August 20, 2003
My first trip to Michigan was back in 1999 when I flew to Detroit for a day to see a game at Tiger Stadium before it closed. I came back to Michigan in 2003 as part of my Lake Erie Circumnavigation. When I got into Detroit, it marked the first destination to which I had both flown and driven (I don't count Boston, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, where I had only caught connecting flights).
I took US-23 north out of Toledo to the Michigan state line but to my dismay found that the welcome sign was in the median. I previously encountered this in Rhode Island but this was a little different; US-23 at rush hour on a Wednesday was much more crowded than sleepy old I-295 on a Sunday morning. I got off at the first exit and, unprepared for this contingency, was unsure of which way to go next. I went east and soon wound up back in Toledo, except on whatever surface street I took the state line came and went unannounced.
I checked the map and then headed over to US-20. After looking for a place to eat and gas up, and having driven west out of town completely, and having turned around back to town, and having settled on Quizno's for the third straight day, and having turned back west once again, I was on my way. I could go as far as US-127, which I could take north past Jackson on my way to Lansing. But I had three chances for a sign before then.
I know this is really the Michigan page, but I can't help commenting on what Ohio is like in this area. Along the US-20 corridor about fifteen or twenty miles west of Toledo, if you had just dropped out of the sky and had to guess what state you were in, you would probably guess Iowa or Nebraska or Kansas. There are farms and cornfields as far as the eye can see, the country roads are straight as an arrow, far apart, and all cross each other at right angles. The towns are small, and the land is as flat as a pancake. And, for the first few miles north of the state line anyway, Michigan is just like this too.
Anyway, I lucked out. This was my first of the four potential sign locations, and I was sufficiently satisfied with this one that I didn't try any of the others on US-127 or OH-120. From what I gathered, this is the standard Michigan welcome sign.
The stone pedestal was a very nice touch, especially for such an isolated location as this. The sign was about 20 feet off the road on the other side of a drainage ditch. There were a lot of tall weeds and wildflowers, and I tried to get in and out as fast as I could lest I raise the ire of the various forms of stinging insect fauna in the area. As it ended up, I had one yellow jacket, and maybe even two, that got trapped in the back of my truck. Every time I opened the tailgate to get my bags out, the wasp started flying all around, in and out of the back of my truck, and all around my bags. I finally got rid of the bug when I left Toronto. I hope that L'Agence des douanes du Canada isn't going to come after me for illegal imporation of an insect.
In case you were wondering, the black speck in the right side of the picture is a bird.
August 25, 2003
August 20, 2003
I had some déjà vu when I took the welcome sign photo that I was back in Kansas. I got struck again when I made it into Lansing.
I felt like I had been in Lansing before: the four-lane one-way roads, the endless rows of parking meters, the perpendicular city grid, the streets named for the state's cities and counties. It was almost as if Mr. Lansing had bought a capital city do-it-yourself kit from a mail-order company whose previous customers included Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Salem, and Mr. Topeka. It was quite an odd feeling.
When I got to the capitol, it was about 6:00 on a Wednesday evening. The streets were pretty much deserted. There was one other person there taking pictures, but all I got out of him was that he thought the building was beautiful because he spoke virtually no English and I virtually no French. As I walked away after our brief non-conversation, I wondered if wanted to see the U.S. Captiol in Washington but made a wrong turn and wound up in Lansing by mistake.
Michigan's state capitol was pretty impressive. One thing that was a little strange to me was that it seemed that the dimensions were off. The dome was either too tall for its width, or too narrow for its height. The same went for the rest of the building; it seemed out of proportion too.
In this picture I'm actually standing across the street. Most of Michigan's executive buildings are in a complex one block west, above street level (hence the railing and streetlight behind me), and connected to the capitol with a wide plaza-like bridge over the street. This is the west front of the Captiol, which apparently is the back of it, as the lawn and monuments are on the east side, and besides the railing and the street the only thing between me and the Captiol was the parking lot.
August 25, 2003