Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Michigan, the Bipolar State

I've been in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the past week visiting my parents and other assorted relatives. One day, the temperatures reached well into the 70's, which is quite unseasonable for April. My children, claiming they were going to die of heat exhaustion, demanded that I do something drastic. So I found one pair of pants that each of them had brought and I cut them off into shorts.

That was on Friday.

On Monday, good old Michigan had quite a mood change as we woke up to accumulating snow on the ground. Now, for the most part, I really enjoy the snow, as long as falls between the months of November and February. I was especially peeved by the snow as Monday was the designated day to make the 425-mile trek back to the Lower Peninsula.

Luckily (?), the snow changed to rain about halfway through the UP. But it was accompanied by fierce winds as we approached the Straits of Mackinac. Normally, I have no fear about driving over the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge, for you non-Michiganders, which spans a "narrow" 5 miles between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to connect the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan). Mac and I have known each other for over 20 years and he hasn't let me down yet. (no pun intended. . . unless you thought that was clever; in that case, I meant it.)

The only other time I can remember being afraid of crossing the Mackinac Bridge was in the early 1990's. It was the end of Thanksgiving Weekend and I was driving back to MSU with some college friends. There were near blizzard conditions with heavy snow and intense winds. After waiting in a rather long line to cross the bridge, we were informed that the bridge was closing for the night. In addition to the whipping snow, there were 80 mph gusts of wind on land, and significantly faster gusts over water. A woman had her car slammed against the guard rails of the bridge, which prompted the bridge closure. There was thunder and lightning, which is a rarity with snow. It was surreal. I was thinking apocalypse. Most of the power was out throughout St. Ignace, the town on the north end of the bridge. Darkened hotels were filling up fast, and gas stations quickly sold out of flashlights. When I got out of the car, the wind literally pushed me across the icy parking lot. It was a miracle that we got a hotel room, but I can't even remember how we found our way through the halls to our room. I do remember we slept with our coats on, and I had a real fear that the winds were going to tear the roof off the hotel.

I'm very glad that the wind wasn't quite that fierce during this particular trip. But it was windy enough that all vehicles were escorted by the Bridge Authority. And there also happened to be construction on the bridge, which meant 2 lanes were closed.. . . .and I had to drive over my least favorite section of the bridge - the steel grates where you can actually feel the updrafts from the wind buffeting your car. Oh, the joys of living in Michigan.

But made it home in one piece. I'm thankful for the trip over all.

But most of all, I'm thankful to be reunited with high-speed internet access.

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