Pure Michigandering

With the following disclaimers: that I am an Ohioan by origin, that I’ve never attended a camp or college in Michigan, that I don’t own a cottage or condo ‘up North,’that I’ve crossed the Mackinac Bridge only once, that I still have to check how to spell Mackinac vs. Mackinaw, that I’ve never been trout fishing in the U.P, and that it’s taken me a decade to adopt Michigan as my present state and Detroit as. . . well, sorta my kinda town...I submit to you that I’ve come to understand what Michiganians -- or Michiganders (?) and even some Yoopers out there are talking about when they tell you what makes Michigan so peculiarly Michigan.

Off the top of my head, (and with no particular order in mind) here’s my short list:

Cherries. Sweet,tart, dark,light, cherries are Michigan’s signature crop and ubiquitous fruit. Come to Michigan for cherries in salads, cherries in salsa, cherries in bread, cherry lemonade, cherry wine, cherry picking everywhere you can possibly get ‘em. World’s largest cherry pie pan, with a 17,420-pound capacity is on display in Traverse City, home of the National Cherry Festival.

» Michigan Cherries » Absolute Michigan


Fast Drivers own the road in Michigan. Watch for them. They know where they’re going, and they use colorful hand signals when vexed. Best to stay out of their way.

Michigan Turns. Where else but Michigan do you turn right to make a U-turn to go left? Drives my GPS crazy.

Coney Islands, the chili-dogs. What I would give right now for a coney smothered in raw onions -- not much. Coney Islands (known in New York as Michigan-style hot dogs) are legendary in Detroit. Coney Island restaurants, found in abundance, serve cheap and plentiful greasy-spoon diner food, Mediterranean-style, and according to Chowhound, are predominantly owned and operated by Albanians - and Chaldeans. (If you must go, order the Greek salad. It's still a pretty good deal.) Fancy Mag

Hitsville, U.S.A. Home of Motown Records and the world-famous Studio A, still stands on West Grand Boulevard, like oooo baby, baby, sunshine on a cloudy day. Motown Historical Museum - Detroit

The Ruins of Detroit Athens has the Acropolis; Detroit has the Michigan Central Station. There are the dreamers among us, who still believe that the city can rise out of its monumental urban decay, like the Phoenix out of the ashes. In its depth, Detroit may be just the place to show us the way for all cities to renew and survive. http://www.marchandandmeffre.com

The Mitten. A map of Michigan for dummies. Only in Michigan can you describe your location by pointing to spots on the palm of your left hand, uh, or is it the back of your right hand? Cartophilia: Maps and Map Memorabilia: Michigan Mittens

The Big House. The biggest, baddest, loudest stadium in the Big Ten, third largest stadium in the world. To be seated in the House for a U of M game is an out-of-body experience. Go Blue.


Zingermans Way beyond a heavenly deli, a mecca for foodies, listed among the Top Ten Food Markets in the World by Food and Wine Magazine. Artisan breads and cheeses, chocolates and munchies, kugels and killer brownies, holiday fare, name it and you can taste it there. You must go! On Kingsley Street, downtown Ann Arbor. www.zingermansdeli.com Zingerman's Deli

Rivera Court The heart, the soul, and very center of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Diego Rivera’s fresco masterpiece stands today, just as it did when it was unveiled in 1933 -- an iconic and haunting tribute to the industry and technology and workforce that built the city. For a panoramic view of the work, see DIA - Rivera Court

Detroit Eastern Market. One of the largest, one of the oldest, and one of the most entertaining places to be in the city as you shop for produce. On a busy summer Saturday, more than 40,000 people flow through the market sheds, and surrounding eateries, specialty food shops and retail boutiques, covering over 40 acres of prime real estate in midtown.


Note: for best BBQ and live jazz, take a seat on the street at Bert’s Market Place on Russell. Smokin' hot.

The Dream Cruise -- there are auto people, and there are auto people who own garages larger than their houses. For these people, there’s the Cruise -- a once a year rite of passage whereby their classic vehicles come off their blocks, to be driven with security escorts and displayed in guarded lots charging $200 a spot. For the rest of us, the Dream Cruise is one big tailgate party -- drivin’ and gawkin’ around Woodward Ave.

... to be continued from time to time.


  1. ... I ask you, what makes Michigan so Michigan?

    This post to be continued with revisions and additions from time to time.

    Also noting that there are no Detroiters currently on the list of "followers" for this blog.

    Detroiters? Where are you.

  2. Love the grand tour. Bill used to come up for the Dream Cruise. He has t-shirts to prove it. This is great travel magazine stuff. The chamber of commerce -- oh, I guess that Tourism when it's a whole state -- should see this!

  3. Thanks so much, Annie.
    Not quite ready for tourism! When I checked the site this morning, the photos were out of whack. (Appearing different than the way I left them yesterday -- which of course is an issue with all sorts of variants in browsers) Do I know what I'm talking about? Technically, not! I wish there were (or I haven't found the way as of yet) to add photos throughout the text of posts) Photos on top seem to be the prevailing format. Ideas?


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