Thoughts that warm the soul on a short, cold winter day.
I had put it off too long, already. Burning up two weeks of vacation, I had spent the first weekend with my godparents in Columbus, Ohio and a whirlwind trip to see my brother Barry in Niles, Michigan. As the second week wore on, I looked at the brochures and lodging info trying desperately to figure some way to make it happen. Calling Mackinaw City and discovering their rapacious hotel rates I reeled in an end of season special at the Chateau Lorraine on Mackinac Island proper, and thus all excuse for further delaying an adventure postponed 30 years already was removed!
And so it came to pass, on the last weekend of summer - one I was determined would end much better than that of the year before - I quit looking at 4 walls, rented a brand new Chevy Cavalier from Enterprise, and set out on the weekend vacation of my dreams. I made that white stallion fly! Leaving Fort Wayne at 10AM Friday and stopping as briefly as possible at Michigan's Welcome Centers along the route, I made Mackinaw City in a little over 5 hours, and took the Arnold Transit Co. line to the harbor.
Getting settled in was easy! I secured a Transit Co. porter to take my bag to Chateau Lorraine and walked through the beautiful town in the gently descending dusk.
There is a mystifying elegance about the place mere words do no justice: The closest I can convey is that it was the right choice for the movie Somewhere In Time, because it seems suspended in 1912 or thereabouts. It's the perfect place to lose your cares and worries. I believe this is due to the utter absence of motor vehicles and generica (McDonald's, "Wal-Manaca" &c), and the fact you can walk anywhere in town in 20 minutes, though bicycles are the preferred personal transit mode. I stowed my gear and lit out back to Main Street on foot, looking to secure a PubCrawl T-Shirt, but since most the stores were closed, I settled upon the Yankee Rebel Tavern for a fish dinner and beers. It was going on 9 by the time I got back to lodge, but the food and fellowship was choice. It was time to retire as I had brought some radio equipment with me and was looking to do some serious walk-about and two-way early Saturday.
Saturday morning I had the Continental early as possible and set out on the longest pier in the harbor to do radio checks on 2m amateur, and Citizen Band. I would have done better to have left the radio equipment home and brought a bicycle for exploring around, as nothing was in the offing on either of the two-ways.
Had another go a bit later from the highest point on the island, and though I did pick up a little 2m activity, I elicited no response. Drank some water I'd brought along and headed back down to catch a little rest before going into town for shopping. Saturday night was to be spent doing the Pub-Crawl: I figured a pint a stop at every tavern on the island should put me in quite the happy mood by the time it was all said & done...and I nearly made it: There were only three stops left once I returned to lodge about 2:30 Sunday morning...Nothing to fret. I'd finish it off after Lunch Buffet at the Grand Hotel...
They used to have a saying at the Heritage House Smorgasbord back in the Summit City: "Good food isn't cheap; cheap food isn't good!" The Grand Hotel lunch buffet is 30 clams, and worth the price of admission! Even using my usual buffet formula of "a little dab of everything first go round, then back again for what you like" won't work...it's simply too extensive a selection. Grand Hotel is a feast for the eyes as much as the palate. The grounds and promenade are tastefully appointed and you're provided with an unobstructed view of the straights and the Mackinaw Bridge - an engineering marvel that rivals the Golden Gate. After lunch, picked up some souvenirs in town at the bargain shops, some fudge for the trip home, and back to lodge to unlade all these burdens and nap.
I also worked my way through the rest of the Pub-Crawl that afternoon and have the signed T to prove it, but had to take in the boardwalk and goings on as evening came. After stowing everything away and a little sleep I ventured out to the west end again to stroll the boardwalk and appreciate the eve.
Heading north along the shoreline, I ventured down the beach and took a small rock from the coast. In less than 12 hours I'd be driving like mad to get home and ready for work on Tuesday, but this was everything I ever wanted and then some: It was a chance to walk in a land of dreams, a place I had always thought was nothing more than a Hollywood production shoot and never learned was reality til I was almost a world away in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Sometimes the best things can be found right in your own back yard!
Monday came wet and windy. I rolled my luggage down to the ATC docks in the sprinkles, but my all-weather poncho kept me free of the ills. By 8ish I was loading all in the car and reversing the route on the maps. Before the trip home I ventured across the Mackinac Bridge into St. Ignace to mail some postcards. The vehicle was equipped with SeriusXM, and I found a channel that played mostly folk music from singer-songwriters of the 1960s & 70s, called - ironically enough - The Bridge...and I crossed it all the way home.
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