By Samuel Strait – November 12, 2022
Day Twenty one started with a late visit to Indiana’s Military Museum at
Vincennes, Indiana, where we spent the next two hours viewing Indiana’s
experiences with warfare from early colonial times to the most recent
experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, all accompanied by the various
volunteers that man the museum. Some times it is great to be one of
America’s veterans, where experiences can be shared and glimpses of the
life others led while in the same theaters that you found yourself in.
Two of the staff had spent time in Vietnam during the time, I was there,
abet in different areas of the country, yet with many common experiences.
A late start on the road up to Auburn, where another car museum was
located, found us a bit short on time. Auburn in Northeastern Indiana
is home to many of the car museums to be found within the state.
Detroit is another place for car enthusiasts to visit as the Henry Ford
Museum is located near the city. Back to Indiana, where over thirty car
manufacturers were at one time operating within the state. Cars that
most folks have never heard of were found to be produced in this heart
land of automobile development before the 1930’s. While cars are not
my passion, anyone who would like to go on an over indulgence of shiny,
polished and elegant cars from the late 1880’s onward would do well to
include the showcases found in Indiana and Michigan.
A late evening dash up through Lansing, the State’s capitol, and forty
four more miles north found us cruising through a wind farm, just prior
to exiting into the quiet streets of Alma, Michigan, our stopping place
for the next few days. Duty calls, and a visit to my sister’s home for
the past twenty six years. Recently retired, from Alma College, she is
preparing to up root herself and four cats, to retire to the West Coast.
Michigan and Indiana have seen us gradually seeing the price of gas rise
from $3.00 per gallon to just over $4.00 per gallon, with a suitable
decline in the state of the roads. Go figure. Recently re-elected
Governor Whitmer, who ran on “fixing the damn roads!” for some unknown
reason wasn’t able to accomplish the task during the past four years,
but the public it seems is forgiving as abortion became more important,
nothing like priorities for those Democrats in the State.
The next two days were spent largely clearing up a few issues with my
sister’s house, repairs and delivering various boxes to recycling, Goodwill, and a local Bicycle shop. The town of Alma is but 9,000 residents
of which 1,500 go to the local college. Main street boasts a fairly
complete set of services, although many of its residents shop out on the
local strip or head up to Mt. Pleasant, the slightly larger town to the
North. Logging and the refining of oil products were the main economies
for years, then chemicals for a time before it came on the radar of
local environmentalists. There are some rather large and ornate
mansions in the residential areas of Alma, signaling a time when growth
and economic well being were part of its recent past, but that is but
nostalgic history of which Michigan has plenty of.
While much of Michigan is controlled politically by Detroit, another of
America’s stagnant Democrat run urban cesspools, recent gains by
Republicans haven’t been able to curb rampant crime, inflation, or much
of the liberal/progressive program. As such, Michigan continues to
flounder as a whole, much like the rest of the Country under the
“government first” regime of the Biden Administration. High inflation,
gasoline prices, and rising crime, seem to be a common denominator in
most Democrat run areas of the Country.
Two days of shoulder to the wheel of preparing for the movers find us
ready to resume our trip across the Country. Day Twenty four finds us
headed south after a brisk morning of leaf raking and large bulky items
hauled to the curb. A lunch stop in Kalamazoo to visit the Brother-in-
law and wife, also shortly to become an ex-Michiganer, then another
change of plans. Seems that there is a private car museum just a few
miles north of Kalamazoo which becomes irresistible. The Gilmore Car
Museum, probably on of the best private collections of cars from the
thirties to the seventies, with a nod to earlier cars. A shiny array of
Chevrolet’s Corvette’s start the ball rolling, followed by the thirties
and forties, Franklins, Auburns, and Henry Fords. A bit of everything
including some rather obscure horseless carriages. Everything in
pristine condition, a shiny collage of American ingenuity.
Leaving the museum in our rear view mirror, was a difficult task as a
full day would have been necessary to gain a true appreciation of the
offering, but “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” beckoned before us. It was
later that day that we pulled into Lafayette, Indiana, our stopping
point for the evening, a few miles from an important colonial battle
fought to expand American influence into what had previously been Native
American territory. This encroachment into the then, Northwest
Territories, established the dominance of a growing United States over
the influence of British, Canada in the region, and likely initiated the
War of 1812.
Tippecanoe in the morning, then on to fresh adventures. While the West
has its own history, we are finding the United States east of the
Mississippi to have a much more intense history lesson for us who have
grown up in an America largely free of the grind of living in this
Country prior to the 1900’s. It certainly wasn’t a bed of roses, and
clearly has given us a greater appreciation for the gifts that living in
the more modern era has given us. It is unfortunate that our current
educational system cannot convey the vast undertaking that occurred in
the United States during its formative years. The mistakes made, the
progress, and the spirit, yet the hard unrelenting work of becoming
successful without an inept government hoovering over those early
pioneers in their path towards a better life.
They came from all walks of life, many with not much more than the
clothes on their backs, yet the dream remained for all that with the
independence of spirit anything might happen. And for many their dreams
of a better life came true. Where is that pioneer spirit in America
today, as it is difficult to identify?