Wanderlust – Up North

Ocean like lakes, pine tree forests and a sunset that runs a deeper red than the bottom of my heart.

I never knew these beauties could all exist together in one place, let alone in Northern Michigan. Sure, as a 24 year old London town daydreamer, Australia, Thailand and the South coast of Italy were all on my bucket list but I had never even heard of the Great Lakes let alone wanted to visit them, at least not until an unexpected job opportunity arose back in the summer of 2012.

I was yet to find a place that offered a relaxed lifestyle but endless adventure, nature interspersed with such creativity, scorching hot summer days but cosy breezy nights, yet there I was, about to make the transition into that exact lifestyle without even knowing it. Although Traverse City is a hugely popular vacation hotspot for wealthy affluent Chicago town families during the summer, you are more likely to find yourself immersed in the spectacular scenery alongside the chilled, adventurous and free spirited locals instead.

If you have a pretty laid-back and sociable personality like myself, you’ll know London is way too fast paced and self centred for those kind of people. I never knew paddle boarding during your lunch break was even a thing or that walking through town bare feet could be considered socially acceptable. It didn’t take long for all the new age, bare bricked walled coffee shops to become my favourite hang out. I mean, I had coffee and wifi at home but what I didn’t have was matcha flavoured vegan gelato or like minded groups of people asking if I wanted to play pictionary with them.

The food is fast and cheap but flavoursome and fresh. From Thai to gourmet burgers, restaurants to street food trucks. It’s every young travellers dream. I spent several happily contented solo days in my hammock on the bay of Lake Michigan reading my book and made life-long memories barbecuing on the beach with friends, I experienced both the thrill of tubing on the lake and the peacefulness of whiling away some much needed free time trying to figure out what tattoo I’d get to remember this awesome place.

Being the hot headed, stubborn and overprotective taurus that I am, the calming night skies and soft illuminating moon always brings out the patient, stable and devoted side of me. The element of the earth grounds me and I have never before felt so settled and established like I did on Northern Michigan soil. The unpolluted night sky twinkles almost as brightly as the sun kissed lakes surface during the day. The shooting stars grant you countless wishes and the combination of cool winds and warm campfires settle all of your senses and prepare you for an unruffled sleep. Why book yourself into a 5 star hotel when you can book yourself into a 5 billion star hotel?

Traverse City was just the beginning, the adventures in Northern Michigan were endless. The National Parks and smaller lakes are voted some of the best in the world. And as for their cherries; well, you’ll just have to go and try those out for yourself. It isn’t the Cherry Capital of the world for nothing you know.