A lot of us in Michigan are passionate about going up north.
“I remember the good old days when my dad would pack us up in the station wagon and head up north. It was 80 acres in the middle of nowhere … I’m heading to Petoskey on Wednesday and on Thursday or Friday to Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls… Tomorrow, I’m making my annual pilgrimage to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.”
Those are comments from Michigan Radio's Facebook fans, answering the question, “Anyone headed up north this weekend?”
But where is up north, and why do we love going?
The definition of “up north” is incredibly personal. It has to do with where you’re from and where you’re headed. But there seems to be a general consensus, of where it begins, at least for people in the Lower Peninsula.
“In Michigan, I think the north begins right about halfway across the mitten—or you can be a little more exact and say Highway 10. Somewhere between Clare & Ludington," said nature writer Keith Taylor. He says the world around you begins to change quickly once you cross that line.
“You suddenly start seeing white pines and white birches," he said. "So the trees change.”
Taylor says people have always craved a landscape that’s different from the hustle and bustle of their everyday lives. For people who lived in Detroit in the '20s and '30s, going “up north” just meant traveling one county over. These days, “up north” usually means driving a couple of hours in the car.
Taylor says we’re lucky that in Michigan there are a lot of places close by.
“It’s the interesting thing about our state: there’s the major industries to the south employing all those people and we’re so close to the edge of the wilderness," he said.