austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I look high, I look low

And now for the next big trip report: about our visit to the Traverse Bay area, in the northwestern corner of the lower peninsula. I'd never been there or anywhere near there, for self-evident reasons. bunny_hugger had been there often, as part of the usual family summer vacation, and a couple of trips in adult life. She hadn't been there in years, though, and she'd wanted so much to share this part of her past with me.

The drive up took less time than she imagined. It's probably only about as far to the Traverse City area as it is to Cedar Point, and that feels comfortably enough nearby. Somehow it just felt farther, possibly because it's driven less and unfamiliar drives always feel longer. Possibly it's because it does go, after about the first hour, into increasingly rural areas, with greater stretches between towns and even, to my surprise, stretches where the road doesn't just dwindle to two lanes but starts featuring signs warning that there'll be (say) 7 passing zones in the next 35 miles, with countdowns to the stretch where the road temporarily expands to two lanes to allow more convenient passing. I'd never seen that before. This isn't really deeply rural, like the upper peninsula, but it's still not the big cities like Alma or Mount Pleasant.

Traverse City, meanwhile, looks like a substantial city with miles of strip malls guarding the inner core and looks much bigger than the population Wikipedia claims it has would suggest. Well, the city does have to supply the Chili's and Tim Horton's needs of several counties. Our hotel, the Red Lion Motor Lodge, was just a couple miles north of Traverse City, opposite the highway --- M-22, signs for which get reproduced as bumper stickers a lot, much like Garden State Turnpike Exit 98 stickers do back east --- from the bay, so we'd have the wonderful sea to the east of us, and was seeped in wonderful 1950s motor lodge style. It's got some lovely heraldic-lion-shaped silhouettes for its icons.

We got in in the early evening and after unpacking drove north a little, to Suttons Bay, for dinner. This we found at a pizza place where we split a small pie while reading over the local free weekly and shaking our head at the letters to the editor. One of them was nominally about the cost of health care, and seemed to be very interested in impressing upon people the conspiracy of pharmaceutical companies to ... we weren't exactly sure. It wasn't a very coherent letter, and the others were just worse, and we realized that these were the best letters to the editor that they got the past week. We also learned that we'd missed a film festival in town by one week.

The pizza shop had an ice cream parlor that wasn't exactly built into it, but was kind of carved out of a corner of the place. We'd figured to go there after dinner, but they closed earlier than we imagined. And that was probably all right, as it was cooler than we figured and we hadn't brought our hoodies along --- it was early August, for crying out loud, it shouldn't be cold --- and after sunset --- which was nicely late, not really getting dark until around ten --- so we just walked around town a little bit, scoping out things such as the science shop with an array of telescopes around, and went back to our temporary home.

The Red Lion Motor Lodge didn't promise to have Internet, but it did anyway, a wireless network with a password that we really should have guessed. But the network had an irritating tendency to just disappear without warning, going from a pretty good, pretty fast connection to absolutely nothing. This would be fine for stuff like reading my comics or getting e-mail, but would be rotten for any kind of chatting, and we just hoped that whoever was in charge of the hotel's Internet would work out their issues with the router.

Trivia: James Watt measured the performance of his steam engines with a mechanical device that automatically plotted pressure and volume within the steam vessel. The indicator appears to have been developed around 1796 by his assistant, John Southern. Source: Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress, Hasok Chang.

Currently Reading: Tower of Glass, Robert Silverberg.

Tags: traverse bay
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