O.K. Three things I wildly, fiendishly, shamelessly love: a sweet deal, Michigan State Parks and, um, the sales racks at Macy’s.
Let’s start with the most respectable of the bunch: our state park system. Michigan’s such a dang pretty state—I mean, come on, 10,000-plus miles of shoreline, 31,407 islands, rolling hills, deep forests, wildflower meadows, four fabulously gorgeous seasons, and rivers and inland lakes everywhere you look—we Michiganders luck out wherever a state park decides to plop down its boundaries. And, call me partial, but have you SEEN these places Up North? Better than anything.
I’ve hang-glided (hung-glided?) in Switzerland, crawled through glittery underground caves in Kentucky, backpacked my butt all around California, cliff-dived (O.K., that may be a stretch. I plugged my nose and jumped off a 20-foot-high rocky outcropping, stiff as a board and heavy as a family sized sedan) on the island of Capri. I once even swam in a sun-dappled marble pool full of handsome, wet Hungarian men in Budapest.
Suffice it to say, I have been around. (In a traveling sense only, I assure you, Mom and Dad, if you’re reading).
But there is nowhere, nowhere! as breathtaking as Up North’s state parks and forests. Except of course, our national parks and lakeshores like Sleeping Bear Dunes. Or Pictured Rocks. Or, OK, Isle Royale. But after those—no, nothing.
So back to my point. These fine state parks, recreation areas and forest campgrounds of ours, they’re hot deals in and of themselves. You tell me where you can rent a cabin that’s in the woods and on the shore of Lake Michigan, with no neighbors in sight, for $65 a night. You find me a place where you and your family can canoe a lake trail, climb inside a lighthouse and cook a S’more on a campfire for less than $50. You tell me the place you can pitch a tent, hook a salmon and cook it up for less than $15 just a stone’s throw from the Mighty Manistee River. Or maybe you’ve found a cheaper way than free to bike the perimeter of a car-free, fudge-aroma’ed island?
I think not. Unless you’ve also been to Wilderness State Park, Ludington State Park, Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground and Mackinac Island State Park—every one of them gorgeous places, cool spots, sweetly cheap experiences and just the tip of the state park system’s affordable iceberg.
So what in the name of all that is green and good does this have to do with a giant department store chain’s sale rack? Well, I’ll tell ya: In honor of Earth Day this year—that’s April 25—all 21 of Macy’s Michigan stores are treating Michiganders to a super-special deal that supports the state parks and treats your itch for a new spring wardrobe right.
It works like this: You go into Macy’s. You donate $5. Macy’s gives you a coupon for $5 off a one-time $15 purchase, PLUS a second 10 or 20 percent-off dealio on storewide purchases all day on Saturday, April 25. (If you have never had the good fortune to peruse a Macy’s sale rack while wielding a coupon for a discount of the already discounted sale item, my friend, you have not lived. If Macy’s sales racks rock the house, discounts on discounts are the underground rave.)
Your fiver will be split between the Michigan State Park Improvement Fund, a restricted fund that supports the operation and maintenance of Michigan's 98 state parks and recreation areas; and the National Park Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that supports programs and initiatives at the 391 areas around the country administered by the National Park Service.
Well, I certainly like it. So go ahead: donate five measly bucks to Michigan’s gorgeous state park system, satiate your shopping addiction, bolster Michigan’s economy and save yourself far more dough than you donated in the first place—you’ll end up feeling good, looking saucy and ensuring our little peninsula’s state park utopia remains just that for generations to come.