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Michigan Revisited, July 2017

Part 11: Stephen Forbes State Park

(and the drive to Texas)

All photographs ©2017 by Mary Beth Stowe

Headed straight to Stephen Forbes State Park the next morning, and it looked like a promising place, but the minute I pulled over and rolled down both the windows, Heppy was attacked by these giant bee and horse flies!  (At one pause when I was entering data and had the windows shut, one of the “bees” landed on the window and not only did not appear to have a stinger, but the eyes were very fly-like…).  So long as we were moving, they left us alone, but the minute we stopped, here they came!  I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get a walk in, but I said, “Lord, You know that Satan doesn’t want me getting any exercise; please keep these bugs away so I can walk!”  And sure enough, at the very end of the road where the swimming beach was (I think it was called Rock Point), they gathered around Heppy while I was getting ready, but they thankfully left me alone! J  Rather than go straight up the road initially I walked down to the water to see if I could kick up anything; a Canada Goose was sounding the alarm, a Ring-billed Gull was out on a buoy, and three Wood Ducks took off from the shoreline!  (Oh, forgot about the Turkey Vulture Convention lining the bridge railing on the way in…)  Thankfully the ducks didn’t go far and the females were calling, so I managed a mediocre recording (the goose was no problem…)!  The only interesting ode buzzing around just wouldn’t settle down, but the pattern on his wings reminded me of a baskettail, and I think he had blue eyes, but he just kept going back and forth and back and forth – never got tired!  From there I walked up the road for the remainder of the time, shooting a young pewee and just enjoying the deep woods!  On the way out a Red-spotted Purple stayed put on the road (he was licking up something as I saw his little tongue going a mile a minute), so that was nice!  Bird-wise didn’t pick up anything new for the trip, but we’re back into Carolina Wren and Yellow-billed Cuckoo country, to say nothing of the 90-degree heat (they’re issuing heat advisories for the next few days around here)!

We had just gotten through Mt. Vernon when traffic came to a screeching halt; I thought maybe it was the same construction mess I encountered on the way up, but when a cop went tearing by, I figured it was an accident.  Well.  Turns out the cop was helping another cop actually close the freeway and funnel traffic off on the exit, and boy did I feel for those folks actually caught in the backup just beyond, because traffic was stopped solid (mostly trucks, too…)! L  Thankfully the exit took you right to SR 37, which parallels the freeway; I could only imagine what the residents of sleepy little Ina were thinking as this long line of cars and 18-wheelers wound through their town!  Also, thankfully, there was another cop (or someone) directing traffic at the stop sign so that we could all get through there!  The detour was actually quite scenic, passing over an arm of Rend Lake, but as we went over the overpass to rejoin the freeway, I noticed that the northbound lanes were absolutely empty, so whatever happened, they still weren’t letting traffic through.  (And actually, there was no construction on our side where that backup was going north…)

Getting into Memphis was a little hairy only that, after coming over the bridge, you have to make an immediate exit to stay on I-55, and if you don’t know that, you can find yourself stuck in the left lane hoping on the goodness of a truck driver to let you in at the last minute (which he did)! J  My boss Keith called me somewhere along the line, asking me if I wanted any chocolate-covered espresso beans from Trader Joe’s (want, yes; need, no, so I politely turned him down, aside from the fact that I can get them at Sprouts if I’m really desperate J)!

Around Winona I had a decision to make: fight Jackson going home traffic tonight, or going-to-work traffic tomorrow, and seeing as I’d be getting there around 9:00 am as opposed to 5:00 pm, I chose to call it a night and checked in to the Holiday Inn here.  Caved and got a KFC as a treat, figuring I rarely get one, and saw that we’re back into Mockingbird country!

Well, God was gracious the next morning and there was no backup (or even slowdown) going through Jackson!  I’m so glad I decided to stop when I did!  It was another gorgeous day, but according to Google I couldn’t afford to stop anywhere, so I just plowed on through, stopping somewhere in Mississippi where a Fish Crow said hello (joked with a big black guy in the store who asked how I was feeling, and I said great – made it through Jackson with no traffic!), picking up a Subway north of Hammond, making another potty stop at the Atchafalaya Visitor Center (with more Fish Crows and an interesting grasshopper that was in the ladies’ room – best match was a Clip-winged), and another potty/ice cream stop just past the big bridge at Lake Charles (I guess the bypass is for folks who don’t wanna drive across that thing; it is pretty intimidating when you come up to it)!  During the drive, I happened upon these three guys broadcasting with American Family Radio who were doing “Trivia Friday,” and it was hysterical – like one caller said, she could tell they just enjoyed each other so much!  But besides Biblical trivia, they had other questions, and one that intrigued me was, what rock do humans regularly consume?  Someone actually called in and took a stab, and it was salt!  That is a good trivia question!

There was a major slowdown between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, thankfully not due to an accident but due to a pile of rocks in the lane, but there were at least three major backups going the other way, and I felt so bad for those people stuck in it (one traffic report said they were backed up for ten miles)!  We also had a couple of good rain storms, and made it as far as Winnie with the hope that maybe we’d have time to hit Anahuac tomorrow!  Checking Google, it was a 6.5 hour drive home from there (six without traffic, which on a Saturday should be okay), so providing we didn’t run into any slowdowns on the way, I figured we should be able to spend some time at the refuge (getting there at dawn) and still get home on time! 

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