As I've said before, I am not originally from Michigan. Therefore, what I know of the state is based on what I've seen in the past few years and not what I've seen over a lifetime. To be honest, like many folks what I knew of Michigan before I got here was Detroit. That is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most of what I had heard of Detroit over my lifetime was negative. In fact, that whole side of the state, due to the failure of the auto industry, is not some place I would ever really want to go. However, the western side of the state is something very different.
They are running a series of ads, both on TV and on radio called Pure Michigan. Tim Allen does the ads on the radio, he used to star in Home Improvement, and they feature vivid descriptions of different cities across the state and about how great they would be to visit.
As I rode north of Grand Rapids and continued to head towards Cadillac, I found myself replaying those ads in my head as I looked at some prettiest country I had seen in a while. There were rolling hills covered in trees and lush vegetation with little towns in housing divisions tucked into them. In some ways, it reminded me of Germany.
There are a few rules about constants that I've run across in my lifetime. One is that if you're going to take insurance while playing blackjack you either always do it or you never do it. Another is that if you going to use a GPS you either obey it or ignore it all the time. Now occasionally, a GPS will take longer routes than necessary but overall it will keep you from getting lost. On this day I am fairly convinced my GPS was trying to get me to take it off my bike and throw it as far as I could at the very least I'm convinced that it was psychotic.
First, it took me off a two lane Blue Highway onto a smaller county road -- no big deal. Then it took me from that road onto a smaller lane and a half country road, after a mile and a half or so that road turned into a patch. What I mean is that when I looked at the road I could see at least eight different types of materials used to patch the road that created one of the most unfriendly services for driving I had ever been on. While I was counting those eight different types of materials, I noticed there was nothing identifiable as a base – – in other words, the whole thing was one giant system of patches. Next, the GPS told me to take a left from that road on to Nightmare Lane.
For me, the worst driving surface imaginable is loose gravel. I suddenly find myself on a loose gravel road and according to the GPS; I would be there for at least 3 miles. I slowed to a crawl and had my legs hanging off the bike in case I started the slide. Eventually, the gravel road led me to another two lane county road. Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned onto the county road and about 10 miles later found myself turning back onto the road that I had left when I began this adventure.
I pulled off to the side of the road, and I stared GPS. It stared back at me. I didn't hear any laughter but I'm fairly sure it was smirking at me.
I pulled into Shanty Creek about an hour later than planned, but when I pulled in the parking lot, and found myself surrounded by at least 200 other Valkyries, I felt very good about life in general.
I had arrived at InZane XI.
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