1. You go check out the fireworks at Coast Guard Festival — but only because they set the hill on fire damn near every year.
2. You’ve gorged on cherries from Traverse City. That first weekend you see them being sold at a roadside stand, you convince yourself you are going to make a flaky cherry pie. You eat all the cherries before that plan gets very far.
3. You pack 12 coolers, a tent larger than your house, and three minivans full of crap to go ‘camping’ at Brower Park for the weekend. You happily live off grilled cheese made in that square metal clamp-down apparatus you stick two pieces of bread and some cheese in and hold over the bonfire, S’mores, potato chips and much alcohol while watching a bunch of drunks race their pimped-out speed boats.
4. You wait for the previously bright and sunny weather forecast to turn to ‘heavy rain’ just in time for Festival weekend. You still go. It’s not summer without elephant ears, jamming to your new favorite band, and running into everyone you forgot you went to high school with.
5. You get sun-crisped spending eight somewhat drunken hours to tube down the Newaygo River on real, black, funny-smelling truck tubes covered with assorted dodgy patches.
6. You ride your bike down to Frosty Boy Grand Rapids for a twisty soft-serve cone topped with sprinkles.
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7. 131 is under construction so you take I96. Which is of course under construction.
8. You road trip over to Ann Arbor for Hash Bash and the whole way home wonder if Grand Rapids is ever going to host one. Yeah, probably not.
9. You sprint so excitedly down a Saugatuck dune into Lake Michigan thinking it’ll be somewhat warm because it is summer, then you quickly get reminded you live in Michigan.
10. You actually set your alarm to wake up early to go try to buy fresh asparagus at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market before it sells out.
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11. You look up at the ceiling to find your house has been invaded by ladybugs. You used to think they were cute and a sign of good luck, but not in those quantities.
12. A quick meet up at Bostwick Lake Inn in Rockford turns into a three-hour wine-and-burger-filled dinner sitting on the dock watching the sun set over the lake.
13. You see a heavy storm rolling in and you quick road trip out to the lakeshore to go watch nature it in all of its fierce glory.
14. You eat your first Pronto Pup or a Butch’s Beach Burrito in Grand Haven.
15. You don’t even like white wine, but you find yourself packing a Lakeshore Demi Sec and a Chardonnay Reserve by Fenn Valley Vineyards on every picnic because it just seems so…Michigan.
16. You visit a friend in Heritage Hill who has one of those massive, fancy porches, preferably with a porch swing, and you drink down cold Founder’s while shooting the shit.
17. You start ordering Affogato at Rowster Coffee.
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18. You throw your bike on the roof rack to go crush one of Rockford’s four trails.
19. You wait and you wait to landscape your yard with pretty new flowers. You figure by now the weather will have to hold. And right after you get a freak 45F day that kills everything.
20. Someone at the farmers market shows up with heirloom tomatoes and you fondly remember that not all tomatoes are completely flavorless and just plain red. You vow to grow your own. You don’t.
21. You don’t balk at driving all the way out to Holland just to eat a Turtle sundae.
22. You scour the GR Press for subdivision garage sales and plot out a well-planned, full-on Friday morning sale assault.
23. You make the first trip of the year to Saugatuck and spend more time than you would like to admit at Uncommon Grounds bitching with anyone who will listen about how the Waterfront Film Festival got moved from town.
24. You head “up north,” confident that whether the friend-of-a-friend’s cottage ends up being a VanAndel mansion or a termite-infested cabin, you will come back completely refreshed and even more in love with Michigan.
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