Random adventures through my life... in all their glory and splendor.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Welcome to Michigan, We're too damn big!

Ok, so Chris and I spent Memorial Day weekend visiting her side of the family in the Traverse City area. Let me start by saying that yes, Michigan is absolutely beautiful, pretty much any time of the year. This weekend everything was green green green. I think for the 36 hours we were up, the lens cap was on Chris's camera for about 6 seconds. A good time was had by all, so let me make it clear that I have no argument with the asthetic value of Michigan. What I have a problem with, is that it's a deceptively flippin huge state. I swear we somehow spend about 6 hours more in the car than I'm expecting, and this trip was no exception. I've noticed this on our yearly trips to Grand Rapids, and I have a theory about that... Here's a couple of simple math problems to illustrate what I like to call "Michigan Time Dilation Theory": If Chris's parents live in Grand Rapids, and her Aunt and Uncle live in Grand Rapids, how long does it take to get from her parents to her uncle's house? Those of us in the Chicago area would probably say something like "20 minutes in bad traffic" to get from one side of a suburb to another, but the correct Michigan answer is 45 minutes. So take a second to wrap your mind around that. If your brain drew a picture of a city and put Chris's parent's in one extreme corner, and her uncle's house in the other, you'd be correct. So, just to see how city-mouse savvy you are answer this, "What is the fastest way to get from one house to the other, taking the bypass around Grand Rapids, or cutting straight through the center of town?" If you answered "Neither, they both take 45 minutes" you'd be correct. Now somehow, that makes sense to me if the houses are in opposite corners, but I just thought I'd point that out. So lets add another variable, Question: "Chris's cousin also lives in Grand Rapids. How long does it take to get from Chris's parents house to her cousins?" Solution: 45 minutes. Fine, so logically the cousins house is somewhere in the vacinity of her uncle's, right?. So given that answer, deduce how long it take to get from Chris's Uncle's house to her cousins house?" 5 minutes? 15 minutes max? Wrong. 45 minutes. With the introduction of the cousin's house, it basically proves that a random point between her parents and her uncles house will also take the same amount of time to reach. Now I know what you're thinking... you're saying to yourself, "You're full of crap. I took geometry, if points A, B, and C are equidistant, it's not a conspiracy, it's a flippin triangle." And you might think that, until you look at a map of Grand Rapids. It's roughly square, and as you can see, this is about where normal Euclidian arithmetic starts to break down. We've already shown that taking the bypass around town takes the same amount of time as cutting diagonally through it, so apparently Pythagoras and that theorem of his never made it this far north. Taking that one step further, any point on a path between two end points will take the same amount of time to reach as it would to go straight from A to B. What do you call that? I'd call it a rip in the fabric of the time-space continuum. You might call it Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I've witnessed this phenomena around Grand Rapids many times. Sometimes it's amusing, often, it's just frustrating. Think about it, what if everytime you got in the car, it was going to take you 45 minutes to reach your destination? How do people live there? What I didn't realize is that apparently similiar anomalies happen throughout the state. Take for instance this weekend. Chris and I drove up through Wisconsin up to Manitowoc (just south of GreenBay) and took the ferry directly across Lake Michigan to Luddington, MI. On the map, Traverse City is "just north" of Luddington, so how long did it take us to get from Luddington to Traverse City? 2 hours. How long would it have taken us to go from Manitowoc "just north" to GreenBay? 45 minutes. Fine, and here's the other kicker. Our actual destination was Mancelona, which is "just outside" Traverse City. And THAT took another hour. I'm no cartographer, but I suspect that no matter which direction Mancelona is from Traverse City, it would have taken us an additional hour to get there. So I submit to you two things: The farther north you go in Michigan, the further apart everything is, and this continues indefinitely. Also, my wife has told me on several occasions, Grand Rapids is indeed the center of the universe. I don't know if that's true, but I can prove that it certainly doesn't play by the same rules as the rest of us.