (after our vacation ends) but I couldn't NOT put it on our list! One of the best sweet corn stands is located at 8118 North Long Lake Rd. in Traverse City: Hall's Sweet Corn & Vegetables. I can't even describe to you how good it is in words... just go try it! We promise it will be worth the trip and a life changer.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a must see if you are anywhere near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This 7.4 mile self-guided car tour provides spectacular views overlooking Glen Lakes, The Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lake Michigan. One of the most spectacular views in the Lakeshore is at the Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive #9, 10. Take a walk and enjoy the view. Sunsets here are the best!
4. Fresh Water
Michigan has more than 11,000 inland lakes, one of which I grew up on (Houghton Lake). Michigan is also known for it's 5 Great Lakes: Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario and Lake Huron. The Great Lakes State holds one fifth of the world's fresh surface water and 95% of the U.S. supply. In fact, you can never be more than 6 miles from a lake while in Michigan. It's hard not to be proud of that when you are a Michigander. Also, with more coastline than any state besides Alaska, visiting a lake is a favorite past time in Michigan and many people visit from all over the world to experience this. Our puppy Fin will get to experience fresh water for the first time in a week and we couldn't be more excited for him.
3. 'Where is That Accent From?'
One of the things I miss most about being in Michigan, is that noone asks us where we are from or where our accent is from. Anywhere in the country a Michigander visits is sure to bring a criticism of how we say 'Mom' or 'taco'. Having been told I sound 'nasally' or made fun of for describing distance in hours instead of miles has become a nuisance. It will be SO nice to be amongst folks who point out where they are from on their hands again!
2. Sunrise & Sunset
The sunrises and sunsets in Michigan are amazing. Having lived in Florida for 6 months and experiencing Gulf of Mexico sunsets, we do feel a little spoiled when it comes to sunsets. Michigan, however, has Leland: voted second best place in the country to watch a sunset in a contest sponsored by USA Today. That being said, while we visit Stew's family cabin in Lake Ann, seeing as many sunrises and sunsets as possible is at the top of our list.
1. Home = Family + Friends
Our #1 reason for coming home is ALWAYS the opportunity to visit with family and friends. While we are home we will celebrate a wedding, a graduation, a new baby, an engagement, mourn a death and catch up with immediate family and best friends. There is no substitution for these moments and we place a high importance on making sure we can be there for those whom we love and cherish in times of joy and pain. Somehow, when we are young, wild and free, we lost sight of this but now we are getting to a point in our lives where we are painfully aware that the friends we still have are the truest of true and the families we are a part of can never be replaced. We are so excited to see everyone and will be sad when we must leave them once again, but we plan to make the most of this three weeks so our hearts can get the 'home' refill they so desperately need.
We will see you all soon!
Amanda Pratt & Stew Hedberg