Trip 2 Day Something
Gatsby and I made it safely back to the Garden Peninsula! Actually, that happened about a month ago, and now we’ve meandered down to Indianapolis, but that’s neither here nor there. We finished up our Rhode Island escapades (during which it was absolutely lovely to see all our old friends and neighbors), and made our way on a westerly journey, via a Harvest Host in Girard, PA , and cousin time at his place near Detroit.
All I can say is that while I might have missed peak in both Vermont and in Rhode Island, I drove through 1200 miles of either peak or near peak on the way here, so that really makes up for anything I missed back east. I can’t even do it justice in description (nor did I stop and take a picture because at that point I’d had enough of the rather aggressive schedule to get our asses to the MidWest), of how breathtaking it was just after crossing the Mackinac Bridge (man it's a good thing I had one decent crossing under my belt, because coming across the second time around induced both palm sweating and sphincter clenching in a major, major way. It wasn’t overly windy, but it was raining, and that was enough for me to damn near lose my cool (what cool I have at any rate), and I was about a millisecond away from a full-blown panic attack. As in, my entire fucking body was shaking nearly uncontrollably and it was all I could do to talk myself down from tunnel vision. The irony that the dulcet tones of Bone Crusher’s ‘Never Scared,’ was playing for the duration does not elude me.)
On the way down to Indy, I opted to go through Wisconsin instead of back over the bridge, because we were having some weather, but that had its own set of perils. Namely, driving through Chicago. Even though we overnighted at a Cracker Barrel parking lot (yes, my hillbilly is showing here) north of the city, and my ass was up at 4am to traverse Chi-town before rush hour, there were still WAY too many m̶a̶n̶i̶a̶c̶s̶ people out and about, and I-94 going through the city is abysmal, not to mention that there are still a bunch of bridges and skyways lifting you up in the air! My palms were still sweaty, but this time for a full hour instead of the 5 minutes it takes to cross the damn Mackinac Bridge. I’ve heard a saying to the tune of “The best things in life make you sweaty,” but I don’t think these are the situations to which the author referred. I digress.
As soon as I made the bridge crossing and took the exit to get on Hwy 2, I was greeted to the juxtaposition of the clear turquoise waters of Lake Michigan against the explosion of color on the trees. An absolute feast for the rods and cones. From there it was a quick and easy drive back to the Garden Peninsula, and Gatsby did not disappoint in his excitement to be back, or to see his buddy, Jack.
So because I’ve been an absolute slacker in blogging lately, I can’t remember half of the things that have happened, there will be an absolute clusterfuck of photos randomly uploaded that I’ll (hopefully) organize later, and my narration may come out as jumbled and out of context, but welcome to my brain, so here goes…. we’ll hit the highlights.
The first weekend I was there, I was reunited with my friend, Fran, who invited me to go do a witches dance with her that Saturday. Now, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, and my vision was something resembling dancing naked in the woods around a fire and chanting or something of that nature, so I had to crack open the Fireball when I realized it was actually a group of people who dress up as witches and do a legit choreographed dance from the Manistique water tower down to…..somewhere. I didn’t really get the ‘why’ of it, but I like to sample from the salad bar of life (and drink Fireball), so I threw a cape over my backpack, learned the dance, and gave it my best Quasimodo. I think it was for a production of some sort, because there was a videographer that followed us around everywhere and apparently he does this every year and it ends up on youtube. I’m going to try and find it and link it here for everyone to enjoy. I use that term very loosely. At any rate, Fran is an absolute gem, and I loved getting to spend the day with her, and meet some of her lovely friends in the area.
2022 Bewitching Event - YouTube
Later in the week, I had my first side-by-side ride. If you’re wondering what a side-by-side is, you’re not alone. I still am not sure, other than it’s a little off-road vehicle of some variety that isn’t quite a 4-wheeler or an ATV, but a little nicer (?) and sometimes (or always?) enclosed. Anyway, it’s a thing many folks seem to have in the Upper Peninsula, and a pleasant way to spend a day. So Jack and I borrowed Barb and Lonnie’s side-by-side and he took me on a little joyride. It. Was. Amazing.
I had an all around great stay (and, it seems, I need a buffer week at the end of every time I an in Garden…..remember every time over the summer I either thought I was leaving for good and then ended up coming back, or I thought I was just staying a couple of night and then would end up at the golf course for two weeks? Yeah, it was similar this trip, too.), but this was one of the highlights.
Anyway, Jack chauffeured me around to various sites and patiently waited to take all the pictures my little artist’s heart desired. We made it back to his Uncle’s property (remember, this is the site of the voracious bees where we had to vacate before we actually got to camp there over the summer?) so I could grab photos that I didn’t want to risk life and limb for a season earlier.
On another occasion, Jack played hooky from work (don’t worry guys, his boss told him he could), and we finally made it up to Kitch-iti-kipi. It was freaking amazing!!!! Again, the trees against the clear (and I mean CLEAR) emerald water was breathtaking. I can’t wait to go back in the winter to see it then…..it doesn’t freeze over due to its constant 45° temperature and constant underground flow! We were there at the exact perfect time, because as the raft was coming back, probably 30 or so people got off the raft, and only 8 of us got on. People really ruin everything, so the less, the better, is usually my opinion. That was followed by lunch at the nearby tavern, a return trip to Fayette State Park down the peninsula, and drinks at The Port. We had wanted to get back to the golf course in time for trivia, but it was already underway upon our arrival, and honestly, based on my trivia skills during this visit, I don’t think anybody missed my presence.
The following week we went on some overnight journeys. We started out at my Garden Parents’ riverside property on Stutt’s Creek. Remember during the summer when I spent that week at my cousin’s friend’s place down by the river? Barb and Lonnie have a place very nearby, but they have 400+ acres, so Gatsby well and truly got to lose him fucking marbles. But only when Barb and Lonnie were in the house. He was so insane with happiness and zoomies, it was a very valid concern that he’d accidently kill one of them if he barreled into them with his speed and power. They took us to the Elks for drinks, we had a nice steak dinner, and watched our teams go head to head. Unfortunately, the Patriots lost to the Bears that night, which I heard plenty about the following morning. In fact, I believe my father strung my Pats slippers up in the kitchen because they’d been ‘hung out to dry.’ He really relished this moment, and as much as I’d like to be sassy, he’s both adorable and hilarious, so………
From there, we made our way up to Marquette, where my buddy Jack lived for quite some time. We got a little cabin at the Rippling River Resort (I got to sit in a glorious outdoor hot tub for 10 minutes, and would have stayed longer but some rowdy crotch goblins and their equally unruly parents showed up) , had a delish cajun dinner at Lagniappe (if you’re in Marquette, go there! And get the grits appetizer!), drinks at the lodge bar, and enjoyed several seasonally appropriate scary movies. One of my favorite funny moments was here, and don’t worry, I’m going to both share it with you and mess it up. I was in need of a ‘girly night.’ You know, the kind that involves a nice face/foot/hand mask…..so I was doing a sheet mask on my face, along with hand and foot masks, and settling in for House of Wax, when Jack suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. Like, NOTHING. He wasn’t really saying anything, and that’s not completely abnormal because we may have had a gummy and/or smoked a joint, but finally he blurts out, “You look like Scary Minnie Mouse!” and then falls asleep. Even better is that as I write this, I couldn’t remember quite what he said or how it all went down, so I m̶a̶y̶ ̶h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶e̶m̶b̶e̶l̶l̶i̶s̶h̶e̶d̶ texted him and he couldn’t either, so I asked him to come up with something on the fly, but apparently that takes the fun out of it. Except I was laughing uproariously at both occasions, so I beg to differ. But Scary Minnie Mouse is the accurate verbiage that was used, and I still think it’s hilarious, albeit slightly more so when high as a kite (maybe have a gummy and then come back and revisit this?).
The following day had yet another ridiculous moment. The weather was kind of junky, so we drove Presque Isle for shits and giggles, and then took a little detour on our way to go bowling /play arcade games, to go on a little foul weather hike to Dead River Falls. Note the name. It was all fun and games for the first half mile or so, but then the trail got, shall we say……questionable. More scrambles. More drop-offs. Now you’ve heard my stories about bridges. And driving. And really anything involving safety or the lack thereof. I get vertigo pretty badly (if I go up to the edge of a cliff it has to be on all fours, because I feel like I’m falling otherwise and scared I’m going to accidently throw myself off the edge), and I was not wearing anything resembling hiking boots, so a couple scrambles with drop-offs in, Jack courteously suggested we go back, to which I promptly agreed. Always, an inclined scramble is easier for me than a decline, and for some reason, drop-offs to my left seem slightly less perilous than drop-offs to my right (I like to use my hand as a horse-blinder, regardless), and wouldn’t you know it, the path back was naturally declined, with the drop-off on the right. Either out of pity or politeness, Jack went first and then kept waiting for me, but at the last section, I was losing my shit so bad (like, I really could have used some chalk for the hands, at least one Xanax, and possibly a lobotomy at this point), I knew I wasn’t going to be able to finish it upright, and while I let him enjoy my odd crabwalk that I sometime default to, I knew I was going to have to hands-and-knees it, and I just couldn’t bear a witness to this, especially if it was going to be coupled with me crying hysterically, so I had to ask him to go ahead and just listen for a thump and a splash. Yes. Go ahead and laugh at me. We both did that day, after I lived to tell the tale.
That was followed up by bowling and arcade games, and to Jack’s chagrin (and doubtless everyone’s surprise), I won the first auto race game. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
We ended that day down at Whitefish Falls, where Jack got to have his first actual boondocking experiencing after we were twice stymied over the summer. We had a nice fire, good drinks, and the ever-important discussion of where to evacuate the bowels in the case that the Thai food we’d gotten for dinner caused a blowout in the middle of the night. These things are important to hash out in advance.
The next major event in this trip (and thank fuck I take pictures that I can refer back to, because at this point in life I can barely remember breakfast let alone shit that happened a couple of weeks ago) was my birthday! Not a major milestone. 41, but I’m both thankful and saddened by most birthdays. Glad to be alive and have the life I do, but I generally feel sad and alone for whatever reason. This one (and the last, I have to say) was pretty good. I didn’t feel the usual morose, and had a really wonderful day. We went to Barb and Lonnie’s for lunch and birthday pie (I don’t like cake, but give me a cream pie (#TheresADirtyJokeInThereSomewhere) any day and I’m a happy lady. Okay, woman.) And because it was another glorious fall day, we got our asses back in the side-by-side and went down to the gloriousness that is Portage Bay. It was my first time, and I fell immediately in love. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and has both rolling forest, and beautiful sand beaches in a little Lake Michigan Bay. I don’t know how things get better than that. It was spectacular, and we immediately made plans to camp there later that week.
Jack had booked a little cabin on the far side of the golf course, so we went and made dinner and hung out there and had quiet time before our friends Dave and Lindsey came over for drinks.
Later in the week, we did go back to Portage Bay, but were unable to camp due to high winds and incoming inclement weather. That was unfortunate, but Gatsby got to come with us this time since we weren’t in the side-by-side, and man, did he have a nice frolick! We made it over to the other side of the peninsula just in time for sunset. Basically I’m just giving you all context for the eighty bajillion pictures that are going to be uploaded with this. Western sunset views over a large body of water rarely disappoint, and this was no exception. It used a lot of the crayons in the box.
Back to the buffer week needed, I was supposed to depart on Friday, but there was some shitstick weather going on, and I ended up staying until Tuesday. Also, I’ve highlighted some of the bigger shenanigans from this trip, but that’s not to discount the smaller, more everyday delights. It might have been those moments that were my real favorites…..afternoon cocktails with my Garden Parents; coffee mornings with Jack’s mom; just hanging out late-night at the clubhouse, playing pool or throwing darts and DJing the jukebox; barbacking on busy days when it looked like a little extra help was needed; taking my 75 year-old dad to the pot shop to get him set up with some pain management gummies; hanging out with friends I’ve made on the peninsula. That was actually really nice – almost every friend that I’ve made there came in at some point when the bar was slow, so I actually got to spend quality one-on-one (or close to it) time with them and really get to chat. While I can be entertaining in groups, as an introvert, I really love more intimate settings to get to know people more closely. Even the Garden characters that I occasionally spat with, I enjoy.
There are more stories to tell, and upcoming plans to look forward to, but I think that’s enough for today. I’ll try and be less lazy in the future, but it’s me, so no promises.
I’ll leave you with this personal thought: Not every risk I’ve ever taken has paid off, but every risk I’ve ever taken has been worth it.