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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

116-Mile Drive

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

I WAS WATCHING A GOLF TOURNAMENT on TV a few weeks ago known as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. I reflected on my first and only trip to the golf course in the spring of 1974 on California’s Monterey Peninsula. By coincidence, it was the same week that Patty Hearst came out of hiding as “Tania,” during a bank heist in San Francisco. She had become radicalized and was armed with a powerful M-1 assault rifle. That was a real shocker - especially to her family.

The robbery was recorded by the early-generation security cameras mounted in the lobby of the bank and the heiress’s grainy photo was splashed for weeks on the front page of our nation’s newspapers and weekly magazines. I guess it was better than photos from Vietnam.

That excitement aside, I remembered taking the famous 17-Mile Drive out of Carmel with my new bride enjoying the gorgeous scenery on the drive around the golf courses along the Pacific Ocean route. As a Spartan graduate student, I remember it was a few dollars for the toll which took me back just a bit. Today, they are getting $11.50 at the gates for the drive. It is refundable if you are staying on the properties or if you spend $35 for food or drink to support the local economy. After consideration here, it seems a reasonable fee directed at the upkeep of roads and beaches that helps make the drive such a memorable experience.

My thoughts commingled to that memorable day and moved forward to my own fondness for northwest Michigan’s very own iconic highway named M-22. The Lake Michigan shoreline which the highway generally follows is framed by glacial deposits and ever shifting sand dunes making this stretch of Michigan’s “little finger” so unique, picturesque, and accessible by car.

The M-22 highway connects four counties in a continuous ribbon of blacktop that meanders up and down the shoreline from Manistee to Northport to Traverse City. It is our 116-Mile Drive that allows sightseeing which takes in a dozen villages and towns and features vast acres of cherry, apple, and grapes not to mention the glorious woods and trails and Caribbean blue that reflects from several gorgeous lakes along the way.

How fortunate to call this region my home for over twenty-five years. It is such a gem, and the 116-Mile Drive is still free - at least for now.

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