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A Theory of US-131

Fri, 28 Jul 2023, 03:22 PM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

1. Going Home

After Sandy returned to Ohio. After Lexi came and went. After Colin returned to the political grind. After Betty disappeared in her flash of purple. After Burt and Jenny lashed the kayaks and stashed the dogs. After Jasper’s serenades were done and his kitchen closed. After VJ and Jenny Bea and Julia and Katherine returned south for a big school year. After Ben and Vicki had returned once more to their patients in Chicagoland.

After all the cars were gone. After the tents were stowed and the trailers locked. After the waterfront was secured and the cottage windows shut.  After all that, I too turned at last to home afar.

Down the two-rut drive thru the forest right onto Morgan Mills Road and again onto Macclain. Then Lincoln Lake Road. And then west on M-57 and eventually south on US-131. Home lay somewhere far out there.

2. US-131

This summer, I drove the full length of US-131. It’s an odd statement, isn’t it, that one might drive the full length of a US highway? Yet from its northernmost terminus in Petoskey to its southern end just beyond the Indiana state line, I drove the whole thing, the second half of which I covered on this return home.

“Wait,” you say. “The highway stops at the state line? It ends? The US highway runs only thru Michigan?”

Yes, well except for a valiant incursion into Elkhart County in northern Indiana where it extends to the Indiana Tollroad, US-131 ceases to be. The wide, controlled access highway becomes instead two-lane state Indiana 13. It seems that over many decades, Indiana has consistently declined to extend it further. And so, US-131 just stops.

I have a theory for why this is. It is based only on anecdotal evidence consisting of the joy of a narrow, two-lane road under blue sky amid the fields of corn and soy beans and well-kept farmsteads always with flowers out front in full bloom and laundry hanging in the breeze and slow-trotting horses pulling narrow-wheeled buggies. You see, Elkhart County is Amish country.

There is evidently no need for great highways with multiple swift-moving lanes. Here things move at a saner pace. And for that, there is no need for US-131.

At least that’s my theory. Because I was there.

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