Yesterday Michigan celebrated its 176th birthday and it was a good opportunity to reflect on what makes this a wonderful state. The state’s name comes from the Indian word Michigama, meaning big or great lake and it certainly fits. Michigan is surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, with Lake St. Clair added in for good measure. It can take pride in being called the ‘Great Lakes State’. Michigan is also able to boost as having the most freshwater coastline on the planet earth. It’s no wonder that Michigan is a boater’s paradise as well as a winter wonderland.
Affectionately known as the ‘Mitten State’ because of its unique shape, one only has to point to an area on their hand to pinpoint a location. But it also earned the title as the ‘Peninsula State’ since Michigan is the only state to be made up of two distinct peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula -or the U.P-, are separated by the Straits of Mackinac and joined by the Mackinac Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges. Interestingly, the name Mackinac is not pronounced as it is spelled, Mac-in-nak, but rather Mac-in-naw. Almost as remarkable is the nearby spelled Mackinaw City, one of two ferry ports to the world famous Mackinac Island. Ask anyone in Michigan where the best fudge is made and they will likely point you in that direction.
Although all ‘Michiganders’, there appears at times to be a division between the residents from the U.P. and the lower portion of the state, mostly regarding nicknames. Those living above the bridge are known as Yoopers while those below the bridge are sometimes referred to as trolls. But this is all in good fun and there harbors no animosity between the folks. Both halves offer their own Michigan splendor uniting in one beautiful state. Among many features the Lower Peninsula offers the Sleeping Bear Dunes, winner of Good Morning America's "Most Beautiful Place in America" contest. And crossing the bridge from the lower to the upper half of the state is like stepping into an unspoiled wilderness.
Once known as the ‘Wolverine State’, no one is quite sure why since it’s highly doubtful there was ever any wolverine in Michigan. The only wolverines anyone could probably find reside in Ann Arbor during football season at U of M. Always a great place for college football fans, Michigan has two Big Ten teams and the annual matchup between U of M and MSU has been known to divide the state in friendly rivalry.
Most every Michigan resident is more than familiar with the term of going ‘upnorth’. Each year thousands head north on I-75 for the summer or just to vacation at lake cottages or cabins in the woods. If you never had the chance to visit this state and see all it has to offer, or have been curious where northbound I-75 ends, plan a trip soon.
Happy belated Birthday Michigan and many more.