Friday, December 29, 2017

You think we have winter here?

JUST GOT BACK from a quick trip to Michigan for a funeral. It was good to get away for a few days and see a lot of people for the first time in years. My immediate family is long gone from Grand Rapids but I have an aunt, uncle and cousins still there, and it was a joy to hang out with family.

I drove up Tuesday and got around Chicago without any trouble, but minutes after entering Michigan it was like running into a curtain of snow. I haven’t driven in snow for 22 years, save a for two epic snowstorms in Quincy. You creep along at 30 mph, unable to see the car in front of you, and cars on your left blow by at 90. Then there are flashing lights and cars in ditches everywhere and you grip the wheel even tighter and you say, “THIS is why I don’t miss the winters up here.”

Steve Hawkins, the former QU basketball coach, moved to Kalamazoo to coach at Western Michigan. Hawk is from California. He said, “It snows in Kalamazoo just for the hell of it.” He is right. You drive through whiteouts and blizzards, and then it stops, and then you hit another wall of snow coming off Lake Michigan and you grip the wheel even tighter.

I got to the visitation Tuesday but couldn’t get to the funeral itself the next day because I got stuck on the highway. There was a frightening four-car crash near Hudsonville that turned 196 into a parking lot. On M6, a car just ahead slid and hit the guardrail so hard that the bumper flew 50 feet in the air and other parts exploded into the road. The airbag went off and the poor gal driving was dragged away from the car. A guy nearly crashed into me at 44th and Kalamazoo in GR, and it took 10 minutes to get through an ice-coated intersection at Burton and Kalamazoo.

2351 Rosewood SE, Grand Rapids, home of the Harts in the 80s.
I was so traumatized from the winter driving that my awesome cousin Natalie decided to walk with me to the Last Chance bar on Burton Street on Wednesday afternoon. Like many things, the bar is way better now and looks different from the days I used to deliver Kingmas produce there. Then I strolled down to the old neighborhood, Rosewood Street, and it was like a picture postcard. Time stood still for a second and I focused on the good memories from our years there in the 1980s.

The drive home yesterday was better, but still nerve wracking. Man, am I glad to be home. It takes me five minutes to get to work, a two-inch snowstorm makes the front page and things just move more deliberately around here, and I love it.

It’s supposed to be bitterly cold this weekend, so bundle up and stay warm, and if you come out to see me and Paul Lester tonight at Revelry, or The Cheeseburgers at  The Club tomorrow night, we’lll keep you nice and warm.

Happy New Year and keep rocking, Q-Town, even in our winter wonderland!

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