"It's so isolated up here, and there's nothing to do in the Copper Country. I'm bored."
I've heard that line in some form countless times during the almost 25 years I've spent growing up in the Keweenaw, but every time I do, I cringe.
Isolated? Sure, I'll buy that one. Anybody who's traveled to Marquette just to experience more variety of clothes options at Kohl's or driven to Green Bay, Minneapolis, Chicago or Detroit (all day trips, by the way) just to see what a pro sporting event is like outside the television or (fill in the blank with your "civilization" experience), knows we're a tad removed from big city life.
But don't dare say there's nothing to do up here. There's been a festival seemingly every weekend this summer, and in some cases - FinnFest USA 2013 and Bridgefest 2013 - more than one at a time. Food connoisseurs, we've had Seafood Fest and PastyFest. Art and music lovers, we've had the Spring Art and Music Festival and Pine
Mountain Music Festival. Athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, there's been the Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival and Baraga County Lake Trout Festival - not to mention bike/foot races or fishing derbies almost every weekend, too. This weekend we have the 65th annual Strawberry Festival.
Festival-ed out? Maybe, but bored? No way.
And I didn't even mention the traditional Fourth of July celebrations sprinkled all over the Copper Country, the county fair season that's just on the horizon and the daily assortment of more traditional sporting events held, even during the quieter summer season. From Little League, to American Legion baseball, to Twilight League and Senior Softball, there really is something for everybody. Not an athlete? Come watch - but don't forget the bug spray or sunscreen.
Growing up here, I guess I've always been aware of the options available, but I hadn't always taken part in most activities.
Being a journalist, I've been put on the front lines of Copper Country activities.
Being there is one thing, though, and I've enjoyed that, but it's been in talking to people visiting the area where I've really grown to appreciate the area.
For example, I just talked to a Summer Youth Programs participant at Michigan Technological University earlier this week. She was visiting from New Jersey, and while she admitted to a bit of culture shock, she acknowledged the friendly feel and close-knit community.
Michigan Tech hockey and volleyball recruits often tell me the same thing, whether they've always lived in small towns or are about to experience their first full taste of life outside the big city.
Now, I'm not trying to pretend the Keweenaw has the same number of options as a big city. I'm sure instead of choosing between two festivals on the same weekend, you have a dozen options. Great, maybe that's your thing, but good luck running into more than a handful of people you know.
Big cities have their perks. Variety is one, I'm sure, but that's not all there is to life. There is something the Copper Country has that a big city just can't quite equal: community.
While I'd love to someday see what bigger-city life is like, there's just something unique about taking a walk or attending an event knowing I'll run into somebody I know.
Maybe I'll start to hear more people say: "It's isolated up here, but I'm surprised how much there is to do. I'm content."