I had a flashback to something that happened in Milwaukee that added to my general dislike (other than the downtown – that seemed nice). The first night I spent there was at a BW host in a neighborhood that was borderline sketchy. Like, I wasn’t really sure that I should be out walking the dog down some of the streets. The host had also been a bit odd, so I wanted to vacate first thing in the morning. I did my usual move of scouting the area for a nearby park to hang out in while making coffee and whatnot. So I did that. I went to use the porta-potty, because, if we haven’t already established it, I like to go to the bathroom everywhere that’s not my own bathroom. I changed my mind about that as soon as I opened the door, because not only had someone dropped a deuce on the floor, but also left one in the urinal. What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. People. ?! Was someone having a pooping party? Everyone dropped too much acid at the park and had to crap at once? I mean, that’s the only logical explanation (other than being a total fucking dick) in my opinion, but even then, there was a nice field in which one could have shadoobied. I must have blocked it all out when telling my original Milwaukee story.
Now let’s backtrack, because it’s been a minute since I wrote, so really at this point, I’ve forgotten half of it, but also, I feel like nothing major has happened. Also, let’s be honest….. the misadventures are way more entertaining than just having a lovely and picturesque day. I spent just over a week on Stutts Creek, and made some trips up to Pictured Rocks, and then meandered back down to the Manistique/Garden area that I can’t seem to get enough of. If you look at any of my pictures, I'm sure you understand why.
Things of note: Gatsby impressed me at Stutts Creek, mothering a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. To be honest, I’d expected that bird to become wing dings real quick, but he just kept following it around and sniffing it….never tried a pounce or do anything less than lovey-dovey. So bunnies and baby birds seem to be his sweet spot. It was also humorous (trying to take down and fold up my tent, but that’s not the story) when we were down at the river one day and a couple guys on ATVs drove by, then stopped, and backed up. I only heard snippets of the conversation, but it went something like this:
Guy 1: There’s a moose out there in the river! Dude. It’s a moose.
Guy 2: Naw, man; that’s a Great Dane.
Guy 1: Naw, man, that’s a baby moose!
I mean, although one was more correct than the other, I feel like neither one was wrong….
Okay, onto Pictured Rocks. Pictured Rocks, while very beautiful, is not very dog-friendly, so that did put a bit of a damper on our days there. The first day trip, we visited Munising, and went to Miner’s Beach. There was a short hike there, and G was sufficiently bribed to keep it together around the other couple of dogs on site, and then there was another beach area that we went to explore. The day was overcast, but Lake Superior really lives up to its name. It. Is. Spectacular. It reminds me of the coast of Northern Ireland that I favor above all others, with beautiful cliffs, and such a variety of blues, from Caribbean turquoise to deep water navy. It’s glorious. The fact that the Great Lakes lack in salt and sharks takes them up even an extra notch. We did both breakfast and late lunch in Munising, and both were overpriced and underwhelming.
The second Pictured Rocks day coincided with our departure from Stutts Creek, and we went to the eastern end of the Rocks near Grand Marais. This was one of my less favored days of the trip so far, and it largely stemmed from (jazz hands) birds and several bad customer service experiences. Let me paint you a picture. It was foggy as fuck, rainy, cold, and just crappy, in general. We went to the one dog-friendly walk, Sable Falls trail. Well, the setup of the trail (168 stairs down, and 168 stairs back up) didn’t lend itself for a good Gatsby experience, since there was just nowhere for us to separate from any other quadrupeds coming at us, so I put him back in the van. In reality, it wasn’t a very Kiki-friendly experience either, since the falls were okay, at best, and I was stuck in line behind people who only walked about 5 steps at a time and wouldn’t move out of the way to let anyone pass on the return trip. To make that even better, a bird managed somehow to shit on my leg. Instead of an exercise in glutes, it was an exercise in patience. There was a little side trek that mentioned ‘Sable Dunes’ this way, which I thought was a great idea, so I followed that, but it led to an overgrown field that didn’t have a trail through it. As I was standing there trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong in my 200-yard adventure, another bird shit on my arm. I took that as my cue to take my leave.
Back in the van, I took stock of the water situation, thinking that I’d like to wash the bird shit off my person, but I was running on water fumes, so to speak. Not enough for a shower. Not even enough for a whore’s bath, really. So I did some reconnaissance and found that there was a campground in Grand Marais, just a few miles away, with shower facilities. By this time, it had gone from overcast to full-fledged raining. Herein is our first Grand Marais customer service event. I stopped at the hosts booth to pay for my shower, and was behind a woman in line, waiting in the rain. Now, I’m not upset about this, since I was about to take a shower, and contrary to popular belief, I’m not made of sugar, so won’t actually melt. After he’d finished helping the woman in front of me, the man at the window looked at me, made eye contact, then turned away to make a phone call. I stood there for over 5 minutes waiting for a second round of eye contact so that I could mime a shower for him and put my quarters in his hand and be on my merry way. Did that moment ever come? No. The answer is no. For over 5 minutes, he sat there with his back turned yakking on the phone. So I said fuck it, and went to find the showers on my own. Don’t worry, I did pay on the outbound, but at that point I just threw four quarters in the window and didn’t say a word. As they say in Hong Kong, I am unable to can with paltry customer service.
It was at this point that I realized we were nearing 2pm and I hadn’t eaten yet that day, so I knew the best thing to do would be to get some M&Ms and a damn sandwich into my gourd and get the blood sugar a little more regulated. This is where the second and third malfunctions happened. I passed by a little mini-mart in downtown Grand Marais that screamed ‘we sell M&Ms’ to me, so I stopped. It took me all of 15 seconds to grab my snack and a Squirt (because when in Michigan….. also, why haven’t I had any Faygo red pop yet?! Realistically, I don't even like Faygo red pop past the first two sips, but trust and believe I'm going to have a bottle of it.), and walked up to the register, where there were two guys jacking their jaws off to the side. They jacked them for at least two minutes, even after a side glance informed them that there was someone in line. Both of those assholes worked there. Next stop was at a diner, where I walked in and stood around waiting to be seated. At least three or four employees stopped to stare at me, but nobody said a word, and after about 120 seconds of this, my patience had vacated the premises, so I followed suit. Luckily there was a street taco vendor on my way back to the van, and they were speedy and pleasant. It was, overall, a kick-in-the-balls kind of day, and honestly if I’d been closer to PMS week, I’d probably have had myself a frustration cry. On the bright side, I found a podcast recounting the books of my youth, Sweet Valley High, and nothing can cheer a day up like hearing the exploits of Liz and Jessica Wakefield narrated and made fun of. On an aside, since you clearly enjoy a blog, there's an extremely hilarious one if you happen to be a woman in the ballpark age of 38-44 and had a fondness for Sweet Valley at snarkvalley.wordpress.com. If you ever find yourself in need of a chuckle, I recommend reading her hilarious and delightfully sarcastic summary of each book in the series. That day, I settled for a podcast and found a vacant snowmobile parking lot tucked away off H-58 and didn’t have to see another person the rest of the day.
The next day brought me back to the Manistique/Garden area, and I really like these places (clearly….I keep coming back), so I was in good spirits. G and I have spent quite a bit of the last week back here, traipsing around the nearby State Forest, playing at the beach, and eating cheese ravioli at The Dock. Let me tell you, I have fantasized about those cheese ravioli since the first time I had it there a couple of weeks ago, so I have been eating it at every available opportunity. My blood type at this point might be marinara. My buddy, Jack, has introduced me to some fine local delicacies to include said cheese ravioli at The Dock, The Big C (which has to be about a half-pound of burger with all the toppings) at Clyde’s, and also brings in baked goods from his mom, so I’ve been well fed this week. Because this is the third time I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the locals, and have to say Garden has some really lovely characters. I favor two of the afternoon regulars at the golf course, Lonnie & Barb, who come in every afternoon to have G&Ts (Lonnie) and Miller Lite (Barb). Lonnie, a fellow veteran, although he was Army circa the Vietnam era and took a bullet to the eye, calls me Tiki, and I like him enough to let him. I’ve been able to partake in Thursday night trivia multiple times (last week my team came in second place, so we’re making progress from my first effort), and made friends with some fellow Harvest Host-ers, Aaron and Yvonne, who are freaking awesome, and I will absolutely be taking them up on their offers to have us visit in both southern Michigan later this summer, and in Hilton Head next winter. We bonded over the shared misery of having a stupidly reactive dog, and they too enjoyed Garden enough to make a return visit, so we got to hang out a couple of different nights.
There are more Manistique/Garden stories to tell, but I’m going to tuck them into my back pocket for later, since numerous nights of less sleep than I’m used to have addled my brain. Should make for excellent trivia later tonight.