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Blue Star Power

Taking the uncommonly luxurious Cadillac XTS for a trip down memory lane

Author John O'Connor

I HAVE A MEMORY OF STANDING IN the Dairy Queen parking lot in South Haven, Mich., one August morning, watching two very large men grapple in a knee-deep pool of blueberries. This was about 1980, when I was 7. In my mind it was an actual boxing ring and the men had on old-timey bathing costumes, and at one point things turned ugly, taking on more of a bare-knuckle vibe than the DQ publicity folks had presumably bargained for—but all of this is probably invention. I do know that it was the National Blueberry Festival, held annually to celebrate southwest Michigan’s staggering summer yield (South Haven bills itself as the Blueberry Capital of the World), and that I personally consumed one ton of fresh blueberries that day, for good or ill.

I mention this scene because it more or less captures my summers growing up in Michigan, an experience I attempted to rediscover recently by driving along the Blue Star Memorial Highway: a 350-mile-long state road hugging Lake Michigan’s eastern shoreline from Indiana to Mackinaw City, meandering through all sorts of farming and fishing country and yacht-y beach towns with fudge emporiums and lighthouses and sugary dunes sliding into the lake.

So it is that the highway becomes the launching point for a sentimental journey—shooting from South Haven up to Manistee, slicing across the pinky to Traverse City, then bending north again to Petoskey and beyond. My traveling companion is the agreeable, even-tempered 2013 Cadillac XTS. A 3.6-liter, 304-hp V-6 sedan, the XTS offers a womblike interior of supple leather, heated steering wheel, “UltraView” sunroof that unzips almost the whole crown of the car, and cosmos-shattering Bose stereo that pairs well with every Black Sabbath album through Technical Ecstasy. Which is to say that the XTS and I get along splendidly.

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