The two plus years before I attended college was a lot of fun. I think, to this day, a lot of people think that’s how I live my life. Even people I meet today, people that don’t know my past, assume I’m out having fun all the time. The truth is I never discourage that image. I’d rather have the world think my life is a party every day then I’m lazy, or sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. While I never sit at home feeling depressed and I never get bored, it just doesn’t sound fun, I don’t party every day, anymore either. But for two plus years I did. The weekend trip to Mackinaw Island with Jim was one of those ‘’party’’ weekends.
It all started on a Thursday night at the Pier I a bar on Lakeshore blvd in Marquette. Thursday nights at the Pier used to be bahama bomber night. They sold pitchers of them for a cheap price. Wednesday nights at the Pier was jumbo night. I think they sold jumbos of beer for $1.25 or $1.50. I never bought them. I bought the cans of beer for $.90. Oh, that brings up a trick of mine. Men tend to want to buy people with disabilities drinks especially when they’re drinking. They also tend to buy members of the military and women drinks too. It didn’t take too many times out and about to find myself getting drunk when too many people wanted to buy me drinks. Some people, especially when they’re drinking become offended if you don’t accept a drink from them, so when I had enough, I’d leave my last drink full in my can holder. Thanks, this drink is full, see (show them), but when it’s gone I’ll take one! Give me a few minutes. Free drinks are nice until you’re a mess.
Jim can be a lot of fun, but he can be the slowest person ever to get ready. I pulled into his driveway around 1 o’clock on Friday, the next day. Jim looked out the window; he’s on the phone, holds up a finger like he needs a minute. An hour later he runs out to my car, my 1969 GTO, to tell me he needs to shower, an hour and a half later Jim’s finally ready to go. Well, not quite. Jim has to stop by his grandmother’s place first. It was after 5 o’clock when we finally were driving down M-28 leaving Harvey in Jim’s Chevy Nova. Jim wanted to drive and since I drove on last weekend’s road trip to Escanaba, I didn’t argue. The Escanaba weekend was a fun trip. I decided to take M-35 to Escanaba. On the way, I notice a pig farmer on a gravel side road approaching M-35 in an old beat up pickup truck. When driving, I tend to assume other drivers are capable of doing the wrong thing, so I tend to drive defensibly. I let off on the throttle as the GTO approach the intersection of the gravel road and M-35. I thought I was ready, I had slowed a little and switched lanes to pass him when he pulled onto the road without looking. Well that jerk didn’t just pull onto the road on the one lane, he pulled out and drove down the center of M-35. I had no way around him, so I had to brake – HARD. I was already breaking when Jim noticed what was going on. He yelled something and braced himself for the impact. If I wouldn’t have been watching him expecting he might do something wrong, even dangerous, I would have rear ended his truck.
Adrenaline instantly pumped though my body. I’m telling you it’s the best high you’ll ever get. I feel sorry for people that sit at home playing video games or drinking and doing drugs. Get out of the house and go skiing, ride a mountain bike down a steep trail, push your wheelchair into a mosh pit at a Metallica concert. I actually did the mosh pit a few years ago. Oh, and the skiing and the steep hill at the Bark River off road race. I’ll get to the mosh pit story soon. For now, my stories seem to be stuck in the 1980’s.
My GTO went from about 45 MPH to 5 MPH in a matter of feet. I think I could read the micro print numbers on the license plate tag we were so close to hitting him. Jim had to be scared shitless. The asshole pulled onto M-35 highway without ever looking ‘’right’’ in front of us. I backed off about a half mile while the adrenaline pumped though out my body. Then I pushed the gas pedal to the floor. We were probably traveling 90 mph as we approached the truck. With a quick flick of the steering wheel first to the left and then to the right we went around the truck in a flash. The roadway was straight for a few more miles, so I held the throttle at the floor. At about 120 mph the 69 GTO steering began to feel light. At 130 mph the GTO was beginning to float. At 140 I didn’t feel like I was in control of my 1969 GTO that had too many miles on her. I could do nearly a half a turn on the steering wheel and it would change the direction of the car. Even though the GTO still had a little left in her, I slowly let off the gas. Over a mile or two I brought her back down to 55 mph. Jim the goofy nut he is opens the door and says he’s getting out to take a piss. I had to yell at him to close the door. Even though we were going 55 mph, it felt much much slower. Soon we were in Escanaba and less than an hour when we met a few girls at a park. We spent the night at their apartment.
Going out with Jim is always an adventure. Well, maybe not as much now as when we were in our 20’s, but I’d be willing to bet if we went on a two week cruise, we’d be partying in both 1st class as well with the crew in the off limits crew areas and every place in between. One afternoon in Vegas when Jim and I crashed my brother Jim’s wedding, we were playing black jack at Harris casino. The casino, as they do from time to time, was closing down a section of tables. They closed down every table in our area but ours. Jim and I were on a hot streak. Jim was counting on his fingers the cards in his hand. I’d tell him that he had 12, or 15 or whatever his cards added up too. He’d yell back to quit telling the dealer his hand then take a hit. Even though I would tell Jim to stay, Jim was hitting on every hand that was 18 and below. Jim was the first to play and he was getting a three on 18, a four on a 16 or 17. He’d hit four and five times and never bust. I was next and stayed on anything 12 and above. The rest of the players at the table played correctly and we’d win. Soon there were 20 to 30 people crowded around our table in the closed section of the casino cheering us on. When we finally quit a couple hours later, we were up $300 to $400 up each. We were placing $5 bets too. Before we left, the casino brought over a microphone that broadcasted over the loud speakers and interviewed us.
Hanging out with Jim is always interesting to say the least. Finally we’re in his 1979(?) white Chevy Nova hatchback heading out of town on M-28. Yes Chevy made a Nova hatchback. I believe it was the Canadian version. Jim had just had the car painted white. Why? That’s his story to tell. Since it was already late afternoon, Jim had the pedal down and his radar detector on the dash. Even though we cruised 110 to 115 mph much of the way, it was after 7pm when we approached highway 75. Jim said we’d probably miss the ferry to Mackinac Island. He then said the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) or St Ignace? I didn’t care so I told him to pick one. At highway 75, Jim turned north toward the Soo.
The Soo started off a normal night. We found the part of town with the bars and clubs and did what Jim and I do best. We started talking to woman. It was a fun night. We even ran across others from Marquette before the night was over. The night seemed to go by fast. Before we knew it, it was 2am. We drove by the motels, but they all said no vacancy. Jim even ran in to one and asked, but nope. Then we seen a taxi cab with ‘’Ma’s Taxi’’ painted on the door. Jim drives up and asked the driver if he knew of a motel that might have a vacancy? No, but there is Ma’s whore house not too far away. Jim then comes up with this great idea. We’ll pay them $50 then fall asleep there. No Jim this isn’t a great idea. I’m not doing it. Jim finds the place anyway, but within minutes we’re driving away. I just looked at Jim shaked my head and laughed. We were about three blocks away on a dead end gravel road when I spotted a field. Jim! Pull into the field. We’ll sleep in the car right here. It was pitch black, no houses, no lights, no nothing.
Everyone comes up with a dumb idea from time to time, but we did find a field to sleep in, so it all worked out. It was about 8am, the sun was already up when I opened my eyes. I’m lying across the front bench seat and Jim is sleeping on the rear seat. My eyes quickly focus to see this bearded man looking at me through the open window. Sometimes, maybe most of the time the nice approach is best, but there are those times a direct somewhat forceful approach is needed. This was one of those times. Remind me, I’ll tell you the story of the time I was in Los Angeles when there were 6 or 8 police cars with their lights flashing and more than a dozen cops with their guns drawn on me.
What do you want? I said in a slow direct voice. A little startled he responds, how much for the car? My eyes quickly dart back to the 4-sale sign Jim has in the back window. Jim! This guy wants to know how much for your car? Jim’s out cold, buy gives a moan as he rolls. Jim! This guy wants to know how much for your car? $4,000 Jim yells out without quite waking up. I think Jim sold the car for $2,000 later on, but he got rid of the bearded guy which I was happy for.
I closed my eyes and relaxed for 20 minutes or so for Jim to come alive. Then it was off to Mackinaw Island to try some of their world famous fudge. That story will be next.