500 Words At A Time: Geographic Oddity

Well ain’t this place a geographical oddity! Two weeks from everywhere!

Ulysses Everett McGill

I’m heading into the last stretch of 500 Words. My list from four months ago has more lines crossed out than open. Plus, I am running out of ideas. I expect as I edit that expansions will crop up, but isn’t that a selling point for 500 Words, “Now with new text and commas not seen on his blog?”

As the topics wind down, I found this one buried amongst many crossed out ideas; small town, college, and distance. I have never lived in a small town before moving to Big Rapids. In fact, when talking to other people, the response to have you heard of Big Rapids was a shrug or “Nope.” Not surprising, if not for the college and being the last place to easily get off the highway for gas and groceries, Big Rapids might be another of the tiny towns that dot the landscape up here.

Coming from a variety of mid-sized cities, Ann Arbor, Toledo, and Detroit area, I was used to being able to find anything I wanted with a short drive. Driving any amount of distance was to “get away” or because the closest shop either didn’t have what I wanted or gave bad service. The longest I have ever had to drive to get something prior to moving here was a half-hour. Now…an hour.

Big Rapids has charm, but lacks a lot of shops that I have grown used to having access to, this is not a bad thing, as the charm more than makes up for the lack of shopping options. Charm for me, means there aren’t as many people here shopping, which means less traffic and hassle. I like that, other towns can have the hassle that comes with having everything I want. Big Rapids has the college, every fast food place you can think of, a few non-fast food places to eat, and two big box stores. There is a book store, but it is a small book store with limited inventory. There are no specialty craft stores in town at all. I have been told that there is a game/hobby shop, but haven’t found it yet.

Churches, plenty. Dental offices, more than churches (at times seems like more than any business). Bars, a couple, as befitting a college town, all of them are small and easy to avoid. The other odds and ends that make any town run, such as gas stations, car repair, insurance, and the like. For people like me who come from larger towns and cities though, Big Rapids feels empty, which is why we travel or at least that is why it started.

As we drove around we discovered that the small towns all have something to offer, aside from the sign in every town proclaiming home of the “World’s best (insert something).” We have found hardware stores that rival some of the best big box stores, mom and pop diners, out of the way used bookstores, lots and lots of parks and places to relax and enjoy a few moments of life.

Did I mention the donut shops? There are some really great donut shops up here and once every few months we pile into the car and make a donut tour consisting of our favorite shops and one new shop. Yum.

The point is, that at least here, while the town may not have everything we were used to we have discovered new things that more than make up for what we “lost” by moving here.

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