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The first “ahhh” moment began as I drove through the small village of Empire, Michigan, population 372.

Founded in 1851, the tiny village is just 22 miles west of Traverse City, and was known for its Empire Air Force Station that for years helped protect our northern skies from enemy threat during the Cold War. Driving through town from Chicago, I realized I was just north of the invisible Tension Line, and I let out a noticeable “ahhh” to my wife.

There were more “ahhh’s” to come on this “Up North” more at

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