Have you ever met someone who grew up in the lower peninsula of Michigan?
When you did, did they put out their right hand and point to exactly where on their wrinkled palm is their home sweet home? Michiganders are extremely proud of the states mitten-like shape and the ability to bring geographical awareness to even the most corn-filled, less than five square mile, single stoplight towns.
I’m one of those proud Michiganders, though I did not grow up in the town pinpointed on the palm to the right. I grew up in a population 8,000 town, South of Detroit that featured a whopping eight stoplights and a Subway! After I went away to school my family made the move, one by one, to the West side of the state, settling in Kalamazoo. No, It’s not my hometown but you know what they say, “Home is where the heart is.” My heart is with these two really sweet tiny humans:
Since these tinies were born, I’ve tried to go to Kalamazoo to visit every 1-2 months. I’ve become very well acquainted with the city, and have really grown fond of the town. The homes and neighborhoods exist on rolling hillsides, the downtown area is nice, maintained and growing, there is a fanfreakingtastic farmers market, arts community, a ton of microbreweries, and a great variety of unique restaurants too.
This past weekend, I boarded an Amtrak train from Chicago’s Union Station and headed back to Kalamazoo to celebrate my mom and brother-in-law’s birthdays. We had a birthday bash featuring three smoked meats and a princess birthday cake, went out for Mexican and margaritas, snacked, appetized, and drank too much red wine. It was all quite enjoyable, but my body was in serious need of some exercise. It was a chilly 28 degrees, but my sister insisted I layer up and then led the way to the Kal-Haven trail.
The 33 mile former railroad bed has a limestone surface, making it easy for runners with sensitive knees (me). The path links the city of Kalamazoo to the city of South Haven crossing over bridges, passing through small towns and points of historical interest and ending up in the wonderful little Lake Michigan beach town.
My sister is training for the Kalamazoo Marathon, so I made her stick to my pace and give me a preview of the trail that was less than three miles. Even in that short spread, we enjoyed some pretty views and had some fun playing on a bright red caboose! It was my first time on the trail and as you can tell, I was having a little bit of fun.
I learned that there are a variety of marathon, bike and triathalon training events that take place on the trail throughout running season and bonus – there are camping grounds along the way and at the beach! I’m pretty sure a Kalamazoo to South Haven trip on the trail just found a top spot on my summer bucket list! Look at those trees – beautiful in this weather, could you imagine how they’d look in the spring?!
P.S. Look at this smiley selfie! 🙂 We really, really, really LOVE sister time!