Stutzman: We have it all right here

The Stutzmans are taking a major vacation this fall. We are heading out west to a place called Brush Creek Ranch with my husband’s brother and fiancee, and my mother- and father-in-law. It will be a fantastic week of relaxation, rejuvenation, and memory creation. I am getting excited for the trip and am already thinking about what to pack and what kinds of activities I’ll want to partake upon arrival at this Wyoming retreat.

Brush Creek Ranch is a resort lodge and spa in the Sierra Madres. People travel from all over to this location to refresh their senses with the sights, sounds, and textures of nature. From horseback riding to fly fishing, an outdoor spa experience to evening campfire, and skeet shooting to big game hunts, this place has it all. The moments we experience are sure to be memorable and special.

But something happened today when I was browsing its website. I pulled up the list of available activities, flipped through the gallery of photos, and read about the wonderful outdoor scenery. It occurred to me that the things I was most excited about like horseback riding, skeet shooting, relaxing by the river, and hikes in the forest are all things that we can do here in Alpena. And in fact, these are all things I’ve spent half a lifetime doing here in Northeast Michigan.

So why am I so excited to fly half a country away to do the same things I could do right at this very moment?

We who are too comfortable and familiar with our surroundings often forget how unique they are from an outside view. Northeast Michigan has all the makings of a secret oasis where you can escape the stress of a hectic lifestyle and relax and restore. The difference between us and some of these resort locations is that we have never wrapped up what we have to offer in elegant paper with a twist of ribbon and presented it as a special gift.

What is everyday and mundane to us is an exquisite marvel to everyone else. Last night I went for a walk along a country road as the sun was sinking low in the sky. I breathed the crisp air laden with the heady scent of lilac blooms, fresh cut grass, and freshly turned earth. I didn’t hear a thing except the far off call of sandhill cranes and the light breeze blowing through the trees. I thought about how many people at that very moment where wedged in the middle of an acrid cityscape, fighting traffic to get home, dreaming of a day when they could walk out their door and within 15 minutes be in the middle of an inspiring, refreshing, quiet, outdoor escape.

Wide open fields rolling into canopied forests, trickling river streams rushing into clear lake waters, hiking, biking, horseback riding, skeet shooting, spa treatments, wine tasting, shipwreck exploring, translating the day onto paper with charcoals and pastels, and the list goes on and on. We have the option, on any given day of the week, to realign our senses with that which is right in front of us.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to cancel my participation in the Stutzman family vacation. It’s fun to get out and experience new things. But it’s also important to remember how amazing our very own surroundings are.

Here’s my challenge to you. Get out there and get in the middle of it! At least twice this summer, unplug and plan a long weekend where you do nothing but relax and explore Northeast Michigan. Wrap it up in pretty paper and invite friends from out of town to come and immerse themselves in the healing atmosphere of this special place we call home. Go on an adventure and seek out new places you’ve never visited. Treat the time as if it is something unique and special. You may not realize how good we have it here.

Mary Beth Stutzman’s Inspiring A-Town runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Mary Beth on Twitter @mbstutz.