Have to say that this morning's drive to work was simply glorious. And the forecast was for overcast with a 30% chance of rain. So much for weather forecasts -- the bane of living in West Michigan. (grin) Instead today was blue sky, big white clouds, breezes. Very pretty.
A couple of years ago they straightened out M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) as it crosses over the Grand River. Four lanes, divided... much easier to negotiate in bad weather, for sure. Last year they tore apart the intersection between M-45 and M-11 (Wilson Avenue) and widened that with new turn lanes and traffic lights -- all for this spring's opening of a new Meijer's store at that corner. Once, it seems, that corner was a Drive-In movie theatre, but alas, most of those have gone away. The screen was still up when we first moved down here, but it had been closed for years. And for a couple of years, behind the fences put up, an outdoor paintball outfit ran there. We still haven't been in the new Meijer's, but the parking lot sure is full of cars at all hours of the day.
Anyway, to avoid the construction last summer... well hell, I didn't teach last summer and spent six weeks at Clarion, so I missed most of the worst construction days -- hee-hee. But when I did have to go that way, I often took a back route along Linden Avenue -- lots of curves, trees, a few houses, a couple of oil wells. (Yes, West Michigan has some working oil wells.) During the fall, I sometimes went down 8th Avenue and intersected the last third of that drive, again bypassing the construction corner. By winter, all the lanes were open and mostly I kept to the main roads.
Now that it is spring/summer, and I am coming to the office every day, it's been pleasant to go back to the back way. After a late cold and some rain, the trees have sprouted leaves like mad and the back way is getting very pretty. It's a nice bypass -- if it costs me a few extra minutes, especially once I have to slow down to 25 mph and I have to wait to make my turn back onto the highway, then so be it.
The Long Commute Is For The Birds
This morning something dark was waddling in the high grass on the shoulder. I was expecting to see a muskrat or other mammalian critter, but then it put its white head up and revealed itself to be some sort of large bird. Quail, plover -- how should I know? (grin)
Fortunately it didn't do anything stupid like try to cross the road. We've rarely ever hit anything with a vehicle larger than a bug. Oh, there've been a couple of deer -- Michigan has a tremendous deer population and lots of farms to feed them. And there was that pigeon in downtown Houghton one time on a bitter cold sub-zero morning, which started to fly just as the old Suburban bore down on it, and as I looked in the rearview mirror... FLUUF! Feathers everywhere. Stupid pigeon -- it flew right into me. Rule Number One -- The Suburban Wins.
The most amazing bird/car incident was also in the U.P., back when we also had a red Chevy Cavalier wagon. Driving to Michigan Tech one morning on US-41, a flock of large ducks suddenly shot up and across the road. One trailing duck came out of the ditch quite late... and just cleared the lip of the hood. After that, aerodynamics at 55 mph came into play and it just sailed along the slipstream line across the hood, up the windshield and over the car. Quite startling -- and no sound. A slight smudge line was left the windshield where the flying duck's breast grazed the glass, but when I pulled over, I found no other marks on the car, no feathers and no signs that the duck didn't rejoin its frequent flyer group in the woods on the other side of the road. Remarkable image of something large like that, gliding through the air going up and over us.
Down here in West Michigan I get to see a number of large birds on my commute. Big owls and hawks, sitting high in trees looking down over the highway. For a while, there was a gaggle of wild turkeys about two miles down the road from us. They were neat to see -- and from what I heard, damned hard to stalk and hunt. (grin)
Anyways, it's stuff like this which makes up for the time of the commuting -- and "doing the time" during the really foul weather. I guess right now it's "fowl weather" on the highways.