Friday, July 15, 2011

Enjoying the Michigan Outdoors

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I’ve been back in the Mitten State for a little over a week and it still hasn’t sunk in quite yet that I’ve dug in and moved back and need to find a job and begin this next phase of my life. Last weekend I was up in Traverse City for the Cherry Festival and the Fourth and I spent this past weekend on the Muskegon River and in Ludington.

Of course, one of the reasons this was such a good time for me to come back to Michigan (at least how I have rationalized my decision) is that it would feel like a vacation at first followed shortly by my brother’s wedding which would all help (1) initially make it fun and (2) deflect the attention away from my decision within the family.  – at least, during the first month.

This weekend I took off with my brother and brother-in-law for my brother’s bachelor party. We took off Saturday morning from Lowell, MI and headed north to Big Rapids where we rented tubes at the Sawmill Canoe & Livery and set off down the Muskegon River. It was a beautiful day and we got on the river before it got busy, so we were able to leisurely float down the river with a cooler full of barley sodas. Don’t be fooled with the fact that you hop on in Big Rapids, the Muskegon is a big beautiful river and a great way to relax and enjoy the Michigan outdoors.

Next stop was Jamesport Brewing Co. in downtown Ludington where we had a late lunch (fish and chips). The ESB was good, the Scotch Strong Ale was great, and we left with a growler full of their Altbier for the evening at the campground. We stayed at Cartier Park Campground just north of downtown which worked out great for the price and location. We cooked steaks, potatoes, and veggies over the campfire, roasted marshmallows and made s’mores before finishing the night with bourbon and cigars.

Sunday morning we had a great breakfast at Brenda’s Harbor CafĂ© in downtown before going to the beach at city park for a few hours. We laid on the beach, threw the football and baseball around, walked out to the lighthouse, and swam in Lake Michigan. Before we left town we stopped at House of Flavors for delicious ice cream. It may not have been as outrageous as Rick Gassko’s bachelor party in the Tom Hank’s classic, Bachelor Party (1984), but it was a fun and relaxing weekend featuring Michigan’s natural beauty as the perfect backdrop for a brother’s retreat.

No big travel plans this weekend. Going to watch Verlander pitch tonight for the Tigers and lounge by the pool tomorrow afternoon. What does everyone else have in store for the weekend?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Traverse City for the Fourth and the National Cherry Festival

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I grew up in Traverse City and the National Cherry Festival. I always loved it. I know some of the locals avoid downtown Traverse during the Festival – many even leave town for the week – but I love it: the people, the venues, the activities, etc…

This year was no exception. The timing of my return to Michigan couldn’t have been better. Driving back to Grand Rapids on Friday, July 1 gave me Saturday to recuperate before driving up to Traverse City on Sunday in time for the Air Show.

The Festival has changed the configuration a bit in the open space area in recent years following the demolition of the old power plant, and this year featured the beer tent at the north end of the open space where for years featured the stage for the evening concerts. This made the beer tent area perfect for watching the air show and fireworks without being concerned about finding a good seat. Plus the beer was right there.

Although the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were not a part of this year’s show having visited TC last summer, I was thoroughly impressed with this year’s air show. The demonstrations of the A-10 Warhog and the F-18 Hornet by the US Army and Air Force respectively were cool to watch – I’d hate to have to challenge America’s air superiority – but the best part of the air show were the two flight teams.

More about the show after the jump...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Big Changes at Michigan Expats

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It’s been a busy and crazy past month for us here at Michigan Expats. Both Mr. Sig and I have undergone substantial changes in our personal lives, which help explain some of recent lack of original content on the blog, but more importantly, will impact the direction and content of the blog moving forward.

First, congratulations to Mr. Sig, who got married June 18 in Ecuador. Needless to say, marriage and, for the time being, living abroad is a big change in his life and will bring with it a unique perspective. Previously both of us were young single guys from Michigan who missed our home state and discussed wanting to return. Certainly having a family, particularly a wife of foreign descent, will offer Mr. Sig an opportunity to share his perspective of being a married Michigan Expat living overseas.

Likewise, shortly after Mr. Sig packed up and departed for Ecuador, I made the decision to return to Michigan. Five years after moving out to the Washington D.C. area following college graduation, I decided not to renew my lease and turned down an offer to remain in my job in Arlington, VA, and to move home to Michigan.

I’ll elaborate about my decision to return to Michigan in an upcoming post. However, just because I did return to Michigan and am no longer officially an “Expat”, I will continue to write on the blog and the various topics will not change. The main difference is that I will now be able comment and discuss everything from the perspective of an ex-Michigan Expat facing the challenges and enjoying the benefits of being back in Michigan.

Hopefully, I will chronicle a successful transition back home including finding a good job, housing, and stories of exploring the multiple of fun and majestic events and spots across Michigan.

Thanks for following us. Expect more content coming up in the near future and please be sure to send us feedback via email (, Facebook, or Twitter (@michiganexpats).