Well, my quest to visit all FIFTY, the so-called Nifty Fifty, has finally ended, or shall we say peaked with the state of Michigan. Though I may have changed planes here (back in the Eighties) with a now defunct airline, like Northwest Orient, I doubt I would have deplaned or even left the airport. I have nothing against Michigan, and certainly consider Ann Arbor one of the more interesting places to visit, mostly due to the University.
There is more here in this northern state than dark and depressing Detroit. They have something here called the Upper Peninsula. No other state has that! If you take out your handy, dandy Rand McNally you’ll note that the Upper Peninsula is a long piece of land, over 300 miles, and thickish in places. It is about 30 percent of Michigan’s land mass but contains only 3 percent of its population.
But I digress. The long journey, by hook and by crook, has ended. Am I sad? Not in the least. I have, as they say, bigger fish to fry. I still need to visit some National Parks, and I would like to take Amtrak’s Empire Builder between Seattle and Chicago. And Alaska’s northern light show would be another delight.
Michigan is actually our only state that consists of two peninsulas. The name comes from a French form of the Ojibwa word, mishigamaa, meaning “large water” or large lake.” The capital is Lansing, but the largest city is dirty old Detroit. It is our ninth most populous state, but also the largest state (in total land area) east of the Mississippi River.
The peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. It has the longest fresh water coastline of any political entity in the world, including Lake Baikal in Russia. It is bound by four of the five Great Lakes. Can you name them? Add to that a mere 64,980 inland lakes and ponds. That should create a wonderful habitat for the ubiquitous and unofficial state bird, the mosquito.
For those of you who live outside of the U.S., Michigan is most widely known as the home of the Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. I consider Michigan to be significant because our NFL San Francisco Forty Niners won their first Super Bowl here after the 1981 season. I also hear there are some great golf to be had, in the summer only!
So, which famous people hail from Michigan other than Henry Ford? The list includes: Herbert Henry Dow (Chemical), Orville Gibson (guitar), Homer Stryker, Malcolm X, Jack Kevorkian, Robert Jarvik, Jimmy Hoffa, Daniel Ellsberg, President Gerald Ford, George and Mit Romney, Jonas Salk, Christie Brinkley, Glenn Seaborg, George Armstrong Custer, Walter Reuther, Thomas Edison, Rosa Parks, Will Kellogg (corn flakes), C.W. Post, Scott McNealey, William Hewlett, Roger Penske, William Boeing, Kate Upton, Sanjay Gupta, Dick Enberg, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Francis Ford Coppola. Impressive!
But music from Motown is what I remember most from my younger days. The headliners were/are: Berry Gordy (founder of Motown), Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, The Spinners, The Temptations, Mary Wells, Al Green, Martha Reeves, and Junior Walker. Newer music originates from Alice Cooper, Eminem, Glen Frey, Kid Rock, Madonna, Ted Nugent, and Bob Seeger.