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116-Mile Drive

Updated: Mar 2, 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 famous golf course in the spring of 1974 located on California’s Monterey Peninsula.

By coincidence, it was the same week that Patty Hearst came out as “Tania” during a bank heist in San Francisco where 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 scenic 17-Mile Drive out of Carmel with my new bride enjoying the gorgeous landscapes on the drive around the famous golf courses along the Pacific Ocean route. As a Spartan graduate student, I remember it was a few dollars and the toll surprised me. Today, they are charging $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, it seems a reasonable fee for the upkeep of roads and beaches that make the drive such a memorable experience.

My thoughts commingled with that memorable day and moved forward to compare my fondness for northwest Michigan’s coastline and the landscapes and beaches that are featured along our own famous M-22. Framing Lake Michigan's shoreline with the glacial deposits and ever shifting sand dunes makes this stretch of Michigan’s “little finger” so very picturesque.

The M-22 highway connects four counties in a continuous ribbon of blacktop that meanders from Manistee to Northport to Traverse City. It is along our 116-Mile Drive that delivers sightseeing at its finest that includes a dozen villages and towns and features vast acreages of cherry, apple, and grapes not to mention the Caribbean blue of the many lakes that present themselves during the iconic drive.

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

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