(First of all, the title of my column is in response to Just Laugh’s current issue theme, which by a roll of the dice apparently turned out being Cinco de Mayo. Since this column really has nothing to do with Mexicans, the nation of Mexico or Corona imported-beer, this is the closest we’re gonna get…)

Look outside your window right now. Go ahead – get up and walk over to the window (trust me, the computer will be there when you get back!). What’s the weather like outside at your house??? What’s that, you say? Sunny and warm – pretty much the norm for this time of year? Well then, I envy you more than you will ever know…

You see, I live in Northern Michigan (current weather conditions: sucky, increasing to total crap by nightfall). Normally it’s a great place to be – there’s virtually no crime, the scenery is absolutely beautiful and the majority of the people are pretty easy to get along with, but don’t get your hopes up just yet. Sure, I’ve even got the legendary Alpenfest right in my back yard every single year, but there’s one tiny catch that bitters even this icing on the cake…

The other night I woke up at about three in the morning to get a late-night snack. After making my selection from the fridge, I turned around and mistakenly got a glimpse out the window. There was snow on the ground – white, cold, evil snow. I stood there for ten minutes trying to figure it out myself, after which I had finished my sandwich and decided that it was time to stumble back to bed.

If you’re confused by this point, let me explain: this is spring – the end of April even! Two days prior, the temperatures got up to eighty-five degrees during the day and barely below sixty at night, and now we’re back to decking the halls and preparing ourselves for the jolly, old, fat man. Hell, I haven’t even finished taking my Christmas lights down yet, and now there’s reason enough to start putting them back up again! I had even impressed myself (along with half of the neighborhood!) by getting a head-start on raking the yard before the city had to send the threatening letters, and now it’s all buried underneath that fluffy, white crap…where’s the love here?!?!?!

I don’t even know why we even have “weathermen” up here because out of all the reports I’ve heard over my years, exactly three of them have been accurate and two of them were while I was on vacation in a different state! It’s like the equivalent of me practicing antique furniture restoration or professional football and actually being serious about it. Of course, there was that stint back in high school…yep, they used to call me “Shotgun-Arm Scottie,” but that’s another story altogether…

Where was I, anyways? Oh yeah, that’s right – the weather up here is completely unpredictable and generally sucky. (as if our board of tourism doesn’t hate me enough already!) It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if only Mother Nature would make up her mind once in a while and just pick a season…preferably one of the ones that doesn’t have much snow in it. I say much because as any Northern Michigan resident knows, winter is always right around the corner…and it’s usually packing heat, or cold in this case…

So you still want to make the trip up north this year, eh? Well, as much as I rant on and on about my anti-tourism ideals, deep in my heart I realize that the economy of this little community depends on the exchange of your hard-earned dollars for our trinkets and do-dads to survive (that, and I’ll be reading about it in the paper for the next year and a half if tourism is down…), so here’s my contribution to the cause. Below I’ve compiled a packing list to prepare you for your journey into the Great White North. It’s good for just about any time of the year and I personally guarantee that everything you could possibly need for such an adventure is included in my list. (not really) Feel free to print it out and give it to all of your friends – maybe as a going away present because chances are they’re never going to see you again…

Aren’t there bears “outside”???

Scott’s Northern Michigan Adventure Check-List

  • Warm-weather clothing (shorts, t-shirts, bug spray, etc…)
  • Cold-weather clothing (long pants, sweat shirts, bug spray)
  • Really cold-weather clothing (thermal underwear, sweaters, fuzzy hat)
  • Full range of jackets (wind-breaker, spring, rain, winter, ski, arctic exploration)
  • Footwear (hiking boots, galoshes, waders, walking shoes, running shoes, snow shoes, bowling shoes, ski boots, mukluks)
  • Socks
  • Umbrella (like it’ll matter…)
  • Sunglasses
  • Big, floppy “tourist” hat
  • Over-sized fanny pack (if you’re ultra cool, go for the leather one…)
  • A map of a neighboring state (it’ll be just as confusing – trust me!)
  • A gigantic cooler, filled with more food than your entire family could eat in a month
  • Camera (because you’ll definitely want to capture the whole thing on tape)
  • Video camera (it picks up the crying and arguing much better than ordinary film)
  • Ear plugs (“Are we there yet?!?!?!)
  • Cyanide capsules (just in case…)

And the most important thing to bring on your trip to Northern Michigan…

  • All of your credit cards

Just remember – Michigan is the one shaped like a hand…reaching out to take all of your money. Hope to see you all real soon!!!