Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Goin’ UP

On Thursday, Sept. 13, I’ll be packing my suntan lotion and down parka for my almost-annual trek to the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace, MI. Located on the southern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or UP as everyone calls it, St. Ignace sits between Lakes Huron and Michigan. The show is always in mid-September, yet there have been years when you could walk around in shorts and needed 50 SPF sunblock, and other years, as this one may be, that you needed woolies and mittens at high noon.

The truck show, now in its 12th year, grew out of an antique and classic car show sponsored by local bank executive Ed Reavie. He heard about the National Association of Show Trucks and thought it would be neat to invite some of these rigs to show off alongside vintage short-block Chevys and big-fendered Packards. You know how it is –you let the trucks in and there goes the neighborhood. Within a few years, the auto show was one of the attractions, while the big rigs ruled.

St. Ignace is a tiny community adjacent to ritzy Mackinac Island. Tourism is its main industry, and many of the businesses are seasonal. So the growth of a late season – really post-tourist-season – event was a happy surprise. The town closes its main lakefront drag for more than a mile in order to park big rigs, with the overflow directed to the town’s community center.

The town sits at the northern end of the Mackinac Straits Bridge on I-75, and on Saturday night, the truckers have permission to parade across the bridge to Mackinac City at the southern end of the bridge and back. MDOT officers escort the convoy, and the rigs have permission to fire up all those not-so-legal lights and to sound airhorns at the slightest pump of arm.

This year, NAST is holding a “family reunion” of present and past members as part of the truck show. Like any organization – like any family, like any group of friends – NAST in its more than 12 years of existence has seen its share of disputes and joy. Those are all parts of the map of each life, and as a wise man once said, the map is not the journey. I’m thinking that everyone who comes will say, been there, done that, got a stack of T-shirts! And, rather than dwell on yesterday, start filling in the open territories of today and tomorrow.