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By: joealaska , 1:56 AM GMT on May 07, 2012

Saturday morning I stayed in Hurley and played some golf. EAGLE BLUFF.

It is one of those courses that just appears on the horizon, so I checked it out driving into town Friday afternoon. It looked good.

Saturday morning was much calmer and warmer. There was hardly anyone around when I pulled in. The guy who met me when I walked in was very nice. He told me he was training a new person.
I sat back and enjoyed the show. He told me there were only a couple people out ahead of me.

The first tee was awesome. Hit from high up on a ridge straight down.

The front nine ended with a par 3. The back nine began with a par 3. The back nine ended with a par 3. It was a fun course. The golf was marginal.

I finished and headed east on RT 2. Right away I was into Michigan. I was going to see a LOT of Michigan. The road went through deep forest for many miles. I saw the turn off to Green Bay, 100 miles SOUTH. I was getting relatively close to THE BRIDGE, all I needed was to put in a decent drive then pull in when I saw something near the water. MANISTIQUE, Michigan. Right on the lake. Lake Michigan.

Near this point is the MOST northern edge of the lake. This was an historical geographic point, at least for awhile. In the early 1800s the USA was growing westward. This NORTHERN tip of Lake Michigan was set as the westernmost point of USA territories at the time. A line was drawn straight south from there, splitting the lake. Later it moved further west and the whole subject became droll.

The whole area is summer water wonderland. There are many hotels still not open. The season kicks in Memorial Day. Right now it is like a ghost town.

I was the first person to check in Saturday afternoon. The stuck me in the back.

Up early today. Nice sunrise. It would be a good day with a lot of driving by the water. I took a lot of pictures, but still took only 2 hours to get to The Mackinac Bridge. Just as I said aloud WATCH FOR THE BRIDGE it was there in sight.

28 feet short of 5 miles long. I drove around the northern end to see what was there. Looked like all the golf was on the south end. So I just crossed that big boy. $4 toll. Took film and pics. The inside lanes in both directions were perforated steel, so you could look straight down. It was a good ride. The radio had a station that told the history of the bridge. Good stuff.

At the far end I got off and looked for a spot for more photos of the bridge. I went to the edge of the water right by the bridge. I started a short walk when the bugs hit. I assumed mosquitos. Suddenly they were everywhere. When I slowed down to swat, they swarmed my face and head. I only had 50 feet to go, NOTHING stopping me now.... I started to run, and the swarm thickened. They were in my mouth. I stopped again to swat away, and I looked at my chest. There were a few hundred hanging everywhere, including my arms. I made one last step toward the water, and I swear I felt the bugs on my body double. I felt the cloud swirling all around me. Was this the beginning of the end? Would I be found on the beach next day as a small pile of fly leftovers? I could not believe I was unable to get to the water, and I turned back. When I got in the car, I brought a few hundred with me. I drove a half mile away and tried again, same thing. I gave up.

Shortly I talked to a LOCAL about the swarms, he said this was a prime year for the bugs. They are not mosquitos, but they do bite. But the bite is nothing and goes away. If I had known all THIS I may have slogged on to the water.

I saw another guy drive by with his windows UP and he was swatting at some inside with him.

This turned me off from staying around the area. So I headed south along the edge of Lake Michigan on the western edge of the state. I wanted to find a golf course eventually, but now the rain started and continued most of the day. So I enjoyed the ride. There were MANY nice courses I passed. It is golf heaven in the area. Traverse City is a hub. I went a bit further to Manistee, where tonight I lodge.

TOMORROW: I will finally tell you about the TSA incident I had way back in Anchorage, where the TSA showed how much they do not like me bringing a 5 LB sock full of loose change thru the security.

AND: The worst salad spill EVER!!

2675 miles.

RIP Goober.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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12. BarnDweller
5:49 PM GMT on May 31, 2012
So sorry about all the bugs Joe... It seems like we have really had our share those pesky things last couple of years. I think they have hitched a ride from another county on our Freighter Ships - because I can't remember ever seeing them before 2005. Funny thing is, they love anything white! I'll bet you had a white shirt on that day. Fortunately they have a short hatching period and will be gone in a few weeks.
We have been invaded by many non-native bugs from the shipping industry. The worst of which is the "Emerald Ash Borer" and it is disseminating all of our Ash trees. Such a shame to see our beautiful trees being killed off by a bug that was brought here by a ship from overseas.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. insideuk
1:20 PM GMT on May 09, 2012
My first car in 1988 had a stereo cassette player, radio and a cigarette lighter. It was a bright red Austin Mini Metro – a British built rust bucket born in 1980.

Her name was Mary.

I'd driven 140 miles to visit my Grandparents in my new (old) car and then turned around and was almost all the way home when, as I approached a roundabout doing 70mph, I pressed on the brake pedal and NOTHING. ZILCH. ZERO.

My foot went straight to the floor, the pedal had no resistance, the car slowed not a bit.

I had to force it to slow down by dropping rapidly through the gears (horrendously noisy and jolting, but effective) and then I tried to time my path around the junction to avoid all traffic. I crossed the roundabout at some speed, ran up over the roadside kerb at my intended exit and came to a sudden stop using the handbrake about a foot short of some wrought iron gates that led into the driveway of a stately home.

The car and I survived without a mark, but my Mum made me sell the car anyway.

I strongly suspect WW2 got in the way of car ownership here. Britain was bankrupted by the war, standards of living were much lower than in the US in post war years. Only in the 1960's did people start to have some cash to spare. Of my 6 Grandparents only 2 ever learnt to drive. My Grandmothers were quite dangerous characters to encounter even on foot, so it was probably for the good none ever drove. One was very adept at hitching free rides on trains that were supposed to be out of service. I recall going to Derby railway station to pick her up once, she jumped out of the train drivers cab as it slowed just enough to drop her off onto the platform safely. He wasn't supposed to stop there at all....

Her husband only learnt to drive in his fifties (early 1970's). He then bought a very basic VW Golf, in the brightest shade of yellow with black and white dogtooth check cloth seats. The clear plastic bag covers stayed on all the seats until he sold the car some 20 years later. He always drove very slowly.

My sister and I had to be peeled off the rear seat on many occasions.

My nephew is coming close to learning to drive age. Though its looking unlikely – and not just because he is THE most uncoordinated clumsy oaf imaginable. A 17 year old boy will spend an average £800/ $1300 on professional lessons, another £93/ $150 on the tests (add another $100 each time he fails – odds of passing first time is under 40%). Once he passes he needs wheels – an old car that can still pass the governments roadworthy (MOT) test without big repair bills is going to cost minimum £1000/ $1600. That is for a very small car with a very small engine. Add the annual road tax disc at approx £100/ $160 – you can't drive legally without one.

Now comes the really big expense – insure that 17 year old boy in his own car, minimum legal 3rd Party cover with minimum claim excess (usually at least £500/ $800 to cough up before any claim would be met). The current AVERAGE annual insurance bill for the lad would be in the region of £3000/ $4840.

That's if he lives in an average area. He could easily be quoted £20k / $32k if he lives on a sink estate with high crime statistics.

The answer is usually for young people to NEVER own a vehicle until they have been driving 7 years. To put them on their parents insurance policy to drive their parents car is going to add an extra £1000/ $1600 in the first year minimum. If they have an accident and dare to claim most insurers won't speak to the parents in year 2.

Statistically 17 year old boys have a 50% chance of causing an accident in their first year on our crowded roads.

Then there is the small matter of £1.40 litre unleaded/ $10.20 gallon.

My nephew has little option but to walk most places. Public transport ain't cheap. I love to drive. I'm so glad I was born when I was...

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. DHaupt
7:38 AM GMT on May 09, 2012
Well, not all 17 yos had their own car in the Fifties, but a lot of them did, usually used cars which many of them tricked out with all sorts of fancy hubcaps, chrome this and that, and beefed up engines. Hot rodding was a big business, actually still is.

I didn't get my first car until I went off to college in 1960. It was a 1961 Corvair. I loved it; Ralph Nader hated it. My father chewed the dealer down to $900 for it. It was the most plain vanilla model that Chevy ever built. It didn't even have a cigarette lighter, forget about the radio. I don't think there was a hole in the dash for one.

But, from the beginning of the auto industry, the goal was to build cars that everyone could afford, especially if you considered the used car market. No new cars were built during the WWII years. Dad drove a Ford Model A pickup truck between 1946 and 1949 when he got the spiffy new Ford. It looked remarkably like an old time Volvo, very beetley. I recall that it got replaced by a 1952 Ford in probably 1952. It was a great principle of the autobarons to make frequent model changes, bigger and better, onward and upward, keep them coming back for more. As a direct consequence, they were never designed to last very long. It was called "Planned Obsolescence". We knew rich people who would trade cars as soon and the ash trays filled up. Dad, who smoked only a little, said that when the inside window crank fell off it was time to trade. If you got 25,000 miles out of an engine you boasted about it.

By the mid to late '50s, Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac were turning out behemoths with power everything. I think Dad's biggest car was a 1954 Buick Roadmaster (bought used). It weighed somewhere around 7000 pounds. Or, It could have been his 1958 Oldsmobile 98. If you stomped on the gas pedal, it made a noise like a toilet being flushed under the hood (bonnet?). It packed dual 4-barrel carbs.

What made this age of dinosaurs possible was the cheap gas. I remember buying gas for my spiffy Corvair as low as $0.13/gallon. Arbie is absolutely right about the nation being laid out for the automobile. By the '60s multiple car households were quite common; that hasn't changed. We've got neighbors with way more cars than drivers. Of course, some of the vehicles are specialty items for towing the boat or the jet skies, snowmobiles or for tailgate parties. An Austrian friend who visited us a few years ago swore that there were probably as many vehicles in Livermore as there were in an entire provence in Austria. I wouldn't doubt it.
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9. Arbie
9:37 PM GMT on May 08, 2012
We visited Mackinac back when I was a kid too. A road trip, as that was what people mostly did back then. Sometime around 1970. We came through Michigan's upper pennisula from Minnesota, over the bridge, then home to Ohio through the lower part of Michigan. My memories are the Indians' rice fields, how cold but pretty Lake Superior was, and not liking all the ticks. I do remember the bridge, but only faintly. Seems like there was an island in the middle? I remember seeing the big ships too, and some sand dunes.

UK, to answer your question, I think Americans started buying cars in mass as soon as Henry Ford could get an assembly line going! You are right, even people for whom money was tight found a way. America was also expanding greatly at that time, so towns were growing at the same time. Very quickly, towns began to be built with the assumption that everyone had a car and it became difficult to be functional without one. A few exceptions like New York City. Going from the pictures, I think my Dad got himself a car as soon as he started working, back in the 1940s and 1950s. My Mom, I am not so sure about. The car thing is definitely not all good.
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8. miyuki
9:04 PM GMT on May 08, 2012
UK, I am with you on camping. Tried it once and that was one time too many.

DHaupt, I enjoyed reading about your vacation. We went to Mackinac Island and for that you must take a ferry or a plane, ferry is cheaper however.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. insideuk
12:47 PM GMT on May 08, 2012
The Mackinac looks like one of those bridges that would do scary bending and twisting things in strong winds, the green painted support structure under the centre section looks so flimsy in the photos. I suppose the picture is misleading – it also doesn’t look like it has too much room beneath it for big shipping to pass by. And I know they have very large ships working the lakes there, I’ve seen a ‘Mighty Ships’ episode from this area. That particular featured ship sprung a leak as it crashed on through late season ice to make its delivery deadline. Did you see any of the really big boats that ply their trade on the lakes Joe?

I enjoyed reading about your Lake Michigan vacation Haupty. You know, one thing that always strikes me is that even where money is tight – it seems that American families mostly still had their own transport, even way back when. Nobody in my family owned a car or even had a drivers licence until the late 1960’s – and that was not an unusual position to be in here. Whilst cars were seen as an expensive luxury to most families in the UK back then, it seems like many 17 year olds in the US had their own wheels.

Or is that just a muddled perception gained from US TV/ movies, not reflective of the reality for the blogees here? What year did you and your families first get cars?

Even today I’d struggle to choose between hot chocolate or wheels…

Fortunately I don’t have to, since I have a brand new car arriving in a week or two, with hot chocolate cup holders. So excited.

The best bit about camping is….

Nope, can’t think of anything. Other family members have been known to take themselves off to some lumpy farmers field and held aloft a thin sheet of nylon over their heads for the night but for me it holds no allure.

It has mostly to do with the lack of private washing and toileting facilities, plus the lack of somewhere comfortable to sleep, the bugs are a constant source of irritation, plus in Britain the second you pitch a tent IT RAINS.

And tents leak through the same holes the bugs gain entry.

Not that camping somewhere hot and dry improved the experience for me – the South of France was the location for my first foreign family camping trip. It’s HOT there in August. I didn’t enjoy the heat and so therefore spent 13 hours of every day in the sea, cooling off. In so doing I managed to gain sunburn the like of which would see parents imprisoned these days – I wasn’t just red, I had golf ball sized blisters on my back. I gave off so much heat nobody would stand near me. The shower blocks were BASIC, the toilet blocks made the showers look CHIC. All were open to the air above your head and roughly below the knee too. Every cubicle door was opened up and the entire area was hosed down, twice daily. Sometimes the hose holder waited for you to finish up your business, sometimes not. After that, the uncaring caretaker stood well back and threw a couple of buckets of powerful disinfectant in the approximate direction of the facilities.

The showers were painful water torture for my burnt skin anyway, if I could have avoided using a toilet for 2 weeks I would have.

It was a bloody miserable experience never to be repeated.

Give me a hotel any day. I have but one rule – one should always be able to know for sure if that is toothpaste of bird poop on your toothbrush…
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. DHaupt
5:29 AM GMT on May 08, 2012
It was 62 years ago that I last saw the Straits of Mackinaw ( I think the original French is Mackinac). There was no bridge then; we crossed on a big ferry. It was the biggest adventure of my life up to that point. Somewhere in the family archives there is a photo, an old Kodachrome, of me with my favorite red cap, jeans and a Plumb boy scout hatchet hanging from my belt; I was so proud of that hatchet that my folks could hardly get me away from it -- Mom insisted that I could not sleep with it. I vaguely remember visiting the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. They are still there; I saw them on a Dirty Jobs episode a couple of years ago.

That summer, we took our vacation as a camping trip completely around Lake Michigan in Dad's maroon 1949 Ford. We had this huge Sears & Roebuck canvas tent, 8x12, brand new Coleman stove, lantern, and lots of fishing gear. I think the red sleeping bags were filled with fluffed newsprint; even in August we woke up shivering. Dad had to help farmers with their corn harvest that year to earn enough to pay for the trip and gear. It was the best family camping trip we ever took. We gained weight on our robust diet of eggs, bacon and corned beef hash and HOT CHOCOLATE, all stuff that we could never afford at home . We were a pretty emaciated looking tribe when we started out.

I doubt if there was a golf course anywhere on our route. Oh, the mosquitos and other varmints were just the same. They feasted on our blood. I hope the ferry still runs for those who are adventurous.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. miyuki
5:57 PM GMT on May 07, 2012
I think I would have jumped in the lake with that swarm around me. Wonder what they were.

I drove over the Mackinac bridge years ago. While it is a nice ride, it feels as tho it will never end and can be a little unnerving. It wasnt as scarey as the old Grace Memeorial Bridge in Charleston however, that was a real trip. You finished one stretch and thought your were done and then you had another stretch, surprise !! We did not return the same way needless to say and that bridge is no more.

Here is a sample of what it was like:

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4. cybersuze
1:59 PM GMT on May 07, 2012
You're talking to yourself! I fear the bridge pics!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. insideuk
9:55 AM GMT on May 07, 2012
In my defence the plague of nibbling nuisances weren’t actually visible on the Google Earth images and therefore I directed you into the biblical storm you describe in all innocence.


Though I do have this very entertaining MENTAL CARTOON LIKE image of a man flailing his arms around against the oncoming swarm of airborne beasties as he scuttles away from the waters edge whilst the locals all stand on the bridge and hold up score cards.

I was going to suggest you head south to check out the town called St Joseph today.

Maybe not. Since it’s also right on the water…

Might one ask WHY you were taking up a considerable chunk of your airline baggage allowance with a SOCK FULL of small change? That they had to leave 2 seats empty on that flight out of Dutch to accommodate you and your engaging little idiosyncrasies whilst other stranded desperadoes took root at the airport is of no consequence.

Well, not until you return home and get recognised anyway…

Of all the bland and harmless stuff that airlines ban from being taken aboard planes a weighty sock, chock full of coins actually sounds DANGEROUS. I’d rather pit my wits against an attacker armed with a pair of tweezers any day of the week.

Or a lipstick lunging lunatic.

OK. So lipstick is not technically a banned item – but over here we are still required to place our lipstick in a small, clear, re- sealable plastic bag and hold it aloft as we pass through security checks to ensure the safety of all mankind.

It is only fair Joe does the same with his killer sock.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. LilyC
3:35 AM GMT on May 07, 2012
Hope you didn't miss Arcadia Bluffs in Arcadia (20-30 minutes north of Manistee). It's one of the most beautiful golf courses I've ever seen!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. dotmom
2:22 AM GMT on May 07, 2012
And the beat goes on. I have you located on the map. Too bad about the bugs and Mackanac. Bugs are bad in a lot of places this year because we didn't have enough cold this winter to kill some of them off. Tracing you with the Atlas as you move along. Looking forward to seeing you. - Please leave those bugs in Michigan.
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I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.

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