Forays into more of Pure Michigan don't disappoint

Working remote is nothing new.

I've done it while I've been sick, while my husband had COVID and the first two years my daughter went to sleep-away camp in Holland, Mich.

But I've never worked remotely "on the road," so to speak, where I've stayed in a different hotel every night. That's what I did last week as I accompanied my husband, Dan, on sales calls. We dropped Ainsley off near the shores of Lake Michigan Monday and hit the road Tuesday, traveling some 558 miles to Traverse City, then Mackinaw City and back again. Along the way we stopped in Cadillac, Petoskey, Cheybogan, Carson City and Grand Rapids.

During previous camp weeks, we spent all our time at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Holland. I could work in our room or the bistro downstairs. This year my office traveled with me. My morning routine included consulting Yelp for a spot near Dan's first sales call where I could work while he met with customers.

I loved writing and editing from different coffee shops whose Wi-Fi passwords were things like "Ghirardelli" and "cupcakes," but I found being on the move all the time a bit discombobulating.

Working in establishments that serve food presents another challenge if you are, A) trying to be a conscientious customer and not take up a table for two hours after purchasing only a cup of coffee, or B) low on willpower. So my coffee drinks often were accompanied by a cherry scone or cherry muffin or the occasional chocolate chip cookie.

Working in the car makes it easier to avoid such high-calorie treats, but it is dependent on a strong cell signal and hotspots and is not ergonomically correct. The scenery - especially in the northernmost part of the state - also can be quite distracting.

The benefit of working in local spots (I avoided Starbucks when I could) is meeting the local patrons. I met a lovely gentleman at State Street Coffee in Cheybogan. We struck up a conversation and after learning what I do for a living, he advised I check out the St. Ignace News if I could find one in Mackinaw City. His suggestion gave us an excuse to traverse the Mackinac Bridge in order to pick up a copy of the paper at its offices - and to say we went to the UP.

At another coffee shop in Petoskey, I learned of a college major I hadn't heard of before: anthropological linguistics - the study of the relationship between language and culture. It often involves working on languages that have no written record, and is a good major for those considering law school, at least according to one barista.

Stumbling across interesting people in interesting places is one of the amazing parts about a trip like this. Another wonderful thing is that at the end of the work day, you're on vacation. Wednesday night we spent the evening relaxing in front of a firepit on the little beach at the back of our motel in Mackinaw City, enjoying a spectacular view of the bridge and Lake Huron. Had we not indulged in a piece of four-berry pie a la mode for dessert, we would have enjoyed roasting marshmallows for the complimentary s'mores.

Saugatuck remains my favorite spot in Michigan, and the standard against which I measured every other town we visited. But this trip did whet my appetite to visit other parts of the state. I'd love to spend time at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, take the ferry to Mackinac Island and stop in Frankfort, the favorite Michigan destination of reader advisory board member Bill Facinelli.

I would enjoy a visit to Detroit as well, since I've only seen it from the highway while driving home from Toronto. And a visit to Lake Superior would allow me to check off all five of the Great Lakes - which I would like to learn more about before my next trip.

I suppose that is one of the things I enjoy most about traveling to new places - the desire it sparks to discover even more.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean