Leaving Ontario just a little wilder than we found it, we set our sights on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We continued the Lake Superior Circle Tour staying along the magnificent shoreline as much as possible. What we realized on our first time around the lake nine years ago remains true to this day: The Circle Tour is one of the finest drives out there. Period.

Across Michigan’s U.P., we felt hometown hospitality at Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette, ate the freshest and best fish of our lives at Brown Fisheries Fish House just outside of Paradise, and discovered a local gem in Syl’s Café of Ontonagon. Mix all of that with breathtaking sunsets over the water and a campsite in the woods each night, and it’s easy to say the U.P. earned our seal of approval.

Even the best of drives, however, isn’t without its fair share of road construction. We stopped, started, and slowed our way around the lake – all the way to Newberry, MI. Another stop sign, and another sweaty construction worker with a gloomy look. His sign flipped from “Stop” to “Slow”, and we rolled our way through the single lane past steam rollers and a wafting smell of asphalt. As we approached the opposite end, we noticed another worker holding traffic with a sign as we passed.

The man stood in the hot sun wearing an orange t-shirt covered with a reflective construction vest – like most of the road crew. But there was a difference. He rocked forward and back snapping his fingers, singing whatever pumped through his headphones. He pointed at cars with a smile. He waved to passing drivers. This guy was enjoying himself! We rolled by waving and hollering. He waved and hollered back. He had an infectious smile and an unignorable positive attitude. It was clear we needed to recognize the man.

A loop around and we sat at his stop sign, the car idling. Without a word from us, he stopped dancing, removed his earbuds, and eyed our license plate that reads “LVWLDNS”. He approached the window asking, “Let me guess. Love the wilderness.” “Close!” Nate replied. “It’s ‘Live Wildness.’” The man smiled and squatted to take a photo of it with his phone. We mentioned the name of our organization and he immediately asked for a card. Nate reached out the window to pass the man a business card and an envelope, and he placed it in his back pocket as he introduced himself as Steve.

“Enjoying life, huh?” Nate asked. “I’m livin’ the dream but it ain’t mine,” Steve replied. “I’m just not sure whose it is, but it ain’t mine!” he joked. A long laugh burst through Steve’s perpetual smile. “Well, it seems like you’re enjoying it while you’re at it,” Nate said. “You got to!” Steve said with big eyes. “If you don’t, life sucks! Right?” The three of us shared a laugh to such simply stated but wise words. “You just put on some good music and jam all day!” And as quickly as we met “the dancin’ man” (as we called him), he turned his sign and we drove off with that same feeling of satisfaction we’ve felt through every random act.

But the adventure wasn’t over. Once again on the other side of the construction, we needed to turn around to head south, which meant one more glimpse of Steve, the dancing road construction worker. As we passed, Nate held his hand out the window giving Steve a thumbs-up. Steve returned the gesture yelling, “Thank you, guys!” And off we went. Back into Michigan’s wildness.

Let kindness be your tune and jam all day.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Jon and Annette… The good work the two of you do in and outside the community is as impossible to describe as it is to measure. Jon, you have impacted countless lives in your career as an educator, and we’re both proud to say our lives are two of those. Annette, the work you have done over the years has never been easy, but the good you contribute to the families you have assisted is something they may never forget. Thanks to both of you for being excellent examples of how we should live and work for others. And thanks for helping us recognize a positive example like Steve!

To Christine P… You asked us to use your donation as a day brightener for someone we met along the way. While it’s clear Steve’s days appear bright already, we couldn’t help but think he needed a little recognition for his positivity. His attitude and approach brightened our day and likely the days of countless drivers that day, and we hope his story brightened yours. Thanks for supporting Project Wildness!

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