The long and winding road

It was 83 degrees when I left the office a few minutes early and headed north on Friday. It was good and bad. The good would be warm weather for the Tigers and a great night to watch for my good friends there. Jenna the Jetta runs ore efficiently warmer weather so I should get better mileage. The bad of it, after watching “Top Gear” take Jenna’s twin sister the Audi A5 as far as they could on one tank of fuel; I tried to drive with out AC, lights or any additional excess to get the most efficiency from her diesel engine. I even considered removing the spare and extra weight as they did on that episode.

By the fourth inning the AM station was beginning to fade and crackle. Tigers were pitching a no hitter and tied at zero. It was a little warm but things were getting better with the sun behind the clouds. Boy, we sure needed rain. Phil had sent me an email that I75 was closed that morning as a wild fire had jumped the freeway. When I arrived it smelled like the largest campfire was fully ablaze with the soot and embers still roadside.

I slept at the foot of the Mighty Mac deep in the banks of fog. I couldn’t even see her signal lights this night. Once in my room storm that would have shaken Noah’s nerves moved through the tip of the mitt. Orange and red blotches covered The Weather Channel’s local radar. A few years of living up north will keep you from “pushing on” through the night.

At first light the clock radio from the vacant room next door stirred me. With a complimentary breakfast and few words with locals I bought some fudge in town for Phil and headed west to Escanaba.

When I crossed the bridge I had a quarter tank of gas and a little ore than 300 miles behind me. But this cold and snowy morning would be harder on Jenna’s Diesel engine. To make up for this I would drive the posted limit through Paul Bunyan’s playground of 55 mph.

Phil had stayed that Friday night at our haunted and historic castle “The House of Ludington.” Having stayed in so many hotels across this land I have come to the conclusion that chain hotels, for better or worse, are pretty much the same. When given the opportunity to stay at a place with character, you should take it. This place has character. Over the last 10 years it has changed hands and seen many visitors. While it is updated, it has not been recently updated. But that is okay. I later learned that the bed was warm and comfortable on a cold April night.

That afternoon Phil and I met up for lunch and ran some errands he had not gotten to that week. We met up with the Marv, Elaine, Brian and Clair - these are our relatives on this side of the family. Good people. Kind people. Entertaining people. It was a hoot just to hang out and hear stories.

The reason for this trip was detailed a few months back Click Here. Red Erickson, my great uncle was being inducted in the UP Sports Hall of Fame. It was an interesting event that made me think on the whole drive home about how one lives their life. The sum of that life, the interpretation of that life by others and the impact one person can have on a community or generations of family.

After the ceremony we felt the cold air separate our group after hours of talking and telling tales about the family. It was good to be back in our haunted hotel, protected by the spirits that walked its halls or had gone in my belly.

Morning broke early - way too early. In the middle of the night I stumbled into the bathroom like an old man. Phil called out from his room thinking it was time to stir, and fell right back to REM when I told him I had to pee. But the hotel added pipes after it was built - the wall were only far enough apart for the toilet to fit, and I am a pretty big guy to stand or squeeze into that space. Even Phil had a hard time in that bathroom. Plus with a flush the moaning pipes bellowed through the four-story building (which is why I think they say it is haunted.)

At a normal hour we met for breakfast before going our separate ways. After a few more stories and one too many cups of coffee for the seven-hour drive home we parted with promises of emails and phones for getting together this summer before it was too late.

My drive home was filled with the sounds of a CD mix from Phil and the reflections of one life.

Total trip 952 miles at 50.5 mpg