Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mackinac Bridge

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." -E.L.Doctorow

Growing up a Michigander, my heart has always burst with pride for my home state.

I mean, come on. 

A state shaped like an actual mitten.
Surrounded by not one, not two, but three Great Lakes.
With a vast, wild, and completely separate upper peninsula. Called the UP.
And the bridge as well as the wild waters below are called Mackinac.*

What a land! What a legacy! What luck fell to me to be born in such a place.

Ironically, I saw little of my home state when I actually lived there. Don't even think I made it halfway up the Lower Peninsula.  But since moving to Seattle and settling down to a long tradition of road trips back and forth between my two homes, the direct route flows through from west to east across the UP, over the Mighty Mac, and down the middle of the Mitten.

And now I've passed through the length and breadth of my home state many times over.

I love every inch of the journey but my favorite five miles is hands-down the bridge.

Massive towers and burly cables overhead.
Wildly swirling waters below.
Views of both pine-studded peninsulas, and turtle-backed Mackinac Island in the distance.
Boats boldly sailing on stiff currents.
And winds sweeping across the waves.

On the day we planned to cross the Mackinac Bridge, our morning's drive from Escanaba was shrouded in fog. Oh, the road was clear enough, but every little peekaboo view to Lake Michigan along the route lay hidden in the white mists. 

"It'll burn off by St. Ignace," my husband foretold. He's usually right about these things, so I patiently rode on.

Around noon, we arrived at the north end of the bridge and swung round for a prime view of the bridge. 

And this is what we found.

The fog most definitely did not clear. 

Even as we drove across her, I saw

No towers or cables
No water below
No land whatsoever
No boats
Not even a hint of wind.

For all I got out of my trip across the Mackinac Bridge, I might as well have been standing in a silent snow field with a pillowcase over my head.

But you know what?

I still love my mitten-shaped state,
her gorgeous Great Lakes,
the magical UP, 
and our beautiful, brawny bridge. 

I'm always proud to be a Michigander.

Even when the bridge is fogged in. 

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* It's pronounced MAK-in-aw. Not MAK-in-ack. And it means, roughly, big turtle. 

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Road Trip 2019: read all about it.

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More stories about marvelous, mysterious fog:

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