A Day Trip to the Thumb

Posted: 16 July 2021 by Robbie

Ortonville, MI

It started out with me leaving I-75 to M-15 (Ortonville Road). I went down Ball Street to take a look at the baseball fields on my own personal view. Back in the late 90s, I had snail mailed quite a few folks in the metal community. It started out with my ad on the now defunct Metal Maniacs magazine. In 97, I wanted to discover Metal music that was much more ruthless than Pantera and got into Death Metal for a year or two. That’s another story for a different time.

One of the people I connected to was a local Death Metal band Unholy Death. Me and the late Tim Schlicht wrote to each other from 97-99. It upgraded to AOL chats in 2000-06. Tim would occasionally complain about the people playing baseball and making noise. He lived across the street of the fields. Tim moved out of Ortonville, Mich to suburban Los Angeles in late 1999. We never actually met. Bummer! Also, on the way to these baseball fields, I noticed a sign from a special interest group trying to end the racism plaguing the city.

I went to Frankenmuth next (home of the band Greta Van Fleet), with some spotty rain showers on the way there and while I was present in town. While there, I had a drink at Zehnder’s restaurant. Not only is Zehnder’s is just a restaurant, it’s also a bar, hotel and a indoor water park. Another thing going on in the week of my appearance there, they were having the 80s Fest the city usually has on April. They, of course, didn’t have it on April 2020, and they moved it to July in 2021. I really want to go to the 2022 80s Fest! Plus, get a room here. And that was what I thought when I was at the Holz-Brücke Wooden Bridge, I could stay the night here, alone.

Holz-Brücke Wooden Bridge
A view from the bridge

I went to Port Austin next and took some side roads on the way there. Was on M-83 and took that all the way to M-46 and turned east. I kept going and passed Richville, which there wasn’t much there, a bank and a car shop. It’s where M-46 and M-15 meet. Kept going on M-46 with Google Maps suggesting me to go on Bradford Road. Saw quite a few wind power turbines and corn fields. When I got to an intersection, turns out Bradford Road was under construction and only local traffic could pass. I went down another country road and found Bradleyville Road and turned north. Passed by a town called Gilford. Nothing there but an abandoned store and a flooded basketball court.

Finally got to M-25 and continued on down to Unionville. I stopped at the SpeedyQ for a piss, some water, cigs and some Ice Breakers. Talked to the clerk and a few of the locals. One of the locals did say that Unionville is a deadtown. I did see some run-down houses and the plazas they had before M-25 turns North ending M-24 were completely abandoned, sans a bar called Cat Man Do. Kinda wish I visited that bar now. The clerk over at the gas station talked like a stereotypical cartoon surfer. He reminded me of a friend I had back in 04-06 named Aaron who often spoke like that. Went on the 45-minute trip on M-25 and finally got to Port Austin.

One of my pictures of Unionville

Sadly, it was rainy in Port Austin. I decided not to walk too much around the park. There wasn’t too many people there. It surely wasn’t the right day for me to go there. I had an ice cream, stood under a roof at one of the government buildings by the beach and stood there for nearly a half-hour. I found myself thinking about the day trip I took up here in late December 2011. There wasn’t much going on at 5PM on a late December night in Port Austin. I met a couple from Lawton, Oklahoma and took their photo of them. I drove back home to where I used to live, Roseville, MI. At the end of my techno project Super Human Intelligence Towards Exile. Later that night, I had a panic attack.

While there under the roof, I thought to myself that I could spend the night alone in a city like Frankenmuth, with a population of 4,500+. But not in Port Austin, with a population of about 800. If friends or family said to me, “hey, were going to Port Austin this weekend, were spending the night there. Get yourself a hotel room and come on by.” Then, yes.

Port Austin
Downtown Port Austin

I also explored a little more of Port Hope. That’s another place I probably couldn’t live at or stay one night alone. Population is about 250. I also saw a couple of commercial real estate signs there. I suppose Covid-19 caused some troubles there? On the way there, I had Sirius XM 90s On 9 and heard the song “Justified and Ancient” by the KLF and Tammy Wynette. I heard that song somewhere in the middle of the 2010s while stuck in a YouTube matrix and I stumbled upon the video.

Before that, I heard it a couple of times in 1991. I do remember listening to it on morning radio where the male DJ’s said, “Hey, kids, let’s all go to Moo Moo Land.” I found it quite odd at 9 -years-old that they are playing (what I thought at the time) a kids song on Pop radio. A year previous, I thought “Enjoy The Silence” was a religious song. Back then, I thought at one point before I was 10 or 11, that pop stations had to play a kids song and a religious song every once in a while due to some laws. That is a stupid thought, I agree. The two songs just mentioned are not a religious song or a kids song (which Justified and Ancient can easily be mistaken as one).

Port Hope
Port Hope, MI

After Port Hope, I kept going and going. Something I rarely do on the road is to listen to local radio stations. I tried some of the FM Stations and listened to a local Christian station for about five minutes. Then I stumbled upon a Sandusky, MI station WMIC 660 AM. We happen to have a WNIC in Detroit. WMIC is a conservative talk station. At the time I tuned in, they were doing local news. They talked about two hit and run incidents with one being in the town of Emmett. I had a convo with a stylist at Lady Jane’s (local haircuts for men place around me) who was from there the previous day.

What was also interesting was the meteorologist’s voice. He had a Boston accent. I thought to myself, what is a guy in Boston doing in the boons of Michigan. But he could have been syndicated (likely reason). The local news also discussed wheat, corn and carrot prices. I kept this station on as long as I could due to the clouds in the sky.

Pardon my bad photos here…

By the time I passed Lexington, it rained hard. Visibility was a bitch and WMIC was turning to crackle. Switched stations to a FM Canadian station and got Len’s “Steal My Sunshine.” Would be very interesting if I got into a fatal car crash while that song was playing. I find myself from time-to-time wondering what be the last song I’ll ever hear before I die, or when I die. Got to Fort Gratiot and hid under a gas station roof watching the storm pass.

That’s all for now. Peace, Love and Fractions.

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