Day 3: June 21, 2015
A Loop of Dixie

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The end points of the Dixie Highway Northern Connector are Mackinaw City, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana. It originally turned east near Ferrysburg and passed through Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo on the way to Niles. Sometime around 1923, a "loop" was added that stayed closer to the lake and provided a more direct connection between Ferrysburg and Niles. I don't know why the shorter route was not used originally but a reasonable guess is that some section was impassible. Perhaps that impassible thing was a river and perhaps it became passable when a bridge was completed. Perhaps it was the Grand River which I'm crossing in the first picture. The current bridge opened in 1960 but I've not found when its predecessor, a wooden swing bridge, was built.

Between Ferrysburg and Holland, the route is all divided four-lane. The second photo is a attempt to show the somewhat unusual arrangement of a multi-lane divided highway closely paralleling a railroad but, with the northbound lanes hidden by the trees, it doesn't do a very good job.

I slipped just over a mile off of the Dixie Highway/US-31 to have breakfast/lunch at New Holland Brewing. That's White Hatter in the glass.

It's not until I approach South Haven that I see the day's first two-lane.

I was happy to be on two-lane and I was happy to be nearer the lake but despite feeling and even smelling it, I still couldn't see it. At last I pulled off at a place called Hagar Park. There was a parking lot with quite a few cars in it. At the far end there was a playground and a stile that led to a wooden walkway. The walkway led to some steps and those led to steeper steps. The steeper steps led to a small beach next to a fog covered Lake Michigan. The majesty of it did not overwhelm me. Thinking about the return climb did.

I had been a little concerned that I would find anything interesting on the extra day between driving north and driving the Dixie Highway loop. I sure had that backwards. Thanks to the meeting with Brian, the town of Plainwell, and the Gilmore Museum, yesterday was jam packed with more than thirty pictures posted. Today I'm photographing fog.

The Dixie Highway Holland Loop is rather short on scenic views and classic motels so I'm making do with drive-by shots of Whirlpool World Headquarters, a repurposed gas station, and a Chevy topped grill. Both the station and grill are in the town of Saint Joseph. The Neon Grill actually looked like it could be interesting but it wasn't open and I shot it literally between moving cars at a stoplight.

The Holland Loop reconnects with the Northern Connector in Niles. I've driven the Northern Connector before but turned north on it today to reach something I'd missed. On a right angle turn smoothed by a reroute, sits Michigan's oldest business. What is now the Old Tavern Inn started operating here in 1835. I'm not sure how long they have been serving 'burgers but they're getting really good at it. Here's mine.

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