I have lived in Michigan now for almost 19 years. Before we moved here, I had only been to Michigan twice and both times were spent in and around Detroit. My dad grew up here and my grandfather was a professor at State, but they had moved away from East Lansing long before I was even born. So, I learned three things about Michigan from my dad: You always want any Michigan team to beat Ohio State. Michigan means deer-hunting and, "Michigan State University has the most beautiful college campus of any school in America". That last one is a quote that I heard more than a few times. Part of the reason I took this job was just to see if the old man was right. He was.

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But when we moved here, I was shocked by a few things I'd never seen anywhere else. Including:

All the dead deer.

Go ahead - take a drive anywhere in America. You won't see this many dead deer by the side of the road. Why? Because we have a bazillion deer in Michigan! That means the hunting is great, but it also means we run into them a lot. "There are those who have - and those who will". We should all probably be driving armored vehicles because of that fact. With guns on the hood and DNR tags in our windshield visors.

All the live deer.

I live in DeWitt. When I leave in the morning, deer are frequently standing in the yard. When I go to Meijer, they're in the lot next to the parking lot. Yesterday, I had to stop to let a fawn, that was just about out of its spots, cross Herbison at the high school. Where were all of these when I was a teenager, hunting in Missouri?

The concept of "Up North".

I get it now. We love to go "up north" all the time. We don't have a family cottage or cabin. We go to Petoskey or Mackinac Island or up into the U.P to rented cabins. But, if you DO have an RV or family cabin, you head up on summer weekends to Lake Hole-In-The-Wall (I checked, there's no such lake in Michigan) and it takes too much time to explain exactly where that is ("well, you go to Grayling and then take Idiot Road to Dead Cow Trail. And then get on the two-track....") So you just say you're going "Up North". Right? Or maybe, it's that one place you can get away from everyone and you'd prefer just to keep it that way.

Lake Michigan is really just an ocean.

The lakes I had been to as a kid, in other states, were boring, with no waves and muddy or rocky shorelines and - if they did have sand, it had been brought in on a truck. Lake Michigan (and Lake Superior) is truly an ocean without all the drama. If this were a college entrance exam, we would say "Ginger, in 'Gilligan's Island', is to the Pacific Ocean as Mary Ann is to..." Answer: Lake Michigan. Sure, the Pacific Ocean is in all the movies, but Lake Michigan is all about the home movies. Which one would you want to hang with?

The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn is - IMO - better than the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

You heard me. I've been to both. Multiple times. And if you like old, cool airplanes, don't fight the crowds (when they come back) at the Air and Space Museum - go to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, or the Air Force Museum in Dayton. I know that means going into Ohio, but....

All the Canadian coins I get as change.

My retirement plan is to save all the Canadian coins I get in change. I just found several dollars worth in coffee cups I had been using to keep pens in. I keep putting them places and they keep adding up - only to get spit out when I go run everything through the coin changer at the bank. It was fun to see the Canadian coins at first, but then I figured out I was getting short-changed. I keep hoping for the Canadian dollar to climb steeply against the U.S. dollar so I can make a killing in the currency exchange market. Or, when the border opens up again, maybe I'll just go to Windsor and have a few Molsons.

And my biggest shock? Why isn't the whole world living here?

My dad said Michigan was beautiful. He told me stories about Mackinac Island and hunting in the U.P. and canoeing down the Red Cedar. At this point, I've probably seen as much of Michigan as he did growing up here. And over the years, I've seen a lot of the rest of the U.S. My dad was right.  Yes - some people are already "in-the-know" - we do get our fair share of Hollywood types spending the summer here. But why isn't Michigan the hottest ticket in...everywhere?

My guess is, because when those celebrities go home to L.A. and somebody asks them where they've been, they just say, "Up north."

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