Monday, August 6, 2012

On August 5th, 2012, we reached the middle of summer, the 47th days of summer, with 47 days remaining for summer discoveries. It is the day of the Coyote.


 I was riding home on the Lucky 777 bus from Little River Casino, and I was napping. I was pretty happy and I was napping. I had just doubled my money on the craps table, turning sixty dollars into one-hundred and twenty dollars. I was planning to deboard the bus at the Star Theater parking lot, part of the great shopping mall at Alpine and the freeway in Grand Rapids. So not only had I parlayed a twenty dollar stake into sixty dollars, I was enjoying a free ride into Grand Rapids, an extra forty miles for nothing. That ride would cost fifteen dollars and fifty cents on a Greyhound, and then required me to catch a bus for Six Mile and Alpiine Road. The Lucky 777 bus is very happy to take a bike or a walker into its luggage hold. Greyhound wants bikes to be returned to a cardboard shipping container. I pay twenty dollars to ride the Lucky 777 up to Little River Casino, and that is returned to me on a card by the casino. Plus, they buy me a steak and eggs breakfast at midnight as a kicker. I play enough deuces wild video poker, at least sixteen hands, and then the casino lets me cash that money out and go to the table games. I started winning from the start, so I never used up the twenty. I was bussing around Michigan for free. These are the small, ignoble victories of a Wilbo.
I was sleeping in the jump seat because the bus was half empty. In other words, every rider had two seats upon which to stretch out. Nobody wants to be the first person who has to sleep in the upright position, so taking that second seat becomes a real exercise in charm. I hate to rely on my charm, so I took the jump seat, a seat which is left for the tour guide, a position called shotgun. The bus driver had left the casino fifteen minutes late because two passengers hadn't made the 3:30 AM departure time. So he went to look for them. One man had left word with a friend that he had found a little love for the night. So the driver finally got that status update. When he announced that to the bus riders, a number of ladies laughed. "He got chosen! He got chosen!", joked one of the older ladies, a regular on the Lucky 777. Everyone was worried about Lupe, and the bus driver checked the fireplace lounge with all the leather chairs, suitable for naps. He found no Lupe there. He had her paged over the public address system and that yielded no news of Lupe. He checked with security, who had no news of Lupe, and the staff had knowledge of all medical emergencies in the casino. So it was clear, Lupe had hit big and gotten a room. At least, that was the consensus of the passengers. The bus driver, Tommy, was fretting as he drove south towards the town of Manistee.
US-31 south towards Scottville has two lanes with the occasional passing lane. It is a freeway with the capacity of a county road, where a single car driving less than sixty miles an hour can back up traffic behind it. Deer love to cross it because the land to the west has a thick wilderness maintained by the State of Michigan. Drunk Drivers who don't know the area have to drive it because only a local could find their way south through that passage. Tommy woke me up with his muttering because a sedan was driving 45 Miles Per Hour before him and weaving. He flashed his brights at the obstacle, and the driver had the sense to pull to the side of the road and allow us and our twenty passengers by him. I feel asleep, and just before Scottville, Tommy began muttering again. I woke up and grabbed my cellphone and dialed 911. I thought about it again and hung up. I tried to memorize the license plate of the Sports Utility Vehicle. The 911 operator returned my call, and I picked up. Our bus made the turn onto Michigan 10 West, and I confirmed that I was all right and I had just called to report a drunk driver.
Amazingly, the driver of the vehicle drove up beside the bus, staying beside us on the north side of the road. I could see his license plate and see his progress to the right white line. I gave her the license plate and it didn't match any plate in the database. I looked again carefully, and she gave up. She called the description out to any attending officers. At this point, she should have urged me to not get too close to the vehicle and avoid detection by the driver. I've called in weavers several times before and that's the final instruction. Instead, she kept asking me for status updates. "Where are you now, sir? Is he still weaving? Tell me how his driving looks to you now?" I was so glad when we turned left and I saw the SUV tail lights speed off at an accelerated pace, west into Ludington proper. I am pretty sure he made it to a driveway before any officer detected him.
I was pretty wired after that, and I stayed awake. Right around North Muskegon, Tommy shouted to me, "Did you see that! That's a Coyote! I want a Coyote!"
I have seen a Coyote once. He was sneaking into my apartment complex, softly walking towards the creek shore where sleeping ducks could make a quick meal. Coyotes in Michigan have pretty much occupied all the wild territory on Michigan. Thus, young Coyotes are forced into urban areas to live and hunt. US-31 provides Coyotes as well as crows with plenty of roadkill to enjoy on a nightly basis. If one leaves dog food out for Fido, it's possible that Wile E. Coyote will show up for a free meal too.
The Coyote will breed with dogs to create coydogs or breed with wolves to create coywolves. The Coyote will have one litter a year. A coydog will have several.
Coyote at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Date 2008
Rebecca Richardson (Red~Star)

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