After two years of zipping around the country in my solar-powered camper, I decided to take a ‘brake’ from the mobile lifestyle and settle in Traverse City, Michigan. Actually, I’m living in a cozy one room in Suttons Bay just 20 minutes from downtown. Why Northern Michigan you ask? Well, Michigan has always been one of my favorite states. It just feels like home here. I was born just three hours east where my grandparents and much of my family still live. And when it comes to the outdoors you just can’t beat Northern Michigan. Traverse City gets something like 120 inches of snow a year, there are countless hiking trails, it’s a kiteboarding and kayaking hotspot, and the coastlines are stunning. Traverse City was actually named one of America’s 100 best adventure towns by National Geographic.

And although I moved here in hibernation season (for some locals) and I didn’t know anybody, I’ve still managed to meet lots of friendly faces. Oh, that’s another thing! Traverse City is the friendliest place in the country. People actually smile at you and they will talk your ear off. And everybody is super proud and happy to be a Michigander (no exaggeration, there’s a Michigan bumper sticker on every car). Last week I dropped my wallet in a parking lot. It was returned to me within 5 minutes. A man went out of his way to Google me and deliver my wallet even though he was running late for a class. When he left he said, “Good luck on your photography business.”

So what have I been up to in Northern Michigan? Well, I’ve found lots of friends in the photography community. Again, super sweet people. I’ve got some exciting collaborations coming up and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming wedding season. I even went on a little cross-country skiing adventure at Brown Bridge Trails with Courtney and Mike from the Compass Points Here. Check that out on the blog if you haven’t seen it.

And when I’m not working on my business, usually at Brew Cafe downtown, I’m playing in the snow on my cross-country skis or scouting out new locations at Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leelanau Park, or one of the numerous other parks. In my winter excursions, I’ve learned the reason why people don’t kayak in February, to always pack an extra pair of socks AND gloves, hot cocoa is a must, and that cold is a relative term (today I ventured out in 40-degree weather and it felt like Florida).

When I first moved to Northern Michigan, I had a bad case of cabin fever. But I forced myself to get out there and I learned that there’s more stuff to do in the winter than I would have ever imagined, whether it’s a Microbrew Festival in Mancelona or a group meditation at the Higher Self Bookstore. And I still have about a dozen breweries to check out within 5 miles of Traverse City. So if you’re up for a Northern Michigan adventure or grabbing a beer downtown, hit me up. That’s all for now. 🙂

Josh Hartman, Northern Michigan Beer Enthusiast / Traverse City Wedding Photographer

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