My First Month Back in Michigan

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  1. No matter how long you've been away or how far you've traveled, it's always magical to come home.
  2. It has been a month now that I've been home from my 5-month stint in Santo Domingo, a Caribbean wild child that formed a strong craving in me for peace and order. After a year of traveling - a year that included a whirlwind month in Toronto and Montreal, and then an even more quick and dirty trip to Brussels, Barcelona and Paris - Karen and I decided it was time to come home. Not to settle down, of course - it will be a while before we do that - but to recharge, to reconnect with friends, and to rekindle our love affair with Michigan, the state that never stopped charming us, even as we both built our lives and careers four hours away in the Windy City.
  3. As you'll see from my Instagram photos over the past 4 weeks, it's been an interesting month.
  4. This particular homecoming to Michigan was the first in a very long time that I had a reason to spend more than a few days in my hometown of Ypsilanti. My sister Karen and I had some time to kill before we were due to move into our temporary apartment in the Kerrytown neighborhood of Ann Arbor, just 15 minutes from Ypsilanti, so we spent about 10 days at the folks' house, bumming around our old neighborhood.
  5. You wouldn't think one year away would cause you to look at things with new eyes, but we really have been. I spent 18 years in that little town and have sort of a love/hate relationship with it. I guess when you're yearning for the familiar, it's suddenly easier to forgive certain flaws that you found unbearable before.
  6. For example, one afternoon, I went to the historic Depot Town neighborhood and sat down by the river that runs through it, thinking that it was so peaceful and enchanting and wondering why I had never really paid much attention to this spot before, even though the house I grew up in was just a few miles away.
  7. Finally home after months abroad. Missing #santodomingo already, but settling back in here. Check out the #Ypsilanti water tower, a favorite landmark of anyone with an imagination. #travel #puremichigan #instagood #instalike #instadaily #love #digitalnomad
    Finally home after months abroad. Missing #santodomingo already, but settling back in here. Check out the #Ypsilanti water tower, a favorite landmark of anyone with an imagination. #travel #puremichigan #instagood #instalike #instadaily #love #digitalnomad
  8. Made a trip to #eastlansing #michigan this weekend and stopped by the #MSU Children's Garden. You don't have to be a kid to like this place. #travel #spring #midwest #instagood #instalike #instadaily #digitalnomad #workfromhome #love #picoftheday
    Made a trip to #eastlansing #michigan this weekend and stopped by the #MSU Children's Garden. You don't have to be a kid to like this place. #travel #spring #midwest #instagood #instalike #instadaily #digitalnomad #workfromhome #love #picoftheday
  9. I'm hoping to form some new habits while we've got a chunk of time in one familiar place. Our friends in the Dominican spent all day every single Sunday with their families, a practice that made me look long and hard at my own efforts to spend time with family members, which of course, is a very hard thing to do when you're out of the country all the time.
  10. I swore that when I got back I'd take every chance I got to be with my family and friends, and I got right to it. The weekend I got back my folks and I drove up to MSU (my youngest sister goes to school there) and spent a few hours walking through MSU's colorful Children's Garden, though unfortunately, not much was in bloom yet.
  11. And to round out the reunion, one of my older brothers and his young son just happened to be visiting from Belgium during our first week back. A group of us went over to my other brother's house in Walled Lake, probably the cutest little lake town ever. While my niece and nephew played in the sandy "beach" area, I stood at the shore and thought about all the lovely beaches in the Dominican, and how I probably didn't appreciate them enough while I was there. But here's the thing: Once you start traveling all the time, you get used to the feeling of just passing through. It becomes painful to cling to things you like, because you know you won't have them for long. So sometimes, the best strategy is not to get too attached.
  12. I left #santodomingo #dominicanrepublic a few weeks ago and didn't think I'd see a #beach again for a while. But #puremichigan is full of #beautiful surprises.  Feast your eyes on the cute lakefront in Walled Lake. Can't wait to visit again in #summer. #digitalnomad #workfromhome #travel #travelblogger #michigan #instalike #instadaily #instagood #love #picoftheday #spring #mittenlove #michiganpride #madeinmichigan
    I left #santodomingo #dominicanrepublic a few weeks ago and didn't think I'd see a #beach again for a while. But #puremichigan is full of #beautiful surprises. Feast your eyes on the cute lakefront in Walled Lake. Can't wait to visit again in #summer. #digitalnomad #workfromhome #travel #travelblogger #michigan #instalike #instadaily #instagood #love #picoftheday #spring #mittenlove #michiganpride #madeinmichigan
  13. I have to admit that now and then in those first few weeks settling into our rented rooms in Ann Arbor, I ached for the Dominican, for its noisy mornings and sunny afternoons. But mostly, I was finding myself completely infatuated with the town - its cute shops, its vegan restaurants, the Main Street area, and of course, all of the parks, rivers and trees that dress up the university town. And though I lived here before for four years during college, I rarely ventured to the north side, and honestly, the town has changed a lot since I left back in 2004.
  14. Every day in Ann Arbor is a happy day. Karen and I keep pinching ourselves to see if we really are here, if we really did set up this sweet deal for ourselves. We could go anywhere in the world (as one of our new roommates pointed out), but we chose to be here, in a town that we regularly painted red about 10 years ago, when I finished college and Karen finished high school. A town that probably doesn't remember us, though we certainly remember it.
  15. And after a decade in Chicago and a year in major cities around the world, it's turning out that this small-town summer is just what I needed.
  16. One of these days, I'm going to hit the water at the #annarbor Argo Cascades. #Michigan #michiganlove #mittenlove #instagood #instalike #instadaily #picoftheday #water #spring #park #digitalnomad #travel #nature #umich #goblue
    One of these days, I'm going to hit the water at the #annarbor Argo Cascades. #Michigan #michiganlove #mittenlove #instagood #instalike #instadaily #picoftheday #water #spring #park #digitalnomad #travel #nature #umich #goblue
  17. Whenever I have a little free time and the weather is nice, I head out on foot to nearby parks. So far my favorites are Bandemer Park and Island Park, both of which are located on the Huron River. Spend any amount of time at either one and you'll see a steady stream of kayakers pass by. Both parks have walking trails, and you might be surprised at how deep into the woods they wind.
  18. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. These flowers are for you! Grown right here in #annarbor #michigan. #mittenlove #midwest #umich #goblue #love #mothersday #instagood #instalike #instadaily #spring #puremichigan #madeinmichigan
    Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. These flowers are for you! Grown right here in #annarbor #michigan. #mittenlove #midwest #umich #goblue #love #mothersday #instagood #instalike #instadaily #spring #puremichigan #madeinmichigan
  19. The mysteriously calm walking trail through Bandemer Park in #annarbor #michigan. #spring #instagood #instalike #instadaily #digitalnomad #workfromhome #umich #puremichigan #mittenlove #michiganlove #Midwest #park #trail #picoftheday #travel
    The mysteriously calm walking trail through Bandemer Park in #annarbor #michigan. #spring #instagood #instalike #instadaily #digitalnomad #workfromhome #umich #puremichigan #mittenlove #michiganlove #Midwest #park #trail #picoftheday #travel
  20. Another scene from Bandemer Park in #annarbor #michigan. Can you tell #summer is just around the corner? #puremichigan #mittenlove #madeinmichigan #digitalnomad #travel #travelblogger #instalike #instagood #instadaily #nature #river #park #love #umich #goblue
    Another scene from Bandemer Park in #annarbor #michigan. Can you tell #summer is just around the corner? #puremichigan #mittenlove #madeinmichigan #digitalnomad #travel #travelblogger #instalike #instagood #instadaily #nature #river #park #love #umich #goblue
  21. What could be better than a healthy, delicious plate of #padthai from @thelunchrooma2? #food #vegan #vegetarian #annarbor #michiganlove #madeinmichigan #mittenlove #umich #puremichigan #digitalnomad #travelblogger #travel #instalike #instagood #instadaily #love #picoftheday
    What could be better than a healthy, delicious plate of #padthai from @thelunchrooma2? #food #vegan #vegetarian #annarbor #michiganlove #madeinmichigan #mittenlove #umich #puremichigan #digitalnomad #travelblogger #travel #instalike #instagood #instadaily #love #picoftheday
  22. And then there's the food. Karen and I are both vegetarians (she's vegan, actually), and though we picked Kerrytown for its proximity to the Farmer's Market and the Food Co-op, we didn't realize we'd be right by the all-vegan restaurant called The Lunch Room, which serves up healthy fare that also manages to be really yummy. We pop over there frequently - probably too frequently - and then spend the day lamenting the fact that we can't stick to our food budget and will probably eat up all of our money by the end of the summer.
  23. Last night's incredible #sunset on Torch Lake in #michigan. #michiganlove #michiganpride #puremichigan #mittenlove #lake #summer #travel #instalike #instagood #instadaily #digitalnomad #picoftheday #madeinmichigan #nature
    Last night's incredible #sunset on Torch Lake in #michigan. #michiganlove #michiganpride #puremichigan #mittenlove #lake #summer #travel #instalike #instagood #instadaily #digitalnomad #picoftheday #madeinmichigan #nature
  24. Though it may seem like we're not traveling anymore, it turns out that there's plenty worth seeing and doing in this state, and our calendars are already filling up with day trips and weekends away. On Memorial Day weekend, I took a trip with family up to Torch Lake, about a 4-hour drive from Ann Arbor in Alden, Michigan. There were rumors that this particular lake boasted turquoise Caribbean-like waters, highly unusual in this part of the country, or in any lake for that matter. Turns out it's all true - the water is indeed bluish-green with incredible clarity. It is NOT, however, warm enough to swim in, or even to kayak in, which we did. A tragic story for another time.
  25. It doesn't seem possible, but the water in Torch Lake is more like that found in the #Caribbean than most other #michigan lakes. So worth a visit. You can see clear down to the bottom. #puremichigan #madeinmichigan #mittenlove #boat #lake #michiganlove #michiganpride #travel #traveldeeper #digitalnomad #igtravel #travelblogger #instagood #instadaily #instalike #picoftheday @4torch
    It doesn't seem possible, but the water in Torch Lake is more like that found in the #Caribbean than most other #michigan lakes. So worth a visit. You can see clear down to the bottom. #puremichigan #madeinmichigan #mittenlove #boat #lake #michiganlove #michiganpride #travel #traveldeeper #digitalnomad #igtravel #travelblogger #instagood #instadaily #instalike #picoftheday @4torch
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