Friday, June 29, 2012

Reverse Migration

I've never liked Michiganders who complain about the Michigan winters and constantly talk about fleeing South in search of warm weather. Stop complaining and just move! 

I just don't get it: Michigan winters round out the glorious four seasons that make this place rich and endearing. 

Now, having said that, and at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I have to confess to a growing disdain for Michigan summers! The stifling heat and humidity is my least favorite part of our seasonal quartet, and global warming is ratcheting it up. 

I can handle it, but considering it coincides with vacation season, I'm warming up to the idea of what I'll simply call reverse migration. I want to travel to where it's cooler. 

I'm not escaping, I'm being very practical with my timing. 

Our recent stretch of near 100º weather is fueling my desire to take that little trip. I've been thinking about places to go for the past year and a Google search of the coolest cities in America (the lower 48) ranked the top three as follows:

1. San Francisco
2. Seattle
3. Portland

The Northwest coast/Northern California is clearly where it's at, and a trip out to Oregon a few years back already secured a deep love for the land out there - so the cool weather is like the cherry on top. San Francisco is number one with average mean temperatures hovering around 61º in Summer! Imagine that! Seattle is second at 65º and Portland third at 67º. 

With my sights on the coolest, (and considering I've already been to the Oregon coast) I looked a little north of San Francisco. I don't like big cities and the towering redwoods are just a little ways up the coast. My map search revealed a scintillating, personal discovery: a small city on the coast with the same weather as San Fran that's also the coastal heart of a redwood paradise. Eureka! What a stunning place to visit and explore. I've never seen Northern California and I've also heard all about the environmental battles waged in Eureka/Arcata over the logging of the redwood forests. It's an ecological/environmental hotspot (no, wait - hot analogies are all wrong for such a cool place).

There's only one problem: money.

Ideally, I'd drive out there and stop at Yellowstone, the Badlands, and other places along the way, and that would add on at least two weeks round trip, including a week or two in Eureka. That's just too much time and money for me right now, so I've been forced to look a little closer to home for a vacation from the heat. 

Two of my yooper friends have repeatedly talked about the 10 degree differential between the U.P. and Kalamazoo, so I decided to revisit an earlier dream of mine to explore the very tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. I've been to Copper Harbor before, en route to Isle Royale, but was prevented from driving all the way to the tip because of a gnarly two-track that growled at my Honda Accord at the time. We surrendered, but vowed to come back with a four-wheel drive.

Well, that time has now come. I just bought a compact SUV that should be the key to the Kingdom of the Keweenaw. I also checked the weather for Copper Harbor for the next week and the highest expected temperature is a comfortable 72º, compared to highs around 97º in Kalamazoo. Eureka!

I guess vacationing in Michigan still falls withing my philosophy of "backyard" wilderness, given it's technically still in the same state. That's all about political boundaries though - the distance from Kazoo to Copper Harbor is the same as from Kazoo to New York City. It's pretty far up there.

Hopefully next summer I'll be able to make it to Northern California, and one of these years to Seattle, since I've yet to see and explore the utmost corner of our lower 48. 

What's starting to emerge here is my own migration pattern, in the face of global warming.


  1. I have been stuck in a cool wet cycle in Northern Idaho all spring - June giving us a record 6.6 inches of rain. I'm not normally fond of hot weather like you are having but have had to come out to Rochester MN for the month of July. I find the sun and heat a relief and yes, see the irony! I suppose once the moss dries up and falls off from under my arms I'll be ready to head back to the Pacific Northwest.

    I think this is a great plan of yours. I always wanted to go out to Copper Harbor - look forward to your resulting pics.

  2. Hi Idaho Beauty. I just caught your response, albeit a month later. The one thing I don't like about Google blogs is that they don't notify you (email) when people comment.

    You have your own peculiar weather situation there. Good luck in search of heat. My plan to escape to Copper Harbor was a complete success! "Ah, what a relief it is..." Also beautiful. Go if you can. I look forward to gathering moss under my arms in the Pacific Northwest maybe next year ;)