By John Matonich
I don’t think we always realize just how big our state really is geographically. We cover some ground that is larger than most and only overshadowed by a few other states. I spent 35 years traveling back and forth from the downstate Davison area to my hometown in the far west end of the U.P. On a good day it was a nine hour drive, but at times could turn into a lot more.
While for years I wished it were closer, I always thought of those folks who were farther south or east as they had it even worse. From Macomb County to southern Wayne County, if you needed to travel up here, you better pack a lunch…or 2. Those folks who live near the southwest corner of our Lower Peninsula had it a little better as they could slide around Chicago and head north through Wisconsin. Ok, sliding around Chicago may not accurately portray how that part of the trip may go, but it was still usually shorter than trying to head to the Big Mac Bridge and turning left.
The other reality of this area here in the west end of Da U.P. is that it is known as “Big Snow Country” for a reason. This year we had 20 plus inches of snow by Halloween and while a lot of the snow left when the weather changed a week or so later, we are paying for that short stint of warm weather now.
It has been snowing for the last 5 days and the weather folks are telling us to expect more snow for the next 9. It makes travel a little tougher, but I knew that when we moved back here after I retired. I try not to be in too much of a hurry as all that does is make you memorize the number of the local tow truck.
I don’t mind snow. I even kind of like snowstorms, especially if I am home in front of a fire with an adult beverage and a fully stocked fridge. I usually raise my glass in front of the window and tell Mom Nature to bring it on. If you are prepared, it usually isn’t too bad.
I do remember my sophomore year at Michigan Tech (many years ago) when that area had their record snowfall of around 390.” Now think about that. That is over 32 feet of snow. Of course it didn’t fall in one day, but I can tell you at one stretch it snowed 65 days in a row. Yep, we didn’t see the sun for 65 days. I lived right across the highway from campus and there were many days you weren’t able to see across the road. Being the good stewards of education, the university administration never once called off classes. So we would head out the door and listen for oncoming traffic before scooting across the road. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
I was supposed to head back to Genesee County this week for some meetings, but knew I didn’t want to fight the snow and 40 mph winds we were having across the UP, so I called in instead. I had to smile to myself as the conversation I was listening to by those physically at the meetings was about their disappointment that it was a little too cold that day to play some golf after the meetings. I think it is cool that we are all located in Michigan and can experience totally different conditions. I was thinking about getting my snowmobile up and running and they were thinking about which wedge to use on the first par 3. That’s why I love this state and the diversity Mom Nature can throw at us. If I wasn’t in my shop today working on some projects, I would raise that glass once again to her, but I like my fingers and will wait until I get home to toast the ole girl.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.
Image credit: Joe Ross