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50 before 25 - Michigan & Ohio

Ohio: The Heart of it All

State #: 25

Cities traveled to: Cuyahoga Valley, Cleveland 

Population: 11.78M

Minimum wage: $10.45/hr

Famous people from OH:

Neil Armstrong, Lebron James, Toni Morrison, Steven Spielberg


Michigan: Great Lakes State

State #: 26

Cities traveled to: Traverse City, Flint

Population: 10.05M

Minimum wage: $10.33/hr 

Famous people from MI: 

Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Tom Brady, Majic Johnson


NOVEMBER 24, 2023 — NOVEMBER 26, 2023


Alright, let's hear it. “You went to Michigan in November??” Yes, we did. And yes, it was cold. And yes, it snowed. 


But hey, we’re here for the full experience–and it doesn’t get more Michigan than driving 2 hours in a snowstorm. 

At least the snow meant it was warming up; when we first arrived it was only 19 degrees. 


For the most recent write up–we have been to 5 additional states since–Michigan and Ohio. We started our adventure to the tip of Michigan (I’m talking basically Canada), Traverse City, the morning after Thanksgiving. Thank you to my Aunt Grace Ann and Uncle Alfred for hosting us on Thanksgiving night at their house near Scranton, PA so that we would be just a few hours closer when we began our long drive. 


Our first stop was Cuyahoga National Park, just a short drive from Cleveland. Cuyahoga was interesting, the park is just off of the highway and doesn’t offer many views. In fact, Miki and I made several jokes about how the views we did have were of the highway. No joke, we hiked for about an hour and a half and all we saw was highway 271 and 80 west. Great roads nonetheless, just not what I was expecting on our much anticipated hike. It was also December and everything was dead, so no hate to this hike! 


Oh! And a body of water! There are a few different bodies of water in Cuyahoga Valley; the one we saw was the Cuyahoga River. This river has a mouth that leads to Lake Erie—I automatically assume any body of water in these states leads to a Great Lake—but still cool! We then stopped for a late lunch in Cleveland. Cleveland is a cute city–small with not much hustle and bustle but certainly charm. 


As for the food: I’m sorry Cleveland, but it sucked. Not a fan. I was starving and still didn’t finish my meal. 


After our stop in Ohio, we still had another six hours of driving until we reached our hotel. We buckled in and began playing some games. Miki owns We’re Not Really Strangers, a game that really forces you to connect with the person you’re playing with. We have found that Miki and I have some of our best conversations on these long car rides. It helps us not only learn more about each other, but the time passes so much quicker. 


Before we reached our hotel in Traverse City we stopped at the local Kroger for cheese and wine, our staples. No matter how exhausted we are–there is always time for some cheese and wine. 

Kroger was home to some interesting people–it was 19 degrees and a man walked in wearing shorts and a tee shirt. Was he built different? Or maybe people from Michigan are just more acclimated to the cold weather? He bought 4 containers of whipped cream. Listen, I like whipped cream as much as the next guy, but definitely not as much as that guy. 


Just after midnight we arrived at the Tru by Hilton in Traverse City, our home to be free and snack on cheese and wine in peace and heat for the next two nights. 


The next morning we pigged out at the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, the best way to start the day! We then headed over to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Seashore. 

This. Hike. Was. Amazing


The 4 mile hike provided captivating view points of not only monstrous sand dunes but of Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan is scary. Intense cold breezes coming off the water and waves as high as those on calm days at the Jersey Shore. But the color of the water is what truly leaves you gobsmacked. So cold and so clear the water is a crisp baby blue with crystal like opaque white foam—the result of the surprising crashing waves. 

Waves on a lake. Forever crazy. 


This hike is an absolute must see for me. Pictures do it no justice. After our hike (in below freezing temperatures) we headed back to see more of Traverse City. One thing that caught our attention was the Grand Traverse Bay; beautiful, but unsettling. The Bay plays with the sky to create this dark grey color where they both meet. It messes with your eyes and makes the horizon appear endless. 


This Bay, near Clinch Park, has signs everywhere discouraging people from fishing/swimming in the bay. The signs stated that people in the water could be victims of electric shock. 

What does this mean? Please, could someone who understands how an entire bay could be electrified share your knowledge with Miki and I. We still lose sleep over it.


As Miki scoured the internet for further explanation on the bay I picked out a place for us to eat a late lunch—Olive Garden. Surprised? 


This was the fanciest Olive Garden Miki and I have ever had the pleasure of dining in. And let me tell you–we paid for it. Literally. The food was more expensive than what it would have been here in NJ. That being said, it did not disappoint. We then headed back to our hotel room for a bit of refuge from the cold and impending snowstorm. We snuggled up to a movie and some more wine and cheese, attempting to get some rest for our long twelve hour drive the following morning. 

Ohio and Michigan are both great states. I was blown away by the nature of Michigan and how powerful and beautiful the lakes are. Go check it out for yourselves!


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loved this article so much!

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