I've never been good at goodbyes.
Nobody truly is, but bidding farewell to people has always hit me particularly hard. Whether it was moving to Minnesota when I was younger, leaving for college, leaving college or seeing my grandparents for what I knew in the back of my mind was the final time, it often took me weeks to recover.
Yet as I've matured as an adult, I've found it easier to always look on the bright side of life, and examine the positive sides of change instead of the sadder parts. So as I finish my five-and-a-half year stint with the Gazette and make the exciting but scary transition to an engineering job downstate, I've been reflecting on the Copper Country features I will miss rather than the ones I will gleefully leave behind (the 200-plus inches of snow come to mind).
Favorite interview: Jeff Daniels (twice). Although I was a little starstruck, I managed to keep my composure and not slip in any "Dumb and Dumber" references. Daniels gave great quotes and I barely had to ask any questions. Great musician, a funny guy and an underrated actor.
Favorite concert/event: Honorable mentions go to Daniels/Brian Vander Ark and "Spamalot," but the concert I most thoroughly enjoyed was The Blanks. Seeing Ted's band from "Scrubs" was fantastic, and they're actually quite talented musicians.
Favorite time of year: Most would say summer or winter, but I actually enjoy autumn the most up here. Driving on the covered road, leaf-peeping, crisp but not too crisp temperatures, getting pumpkins and memories of a snowy October wedding all make autumn the best.
Favorite item to cover: Most fall and winter sports were quite fun to attend, and Tech football was probably my favorite beat, but the trip to Battle Creek to cover Calumet volleyball's quest to become the first U.P. state champion was a blast.
Most embarrassing moment:?When I was young and stupid (in college), I made a bet with my friends that whoever got married first would have to stand on a chair and serenade everyone at the reception. That one came back to bite me, although thankfully my friends picked "All You Need is Love" for me to exhibit my tone-deafness rather than something much worse.
That's just a snapshot of my time up here. While it wasn't always roses and butterflies, many of the momentous events of my life occurred in the Copper Country. I got my first job, met the woman I would eventually marry, got married, graduated college for a second time and had my first kid. For those reasons and much more, memories of the U.P. will always bring a smile to my face.
So farewell, my fond Keweenaw friends. I hope to see many of you again soon, but if I don't, it's been a pleasure.
Zach Kukkonen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.