Michigan may be some 2, 000 miles away from Arizona, but the two states have a number of things in common.

Michigan squirrel/Ryn Gargulinski

Sure, the Grand Canyon State of Arizona is a land-locked boxy-shaped region boasting cactus, dry heat and javelinas.

The Great Lake State of Michigan is a hand-shaped peninsula, with water, water everywhere, a squirrel population that makes javelinas seem endangered, and sticky humid nights pumped with fireflies and mosquitoes.

But the two really do have some striking similarities.

Like brutal climates. While Arizonans suffer from temperatures often well above 100 degrees in the sizzling summers, Michiganders turn bluish from temps often well below freezing for the lengthy, frigid winters.

Death by Mother Nature is not uncommon in either state. Arizona’s heat takes its toll, with human remains as common as rattlesnakes in the desert.

Folks are not necessarily freezing to death in Michigan, as they have long learned to dress in layers or simply stay indoors, but a state that boasts Great Lakes does see its share of gruesome drownings.

Racism is another element that’s kicked around in both regions. Arizona is accused of being one big racist state, with measures like SB 1070 meant to help flush out the burgeoning population of illegal aliens.

Michigan has no SB 1070 equivalent, at least not yet, but it does have its racial tension. Detroit is 82 percent black with an outer border at 8 Mile Road. One recent news report said some black residents living on the “other side” of 8 Mile were receiving hate mail telling them to move back into the heart of the city.

Michigan Border Patrol hangs around the Detroit River and its Ambassador Bridge/Ryn Gargulinski

Dearborn, Mich., has become a hotbed of ethnic tension, with Arab Americans making up about 30 percent of its population at the last census in 2000. It’s only grown from there. Dearborn activities have come to include street fairs with some participants who allegedly yelled at any Christians who dare to stop by.

Border Patrol is another common factor in both Arizona and Michigan. While Arizona’s officers are zipping through the desert looking for illegal aliens and drug cartels from Mexico, Michigan’s officers are in helicopters and boats scanning the Detroit River.

Border Patrol officers in Michigan are not necessarily looking for illegal Canadians who are fleeing their country. With things like Toronto, Quebec and Point Pelee, there’s really no reason to flee.

They are instead looking for terrorists and other ne’er-do-wells, especially the type that hides bombs in their shoes, who find it easier to fly into Canada and slip over the border rather than fly directly from their native land into America the Great.

At least one Michigan Border Patrol officer, who shall remain nameless in case he has a cousin in Arizona, was also on the prowl for any vehicle that contained four folks that looked like me, my beau and my parents coming from Canada back into the U.S.

Not only did he make me take my glasses off, but he needed to know how much money each of us was carrying, the license plate number of our vehicle even though he had it on his little video screen, and why my beau was wearing a baseball cap other than the Detroit Tigers.

OK, he didn’t ask about the baseball cap. And at least the experience was rated a bit above the time a high school pal was strip searched at the Canadian border.

Guess both states also have their share of over-zealous folks, to put it politely.

But both also have their fair share of really cool people, which is what makes being in either state worthwhile. Well, that and the javelinas and the squirrels.




Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who misses Michigan’s Great Lakes but not its mosquitoes. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

What do you think?

What are some other similarities between the two states?

Major differences?

What other states have much in common with AZ or Mich?

Where would you prefer to spend your winters (haha)?