It’s currently mid-April and my toes are damp because I refuse to wear snow boots. I’m in denial of the 6 inches of fresh white stuff accumulated on my windshield overnight. My sneakers are sponges soaking up the wet snow as I brush off my truck.

I’ve been living in Traverse City since January. It seemed like a random move for some of my friends. For the past two years, I lived in a solar-powered camper roaming around the country from North Carolina to California. I made friends all over the US andI’ve been getting lots of questions since my move to Northern Michigan. Mostly, “So, why Traverse City?”

I first came to Traverse City as a high schooler visiting my aunt in the summer. And she explained the difference between a local and a “Fudgie.” Obviously, locals are those who live here full time. Well, sort of. I’ve been told that you need to endure a few Northern Michigan winters to be considered a true local. I still have my Florida plates, so I’ve got a long way to go. And then in the warmer months, you have the “Fudgies.” People come from all over the country for the beautiful beaches, wineries of Leelanau, expansive views of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and the many festivals including the National Cherry Festival, which gets at least half a million visitors. I haven’t lived in the area through tourist season yet and I hear traffic can be challenging through the city, but many of the locals respect the fact that the tourists are the reason why Traverse City exists in the first place.

I’ve asked around “So do you like Traverse City?” Most locals enthusiastically say something like “Oh yes. I moved here three years ago and I would never leave.” or “I love it here. Traverse City holds a special place in my heart.” Then most ask me if I like it here and I tell them yes. They almost always reply “Oh, just wait until summer!”

I was born three hours east in Tawas and I grew up around the Great Lakes. I’m accustomed to Northern Michigan hospitality. And Traverse City has that small town feel, but it’s also got a lot going on. There are plenty of breweries, coffee houses, and great food. Add to that a gorgeous coastline and it’s easy to see why people love it here.

Well, I may not be a true local yet, but after living here for a few months I’ve really come to love it. Going from permanent nomad to small town in the dead of winter was an adjustment. But I’ve found it easy to make friends in Traverse City. And I’ve had a great winter. I’m over snow in April, but I’ve really been spoiled with all the winter activities. In the past month, I snowshoed the trails at Sleeping Bear Dunes with my sister. And I’ve been heading out every chance I can with my adventure buddy Andrea. She usually packs a dog or two in her Subaru. Reiko loves the snow. Bella, not so much. Together, we’ve searched the beach for Leeland Blue’s, hiked Alligator Hill to a beautiful view of Leelanau Peninsula, sledded down the Dune Climb at Sleeping Bear, cross-country skied the VASA trail, you name it. Andrea and I  even braved the cold for a backpacking trip at Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula.

So even though spring should be here, I’m enjoying our long winter in Northern Michigan. My cross county skis are still in the truck and I have a feeling I’ll be ditching the sneakers for one last loop on the VASA trail.

Josh Hartman – Traverse City Photographer

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 We’ve had quite a year in Traverse City, Michigan. Andrea and I have frozen our boots off at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we’ve tipped a kayak in the Boardman River, and we’ve gotten eaten alive by mosquitos backpacking the Jordan River Valley. I’m so glad I found someone who shares my same twisted definition of fun.

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Awesome photos, Josh! I miss living in Traverse. I lived in Acme right across from the bay with the TART trail behind my house. I miss the water, the sky, and being so close to so many great hiking spots. Your photos take me back! Looking forward to some warm-weather ones, too 😉


Thanks so much Andrea! Yeah, it’s a pretty amazing area. And yes, warmer weather is just around the corner. 🙂

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