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Traveling Michigan safely: Organization official visits Marquette, shares tips

Dave Lorenz, vice president and state travel director for Travel Michigan, visits Rippling River Resort and Campground on Thursday. Lorenz made the trip to Rippling River, as well as other Upper Peninsula recreation destinations, to spread the message of safe traveling in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Travel Michigan wants people to travel in Michigan, just in a safe manner.

Dave Lorenz, vice president and state travel director for the Lansing-based organization, visited Rippling River Resort and Campground in Marquette on Thursday to spread the message about safe in-state travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The visit marked the second week of his traveling throughout Michigan to learn how the outdoor recreation industry is adapting to the safe-to-travel protocols.

“We’ve asked them to incorporate protocols to make sure that all their workers are safe, the travelers are safe,” Lorenz said. “And then we’re trying to encourage travelers to use safety protocols as well, because we can’t afford to go backwards.”

He pointed to a few bicyclists riding at Rippling River as a good example.

“They’re outside,” Lorenz said. “They’re away from others. Fresh air — no reason to wear masks when you’re in a situation like this.”

People in close proximity, however, makes a difference.

“We’re trying to build awareness of the need to take these safety protocols seriously,” Lorenz said. “I can tell you that some places I go to, people look us and they literally say, ‘You know, you don’t need to wear a mask up here. We have no problems up here.’ Well, that’s not the attitude we want to foster, because all it takes is a couple of people with that attitude, and before you know it, somebody is going to accidentally get somebody else sick.

“Before you know it, the whole community will be sick.”

People could stay hunkered in their homes.

However, that probably isn’t the best way to live for most folks.

“We need to get traveling again,” Lorenz said. “It’s good for our souls. It’s good for our economy. It’s good for jobs. It’s good for a better understanding of each other.”

He stressed that people will not get back get back to a sense of normalcy in their lives unless they take certain precautions, albeit temporarily.

By precautions, Lorenz means wearing masks, maintaining social distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizer, for instance.

Travel Michigan, though, does not recommend traveling out of state yet.

“I want as many people to travel in Michigan as possible,” Lorenz said. “It’s good to get people to work. It’s good for the economy and all. But in reality, travel is good for us. The more we travel around the world, the more we have a better understanding of each other.”

However, when a vaccine is developed, then a “back-to-normal life” situation can return, he said.

When people do travel, chances are high that they will have to stop at a gas station to refuel their vehicles.

“When you go to a gas station, when you’re done, use that hand sanitizer,” Lorenz said. “Keep it in your car, because those touch points are kind of the danger points, they believe. They know that air transmission is dangerous, but they think that touch points are also somewhat dangerous.”

Lorenz had a busy Upper Peninsula itinerary. He visited Island Resort and Casino in Harris and the Museum of Ojibwa Culture in St. Ignace, and also was to visit Getz’s Clothiers in Marquette to see the retail side, as well as Pictured Rocks Cruises and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Visitors Center.

Other stops were to include the hotel at Kewadin Casino and the Museum Ship Valley Camp in Sault Ste. Marie plus the Soo Locks.

Accompanying Lorenz on his trip was Tom Daldin, host of “Under the Radar Michigan” on PBS television.

An Under the Radar crew was scouting locations and shooting short videos on how to travel safely.

“If you don’t feel that it’s safe to travel, don’t,” Daldin said. “But if you want to get out you can do it safely as long as you do it smart.”

He agreed that wearing face masks, social distancing and hand sanitizing are key components of the safe experience.

“You can still get out and rediscover the great state that we’ve been sequestered from for 3¢ months,” Daldin said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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