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Travel Around Michigan

By Helen Hermes

Expand your horizons by taking a journey around Michigan. Build your knowledge about the history of our lovely state. There is much to learn, see and do. We have a mini home on wheels. A travel trailer is not necessary to save money traveling. Many lovely campgrounds have sites for tent camping if you adore roughing it outdoor. For me, it is more comfortable with our little home on wheels. 

We left Port Huron on August 1st to camp at Indian River RV Resort for a month. It is a lovely campground for families. Many of the sites are rented all year round which ensures a permanent site for the summer season. We are testing how we would like a year site. I think it would be too limiting as we usually take day trips within two or three hundred miles within the campground where we park our home away from home. Then after seeing the surrounding areas within the day trip radius, we move to another campground.

This is the first time we have had the luxury of swimming in a pool since we have been camping for years. We go first thing in the morning when no one is there. We usually can leisurely swim for an hour before anyone joins us. Then we make our exit to have lunch and decide to just relax or take a spin to another area.

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After resting for a day, we went to St. Ignace. That is when the mob mentality clicked in. We heard intermittent honking of horns. We asked the person in the store what all the honking was about. The honking was from a Mini Cooper rally that started in Michigan in 2013.  Of course, it was annoying and ridiculous, right? After we finished our transaction, we went outside to see the Minis driving by in a long line broken by either a local who had business in town that was a must or they were like us, unsuspecting tourists.

We proceeded down the street and talked to a couple sitting on a bench. They have participated in the spectator event since it started. It was organized in 2013 and has become a St. Ignace, Michigan biannual event. 2019 marks the fourth year of MOTM (Minis on The Mac) rally. Each year the participants have increased. Registrants have come from as far away as the Dakotas, Texas, Florida and some from both coasts. Most of the registrants were from Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Tennessee. Then there was a sprinkling of our Canadian friends.

Their hope was to break the world record set in London on May 17, 2009. To do that there must be 1,451 participants. The starting point of the rally was at Little Bear Arena at 10 A.M. Saturday, August 3rd. The pace car was a brand new Mini. The pace car was followed by the oldest Minis and ending with the newer Minis. The parade route was 87.9 miles. During the parade, a distance of two car lengths between each Mini must be kept. 

It was interesting to see the innovation and creativity used to decorate the minis. The participants are given much leeway in decorating their Minis. They use decals and colors and props to distinguish their Mini from other Minis. There were a few plain Janes. Some of the more ostentatious drivers and their passengers also were uniquely outfitted. After watching a few dozen Minis go by honking and waving, how could we not participate (mob mentality)?  So naturally, we began waving and smiling. Even our schnauz waved with our help. Once again, we were the victims of mob mentality for about an hour. It was fun. Even fun has an ending and it was time to leave.

Did I say leave? Little did we know that the MOTM rally has a race crossing the bridge and back the day the before the rally parade. After crossing each Mini goes to the turnaround point Exit 326, the location of the Sea Shell Gift shop, they turn north to cross back to go through town again. Panic struck! Thoughts of hours waiting to pay the bridge fee was a downer. Fortunately, the organizers had made arrangements with the bridge authorities so the Minis had a yellow card in their window which identified them as rally participants and were to use the emergency lane. All the honking in town was to keep the Minis together as they went through town to cross over. Surprise, we ended up crossing the bridge with the Minis without waiting in line. But they did cut across lanes to the emergency lane and people were happy to let them do so.

Alas, the news on Monday was the rally parade did not break the record. The total count was 1,311. I commend the organizers of the event and encourage them to do more advertising throughout our state and country for the 2021 rally. Although the miss was 142, the revenue it brought to St. Ignace was a plus. Go St. Ignace 2021.

A previously unknown event has become a fun memory to enjoy. Venture out and view your state in wonder and have fun.

Helen is retired from a career involving mostly in data processing. She started in data entry and advanced to data entry supervisor and then into computer operations, programming, system analyst and middle management. She owned her own data services company that provided service to Ford Motor Company, Blue Cross, Chrysler, ASI, School Districts and many other businesses. After five and a half years, Helen sold to her partner. She and her husband moved to the Rose City, MI area to farm. After ten years of commuting back and forth to Detroit, a final move back to Farmington Hills was made.

During her life, Helen attended various college classes that included computer programming, business law, English composition, accounting, and other courses. She taught enrichment classes at Kirkland Community College, tutored reading classes in Port Huron for six years, was chairperson of the St Clair County Master Gardener’s Club for four years, was head trustee at Immanuel Lutheran Church for eight years, Chairperson of the Women‚Äôs Group at Holy Redeemer Church for four years, past secretary, vice chair, and chair of other various committees for the St Clair County GOP (member since 2008).

Helen and her husband, Jack have lived in Clyde Township for thirty years where they build their home. While living in Clyde they have traveled in every state of the United States. After visiting all the states, they journeyed to other countries in Europe, Eastern Europe (before EU), China, Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, Panama Canal, and others.

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