Aug 15, 2010

Mackinac Bridge at Sunset

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Left: Mackinac Bridge as seen from the western side of the Straits of Mackinac

I had the pleasure of taking a sunset cruise on the schooner Appledore V this evening. The ship departed from Straits State Harbor in Mackinaw City, and my wife and I sailed with family members and a few other fare-paying guests in the waters near the Mackinac Bridge. I took the image on the left about an hour before the sun crossed below the horizon.

As a former Michigander, I long knew the general history of the bridge, and I have traveled over this engineering marvel more times than I could count. However, until I sailed under and around the bridge I never really appreciated just how impressive this structure really is.

As we passed directly underneath the bridge we could see vehicles above us through the open-grid roadway. The noise the cars and trucks above created reminded me of the sound of World Cup vuvuzelas: sort of a droning hum that rose and fell with the volume of traffic.

I was also surprised at the relative dearth of watercraft in the vicinity of the bridge, especially on a sunny weekend evening. Then again, perhaps the five-mile width of the Straits of Mackinac means that even a higher volume of vessels would not seem dense in the vast open waters between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Left: Last rays of sunlight under the Mackinac Bridge

The setting of the sun served as a bittersweet metaphor for the end of an enjoyable four-day weekend. This was the first vacation of any sort in the past 20 months or so in which I had very little work following me, as I only had to answer a couple of emails. My last few vacations were of the semi-working sort: courses were in session, and I had to be available long distance to address student concerns or problems that inevitably arose.

I also made sure that I got a bit of a head start going into next week's tuneup to the new fall semester, finishing all of my syllabi and loading a lot of course content onto course websites. I much prefer taking vacations these days that are as free from work-related distractions as possible. My wife and I are trying to coordinate our teaching schedules so that we can take a few vacations next year in which work does not intrude into vacation time.

For far too long I have allowed work to take precedence over the minimal amount of truly free time that I can enjoy, and I think the sanctity of vacation time is a worthy goal to pursue.

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