Still Hunting

When I last left you we had just gotten out of a very deep mud hole and we were back at the crossroad from before.  There were 4 directions and we knew where 3 of them went so we threw caution to the wind and took the path we didn’t know.  We may have been asking for trouble, but we were going.

As the day wore on and we traveled the path unknown, it began to warm up a bit.  That was a very good thing!  We didn’t run into anymore deep holes and we began to slowly dry out.  As we traveled we came to towns that Rod had never been to, so I had to navigate.  This was really not a hard task, all I had to do was follow the map.

After stopping and getting Spencer a couple of shots that he wanted like this one:

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It was time to move on.  We really didn’t want to be out after dark since Spencer can’t really ride in the dark anyway.  I forgot to mention that when we had gone to Houghton we had met a man that was on the pit crew for a Rally Car.  I had no idea that there were these sorts of races around, but it sounds pretty neat.  Basically here is how it works according to Rally America‘s web page:

RALLYING: A SPORT LIKE NO OTHER!

There are no ovals, pace cars or rain delays. Rally racing features real cars racing against the clock on closed-off sections of real roads that are usually unpaved and unforgiving. Events can last several days and cover hundreds of miles through rain, snow, day or night. This extreme test of skill, speed and endurance is what makes rally racing the world’s premiere and most exciting motor sport, one that is quickly growing in North America.

DRIVERS

Insiders and even casual fans consider rally drivers to be the best all around drivers on the planet. They must master every road surface and every weather condition while possessing the endurance and stamina needed to make it through long hours and hundreds of miles. As the old saying goes, “Circuit racers see 10 turns 1000 times while rally drivers see 1000 turns 1 time!”

CO-DRIVERS

The key to rally drivers’ success are their co-drivers. Rally drivers cannot practice the course and must rely on their navigators (or co-driver) to survive. The co-driver uses a computerized odometer along with a supplied route book to communicate to the driver what lies ahead on the road. The route book describes in detail the road ahead and includes warnings for hazards such as cliffs, trees and junctions. Rally drivers determine what speed and angle to enter each turn or crest in the road by listening to their co-drivers’ constant instructions.

EVENTS

Gravel logging roads, mountain passes, well groomed forest roads – these are what make up the tracks for rally drivers. They are temporarily closed, actual public roads on which rally drivers can go flat out. With nine events held across the country, the Rally America Championship has a mix of everything from ice and snow in Michigan to super fast, smooth gravel in Pennsylvania. A typical Rally America Championship event will last two days and feature over 250 miles of roads split up into competitive stages and transit sections. The competitive stages, or “special stages” are where the action lies; these are timed sprints on roads that vary from 5 to 30 miles in length. The lowest cumulative time wins.

THE CARS

A rally car is the ultimate real world sports car: one that is capable of high speed and incredible handling on any road surface and in every weather condition. Fast yet strong, they must survive hundred of miles and several days of torture. As an additional challenge, all rally cars must be street legal, since they must traverse public roads with traffic between the competitive timed sections. The Rally America Championship features a lineup of cars that average fans could buy from their local dealers, including Subaru WRX STis, Mitsubishi Evos, Ford Focuses and VW Golfs!  

We had no idea that the roads we were on were even near a rally, we were over an hour North the day before when we met the guy in the crew.  At any rate, we came to a T in the trail and there was a guy roping it off.  He told us that we could not go the way we needed to and that we would have to turn around because the Rally was going to start in an hour.  Well, that was not going to work, Spencer needed gas again.  Luckily for us, someone with a little more authority came along and told us if we were going the way we were going and we left NOW we could go, otherwise, turn around.  Well, we got going in a hurry.  I understand why they close the roads, I wouldn’t want to meet one of the cars on what I thought was an ATV trail!

We finally made it to a town with gas and Rod knew where he was again.  He looked at me and said, “I know there is a waterfall ahead of us.”  So off we went.

Now, I had bought a book of waterfalls in Michigan…I know, it is just the kind of thing I would do since I am a list maker.  I have been marking off all the ones I have seen and writing a bit about the trip.  The one that we made it to was Agate Falls.  According to the author, Phil Stagg, this is a MUST SEE waterfall.  I must agree.  It is 30 feet tall and it is very easy to get to even from a vehicle.  We got there on ATVs so we actually were on an old railroad trestle.  Sterling and I, of course, had to get a closer view so we climbed down the steep hill and looked for a way to get up close and personal with the waterfall.  We found it and the view was amazing!

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After I climbed back up…Why is it always easier to go down than to go up?…we headed toward home.  We did make one last stop at a roadside park where I got this shot of the mountain:

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We finally made it back to town and it was dark.  Spencer was riding in the middle and obviously did not see the Police Officer sitting at the gas station we passed as he did a wheelie.  I am sitting here shaking my head…so like his father.  At any rate, the officer pulled up in front of our house with the lights on and demanded to see my oldest son’s drivers license.  Oh Boy.  His dad was going to let him handle it, but then decided to stick around to help Spencer out.  I went in the house and left those two to sort it out. It was a perfectly apt way to end my husband’s birthday…it was almost like the torch had been passed to the younger generation.  Those of you who actually know my husband will totally understand that one.  Thankfully he got a warning.

As the day ended we may have been shaking our heads but I was smiling as Rod turned to me and smiled as he said, “I had a really great day today.”  All in all, that is what matters.  Everyone was safe and sound and together.  I hope each of you have a great day and get to spend it with someone that you love.  Talk to you soon!

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