We’re headed north through Michigan farmland to spend a few days on Mackinac Island with two of our grandsons, James and Shea. James’ full name is Christian James Patterson but when he was four he decided his name would be James. Not Jim or Jimmy: James. If you called him Christian he’d say very politely “you mean James, Grandpa”, but he absolutely insisted on being called James–still does at age ten.

Diane says Shea, who is four, is like a car alarm. “Bweep, bweep, boop, boop, boop, yamahamahama” constantly making some kind of noise and trying to climb on everything. He likes to wander away and give Diane minor heart attacks. I think Diane is going to have him fitted with a shock collar. Fun and sweet little guy though, even if Diane is drinking a lot more wine in the evenings than normal.

Michigan is like a painting, beautiful, but nothing there. Unless you’re really into corn. The demand for ethanol must be having a big economic effect, there’s corn everywhere you look. Pieces of land that were probably fallow for 30 years are covered in corn.

We started looking for a restaurant, drove probably 60 miles before we found one. It offered “all you can eat Tacos”. One was all I could eat. What was I thinking, Mexican food in Michigan? The place was packed, the food sucked. Really sucked. Really. Sucked.

I sound like a disgruntled yuppy fussbudget. I’m not. I just like good food. I think a Burgerville hamburger is a damned good meal. I lived on beans, rice, oatmeal and corn tortillas when I was broke and living in my van. I butcher my own deer and elk, catch my own steelhead and salmon. I love a good hot dog. But shit is shit.

I’m also certainly not skinny–6’2, 240 pounds. But holy cow, most places I go in mid-America I’m a skinny fit dude. People in Michigan seem to be topping the scale–they are enormous. I got a fair amount of flack for saying Americans are fat (though it’s patently obvious to anyone that leaves either coast) but brother Bob (who also gave me flack) sent me a link to a very spooky set of maps showing the percentage of people that are obese. More than 25% of the people in Michigan are obese and the percentage is rising fast. I’d say 60% are fat. Never saw so many fat kids in my life. I’m not talking chubby, I mean fat, as in the “hardly can walk” kind of fat.

We’re in St. Ignace this morning, the gateway to the UP or Upper Penninsula, where the locals call themselves “Yoopers”. Sounds intelligent. We’re taking a ferry from here to the island. No cars on Mackinac. Horses, bikes, and walking. Should be interesting. Just a had a truly hideous “homemade” breakfast. I’m taking my Starboard on the ferry (I hope). We forgot the camera, but I have my cell phone, and I’ll try to do better about shooting pictures.

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