VACATION! Yes, I have returned, with sunglass-induced raccoon sunburn and also a small quantity of fudge. My friends arrived last Thursday, and we laughed ourselves nearly to death over the purported Minnesota slang for doing donuts in a parking lot; to wit, “whipping shitties.” Fortunately we survived, and on Friday left for Frankenmuth, home of Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland.
There was also a Bavarian Festival ongoing while we were there, although to be perfectly honest it didn’t quite scream BAVARIA!!! to me; for one thing, there wasn’t nearly enough beer for that. The town itself, though, was fun to walk around and quite lovely, and it struck me that it was probably one of the few areas left in Michigan with high property values. We browsed the shops and went for a swim in the hotel pool, and woke up early the next morning for a trip to the Cheese Haus. Sadly, I really didn’t take many pictures in Frankenmuth, aside from those of hilarious license plates, which I don’t think you’re supposed to post online. Hmph. But really: SAD MOM? On a bitty convertible sportscar? What are you so sad about, SAD MOM?
We ate lunch at Zehnder’s, home of the Famous Frankenmuth Family-style Chicken Dinner. As J and A said, it’s probably famous just for being famous; none of the food was bad, but none of it was omgawesome, either. After a stop at the aforementioned Christmas Wonderland, we hopped back on I-75 to go Up North.
This would be a good time to discuss the audiobook we listened to on the trip, a truly unfortunate work called Ice Run by Steve Hamilton. Chosen for its setting (i.e. the places we were visiting), and certainly not for its quality narration or plot development, it was… well, just read my review there. It was probably a much better choice than something actually good, because it provided us with endless opportunities to shout things like “THOSE EYES!” and “Oh, my, GOD.”
At any rate, we arrived in Mackinaw City in the evening, and spent some confused moments searching for the hotel; Google’s directions were not, in this case, particularly useful. We did find it, and it was more like… a summer dorm than a hotel, but right on the shore of Lake Huron. We meandered around the Village of Mackinaw City (har har), which was overpriced and kind of meh. I think our judgment on the meh-ity of it all was pretty unanimous, though Anna’s Buffet-slash-gift-shop was sort of fun, as was the furniture store where everything was made of fur, antlers, and driftwood. We asked our waitress if she lived in the city, and her response was something like “Jesus, no, I live in Cheboygan.”
On Sunday morning we woke up and hopped on a ferry to Mackinac Island, whereupon we encountered an actor (Edward Herrmann, though none of us could place him, at the time). We also got a good long look at the Mackinac Bridge, which kind of gives me the willies; I’m glad I don’t have to walk across it. It’s the 3rd longest suspension bridge in the US, after the Verrazzano Narrows and Golden Gate bridges. Five miles long, people. Five miles! It divides Lake Huron from Lake Michigan, and is snazzily painted in green and cream colors. Happily, there’s a free service; if you’re too scared to drive your own car all the way from the mitten up into the UP (or vice versa), someone else will do it for you.
Between the mainland and Mackinac Island is Round Island, home to a now-abandoned lighthouse (its operation stopped… sometime in the 1950s, I think, when it was replaced with an automated beacon). The rest of Round Island appeared to be populated entirely by trees. J remarked that it must have been horribly lonely to have lived there, all alone with no access to anything save by boat. It’s probably a sign that I’ve been living in Boringdrian, Michigan for too long, but I thought in some ways it might not be so bad — at least, not now, in the age of the Interwebs. Must’ve been scary in a storm, though.
We didn’t have much time on the Island, sadly; I’d like to go back sometime and visit Fort Mackinac, and rent a bike and ride the entire island loop. It’s very pretty, and the food on the island was much better than what we had in Mackinaw City. I found myself thinking about getting a summer job up there, next year, if I still haven’t managed to turn my freelancing into something more full-time. I’m not sure I’d fit in with all the college kids, alas. I would probably also gain about seventy pounds due to the constant consumption of fudge.
Being Up North, most of the lilacs were still in bloom or just getting there (whereas, here, they’re spent for the summer already), as were the cherry trees. Actually, it was the Lilac Festival, though most of the activities were based more around kilt-wearing pipe and drum bands and historical reenactors (always fine in my book) than around the blooms themselves. We missed the Dog and Pony Show by a day, much to our sadness, but some of the greyhound rescue groups were still on the Island so I did get to meet a few new doggies and say hello. And there are certainly lots of horses working to pull around the surreys. It was so nice not to have to worry about traffic lights or cars, and to be without the noise. I’d love to stay overnight sometime when we can afford it, because I bet it’s quiet and dark enough to see lots of stars. Zack and I are already sort of plotting a trip for next year.
Sadly, as we were waiting for the ferry back to the mainland, I discovered that once again (and this is really irrelevant to the trip, as such) that I’m not pregnant. Joy, right? I sort of bawled in the bathroom for ten minutes and hoped I didn’t look too much like a party pooper when I walked back out into the crowds. I apologize to my travel companions if I turned a little spacey and less-fun after that point; I’d been SO SURE about this month, and then, you know, the usual kick to the heart. But that’s no fun to hear about in a vacation post, so I’ll leave you instead with this seagull, and head off to eat my Midnight Mocha fudge. Thanks to J and A for having me along, and for not mocking me too heartily when my foot gave out early each day.