Arizona and Michigan share fun stuff: extreme weather, Border Patrol, cries of racism – PLUS Michigan slide show

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 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 and E-mail

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)?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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11 Responses to Arizona and Michigan share fun stuff: extreme weather, Border Patrol, cries of racism – PLUS Michigan slide show

  1. leftfield says:

    Great pictures, Ryn.  They give me a feeling of nostalgia for my home state again.  Michigan has some great things going for it and it was a great place to grow up.  On the other hand, I spent a good part of my young life with wet shoes.  

    So, you’ve taken him to meet the folks, huh?  Serious stuff.   

    • azmouse says:

      I didn’t know you were from Michigan.

      Yes, Ryn and the beau are progressing quite nicely.

    • Rynski says:

      thanks, leftfield!
      glad i could bring some nostalgia – right down to the wet shoes – hahahah. i agree, it’s a very cool state to grow up.
      yes – beau went to meet the folks. WAY serious stuff! it was also his first time in the Great Lake State. all worked out dandily.

  2. azmouse says:

    Your parents are so cute, and Mom’s pastries are beautiful!! They look as great as my parents.

    What a great trip it looks like you had. Especially love picture of gum on beau’s shoe.

    I’ve never been to Michigan, but I’ve been to Ohio many times and that isn’t too far from Michigan. They look very similar….green and muggy with cold winters. HA! Are Michigan tomatoes as good as Ohio tomatoes? I think a tomato in Ohio is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Nothing like you get here in AZ.

    With all it’s faults, I’ll always be partial to Arizona, and Tucson. With the sticky weather we’ve had lately, it makes me appreciate our usual ‘dry heat’.

    I bet you had so much fun with all your family and your beau around you for the 4th holiday.

    • Rynski says:

      awww, thanks, azmouse!
      yes! the gum shoe photo is my fave, too – and it also sparked plenty of fine conversation about detectives and private eyes – hahahah.
      you got the ohio/michigan profile down right – green, muggy and cold (but don’t forget the squirrels). michigan tomatoes, apples, cherries…all are awesome.
      i, too, am a fan of AZ and tucson. and MUCH prefer the dry heat over mug-o-rama.
      yes, it was a ‘good time had by all.’ – thanks again for your fine comment!

  3. Alan in Kent WA says:

    The drivers in Detroit are worst, plus at least there are supermarkets in Tucson.  If Michigan wuz that great, my Wife’s cousin Mike would still be there.

    I am back, as I figured out why I couldn’t access the reply.

    • Rynski says:

      hey alan in kent wa –
      welcome back! glad you figured out how to access reply.
      both tucson and detroit have their pluses, but i will have to DISAGREE that detroit drivers are worse than tucson drivers – no way! even brooklyn, ny, drivers (who suddenly double park right in front of moving traffic) are not as bad as tucson drivers.
      at least michigan traffic generally moves….
      i’d say WINTER is the worst thing about mich…and cool your wife has a cousin who did get a taste of the great lake state!

  4. radmax says:

    Hello Rynski. I would tend to agree that Detroit and Michigan in general have much more goin’ on than the big hole in the ground state. Every time I have been there I have enjoyed the trip immensely…so much to do and great pro sports teams, except the Lions… 😉
    The ability to cross into Canada, proximity to the Great Lakes…impressive.
    The disparate vegetation and geological regions of Arizona make the outdoor activities more exciting and some of the places I’ve hunted and fished take your breath away in their beauty. Both places are cool for different reasons…
    So in closing i will paraphrase Gen. William T. Sherman; if I owned Michigan and Arizona I would rent out Arizona and live in Michigan. (That way I could visit the state of confusion we call home often.)

    • Rynski says:

      hiya radmax,
      thanks for thoughtful and fun comment – i have to agree with MOST of what you said about az vs mich, although i still don’t trust the tigers as a ‘great pro sports team,’ regardless of any current records – hahahah.
      i, too, am highly fond of both states. and az’s overall climate wins me over just to avoid the snow. eeek!

  5. Joyce says:

    Thanks for that great article, I had to read it,  considering I was born in MI, just came from downriver two years ago to  Tucson. I like the weather better here.  I don’t miss the winter as for everything else I’m use to, like the border issues. It’s less threatening going to Canada, but they grill you.  I don’t miss the mosquitos, but I do like the squirrels better than the javalinas.

    • Rynski says:

      thanks for reading, joyce, and chiming in!
      and how cool to meet a fellow native michigander. i have met quite a few michigan natives in tucson – always a cool thing! – and they are all here usually for the same reason: winter, winter, winter.
      i also agree the canadian patrol DO like to grill ya, but canada does make for a gorgeous visit.
      i will NEVER miss all the mosquitoes and i love the squirrels…but i am also a big fan of javelina.

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