Aug 202010

Whether we’re in our motorhome or our van, whenever time allows, we always prefer to travel the two lane back roads wherever we are going. A Denny’s or a Flying J truck stop are pretty much the same, whether they are at an interstate highway exit in Arizona or Tennessee.

But on the back roads you see the real America; the small towns, the neat farmsteads, the old courthouses with their Civil War statues, the fields of corn, and the roadside produce stands. You can’t travel as fast on the back roads as you can on the super highways, but why would you want to, anyway? There’s too much to see along the way.

Yesterday we drove back up to Allegan, Michigan to pick up the new issue of the Gypsy Journal from our printer. Our route took us up State Route 40, through the small towns of Marcellus, with its handsome old houses and storefronts; and Lawton, where the beautiful old stone railroad depot is now home to an American Legion post.

Lawton  depot

We passed a lot of farm fields, those roadside produce stands I mentioned above, and several lakes. I’d like to get our kayaks wet up here, and I bet there is some good fishing in these waters too!

Paw Paw Lake 2

I always like driving through the busy little town of Paw Paw, just for the name if nothing else. Paw Paw is the home of the St. Julian Winery, which offers free tours and wine tasting.

St Julian Winery

The Paw Paw Police (as opposed to the cantaloupe cops), have a neat old 1950s-era police car that we had hoped to get a picture of, but it wasn’t in its usual parking place, so we’ll have to try again one of these days.

We enjoyed the ride up to Allegan so much that, once we loaded the new issue into the van, we drove right back to Elkhart along the same route. (Of course, it’s the shortest and easiest route, so that helped too.

How would you like to spend the morning driving through all that pretty scenery I just showed you, and come back to find this parked next to you? No, the Beverly Hillbillies didn’t get a motorhome and hit the road, that’s my buddy Greg White’s American Eagle. Greg managed to scrape up his bay doors on a boulder or a panhandler, I forget which, so he took them off and our pal Michele Henry at Phoenix Commercial Paint is fixing them like new again. In the meantime, I just had to pick on Greg, because you know what they say, you can take the redneck out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the redneck.

Greg bays taped 2

I was feeling a bit droopy by the time we got back to Elkhart Campground, so I laid down for a little nap, and woke up when my friend Orv Hazelton called to tell me he and his lovely wife Nancy had arrived and were parked next to us. We went over to check our their beautiful new Allegro four-slide diesel pusher, I fussed over their little mutt Duffy, who is almost acceptable for a wannabe dog, and then the four of us went out to dinner. We haven’t seen Orv and Nancy in quite a while, and it was nice to have some time to visit and catch up.

When we got back to the campground, I wanted to take a little walk, and then go inside and get caught up on e-mail from the day. But before I could, a series of folks stopped by to introduce themselves, say hello, ask about the rally, and to  talk about my Bad Nick Blog posts. I’m afraid I can’t remember everybody’s name, but they included Phyllis Schell,  and subscribers Gary and Elaine Regelman. My apologies to those whose names I missed, but my brain capacity is a bit exceeded right now.

I finally managed to get in a couple of laps around the campground, stopped to visit with some folks along the way, and got back to the Winnebago in time to check out the new series Hardcore Pawn on True TV. We managed about 20 minutes of the half hour episode and changed channels. It’s obviously an attempt to cash in on the popularity of A&E’s Pawn Stars, but we both felt that it pretty much sucked. We won’t waste any time on it.

Thought For The Day – If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  6 Responses to “Michigan Back Roads”

  1. Nick. . . I’m SHOCKED! Our beloved Duffy is NOT a wannabe . . . he’s the real thing: a purebread mini-Australian Sepherd. I’d show you the papers myself, but I believe he may have used them for “another purpose” during his earlier puppy days. Now I might be a scroungy old mutt. . . but Duffs the real thing, and don’t you forget it!. Humft. . . as always, oRV

  2. If you are headed north, don’t miss Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg Michigan. The Grand Haven Oval, on Lake Michigan is beautiful. Spring Lake is 7 miles of wonder (and the lake I grew up on.) And see Hofmaster State Park between Ferrysburg and Muskegon. Then continue your travels in and around Michigan and see the beautiful peninsula around you.

  3. Orv — I am glad you set this itinerant newspaperman correct. He has to stop writing these half truths. Where are his journalistic standards? And, making fun of Greg White!!! That’s just not right.

  4. Thanks, George.

    Nick’s real problems are going to start when Jan gets back from Houston and sees that photo.

    I think Nick has forgotten how good Jan was with that Tommy Gun in Vegas. They rent
    ’em here in Elkhart too.

  5. The “real” America is not just found in back roads but wherever you go in all 50 states. Each town, each city, regardless of size, has something to offer.

    Many of the things above listed as found in the back roads are also found in large cities, e.g., for an old courthouse – Philadelphia, Boston or New York.

    Why do folks think that “real” America can only be found in “small” towns or cities? We used to live on Long Island and had roadside produce stands, old courthouses, fields of corn and neat farmsteads. In fact, a lot of history and historical sites are located on Long Island and that is certainly not small town America.

    In the course of traveling, we have been in small and big towns and cities and have always found examples of “real” America. Sorry, Nick, gotta disagree with you on this.

  6. Dale, I don’t believe there is any intention to exclude cities. Rather, I think it is more that these out of the way small towns have something to offer also. The cities and popular areas tend to get the most “press”. We’re just saying that the small towns and back roads have something too that is often not found.

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