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From West Michigan to Manitowoc, With Love

a group of people on a beach posing for the camera

When Amanda and Andy met online in Spring 2017, it was a match made in heaven. They only had one problem; they were separated by Lake Michigan. Amanda is originally from the White Lake Area of West Michigan, about 30 minutes south of Ludington and Andy’s hometown is Manitowoc. A large portion of the early days of their relationship consisted of sailing across on the BADGER to be together and now a big part of traveling to see family.

When they initially took the plunge to consider online dating, they didn’t realize that the radius would encompass the other side of Lake Michigan. They didn’t mean to be long distance but started talking more and more on the phone and realizing they had a connection. Andy made the drive over to meet Amanda in person and quickly realized that he enjoyed his time with Amanda, but not so much the drive. Looking back he joked, “I had wished there was a bridge!” They enjoyed their first date, they decided to have a second and a third. For the third date, Amanda decided to sail across on the BADGER and this was her first introduction to Manitowoc. Little did she know that she would eventually call this new community home. “I was so excited to wait and welcome the boat to come in and to see her waving from the boat. It was almost like taking a step back in time, this is how most people used to travel and wait for their loved ones to arrive. It was a neat experience,” Andy shared. Amanda was quick to add, “This trip felt luxurious. I was able to take a nap, have a great breakfast, play some bingo, and get ready in the stateroom for my date with Andy.” She goes on to say, “I remember the boat pulling into Manitowoc and thinking how different it looked from Ludington. I remember finding Andy in the crowd and this was it, the rest is history. That summer I must have sailed over at least 10 times, even into the fall.”

Being from the Michigan side, it was the BADGER that helped introduce Amanda to Wisconsin. Right away, she loved being in Manitowoc as it reminded her a lot of West Michigan, just with more sprawling lakeshore and not the hustle and bustle of a big city. As she explored the city more, she was quick to realize what a family-friendly area it was with lots of fun events and things to do. With Andy’s career, Amanda knew that it would be easier to move to Manitowoc and she has no regrets in making the jump across the lake.

Of the things that were new to Amanda when she moved to Wisconsin, she notes that all of the miles of beautiful farmland and new foods were some of her favorite things. One of the most memorable moments when she first moved was how many people would wear Packers jerseys to Mass. “People were having their jerseys and memorabilia blessed at church for the big game that night. It’s a big deal!”

A Manitowoc native, Andy, always knew he would like to establish a career and raise a family in Manitowoc. “I went away to school and when I was deciding on where I wanted to start working; I realized how much I loved Manitowoc. I came right back, it was an easy decision.” When talking about his hometown, Andy was quick to share, “If there is anything that someone from Manitowoc loves more than Manitowoc, it’s showing somebody else Manitowoc. It’s a very special place.” He goes on to say, “One of the best attributes about Manitowoc is that it is a perfect place to raise a family. People here love kids, people love to support kids in our community, we’ve built our community around kids to make it a great place for kids to be.” It was a no-brainer for Andy and Amanda to decide on Manitowoc as their home.

Amanda’s family especially loves to come over to Wisconsin to visit and one of the highlights is the food. No trip to Wisconsin is complete without cheese curds and kneecaps. Whether it’s fresh or fried, the squeakiness of Wisconsin cheese curds never disappoints. A kneecap is sort of like a donut, but without a hole, it has a “thumbprint” in the middle then is piled high with cream and powdered sugar. When Amanda goes to Michigan to visit, she’s in trouble if she doesn’t bring along at least a few dozen kneecaps with her. Although when she comes back to Michigan, she always looks forward to having some Spanky’s pizza and breadsticks. Trips home tend to center around food and family.

“It was a huge comfort knowing that my family could easily still come visit and being able to sail back and forth for my work. I come from a big family, so moving to a new area was hard for me at first, but it was reassuring that home wasn’t that far away.” Amanda shared in regards to how the BADGER made it easier to settle in Manitowoc.

“It makes traveling with the kids so much easier. Our kids love to sail on the BADGER and watch her come into port. We do family drives with the kids and grandparents and she has become a part of our lives.” Amanda shared. When sailing, their family loves playing BADGER bingo and watching the mechanics of the ship such as throwing lines (ropes), watching the Seagate close, vehicles loading and unloading, and the coloring contest and they are especially excited for the Kid’s Play Port to reopen.

When asked, what does the BADGER mean to you? Without hesitation, Amanda states, “It means family, it’s an easy connection to our family.” Andy adds, “It’s convenience and relaxation. Riding the BADGER is easy, as opposed to driving and fighting traffic and construction. I know on the BADGER that it will be four hours that I get to enjoy with family.”

Amanda and Andy are ecstatic to be welcoming their sixth child into their family this summer. They are looking forward to treasured family time together onboard and continue to show the next generation everything that Lake Michigan has to offer.

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