2017-04-27 / Views

‘Butts’ affected by lists, change of season

A column by Eric Carlson

Of course, everybody’s thankful that spring has sprung and we won’t need to worry about snowplowing driveways or freezing our butts off for at least another six months — if we’re lucky.

Is it just me, or have summers gotten busier here over the past decade? For those of us who live and work in Leelanau County yearround, the season for freezing may be ending, but the season for working harder is just beginning. Even this newspaper gets fatter with more advertising and editorial content in the summer.

Maybe we can blame this on all the “top 10” and “best of” lists that Leelanau County has found itself on in recent years. Most of the superlatives related to Leelanau County pertain to what happens here in the summertime, of course.

The rare exception occurred a few years back when Lake Michigan froze over for the first time in, like, forever, and we had all those ice caves. There were a few travel writers out there inviting everyone to check out the “best ice caves in the Midwest” way up north in Leelanau County, Michigan. And, sure enough, the fudgies (excuse me, “visitors,”) showed up in droves in the dead of winter that year.

But that’s not how it usually goes. All the trouble (if you’ll allow me to call it “trouble”) seemed to start back in 2011 when the ABC-TV show “Good Morning America” asked viewers to vote on what they thought was the “Most Beautiful Place in America.”

As we all know, our own Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore won that contest and still hasn’t gotten over it. Annual visitation figures seemed to have plateaued before 2011 but surged in the following year and have remained on an upward slope ever since.

Meanwhile, more and more news media outlets have been touting Leelanau as one of the best places in Michigan, if not the entire U.S., to visit. Sometimes, Leelanau County is even listed as a pretty good place to live.

Two years ago, for example, we were rated No. 1 in Michigan in terms of health and life expectancy, although Michigan itself was listed as only the 37th healthiest state in the union.

Although property taxes in Leelanau County are among lowest in the state, a recent study revealed that the average taxable value of a residential parcel in Leelanau County is the highest in Michigan, at $109,871. Having the least affordable housing in the state is not necessarily a good thing, of course.

Sleeping Bear Point was named by National Geographic as one of the “21 Best Beaches in the World.” Another magazine, Coastal Living, named two Leelanau County villages, Empire and Suttons Bay, among the top 10 beach towns in the Midwest.

Invariably, Traverse City gets lumped in there, too, because a significant portion of Leelanau County has a Traverse City mailing address.

An online outlet called the Matador Network recently named the unincorporated village of Leland as one of the “24 coolest towns in the USA.” And the national daily newspaper USA Today last year said the “best scenic autumn drive” in America is along M-22, most of which is in Leelanau County.

Leelanau County’s wineries are also to “blame” for the annual summer invasion of visitors, although vintners like to brag how they help tourism here in the “shoulder seasons,” too, which is true. Publications naming the best wineries in the Midwest invariably include a few Leelanau County wineries among the top 10.

So, enough already! Yeah, Leelanau County is a great place to visit.

For many of us who live and work here year-round, however, freezing our butts off will soon be replaced by working our butts off.

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