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Monday, July 9, 2012

"Look Kids! Scenery!"

Yes, it's true; it is possible to overdose on scenery. We left Mackinaw City early the next morning and headed for the scenic coast of the Upper Peninsula. I wanted to get two things while I was there; pictures of the U.P. and a Pasty.

     For the uninitiated, a Pasty is, pure and simple, a turnover filled with a combination of spices, meat, and Rutabagas that is baked in an oven. Since I can think of no other use for Rutabagas, I have to believe that God put them on this Earth to be used in Pasties, and they are delicious. Make no mistake, I am fond of nothing so much as sampling the local cuisine of whatever locale I happen to visit. In the case of the U.P. pretty much everything involves the use of meat, potatoes, and whatever wild game happens to be in the freezer. And Rutabagas. So, when I went to the U.P. for the first time, I tried a Pasty, and quickly became a Pasty junkie. The problem is, the only place I know of to get Pasties is the U.P. That seems to be a long way to go to get one, so I will hold out for as long as possible and, when the cravings become too much, venture forth to the U.P. again.

     So, fortified with Pasties, we set forth West on Highway 2 to see the beautiful southern coastline of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And it was breathtaking. I never envisioned that the Great Lakes would look so majestic. It was a lot like the first time I stood on the beach looking out at the Pacific Ocean; I wished I had had the experience 20 years before (I suspect that that is much of the reason that I drag my kids all over the country; I want them to see more than I did when I was their age.)     Now, human nature being what it is, the novelty wore off in about three hours, which left another five hours to get to our destination: Minneapolis. So we drove along, gazing out the windows at 55 M.P.H.

     Some of the older readers of this blog will remember the 55 M.P.H. speed limit. It was created in the 70's in a misguided effort to force drivers to save gas. Then President Jimmy "The Peanut" Carter insisted that the lower speed would conserve energy since everyone would be driving slower. Somehow, the fact that there was no energy crisis escaped him. If you have ever driven at 55 for long distances, you understand when I say that the drive along Highway 2 at 55 was much like running in wet sand; you know you're faster than that, but you're held back by the condition of the running surface.

     There were numerous places I was tempted to stop and call a rest period (Bark River Knives topping that list) but, in the interest of getting back to a place with a sane speed limit, I pushed on. By the time we were ready to stop for the night, my euphoria about the U.P. had been replaced with disgust at having to drive well below the capabilities of my vehicle on a stretch of highway on which the time between curves could be measured with a calendar.

     So, I'll call it a wash; we got to see some new places, a LOT of scenery, and we had the chance to fill up on Pasties, but the 55 mile an hour speed limit was tedious and nerve wracking. We didn't get to see all of the people we would have liked to see, but we did get to see those we needed to see. I discovered that Michigan has much to offer, but it's stifled by the crushing unemployment and misguided fiscal policies.

     A piece of my heart will always reside there but, next year? Next year, we're going someplace we want to go.

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