Nostalgia is quite a powerful tool for getting the attention of those who have forgotten where we came from, and how we arrived where we are at. Many of you will be traveling to your favorite spots this Memorial Day weekend to open up the cabin, visit family on the lake, horse back etc.. Quite a few you will remain home or will be working because travel has become quite unaffordable. Not that you are working any less hard, but perhaps the little bit you were previously able to squirrel away for such activity has been absorbed by higher fuel or heating costs through the winter, or compliance with new regulatory designs which seemed to only affect “business before.” No matter the reason, this time you can’t get out.
In 2008, while commenting on the inactivity of our congress, and in particular Speaker Pelosi’s refusal to allow a vote which would have provided immediate relief to those who are affected by high energy costs, I got a little nostalgic for “the good ol days.” I penned a bit about a yearly ritual our family performed and had considered one of the happiest times of my life.
My family has vacationed in the UP since 1970 when my parents bought a cabin in Rapid River. We still have the cabin, and as my brothers and I continue to make use of it, we recognize the high cost of getting there. In fact this year, I may only be able to go to close it for the season.
When the family made the most use of the cabin, was in the early 70s, prior to oil embargoes, and other problems like those in the auto industry. Our journey, originally began in Bay City, traveling north, and eventually the departure point became Okemos. We would travel the 5-6 hour treks (sometimes 6-7.. with 5 boys..) and make a few stops along the way.
We had our favorites. One of them was a little store and cabin rental on a bluff along US 2 just this side of the Cut River bridge. Eventually, tradition became the stop, candy-up, beg the parents for fireworks, and even once, we adopted a cat there. We made the stop on the way going to, and then returning from our summer of activity. It was a kid’s holy grail.
That little store had a small sign out front which was adorned with incandescent bulbs, that almost always had ONE of them out. As the 70s wore on, and when oil prices rose, the bulbs in the sign almost seemed to be the gauge of life left for the small mom and pop grocery / general store that we so dearly loved. Each time we passed there seemed to be one more of the bulbs extinguished, until about 1981 they were out permanently. Now, it is merely an an empty bluff.
Obviously we all have different moments, or memories which mold us, remind us of what was good, or what made it possible to feel good about our surroundings, our environment, our livelihoods. For quite a few of us it is the Summer Camp experience, for others it might be that trip to that ol water fountain that was recently defiled by national park employees. We all have our best experiences, and some of us can actually identify what made them real, and absolute, and quite literally possible.
Travel can be a healing process. It breaks us away from the sometimes damaging day to day “drudgery” and awaken the sense of adventure we feel sometimes as only children, with new discoveries, or rare experiences that become special, if only for their uniqueness. Inspiration during a visit to a Michigan waterfall, gives way to imagining oneself living in a hardier time by visiting a ghost town in the Upper Peninsula. Forgetting the baggage we leave at home sometimes only needs a little poke or prod and the turn of a key to fire up the family wagon.
But things can change if we forget the wonder of our youth or the beauty of places farther than our doorstep or personal computer. The imagining of ghost ships passing while soaking the sun on a Lake Michigan beach can be lost to the imagining of those who would argue the “planet would be better off without us.”
The “green movement,” or those who assume man has little business being here, (unless he wants to pay dearly) will continue to drive a wedge between those of us who love our traditions, our loves, and our way of life. Unnecessary demands on those who use enegy to build the vehicles we use, as well the energy to move those vehicles during our travels, creates the very limiting environment that ultimately enslaves us to our desks, our daily routines, and the sometimes unrewarding careers we have chosen, or are forced to by government caused job destruction.
This is the time to reflect on what we REALLY want for our children going forward.
The “green movement” argues we are wasting away our resources, polluting the air, and warming the planet. Their argument is in the face of cleaner water than has ever existed in the history of man, metropolitan air quality better than 3-4 decades ago, and a climate that is cooler when it supposed to be heating. Yet though their arguments are flawed, we have national and state leadership which not unlike an 8 ton wrecking ball seems to obey the laws of physics, and use all the momentum behind it to purely destructive ends.
I want my kids to be able to do what my parents did for us. Is that so wrong?
How many who are reading this remember the joyous times of travel, and the wonder of places different from your normal surroundings? Is it fair that we pass to our kids the consequence of deceptive energy policy being perpetrated by this administration, and the congress currently in session? For Michigan, is it right that our governor can arbitrarily determine that you will pay more to power your homes or businesses, by denying the construction of a power facility? Is adding a tax on the energy used to produce the products which give Michiganders their jobs really a good idea?
Wax a little nostalgic about the good ol days this weekend, and when you realize the difference between then and now, you will know what needs to be done when the holiday is over.