My Town Monday: It’s Bad Road Season!

Livingston County is one of those areas where the main roads are big enough, so long as it’s not rush hour. Most of the day, traffic moves just fine.

But it’s one of those places, like much of Michigan, that has some pretty abysmal road surfaces. ‘Tis the pothole season around here. Most of the roads are damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle. And further affected by the salt that Michiganders *must* have on their roads. Because, you know, just because it’s snowing doesn’t mean you should have to slow down.


Here’s one shot (borrowed from the Livingston County Daily News). You can see the road is just disintegrating.

Reminds me of playing Sim City 2. Sections of road would just turn to rubble.


Here’s another. No, you’re not seeing that wrong. It’s one of those places where folks regularly drive on the other side of the road because their normal lane is in such bad shape.

Luckily, the worst roads are usually quiet enough that it’s not too hard to share the one good lane.

You know you’re in Michigan when you change lanes to pass potholes, not cars.


But it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. Here’s an old photo of downtown Howell with a flock of cars travelling along Grand River Ave to celebrate the paving of this main cross-state thoroughfare.

Interesting thing in this photo– people would just abandon their car in the road. No special parking. They’d leave it and head to one of the many bars. 13 in four blocks!

Maybe that’s why the travelers didn’t bother to park? At other times, parking was a bit more orderly, but not much.

And here’s how bad dirt roads used to get.

A little perspective as we enter Bad Road Season (what some of the rest of you might just know as “spring.”) As the weather gets warmer and the snow melts, the water will get into the cracks in the asphalt. Then, overnight, since temperatures still drop below freezing, the asphalt is further cracked.

And dirt roads become mud soup as the long-frozen moisture is finally freed by the sun.

But then again, I’m never in a rush to get anywhere. And I like to enjoy the scenery. That is, when I bother to venture out of my little office. I mean, that is where my computer is…

Visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday Posts.

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My Town Monday: Groundhog Day

Everyone knows Punxsutawney Phil, the famous prognosticator from Pennsylvania. But Livingston County is home to a more accurate groundhog: Woody the Woodchuck. Maybe it’s because Woody is female. Women do tend to have better instincts than men…

Seriously, though Woody the Woodchuck, a resident at the Howell Nature Center, has been right seven out of nine predictions. And, seriously, it may be because female groundhogs would have a greater need to know if it was too early in the season to bring out their babies. Woody’s never had any babies, but she would likely still carry the maternal instinct.

Woody arrived at the Howell Nature Center in 1998 after her mother had been killed. A farmer brought her to the Howell Nature Center, but the critter had already lost her fear of humans. She couldn’t go back into the wild. So, she was put to work. At least she works for peanuts.

At 8:15am on February 2nd, Woody will make her way out of her comfy home. If she stays out for more than 30 seconds, then that indicates an early spring.

I’ll come back after Woody makes her prediction, though, and let you know what Woody says about the arrival of spring this year.

UPDATE: Woody wouldn’t even come out of her paper mache log this morning, which means six more weeks of winter. Punxatawney Phil made the same prediction when he came out and saw his shadow. (Funny that puts it right about the middle of March… when the Vernal Equinox occurs.)

The rest of the year, Woody’s part of the Howell Nature Centers educational programs.

But Woody’s home is in danger. The Howell Nature Center is in dire straits. They may not be able to afford to continue operating. After 26 years, this may be it.

For those who don’t know, Michigan has been suffering economically for far longer than the rest of the nation. Our economy started sliding before 2001. We have yet to hit bottom in the mitten state.

While spring may be around the corner weather wise, Michigan is still locked in the icy grips of an economic winter. I don’t think Woody has any predictions on that one.

Travis Erwin has returned to corralling the My Town Monday posters. Stroll on over for more links.

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My Town Monday: Second Amendment


Second Amendment is the biggest, baddest punkin chunkin gun… and it’s part of Livingston County.

The gun was constructed by S & G Erectors in Howell Michigan. The crew is from Howell, Lakeland, Whitmore Lake as well as other places both in and out of Michigan. The gun shoots little hard punkins. Second Amendment won the World Championship in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006.

I have actually driven by when the Second Amendment was in a local field shooting. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop and stare… I mean, watch.

What is punkin chunkin? The goal is to hurl a little hard pumpkin as far as possible by mechanical means. Those means include slingshots, trebuchets, catapults and pneumatic air cannons like the Second Amendment. The punkins for competition are specially grown and aren’t any good for eating.

Travis Erwin is still displaced after a fire took out his entire house, but the My Town Monday torch is being held aloft over at e-Cuneiform scratchings. Check out some other places.

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My Town Monday: Mountain View

And yet I’m still talking about Livingston County. Situated just west of Brighton is Mount Brighton. This is a man made “mountain” that reaches 250 vertical feet.

Local rumor says it’s made of trash. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

Either way, it’s a ski hill. They have skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Since I am very much an indoor critter, I spend much of my winter where it’s warm. That doesn’t include skiing, snowboarding, or much else that takes me outside longer than necessary. Except brushing the snow off my stupid car.

In recent years, Mount Brighton added the Jackal Golf Course around the backside of the hill. This is an eighteen hole golf course.

I don’t golf either. I grew up next to a golf course and still don’t understand the appeal. I’d rather be at home with a book or my internet.

And another thing that’s new to hill that we call Mount Brighton in summer is Sphereing. This nauseua inducing activity involves climbing into a giant inflatble hamster ball and rolling down the hill.

I have never done that either. I have innards that are dreadfully sensitive to spinning and rolling and other motions. Growing up, any car trip included a stop for my breakfast to make an exit…

I have nothing against any fine folks who participate in these activities. But my involvement with Mount Brighton is limited to the “Mountain” Vista it provides and trying to make a turn from Challis onto Bauer roads. Bauer is one of those just-busy-enough roads that makes a turn difficult at best. And if you’re turning right from Challis, Bauer is an extra steep hill. Try *that* in a stick shift car!

Mount Brighton is one of our landmarks around here. I remember driving into Brighton winters ago and watching them make their own snow. Still, I drive by and watch the people skiing and snowboarding down the hillside.


And all I can think is, “Aren’t they COLD?” But I have a serious aversion to cold. My abhorrence of the cold would make one think that I would move to some place warmer (maybe down where Travis lives.)

But I’m Michigan born and bred. This is my home.

No, I did not see any snow this weekend. I very much did not. I know it was reported, but I refuse to admit I saw nothing.

Make sure you visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts. Travel the world from your computer.

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My Town Monday: Lee Road Roundabouts

Some brainiac decided that Brighton needed mall. They bought up some land nestlted between US-23 and Island Lake State Park.

Only, this intersection (and set of freeway ramps) was already a dreadful set up. It would have to be redone to accept traffic for the new mall.

Someone came up with the idea of putting in roundabouts. I’m not opposed to roundabouts… but whoever came up with the set up for the Lee Road Roundabouts was insane. There are three roundabouts, two literarlly on top of each other. And a craptacular design that even I have trouble figuring out. It’s like a free-for all– floor it and hope no one’s in the way.

Click here for a full size pic.

You have expressway traffic, mall traffic, local road traffic. And a couple multi-lane roundabouts to figure out.

It’s incredibly confusing, particularly since every lane crosses another lane through the big roundabout (bottom of the screen.)

I’m a fan of roundabouts, really, just not this one. I try to avoid going through it. It’s really just the lanes crossing each other that really throws me.

Though, truth is, the roundabout has only seen two accidents (that I’ve ever heard of) since it’s opening. And both of those accidents were caused when some dipshit put their car in REVERSE when they passed where they were going. Um, last time I checked, it is NEVER okay to go in reverse with traffic behind you– roundabout, regular road, or even parking lot. Not a roundabout problem– driver error at it’s “finest.”

I’m sure one contributing factor to the low accident rate is that people who are confuddled by it (like me) avoid it. The other factor is certainly the low speeds– you can’t go fast through the roundabouts.

I hear there’s some good shops at the mall. Nothing has enticed me, yet. I admit that if I so desired (or needed) I would learn how to navigate this engineering “masterpiece.” I did, after all, learn how to drive the expressway, a stick shift, and other things that I was incredibly resistant to once upon a time ago. But for now, I’m just going to declare this a clusterfuck and avoid it. Little roundabouts are okay– this is nuts.

What’s your favorite road-design distaster?

Visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

And I also have an entry in Patti Abbott’s Flash Fiction Challenge below (avoid if you don’t like naughty things. 😉

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My Town Monday: Roundabout We Go

User error is not a design flaw.

But some people are adamant that because the “new” roundabout(s) in Brighton are bad. Furthermore, these same people contend that all roundabouts are bad and we shouldn’t have them in Michigan.


Here is the little roundabout at Main and Third Street in downtown Brighton.

Before the roundabout was built, Main Street had a right of way and Third Street had a stop sign. The only significance of Third Street is that the Brighton Police Department is there. And, surprisingly, Third Street seems to be a fairly often used thoroughfare. It connects Main Street to the other path out of town, Brighton Lake Road.

Simple, unassuming little roundabout. When it went it, it was the first roundabout in the area. And I mean, really. One of the first in Michigan, too. A new, novel, dreadfully frightening thing.

And years later, people are STILL whining over how awful they think (the) roundabouts are.

The complaints usually come in two flavors.

The first is that the roundabout is confusing and it’s too hard to learn it.

If you can’t figure out a little roundabout… please get off the road. Find someone competent enough. If you can’t figure out simple little roundabout– slow down & yield to traffic in the circle– then how do you manage the Michigan left or some of the delightful freeway ramps.

The Main Street roundabout is very basic. Slow down, yeild to traffic in the circle, proceed when clear.

Ah, well there’s the problem. But rather than realize that the DRIVER who doesn’t slow down, pay attention, or yield is the issue, many Brighton citizens blame the roundabout. How dare the road commision put in a roundabout. Didn’t the road commision realize that slowing down (you know, going 25 in a 25mph zone) and paying attention (like hanging up the bluetooh iphone) just shouldn’t be expected from drivers. Tsk.

The other flavor of compaint is that no body does as they should in a roundabout. People on Main Street will often fly straight through the little circle without even a touch to the brake pedal. No yeilding, and sometimes I’m not sure they even see if there is anyone in the circle.

Again, this is clearly the fault of the road commision.

Whenever discussin of the roundabouts comes up, as it often does for some reason, I keep reiterating that user error does not equal design flaw. I usually win.

Then someone mentions the Lee Road clusterfuck roundabout. And I have nothing more to argue.

Come back next week to read about that delight.

For now, tell me, what do you think about roundabouts? Do you have them where you are?

Do you find yeilding to little rusty cars a problem? If so, I’d like your name and address. I’ll be coming for you… I mean… um. Drive safe– keep it between the ditches.

And thanks to Travis Erwin. See him for More My Town Monday links.

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My Town Monday: They’re Out There

They’re waiting, sometimes in corn fields along the roads.

Or standing in the trees, waiting for the sound of tires on ashphalt and the white triangle that marks the approach of my car.

They’ve tried before. Once, they almost got me. Almost.

They’re more determined than ever.

They’re waiting for a long straight stretch of road. Some night, when I’m on my way home.

Or perhaps early morning while Hubby goes to work. No way I get up “early” in the morning! I’m nocturnal. But so are they. Twilight and dawn. When the world is gray and sleepy, night still near.

They’re not thinking clearly– they’re reckless and careless. They’re minds are on one thing. Sex. Two if you count a good time. But that might still be one thing.

They’re a menace to the roads in and around the towns where I live and work. Long straight roads are the most menacing.

As I drive along, I have to be careful, be watchful. They might jump out at any moment. Doesn’t matter if I’m going 55 mph down a quiet country road. They’re not thinking about me.

They are after, all, just horny deer.

Yes, it’s that season again. When the deer are out frolicking and looking to get laid.

They almost got me once. Wounded, my Firebird limped away. The Firebird, my first car, had to be put down after a deer bounded out from this very field.

Okay, maybe he didn’t run out. Those deer live on the other side of the county where they kamikaze into the side of cars.

Maybe the deer just strolled across the OTHER lane to come stand in MY lane and stare at me like the dumbshit he was. He deserved to get hit. It’s not like I’m fool enough to go swerving into the trees, ditches, mailboxes, and farm fields. Hit the deer dead on.


He lived. The Firebird didn’t. (Okay, I have no idea if the deer had antlers or balls. It was a deer in the middle of the night and it wrecked my car. He could have had seven legs and good grills on his teeth and I wouldn’t have noticed.)

Two days later, in my replacement car, I nearly hit another one. Thus the conspiracy was revealed.

They’re after me.

I see them. Waiting. They’re biding their time. Trying to catch me off-guard. They know that I’m hypervigilant. So they wait.

Sometimes in groups. Sometimes, oddly, alone. Sometimes they dart across the road, to see if I’m paying attention. Today one was grazing in the center median of the expressway.

They almost got me once.

It’s only a matter of time before they try again.

So they wait. Along the edges of corn fields. Under the shadows of trees. In that odd gray light between daylight and nighttime. They’re out there.

Visit Travis Erwin to read other folks’ My Town Mondays.

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My Town Monday: Country Mouse

The delightful Patti Abbott and I paired up again– she’s the City Mouse. She actually likes living in the city… and we paired up this week to do a little City Mouse, Country Mouse post with our respecitve hometowns.

What do I love about living in the country?

I love open fields and forests. Grass between my toes. Crickets and spring peepers. I prefer wild fields and wild flowers over manicured (often too short!) lawns and sparse, sterile flower arrangements. And I like anything growing more than I like anything man made.

I love quiet. I’m a rather solitary wampa hermit crab person. I like to not see in my neighbor’s windows. I like, if possible to not hear my neighbor’s beyond the occiasional slam of a door or mowing of the lawn. Similarly, I’d prefer they not hear me… especially certain times.

I love wildlife. As a tree-hugger, I like to know that there are still places where bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, and even deer (stupid deer) can live and frolic in a natural-ish habitat. That they haven’t completely lost their homes.

I love quiet drives down lonely two-lane highways. I love being able to safely make a left onto or off of a road without people behind me getting impatient. Especially since the rustbucket I have doesn’t hardly get out of it’s own way, and it’s not going to do so very fast. (I need a bumper sticker that says: “If you drove this car, you wouldn’t pull out either.”)

I love star gazing. Even the light pollution from the little cities near me obscures too, too many stars. My trip up to Mackinaw City two years ago made that clear with the bazillions more stars that were obscured by the orange glow of my local cities.

I love that few people in the country are in a hurry. They’re patient, understanding, and most of them are pretty nice. Not to mention the sense of community that comes from living together in a small area. (Not to say that it’s different in the city, but it is. In the country, the community is the town, all the different people from one corner to the next who meet up in the store or the gas station. In the city, it’d be a neighborhood or a clique.)

I don’t miss any of the city stuff– like drug stores on every corner, traffic, smog, and vistas taht consist of harsh corners and man-made structures. I don’t miss mile after mile of ashphalt (which also makes temperatures hotter in the summer.) I don’t miss chain stores or noisy neighbors. I lived in downtown Brighton for a spell, and while it was convnient to work, that was the only advantage. Everything eles, I can do with out. I don’t particularly go out much anyway. I have this thing where I get easily irritated at stupid people… it flares up a lot when I try to go to the movies or the grocery store.

Though I admit that I like being only a short drive from town. I think more than 30 minutes is too long. Luckily, in Livingston County, there’s not much city, so it’s possible to live in the sticks and have a job in the “city.”

Sadly, my little slice of country is turning more into suburbia (which leads to city. Cities lead to suffering, to the dark side of the force. 😉 But I still think of myself as a country girl. With high speed internet of course.

Are you a Country Mouse or a City Mouse?

And don’t forget to visit Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts!

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My Town Monday: A My Town Meme

Couple weeks back, Travis Erwin, the man behind My Town Monday, posted a Meme. I was doing my series on railroads, so I put it off. Until now. But here it is– my My Town Meme

HOMETOWN (past, present, or future – your choice) — Livingston County. Okay, it’s a county, not a town. But having lived in Howell, Brighton, and Hamburg; student taught in Hartland; attended school in Pinckney, I can’t really pick one of these towns and call it my town. So I call the county my home.

POPULATION — 2000 census put the poplation about 156,000. The 2007 estimate was 183,000, but I’m not sure if the numbers have maintained the formerly-expected growth. Like the rest of Michigan, Livingston County was nailed in the back of the economic skull and knocked to it’s knees. Houses are empty all over the places, and I have to think the population has been affected. Unfortunately, there are still too many people in Livingston County…

YOU SHOULD THINK OF MY TOWN WHEN … you think of Bo Fexler, Patti Abbott, or Michigan beyond Detroit. Other than that, Livingston County is just another partly-rural area in a midwest state. But the coolest shaped state.

YOU SHOULD CUSS MY TOWN WHEN … another suburban school is rocked by some stupid scandal that comes about from a combination of oblivious parents, too much money, and not enough responsibility. We’re not the cause for such anation-wide stupidity, but we’re just one more place in the U.S. where parents are too concerned with their SUV and McMansion payments who thought living in the “country” (Ha!) would solve the problems with their never-disciplined kids. Yea. At least it’s job security for me as an alternative high school teacher. 😉

ONE MUST SEE IF YOU VISIT — Downtown Brighton– visit the Imagination Station, the Tridge, and the Yum-Yum Tree.

ONE PLACE YOU SHOULD AVOID — The Double Roundabout from Hell on Lee Road at US-23. There’s nothing wrong with roundabouts in general, but this one is three double roundabouts damn near on top of each other. And too that the elistist jerks in Brighton who think that whatever direction they are going has the right of way… it gets interesting sometimes. Besides, the only thing on the other side is another stupid ass mall that replaced a lovely open field. =(

FAMOUS RESIDENT — Edwin B. Winans, one time governor of Michigan, once upon a time ago.

RENOWNED ATHLETE — Drew Henson. Brighton High School graduate who played University of Michigan football. Then went off to play with the Yankees. He’s currently on the practice team with the Detroit Lions. (Snicker… practice squad for one of the worst teams. Wow.)

WITHOUT MY TOWN, THE WORLD WOULD NOT HAVE … Hell. Hell Michigan is one of the locales in Michigan. So, if you didn’t know, you can tell someone to “Go to Hell” without being profane. Or you can do like some of the sneaky kids around here will and say, “Go to Hell… Michigan.”

I LIVE IN MY TOWN BECAUSE … I always have. My folks moved here when I was about four (or so I’m told). I grew up in an old farmhouse between Hamburg and Pinckney. I got my first “real” job at a local chain retailer in Brighton. I worked there to pay for my expensive schooling at a local Teaching University. Then I met this guy… at the retailer where I worked. We worked together, then got an apartment together. So we stayed. Then I got a teaching job at a lcoal alternative high school, and we still stayed. Though we got exiled to our current home out past the edge of civilization. And here we are. My family is still around. His family is not far away. We’ll be local yokels for life, I’m sure.

I MIGHT LEAVE ONE DAY BECAUSE … well, I was going to say ‘if I got enough money for a place on the island of Kuaii’ but I think I’ll always be a local yokel. I like being a ‘troll’ and living under the (Mackinac) Bridge. I like living in the mitten-shaped, and there for COOLEST shaped state ever. If I got enough money to have a place on Kuaii, it would only be a vacation home. But, man, that would be nice. =)

Any questions?

Don’t forget to see Travis Erwin for other My Town Monday posts.

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My Town Monday: 8 Mile Road

8 Mile Road bears significance and importance in Detroit. 8 Mile is the dividing line between the city limits of Detroit and the suburbs. Eminem’s movie was called 8 mile and refers to the distinction between living IN Detroit and in the suburbs. Patti Abbott has more on 8 Mile Road in Detroit.

Though, truthfully, out in Livingston County, I consider anything East of Wixom to be part of “Metro Detroit.” And as such, I prefer to avoid it like a sleepover of giggly pre-teen girls.

Eight Mile Road extends west from Detroit out to the Livingston County area. Techinically it’s part of Wasthenaw County.

Out here, the significance of 8 Mile road is that…

It ends. Otherwise, it’s just another dirt road.

Here’s the end of 8 Mile– at Marshall. Eight Mile comes in from the left. The road curving away on the right side of the pic is Marshall. Here is the inauspicious end to 8 Mile Road.

And it meant so much in Detroit.

Not only is 8 Mile in these parts just another dirt road, it’s actually a barely-traveled dirt road that’s infrequently maintined.

It was so riddled with potholes that we couldn’t even manage 10 miles per hour without jarring out fillings and stopping to pick up parts that would fall of the car. (Well, parts would have fallen off except we had Hubby’s shiny new car not my monument to Michigan’s Love of Winter Salting.)

Out in the sticks, it’s always amusing to find a section of paved road in the middle of a dirt road. This section goes across a stream… which I can’t find the name of at this time.

After Pontiac Trail, 8 Mile is paved and heads off to… well as far as I’m concerned it heads off into lands with dragons and such. It’s not part of my personal map. That’s East… towards Metro Detroit. Where roads have more than three lanes and there are… people.

According to Google Maps, 8 Mile heads off into Northville.


8 Mile is just south of the town of South Lyon. For many years there wasn’t anything at 8 Mile. It was just a stop sign outside of town. But now it boasts a traffice light and stores and stuff.

I like the dirt part better. Much quieter.

This shot is waiting to turn left at Pontiac Trail. Hubby was driving as we went to go play with my bothers. I have three of them. What better thing to do when the remnants of Hurricane Ike stroll into town than go play cards.

Out here 8 Mile is just another road. And if you’re heading into South Lyon, 9 or 10 Mile roads are better. So 8 Mile is a barely traveled road that few people even notice.

Funny how context matters.

Don’t forget to visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Monday posts.

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