That smile on my face(along with the best carnitas torta I have ever had) serves as an instant reminder on how happy I would be to return to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now this is no slight against the other cities we have visited in Cheap Eats, from the no brainers like beautiful Bozeman and Jackson Hole to towns I would love to catch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play(I’m looking at you Pittsburgh). Its just that to be frank: Grand Rapids was a head scratcher. I had never been there, let alone Michigan, which made my expectations a bit of a blank canvas. A beautiful thing it is to travel to a place you have never been, without any expectation. It allows for the unforseeable to take hold of you; like Grand Rapids rousing my dormant Midwestern roots. Unless you are a sun drenched Californian or Floridian who fusses when the thermometer dips below 65, you gotta love Autumn in a place like Michigan. Now I did log in 20 years in Los Angeles but I have never been afraid of putting on a winter coat, it’s the sunshine that always made me an advocate for Southern California. Thankfully we had a few sunny days there, certainly enough for me to summon back the Fall days of my youth, growing up in St. Louis MO. For the five days I spent there, Grand Rapids reminded me that I grew up in the Midwest by virtue of weather and environment. And as much as I feel drawn to the bright lights of major metropolitan areas, instantly bonding with all that teeming culture and diversity and forever willing to put up with the downers you hear on the nightly news reports, I am a Midwesterner by birth and rearing.  The colors of the Fall will forever feel like my childhood. Which is a lovely memory and all but add that to the aforementioned Carnitas Torta, and folks, I’m smiling all the way back to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

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