The scenery was amazing, businesses were accommodating and the locals welcomed you with open arms. The trip was so great, you went back the next year. Or maybe you continue to go year after year, generation after generation.
Or maybe it wasn't like that at all.
Maybe the trip was horrible. The locals were rude and unwelcoming. They honked their horn and gave you the finger when you missed a turn and accidently cut them off. They rolled their eyes as you took up a table in their favorite busy restaurant.
They acted like they didn't want you around.
It was so bad you'll never go back. And you'll tell everyone you know just how bad it was.
Last week, I stumbled across a local radio station's Facebook page in which the station asked users to post about all the rude experiences they've had with tourists this summer. The negative responses went on and on, many of which were from those who said they worked in Northern Michigan's hotel and restaurant industry -- the very people with jobs that rely on the tourists they were complaining about.
"They're all rude." "Good thing we just use them for their money." "They can't drive." One user said every time he drives through Bay View, he yells out his window, "Get out!"
I hear the same complaints all summer long. And I get it -- restaurants are busy, parking is at a premium and it can take 45 minutes to drive from Petoskey to Harbor Springs if you don't time it right.
But that's tourism season in Northern Michigan -- our bread and butter. And what would we do if they weren't here? We all know how quiet and eerie things can get around here come November and April.
The truth is, we need tourists. We need those people who choose to come here for their vacation, spend their money in hotels, restaurants and downtown shops. It's the tourists that allow many of us to keep a job and pay our bills in a part of the country so many would like to call home but aren't so lucky.
According to the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, our area triples in population each summer. And in Michigan, it's estimated that the number of jobs created by tourism stands at more than 190,000 and spending comes in at more than $17 billion.
It seems like good reason to accept the fact there will always be a few bad apples, but we can't let the bad ones spoil the whole bunch. Because for every single rude tourist I've come across in my 13-plus years in Northern Michigan, I've met 100 friendly, grateful ones that are just happy to be able to visit a few days out of the year.
Tourists are one of our greatest renewable resources and we need to make sure they stick around. That they'll want to come year after year. That they'll tell their friends and family about this wonderful place where the locals are as friendly as the scenery is inspiring.
At some point we're all tourists. We are all some city's version of "the fudgie."
Rachel Brougham writes about a variety of topics in this column which appears each Thursday. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Petoskey News-Review or its employees.