Thursday, August 18, 2011

The most beautiful place in America....Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan


This was bound to happen sooner or later.  We tried to keep the secret safe in hopes to preserve the place we love like no other.  A place so beautiful that is was voted the most beautiful place in the USA by Good Morning America.  Not that GMA is the ultimate authority on such things.   The cat is out of the bag.... and I am concerned that the place we love so much will for ever be changed.

You see... when there is a place so beautiful and peaceful that gets this type of major national attention... "they will come...".   Like my favorite restaurant locally her in Lake Orion,  Michigan.... once  word spreads about the love of such a place... well... things change.   Things like a two to three hour wait to get a table at the Sagebrush Cantina.  People hanging out on the streets with a power packed vibrator in their pocket... waiting with eyes glazed over.... for the lighted red ring to come to life....bringing the pocket to life... and signifing that they are now the chosen one.  Get ready for a culinary reward like no other.   I have seen children smaller than their Grande Burrito!

Back to Sleeping Bear.... and my concern.  This place is so special that people who visit here often return year after year to renew and refresh.  In fact.... one of my favorite vacation spots... The Homestead ... is know as America's Fresh Water Resort.   It is a wonderful and relaxing place with unique features you cannot find anywhere.... I mean.... anywhere.  But again... if I say anymore... I've said too much... because now you might be likely to want to go there....  and crowd up my experience.  Like the people flocking to Sagebrush.... my experience is changed with people everywhere.  R.V.'s pulling tiny cars....pulling boats....stacked with bikes.... lined with lawn chairs.

So... things change.  The sleepy little town we love so much becomes over crowed with tourist AND those seniors rolling around in massive mobile homes on wheels...spewing exhaust into the air... and again... upsetting the balance of my quiet place.   If you haven't clicked on the link for the homestead your already missing the boat.  In fact.... go back and do it now.... and enjoy the wonderful gift they have loaded to the site in the recorded sounds of the wave action working the shore line.  It is peaceful and puts you into a relaxed state right here and now.

This shore line is so loved by Michiganders .....(or is it Michiganians? ) that the highway known as M 22 has become the icon that visitors proudly display on their rear bumpers or windows in the family car. What would drive someone to celebrate a long winding section of highway??  Could it be the fond memories of the experiences they had while traversing the long and winding road?  I think yes.

I have in fact become so impressed with the success of this grass roots iconic symbol.... that I have borrowed from its success in hopes to capture some of the benefit in the Orion - Oxford community.  We surely don't have the same offerings here of mammoth sand dunes,  miles of lapping waves upon sand and stone covered shores... But we have our own set of unique qualities surely worth celebrating.  What does M 24 have to offer to the world?   Follow the newly unveiled M 24 branding campaign over the next several months and find out.   The campaign was unveiled just this past week at Celebrate Oxford.   It comes in the form of a unique "organic cotton" tee shirt en-blazed with a celebratory message surrounding the M 24 badge.  Orion- Oxford... Live, Work, Play.... Oxford-Orion... Shop, Dine,  Stay.... Orion-Oxford...Bring your family/business....Oxford-Orion... Rivers, Lakes, Trails...
Finally,  how can you not love a community that "Celebrates" itself.... and where "Living is a vacation"?

FYI... sales of this special tee are going well... proceeds from the sale of this iconic tee will go toward the Oxford and Orion Chambers of commerce.

Last thing on the M 24 thing for now.... I was pleased and honored to attend a community happening last evening in the newly refreshed Children's Park in Down town Lake Orion.  The DDA decided to hold a pep rally in the park to acknowledge the participants in the fall sports programs through the Lake Orion High School district.  As I sat in the middle of this beautiful park.... I thanked God for being brought to such a special place and time.   The scene was nothing short of a movie set... small town America... families sprawled out on the newly placed rock wall and grassy spaces.... gazebo in center stage... clean fresh water flowing over the damn and into a winding river with mother ducks tending to the now maturing ducklings... really no different than the proud parents tending to their babies who are now almost ready to leave the nest!

Seriously... It was a great moment and I could not have been prouder of my children in Alex, Julia, Amanda and Molly.  Julia is a volleyball player dedicated to a sport like no other.  She is bumping and setting out on the driveway and has become a master.  In fact... one of my favorite memories from this months vacation will be the time as a family we spent.... yes... in the clean fresh waters along the Lake Michigan shore line.... bumping... and setting in the waves... Pure Michigan... Let's not forget to give props to the Lake Orion Dragon Football Team.  My son Alex is a senior this year and they will begin the defense of their Division I State Championship next week.

Now the tie in.... M 24 connects Orion to Oxford with a mile or so long patch of highway.  But the connections run much deeper.  You see year ago... way back in another time... this was a rivalry like no other.  It was bad... and bitter.  So much so.... that the powers that be decided it could not continue and was split right down the middle.  Thrown away and the door slammed... for over 25 years the Oxford Wildcats went their way to the Flint league.... and the Lake Orion Dragons did their thing in the Oakland Athletic League.  Time went by and both communities kind of co-existed.   Kind of tolerating each other.   Time passed... the economy expanded... people went on the move... and because of the unique qualities of these "sleepy, little, bed-room" communities... people flocked to the area to "Live, Work, Play...."  and the businesses soon followed... which allowed the newbies settling in to take their hard earned dollars to "Shop, Dine, and Stay..." .  They brought their families to the Lakes, Rivers, and trails.... they "Celebrated" what they had found... and hurried home from work because they had discovered that they had moved to a place "Where living was indeed....a vacation....".

Someone.... I suppose now grown and mature or perhaps someone who moved to the area... not knowing or caring about the past history.... suggested... "Why don't we get the Oxford and Orion kids back together again for a little football game?"  The conversation was started and before you knew it... it happened.  Renewal of a Rivalry.... and Oxford came to Lake Orion for the first game in 25 years.

Rivalry Renewed!  This year the game will be in Oxford and the Wild Cats have their own special "Celebration" this year.  You see... some Cat's don't take "NO" for an answer.  My friend Ron Davis is the big cat who would not except NO.  The voters said NO two times at the poles to the vision of "Blue Turf" in the Cat stadium.  No does not mean know to Big Cat Ron!  He and a group of supporter formed the Blue Turf Committee.  This group was locked and focused on one thing... raising seed money to privately get the Turf stadium.  When you look at the business case... it surely makes great sense.  A modern synthetic turf hold up the punishment laid down by the pounding cleats of football, lacrosse, soccer.  It makes for a smooth surface for the marching band, flag football, and all levels from varsity down to pee wee.  It is a money maker if you can get the people on board.  Ron got it done....some how... he raised enough seed money... and attracted the interest from a mysterious third party who offered up what became known as a new term in a "loan-ation".  That would be a donation to the turf through the extension of a loan.  The voters did agree through a bond to offer up new soil, seed, and irrigation...  When Davis and his group showed the business case to the Oxford Community Schools Board... they could not turn down the deal...  AND the turf came to be.

So... I have set the stage for "The Battle of the Blue Turf" and "Rivalry Renewed.. Round Two" . The Cats got the blue turf... the Dragons got the Division I State Title to defend.  This is a high school AD's dream come true!  In fact... the hype is huge... rumors of ESPN coming to cover the game... Air force Jet fly overs... Bud Rowley going with something other than glaring Cat Yellow pants this year... RUMORS ABOUND!

To celebrate the renewal of this rivalry, Blue Turf install, and the defense of a D I Title... we have created a collect able and iconic Rally Towel.   In fact... last evening we donated over 200 plus rally towels to players at all levels in the Lake Orion program.  We intend to do the same for the Oxford Wild Cats later this week.

Proceeds from the sale of this collectible souvenir will go to support both programs.  Get um early because we have just over 1,000 left for an expected crowed of  8,000 to 12,000 fans!  Are you ready for some football?