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When I think of funny states, Michigan isn’t the first one that comes to mind. California, now that’s a funny state. Besides being the country’s biggest producer of nuts (tree nuts… literally!), they elected the Terminator governor, they’ve got those trees you can drive through, and I don’t think they’ll ever live down “Baywatch”. California is at the top of my funny list. And then there’s Louisiana. They’ve got swamps, Duck Dynasty, and all manner of things you can say with a strange accent. But Michigan? What type of funny are they known for? Nothing springs to mind.
James and I recently RVed through Michigan for the first time and I have to say, we laughed our way through the state. I’ve decided to officially declare Michigan as The Fit RV’s choice for funniest state in the US. Here are a few reasons why:
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: St. Ignace, Michigan
Here we’ve got good old Paul, clenching his fists and sitting atop a white porcelain bowl, with his ox nearby, sticking out its tongue. OK. That’s strange enough. But then, what’s with that bag over his head? James cracked jokes about this, nonstop, for about a half an hour after we saw it. Unfortunately, not one of them is fit to print. This whole scene defies explanation, so I’ll just leave you perplexed and cracking your own juvenile jokes.
Giant Sitting Lumberjack (Paul’s brother, perhaps?): West Branch, Michigan
And I thought Michelangelo’s David had big hands! Michigan loves its lumberjacks. We actually saw several others as we traversed the state. But this one was unique in that it actually had clothes. Not clothes painted on plaster, but actual clothes made of canvas or something similar. Which led to a whole conversation between us… who makes this stuff?? I can picture the city council meeting where they commissioned it. “OK. We’ll put the 23 foot lumberjack statue at the edge of town. Now, who’s gonna make the pants for this thing?” Wouldn’t it have been easier to mold the clothes into the statue? Easier perhaps, but not nearly as funny…
Pet Casket Factory Tour: Gladstone, Michigan
We’ve heard of weird factory tours before, and informative ones, but this one takes the cake. In the world of off-beat industries that usually don’t tap into their uniqueness, Hoegh Pet Casket Factory is one of the smart ones. They’ve cleverly embraced their eccentricity by offering tours of their factory, complete with a showroom that gives off the feel of a mass pet funeral in progress. I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would request a camouflaged pet casket – I mean, you are going to bury it, aren’t you? Isn’t camouflage redundant at that point? The whole tour is all in good-natured fun, and even though we don’t have any pets, James had to be talked out of buying the cute little casket you see him holding in the picture. “But Stef! What if we get some pet rats?”
Pasty Shops: Menominee, Michigan
Arriving in upper Michigan, we started seeing signs for “Pasty Shops” everywhere. Michigan, I’m blushing! How many shops does one need for “glue-on nipple patches with or without tassles?” (The Urban Dictionary definition of a pasty) Of course, James and his sense-of-humor-that-stopped-developing-at-age-15 insisted we investigate.
We parked the RV at Colonel K’s Pasty Shop and got the low-down from the friendly staff. Much to my delight, a pasty (“paste-tee”) and a pasty (“pass-tee”) are two VERY different things!
The G-rated pasty is basically a meat and veggie filled pastry in a half circle shape. Sort of like a way better Hot Pocket. Mine was filled with chicken and broccoli and it was delicious. There were no X-rated pasties anywhere in the store. James was a bit disappointed, but he gobbled up his entire G-rated pasty, so he really shouldn’t complain.
Michigan’s Official and Unofficial State Birds:
While the American Robin is the ACTUAL state bird of Michigan, the folks in the Upper Peninsula have declared the mosquito as their state bird. Can you imagine how annoyed the state tourism board must be with their UP residents? And then to make matters worse, an Upper Peninsula artist went and made this state bird roadside art right along Hwy 2. The stork…uhhh…I mean freakishly long-legged robin can be seen to the left, over by the orange pine tree. The mosquito is on top of the cargo carrier, crouched down with its stinger ready; and I’m told this is a life-sized depiction of UP mosquitoes. The whole thing is made of old car parts. When you drive by this on your way north, use it as a reminder to stock up on your 200% deet bug spray. By the way, James hates mosquitos. Mosquitos love James. And I find all of this hilarious.
Dine With Jesus: Brighton, Michigan
Yes, you read that right. This life size bronze statue of Jesus, Last Supper style, sits at a huge granite table overlooking a cemetery in Brighton, Michigan. The Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Church invites you to eat your lunch here, or for the REALLY creative souls, bring 11 friends and recreate da Vinci’s famous painting! Since it was just the two of us, we created our own vignette: “This is my Chicken Bacon Ranch, which will be given up for you.”
Now don’t get the impression that Michigan is all suffocating lumberjacks, G-rated pasties, and glorified pet burials. We actually had a great time exploring the more conventional tourist activities that Michigan offers, and especially loved the wild beauty of the Upper Peninsula.
But those just weren’t as fun to write about.
Thanks for sharing! I’ve been living in Naples, Fl for the past 29 years but was born and raised in Michigan. My family had a cabin in West Branch and we went there every weekend. Believe it or not, there are many other Paul and Babe’s in similar fashion around the state. Your photos brought back so many fun memories! I currently live full time in my travel trailer which is how I ended up finding this article.
We have a state stone, the Petoskey stone, which is a fossil, and the state fossil, the mastodon, which is a fossil. Also.
LOLLLL! Further proving my point.
Heh. Bug net – that’s just what I was thinkin’. Before the not-G rated possibilities presented themselves, that is.
This post has convinced us to add Michigan to our must-see list. The Michigan Board of Tourism no doubt thanks you. 😉
By the way, love the playfulness here and in your other posts! Your deep enjoyment of family, fitness, and joyous experiences as ways to make life a celebration is inspiring to see. I love the way you cherish all those things.
Haha, I’m from Michigan and I have never seen many of these things. Except the lumberjacks and pastys of course. Thanks for sharing though! Definitely made me laugh! Hope you had the chance to tour the west side of the state too (Ludington, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City).
It’s on our list. Hope it’s as entertaining as the parts we’ve already toured!
Regarding Paul Bunyan’s headgear: I’ll bet that, when you took that foto, you held your camera with one hand, because you needed the other to [try in vain to] repel Michigan’s state animals: black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies, noseeums, biting mice, etc., etc., etc. Paul B. has been dealing with this for generations, so he knows not to venture out without his bug net.
Tim – Holy cow I think you’ve solved the mystery!
Thankfully, the state animals weren’t out in force yet when we were there. But I’ve been known to wear just such a bug net when visiting Minnesota, which is sort of in the neighborhood. Stef grew up there and thinks I’m crazy. But I think I’m crazy smart… I believe there’s even one of our exercise videos where I’m wearing the bug net!