Monday, January 11, 2016

Wilbo Drives Like A Catfish Through a Snowstorm that Dropped Fifteen Inches of Snow.

Most weekends, I pull out of town and road trip out and back. I had envisioned a three hour trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin. And then I thought about my seven hour drive through a snowstorm, pressing on at twenty-miles an hour under whiteout conditions. That's when a driver begins to use the rumble strips the way a catfish uses his whiskers. Rumble strips make a rumbling sound, and one listens for direction. If it's the driver's side tire rumbling, turn right. If it's the passenger side tire rumbling, turn left. It's the closest a driver comes to navigating the way a sightless man navigates with a white cane tapping for obstacles.

Most people had turned on their hazard lights, warning "slow driver ahead". A few had pulled off the road with hazard lights flashing, hoping for a lessening of blowing snow. In Marquette, I stared at the Holiday Inn across street from a Holiday gas station and wondered if I could book it for fifty dollars on Priceline. I would have had to get online and make a bid in eight minutes because Name Your Own Price only works until Midnight. Two and a half hours after decision to push on, I settled into a warm hotel room near work where I had an understanding with the hotel management on a business man's rate.

For miles, I rode my left tires on the rumble strips, noise assuring me I was staying on the road. Rumble strips give traction. Few cars approached from the west and one could see the approach miles away. The snow drew headlights up into the air and looked as if a light saber was approaching.

Under better conditions, my trip from St. Ignace to Keweenaw requires three to four hours. The snow added three to four hours to my time white knuckling a steering wheel. And so I decided, let's take it easier this weekend. I parked at eleven last night and stayed put until it was time to participate in that custom I have honored since mom let me out of the house at night, Saturday night. Saturday night has meant so far a sprint up the hill to South Range, where I bought a Red Bull and skipped buying lottery tickets. Now, I happily journal in a Pizza Hut on the steep slope running down to a canal, freezing over. My sense of adventure overwhelms me.

I wonder if this will be the pattern of my weekend evenings until Spring? Last night, walking through Calumet brought all kinds of adventure to my mind because time travel is perfectly possible on the streets of Calumet. I had to make the ticket counter at that great lady, the Calumet Theater. The buffet dinner was about to begin in the ballroom, and I had wanted to witness an event in that Victorian inspired chamber, with high ceilings, great windows and a floor of old oak. However, the lights were on behind the great plate glass windows of what had been Vertin's Department store. The door awaited open at Michigan House, a brew pub and restaurant that closed doors at Nine. I saw that the senior center had closed for the evening. A few visits ago, the center hummed with a bible study and a silent auction of unusual Copper Country items, such as turtle shell rattles and baskets of woven copper. I enjoyed that moment, pulled in more than three directions, and then I made my way to the great lady for dinner and a show.

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