This finicky Michigan winter did it again, so I left and spent five months in nine countries traveling mostly on boats in South East Asia. The Mekong Delta, the Malacca Straits and the Andaman Sea all offered no resemblance of Traverse City and I marveled whilst wallowing in a well deserved life change. The influences of 100 degree temperatures, Thai pepper, demonic monkeys, buddhist temples, palm lined beaches, hammocks hung from the booms of 100 year old racing sloops and of course dark rum with ice and a simple lime wedge helplessly drug me into a state of being that bordered on losing my grip on what us Americans call “reality”. I dangerously flirted with allowing the discovery of a new “reality” and realized how illusory most of it actually is anyway. Jim Harrison died while I was over there. Painful reality indeed.
Flying back into The Traverse City airport after a few days in the Forbidden City, (Beijing) and being received by my five children proved to be one of the most emotional moments of my life. I dropped to my knees and surrendered to the moment, to the smell of my daughter’s hair, to the sincerity felt when my youngest son whispered “I missed you”. The baggage carousel banged on and I dropped out of the ephemeral.
Folks from all over the world deem Northern Michigan one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Really? As if the 175 miles of the Blue Ribbon Boardman gently dumping into Grand Traverse Bay could possibly even hold a candle to the rainforests and waterfalls of Northern Thailand? Or to stand on top of the sweeping and sloping Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes to witness the sun set between the Manitou Islands could compare to the sights and sounds and smell of wailing monks praying on top of a two thousand year old Pagoda in Burma? Heck yeah it does!
Northern Michigan is worthy of all the praise. And the reality is that all of us need to get out into the woods and onto the water to restore our understanding not only of ourselves but the entire world. From the airport, my kids drove me to my favorite place on planet earth, Pyramid Point where my Father taught me to hunt Petoskey Stones with a mask and snorkel. We had an early dinner of meatloaf with Cherry Republic Ketchup and reminisced mostly about all our outdoor adventures in Northern Michigan. I looked around the table and realized my influence on my children. They love the outdoors and I beamed with pride. Indeed, I was home