The summer of 2010 I was on an all-time traveling high. I had just returned home to Texas from a month of backpacking Europe and attending a best friend’s wedding in Germany. I was home just long enough to do some laundry and pick up a few shifts at work to replenish my bank account before I set off for another adventure. The next adventure was to take a road trip to Michigan where my now husband was born and raised. After working a twelve hour night shift, I remember picking up Jon and us driving twenty-three hours straight from Houston to Marquette, MI. I felt like the walking dead once we got to Marquette but somehow Jon convinced me to jump off Black Rocks into Lake Superior. It was in that moment of jumping into the frigid, Great Lake that I realized what a beautiful country America is. It could have been the adrenaline pumping from the jump or seeing the twinkle in Jon’s eyes as we explored his favorite place in the World, but the realization was real, to know that such beauty was literally in my backyard and there was no need to travel abroad for it.
In spring of 2012 we made the move from my home state of Texas to Michigan. It was a bit of a change for me. The week we moved I had managed to get my first sunburn of the season and a new sprinkling of freckles across my nose and shoulders from the Texas sun, to be welcomed in the Mitten state with a light dusting of snow. But even with moving to a new area I still had the need to explore and experience areas outside of my new home. The travel bug had really gotten a hold of me. We traveled to different areas of the state, all to live up to the Pure Michigan theme, from Mackinac Island to Holland and to Frankenmuth to Traverse City.
It wasn’t until I had my daughter the summer of 2014 that I had the same feeling come over me as it did when I jumped off the Black Rocks four years previously. Only this time, the moment of realization occurred when I began to imagine how my daughter would see things for the first time. I did a lot of research and found trails I didn’t realize existed just a few miles away from our home. During that search for local adventure, I stumbled across Hike it Baby. Being outdoors has been one of the best things for me as a parent. The outdoors is like an instant calm for my daughter and myself. The clock seems to slow down as we explore new sights, textures, and sounds of nature. Building a sense of community for my daughter has helped me gain a new appreciation for where we are. And while winter has taken me longer to warm up to, I love that Michigan has four distinct seasons. The different seasons, wide range of topography from the Upper Peninsula to Lower Peninsula, and abundance of outdoor activities, are a few of many things that make the Great Lakes state such a wonderful place to raise a family.
Here are some cool facts and reasons I’m proud to call Michigan my new home:
- Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the US.
- You are never more than six miles from an inland lake or more than eighty-five miles from a Great Lake.
- Michigan has over 2,600 miles of rail-trail, which was recently recognized as the most of any state in the Nation.
- 1,150 miles of the North Country Trail run through Michigan.
- It is home of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
- There is a wonderful, Great Lake to Lake trail system in the making.
- The Porcupine Mountains are a sight to see.
- Four seasons – from the lightening bugs in the summer to fresh flowers blooming in the spring and sipping apple cider while admiring the fall foliage to feeling the cold snowflakes land on your face in the winter.
These are all things that I hope to explore every bit of with my family and newly acquired community of hiking friends. Seeing the pure joy on my daughters face as she hears the crunching of the fall leaves under her feet as she toddles down the Michigan trails is just one of our many recent experiences. Now my husband is working on teaching our daughter how to use her “handmade” map of Michigan. Because what Michigander can give directions without flashing their mitten?
Where do YOU love to hike? What does a Hike it Baby hike look like where you call home? Share your trails and tales with us on this form and we will feature it in an upcoming blog piece!
Also, be sure to check out our Trails and Tales piece from Minnesota!
Danna is a born and raised Texan who followed her heart to the Mitten state and married a Michigander. Her newly growing family has begun to set roots for the upbringing of their little explorer, Abigail and their sweet yellow lab, Lola pup. She is a Registered Nurse and has stepped foot in 17 countries and 30 states. Adventure is something she and her husband look forward to and they hope to visit all of the National Parks someday with a goal to visit at least one a year.