Friday, August 29, 2014


It's official. I am moving back to Michigan.

I will be living and working in the Detroit area. I am excited to have the opportunity to spend more time in the city and to be near friends and family whom I have not seen enough during the last several years. I also am looking forward to taking weekend trips throughout the state. I will continue to write about Michigan and Detroit, and I am thrilled that I will have more experiences to write about.

In my very first blog post, I wrote, "Michigan is in my blood. It is who I am." No matter where I have lived, I always considered Michigan to be home.

I'm coming home.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Year in Review

Rediscovering the DIA
Lifelong Michigander started one year ago today with my first post.

With one year down, and hopefully many more to come, I would like to share some of my favorite posts/experiences while running this blog.

Most Popular Posts

These five posts had the most page views:

5. The Sugar House: A Thrilling Tale of Prohibition in Detroit

The Sugar House is a good read, especially for history buffs. As a Polish-American, I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the Polish immigrant experience in Detroit in the early 1900s.

4. Burn: A must-see movie

I have a special place in my heart for firefighters, so I am happy that this post reached a lot of people. Hopefully, some of them watched this great film and donated to the Detroit fire department (or their local fire departments).

3. The Little Things I Miss About Michigan

A list of a few things I miss about Michigan. It is by no means exhaustive. I am grateful that Getty Images allows free usage of most of their catalog now, so that I could find plenty of photos to publish with this post.

2. Detroit Is More Than They Say It Is

My response to all the unoriginal people who have made "Detroit is crap" and "Detroit is dead" into top searches on Google.

1. 104 Weekend Days in Michigan, Part I

I was crazy enough to come up with a list of 104 weekend activities throughout the state of Michigan (one for each weekend day of the year). Part I was the most popular blog post of the year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Great Lakes Relay, Part III

by Jamie Stec

The author running the Great Lakes Relay. Photo courtesy of J. Stec
Day Three

There is an old saying: "If you don’t like the weather in Michigan, just blink." It can change from pleasant to catastrophic in an instant. The same could be said about the state of our roads. The combination of a long winter and aging infrastructure came together on day three to completely close a road.

We received this news as we arrived to drop our first runner at the start. Officials informed us that the first runner would also have to do the second leg, since no cars would be able to make it to the exchange point. Suddenly, all (poorly laid) plans were thrown out, everything changed, and we sent our runner off at 6:00 a.m., southwest of Grayling, and continued on to the exchange to pick up the third runner.

The next bit of the morning was a blur of waiting, cramped sleeping in the back of a Scion while friends snored, and more waiting. Our third runner took a bit longer than she might have, because she stopped and took off her shoes in order to cross a large stream. We picked her up, sent the fourth runner on his way, and continued on to another charming resort town, Fife Lake.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Great Lakes Relay, Part II

by Jamie Stec

Michigan farmland near Cheboygan. Photo courtesy of J. Stec
Day Two

The second day of the Great Lakes Relay began before 5 a.m., with three vehicles full of blurry-faced runners caravaning south on I-75 to the start, in the rolling farmland below Cheboygan. My car carried the runner for the second leg, and we arrived early to figure out our game plan, and to wait for the runner who completed the first leg.

We were so early that we decided to continue down the seasonal road to find a gas station, but after advancing only a half mile or so, we realized that we were bottoming out too much to go on. We turned around and headed back the way we came. We were stopped by two bikes, sitting perfectly in the road. “Oh,” I thought. “Someone just parked here to run off into the fields and pee.” I was wrong. Those were our bikes--that flew off of the back of our car on that terrible road.

We remounted our bikes and hurried on to the exchange to wait for the first runner, the one from our group that we would consider the most highly strung. More and more runners were arriving, and she was nowhere to be found. We contacted her by phone to realize that she and many others were lost. Her 4.7 miles of rolling hills had turned into almost six miles of panic.

We were about to take off to find her when the car wouldn’t start. Our battery was dead. Another runner’s support vehicle good-naturedly offered a jump, and their runner even waited to help before taking off. It was heart stopping and then immediately heartwarming. The Jeep was running, so we sent the second runner on her way, picked up our lost lamb, and continued down the road to find gas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Great Lakes Relay, Part I

A Warm Welcome to My First Guest Blogger

I am very grateful to share a three-part post from Jamie Stec about the Great Lakes Relay. Jamie also writes an awesome blog about her experiences fighting breast cancer. Here are two of my favorite posts from her blog: 

Please visit Jamie’s blog.

Great Lakes Relay, Part I
By Jamie Stec

Trout Brook Pond. One of the Great Lakes Relay's locales. Photo by J. Stec
You’ve probably seen the stickers on the back of cars, denoting mileage. Reading 3.1 for a 5k race, 26.2 for a marathon, and 140.6 for an Iron Man triathlon. After this last weekend, I added a new one to the back of my vehicle: 295.95.

You see, this past weekend, my ten-person team completed the 23rd annual Great Lakes Relay. The GLR is a three-day relay race that began with a bunch of nutty runners racing from the St. Clair County seat of Port Huron to the foot of the Mackinaw Bridge at the tip of the Lower Peninsula. Over the years, the course has been altered depending on interest and the allowances of the local governments, and this year, for the first time ever, the race included a day in the Upper Peninsula. Ten people, three days, trail running from Tahquamenon Falls to Sleeping Bear Dunes? What was not to love?

I was soon to find out that, from the perspective of many of my teammates, there were many things not to love. The course was difficult, the accommodations lacking, the organization iffy. But I remained undeterred. Three days of trail running from Tahquamenon Falls to Sleeping Bear Dunes was, just like the state of Michigan itself, full of experiences to love.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Real Dream Cruise on Woodward Avenue

Mural made with bottle caps at One-Eyed Betty's. Photo by A. Burtka
I have made a few trips back to the Detroit area in the last month and a half and have made a few quick stops at restaurants on or near Woodward Avenue in Oakland County. I went to an old favorite that I had not been to in a decade, another legendary restaurant that I finally tried, and two newer restaurants that I had heard good things about.

The Old Favorite

I did not know there was such a thing as Detroit-style pizza until I left Michigan, because we just called it "pizza" when I was growing up. One of my favorites was Shield's Pizza, and I recently had it again for the first time in years.

I stopped at the Troy location on Maple and Crooks about a mile east of Woodward (Shield's also has locations in Macomb Township and Southfield). I have always had traditional pizzas with toppings like pepperoni and mushrooms at Shields, so I ordered something different. The Gold Medal pizza had generous helpings of spicy banana peppers and red bell peppers. Staying true to the Detroit style, Shield's pizzas are square, deep dish pizzas with marinara sauce on top of the cheese. 

I like spicy food, but I had never had the Gold Medal before. The peppers were a lot spicier than I expected, but a little water and beer cooled me down. The crispy, buttery crust was perfect. Overall, it was excellent, and I hope to get back to Shield's soon.