Blow up the north. Once our particular part of the North gets into you, life isn’t a foul mess anymore… Come up and you’ll be a new man from then on. I wouldn’t give it up for all the wine, women and song in the world – and I was never opposed to any of the great Trilogy.

Ernest Hemingway in a letter to his friend Bill Horne in 1920 about Northern Michigan.

IMG_0649Hemingway’s ‘particular part of the North’ got into my family in the summer of 2006. We were invited to spend a week at Boyne Mountain with my wife’s sister, her husband and their three children. Our son was 4, our daughter 2. At the time we were living in Clarkston on the northern edge of Oakland County. Life was a series of long commutes and congestion. What we found, as we spent our vacation in the Little Traverse region, was a slice of Rockwellian life nestled among rolling hills, rich forests, timeless villages and dune-swept shores. A few days after returning to Metro Detroit, Jill and I sat down to develop a five-year plan to bring us north.

A five-year plan, however, proved too long. A few months later, I accepted a position as the Executive Director of the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society. By January I moved. My wife and I decided that if we were to relocate in our ideal community, we should also build our ideal home. In August it was complete and the family moved north just in time for our son to start kindergarten at Blackbird Elementary.

We are relatively new transplants, but love for this region has gripped the very heart of my family. Backyard pond hockey with the LaFaive’s. Youth baseball. Scenic beauty. Wonderful friends. Summers evenings sipping whiskey on the porch or beers around the campfire. Beards Brewpub. Ice Cream at Yummys. Hockey on Lake Huron in St. Ignace or the old barn in Newberry. Fourth of July parades. Girls on the Run. Polish sausage at Leg’s Inn. Folk rock at the City Park Grill. Skiing at Boyne and Nubs Knob. Bicycle rides along the old rail trails. Swimming in Lake Michigan. When we decided to move our family north, we were hoping to find community. Instead we found life.

“How do you survive year-round in Northern Michigan?” It is the question asked by anyone that has spent only a few weeks vacationing here. To that I always say, “People don’t just survive in Northern Michigan. They thrive.” And that is the purpose of The Crooked Porch, to celebrate the ingenuity, passion, work-effort and uniqueness of Northern Michigan through written word, photographs or videos. Our stories are meant to enlighten, delight, inspire and connect our readers. The Crooked Porch is written for the active and locally-minded, whether they reside in the region year-round, resort here in the summer or are simply passing through.



crook·ed   krook-id adjective: description found often in Northern Michigan.

1. The Crooked River (Michigan) – Meandering river in Emmet and Cheboygan counties.
2. Crooked River Lodge – Alanson, MI. (Owned by Stafford’s Hospitality)
3. Crooked Lake (Michigan)- All-sports lake located in Emmet County.
4. Crooked Tree Arts Center – Petoskey, MI.
5. Crooked Tree Golf Club – Petoskey, MI. (Owned by Boyne Resorts)
6. L’Arbre Croche – The original name of Harbor Springs that translates to Crooked Tree.
7. The Crooked Tree – According to Odawa legend, a tall, crooked pine tree overhanging a high bluff once designated an important Native village in present-day Emmet County.

porch [pohrch][/pohrch] noun: not only a feature on many Northern Michigan homes, but a state of mind.

1. At 660 feet, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel Front Porch is the largest porch in the world and a symbol of Northern Michigan.

The Crooked Photography

Dave SmMy name is Dave Harrell and I am a photographer and writer. I have based my professional work in Northern Michigan. I possess an innate ability to tell a story through lifestyle and travel photography. I am a story-teller at heart. In my photography I seek authenticity above all in else. I seek real emotions between real people. I strive to capture the moments in life that produce the most beautiful and evocative photographs.

My background as an historian enables me to find fresh and creative ways to photograph people in a myriad of environments in a way that is both classic and tells a story. My approach is photo-journalistic in nature. I will preserve those genuine, intimate, and playful moments that otherwise would exist only in your memory. With the images that I capture, you will be transported back to that original beautiful moment.