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Meet Nathan Smathers, feature writer here at The Awesome Mitten.
1.) Where have you lived in the Mitten state – where’s your favorite? Why?
Lansing, Cadillac, Ann Arbor, Inkster, Charlotte, Traverse City, Holt, I’ve spent a ton of time in Saginaw (where my wife is from) – most of the lower peninsula, when you think about it – But Cadillac is definitely my favorite. It’s where I grew up! Cadillac has a little bit of everything, especially if you like the water and the outdoors. There are miles and miles of trails for hiking and biking, and it is really starting to come alive downtown.
2.) Favorite Michigan beer/wine:
Sandhill Crane Vineyard’s Staccato! The vineyard is amazing, and the people there are even more so. It really is something special they’ve done down there in Jackson. The Staccato is a great all-around red, but they have quite a few wines available to suit your palette.
3.) Favorite place to eat in each city you’ve lived?
In Cadillac you can’t go wrong with Lakeside Charlies. Also El Nopal – my favorite Mexican restaurant of all time. I can’t go home without at least some chips and salsa. In Traverse City Bubba’s is great. And Crusted Creations! I love Altu’s in Lansing, and Emil’s, which is actually the oldest restaurant in town, for Italian. There are a couple newer restaurants like Fork in the Road and Meat that are doing some great things too. My wife and I love the Mexican Fiesta in Dearborn, and there are almost too many great places in Ann Arbor to mention – but you can’t go wrong with the Prickly Pear.
This doesn’t make for a great answer, but I’m not much of a drinker. The previously mentioned Sandhill Crane Vineyards is truly awesome, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough. There’s Crunchy’s in Lansing, and The Riv has been around forever. I like Spag’s in Williamston (near Lansing) and the pizza is great there too. In Traverse City there’s North Peak/Kilkenny’s and The Mackinaw Brewing Company is pretty awesome too.
5.) What’s the one thing that every Michigander should experience?
I love the Mackinac Bridge. Every time you cross it it feels special. As you head towards the bridge and it begins to appear over the horizon – it gets me every time. Take the long way around and stop at the Sleeping Bear dunes on your way North. they pretty much define “awesome.”
6.) What Michigan bands are you listening to these days/or what’s the last great Michigan band you saw live?
Check out Rachael Davis! She’s truly talented – her voice is just amazing. She’s got a couple of records on iTunes. I missed the Earthwork Music Festival this year – I will be there next year come hell or high water.
Music is something I’m truly passionate about, and Michigan has such a rich musical history. Motown is definitely my favorite. I’ve spent many, many hours listening to all of those old records – the music is so alive, so vibrant. It really is timeless. I wish I was around then to be there firsthand.
7.) What’s your favorite story you’ve written for the Awesome Mitten (favorite place, event, whatever):
The weimaraner rescue has a special place in my heart, for sure. If someone adopts a dog after reading my article, weimaraner or otherwise, my job is done. When you see a big pack of grey dogs running around you can’t help but smile.
After writing about Brockway Mountain, I definitely need to go! Isle Royale as well. I don’t get out camping nearly as much as I’d like, but the upside is that here in the mitten state you don’t have to go far for great camping – no matter where you are.
9.) Advice to people who have recently moved to Michigan?
Get outside! Visit one of the great lakes – they have special healing properties, I swear. Take a walk in the woods -find a place where you can hear yourself think. These things get overlooked too often, and here in Michigan they can be a part of every single day.
10.) Anything else?
Thank you for this site, Alex. I was a long time reader, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Go Tigers!