Much of Michigan is it’s own world, it seems, if one can mentally survive the crawling frustrations of circumnavigating the south end of Lake Michigan via Illinois and Indiana. Once you escape the molasses grip of those and cut northward in Michigan, it’s suddenly a robust automotive invigoration. On six lanes, divided, surrounded by thick forests of towering trees, one is free to barrel along at 70 MPH for miles and miles. A fair number of folks pooped along at my pace, which today was above my usual fuel-conserving 65 top end. But the massive traffic snarls earlier had also badly snarled my schedule, and relatives were expecting me in some timely fashion. The law enforcement community was doing a nice if not lucrative business along the way.
US-31 itself is down to 55 MPH and has stoplights in towns, but this is not abused, and breezing through is still pleasant. Once you hit your desired crossroad toward shore, a dirt turnoff is presented and it’s sand from there on in. Sand, sometimes rocky or with a hint of dirt, is all there is. It’s packed to a pavement-like firmness. The shore in “my ” area rises in two stages, and the roads span them rather than trying to climb them. Tier one is the houses bordering the shore, and they keep a respectful distance on the first rise. In back of them is their access road, and then a high bluff with tier two homes perched on top. Both have a view of the water, a rather inspiring view – trees permitting. Nothing but lake as far as the eye can see.
Predictably, most of the houses in the shore vicinity are massive and sumptuous, and some of those are three-story affairs. They’re packed in tightly enough that if you want a big’un, you’re going to have to go vertical. As far as I could tell on a walk, the last of the original vacation cottages and shacks are long gone, replaced with modern and comfortable homes of various sizes. I only have reason to be here because relatives rent a house here from a friend, for a week. It’s an annual family reunion of sorts.
Few homes here are occupied year ’round, and I’m not sure of how practical a winter stay is, since the combination of sand roads and notable hills pose questions in my mind about plowing and traction. The main concern seems to be access by emergency services. At any rate, the trees break up most of the shore’s wind, and a walk along the road these days is a pleasant, quiet affair. Any wind in the treetops is drowned out by the constant sound of the waves. At the moment, it’s pleasantly cool, the high today being 60 degrees.
After the long, high-speed ride on pavement, the Mighty Furd seemed to take its rest as it dove down the cool tree-canopied sand road. Instead of jarring on sharp pothole edges, its high-pressure tires smoothly dipped in and out of dished areas. It seemed to be at home, the rattle of its idling diesel engine sounding a bit like an obnoxious, amplified purring in the quiet. It must have resembled a rhino in a cattle chute in these narrow tracks through the woods. No way to get by. Oddly, the iPhone’s GPS steered me down a wrong path and announced that I was at my destination even though this was not it. A quick swing over to the “real” GPS unit quickly rectified the situation. Once at my address, I found one of the very few pull-offs in existence nearby, and jammed the Intrepid into it. There is no possibility of any solar power under the thick tree canopy, so I’ll be curious to see whether the battery pack can continue to run the fridge/freezer for the few days I’ll be here. I suspect that it will. In the meantime, I’ll have to get used to having temporary access to more hot water than I can possible use. Life is hard.