A few years ago, I started seeing all sorts of paraphernalia including stickers, t-shirts, and sweatshirts sporting the M-22 road sign shield. Mostly, I was seeing it all in Northern Michigan, but every once in awhile, I would see it in Chicago and I'd just smile to myself and wonder where people were getting it because I'd never seen it in stores.
For those of you not in the know, M-22 is a state highway in Northern Michigan. It starts in Manistee when you turn left off of M-31 at the Little River Casino and continues north through many of the towns I love finally ending in Traverse City. If you've ever been to Sleeping Bear Dunes, you've driven on M-22. If you're part of the Watervale family, you know M-22 intimately and could drive it in your sleep (but I would strongly recommend against doing that).
Turning north onto M-22 means I've got about 30 minutes until I pull into Watervale. I can always instantly feel my blood pressure drop significantly as I make that turn. My stress level becomes non-existent. The air is lighter, clearer, and just smells better. Being on M-22 means I have spotty cell phone reception and have left the big city far far behind. It means dark nights lit only by God's natural nightlights, the stars that seem so close I can pull them out of the sky. It's a refreshing lack of McDonald's, Starbucks, Walmart, and chain movie theaters in favor of mom & pop restaurants and coffee shops, roadside farm stands, and the Garden Theater. No matter where you are on M-22, you're never more than a few feet from Lake Michigan, even if you can't see it.
What I've also learned about M-22, since first spotting the road sign on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc., is that the M-22 shield was adopted as the company logo for Broneah Kiteboarding based in Traverse City. In 2006, the owners wore one of their M-22 t-shirts on the cover of Traverse Magazine and their phone started ringing off the hook by readers wanting their own M-22 gear. The rest is history.
While kiteboarding isn't my thing, M-22 is. As Broneah Kiteboarding says, "M-22 is not just a road; it is a way of life."