Because of the sheer size of the U.P., a lot of us spend time in our cars getting from one place to another. Sometimes, it’s cool. Other times, it can fill us with dread… especially when we know part of that drive involves the Seney Stretch.
I think everyone in the U.P. has a love/hate relationship with the Seney Stretch. We like it because once we’re on it we know we’re that much closer to home. We don’t like it because it’s 24.9 miles of nothing.
Sure, it has a few dips and rises, an abandoned building here, and a passing lane there. And if you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll get a pickup truck flying past you at 90 miles an hour kicking up dirt or slush or rocks or salt.
But for the most part, the Seney Stretch is 25 miles of sheer, mind-numbing, swampy boredom.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use that time constructively, though. Maybe you can use the drive to practice what I like to call the “Zen of the Seney Stretch.”
First of all, don’t try this if you’re driving. If you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to the road– maybe sing all 18 verses of “American Pie” as loud as you can to keep yourself aware and awake. But if you’re the passenger in a car and can just let your mind wander, that’s when the “zen” comes into focus.
How? Well, visually follow the rail line that runs along the south side of the road. Pay attention to the tracks– not the driver singing “American Pie”– and just let your mind drift along with the rails. Or concentrate on the north side of the road, and watch for the occasional signs letting you know you’re driving over Schweitzer Creek or Star Siding Road. Look for the signs, and let everything beyond them fade away.
Before you know it, you’re in Shingleton and the mind-numbing monotony of 25 miles of fire-scorched swamp land is done. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll even feel a little rested, as well.
Let’s face it, driving on the Seney Stretch is a fact of life in the UP. You can’t escape it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put it to good use.
All you have to do is practice “The Zen of the Seney Stretch.”