Get your motor running, head out on the highway…
So we’re in Mackinac Island, pronounced Mackinaw, as is the nearby Mackinaw City and the nearby Mackinac Bridge. Huh? Hey, it’s a genuine regional idiosyncrasy, one of those oddities like Regular Coffee in Boston (coffee with cream and sugar) that the endless boring strip malls and chain restaurants aim to stamp out.
Screw them. I like it. Smells like an adventure to me, and I’m always looking for it. It’s why I’ll risk ptomaine in a greasy spoon rather than eat in an Applebee’s. Of course up here in the land of deep-fried pickles and cheese curds you’ve got to be on guard. Double up on the Lipitor and eat all the fruit you can find. Vegetables? Light yellow carrots boiled to submission and swimming in butter just like Mom used to make just doesn’t qualify as a vegetable. Neither does creamed spinach.
Mackinac is pretty cool. We’re staying at the Mission Point something-or-other: Inn, resort, spa. A nice little place though odd in its customs and a little tacky in its old age. But I like it pretty well. No air conditioning–just thousands of scruffy box fans. Probably like Monterey–it’s never hot enough at night to justify AC. And the fans probably keep down the bugs. Brriinng, splat. The leading edges of the fan in the doorway are brown with chitin and bug guts.
Most of the hotel food around here is “all you can eat” buffets, and from the people in the dining rooms, I’d say they can eat a lot of that deep-fried cheese-covered broccoli (“look, Margie, I’m eating vegetables”). I am NOT making that quote up.
Diane and I ditched the kids at “kids club” from nine to three. We rented bikes and rode around the island. A pleasant cruise of about nine miles. It would be nothing on a modern bike but it was a decent workout on a big fat single-speed coaster-braked cruiser. We came back to the hotel and I took my Starboard SUP out for a cruise. Paddled down to the main harbor–about a mile, then out to a lighthouse, and back to Mission Point where I found Diane calling from the shore, anxious to get to our haircut appointment.
My hair has reached a critical length. Since it only grows in wispy tendrils on top, when it gets long I start looking like a lumpy version of Doc in “Back to the Future”. Unless it gets wet, then it looks like I’m aiming for a bad combover. I needed a major buzzing.
Of course with Diane’s conservative sense of timing, we were more than early enough to have lunch first, so we pedaled to the Grand Hotel, a huge white pine pile that looks like a major conflagration waiting to happen. Most of these turn of the century all-wood hotels are long gone, to termites, maintenance or limited local fire departments. The Mackinaw FD must be pretty darned good–luck alone couldn’t account for all the huge wooden houses that have survived here. I suspect they aren’t horse-powered.
The Grand Hotel charges twelve bucks admission for you to eat in their restaurants or trod their hallowed ground. It’s a pretty impressive place, and the charge might be a good idea to keep the riffraff out (which Michigan seems to have in particular abundance), though if the two guys in front of us that happily whipped out their credit cards to pay the admission were any indication, it’s not really working. It’s also not keeping out the hordes of badly behaved kids in the dining room.
Okay, I have a question. Why is it the hugely fat kids that are yelling, pushing each other, and taking handfuls of toothpicks to jab each other with, while the healthy-looking kids are behaving politely? I know I’m stuck on this subject, but it keeps getting shoved in my face.
The buffet at the Grand Hotel was pretty impressive, and you could put together a healthy and tasty meal. Lots of salad stuff, big tomato slices with basil, balsamic vinegar, and buffalo mozzarella. Oysters on the half shell, asparagus, shrimp, lots of fruit. Of course, there were also lots of deep-fried and over-sauced stuff as well, and a huge dessert selection that was mobbed with people who should never, never, ever touch cheesecake ever again.
James and Shea behave remarkably well at the table–what I’d expect from James, but a surprise from Shea. then again he’s never nasty or intentionally misbehaving–he’s just easily distracted and zooms beyond hyper without a backward glance. It might just be relative behavior. Compared to the two miniature walruses whose parents were blithely letting wrestle between the tables, Shea is a model of deportment.
After our haircuts, we picked up the guys from Kids Club–they had a great time–and rented bicycles for them. Or rather a bicycle for James and a tagalong trailer for my bike for Shea. We went around the island for the second time and stopped for dinner at a bistro. Honest, it was called a Bistro.
We had just gotten settled when an incredibly obnoxious foursome sat at a table near us. The most irritating member was a loud, foul-mouthed female (I’m not calling her a lady, and I’m much too nice of a guy to call her a cow). They got progressively louder and I started fuming and Diane tried to keep me from telling them off. Screaming “fuck” when you’re ten feet from a couple of kids isn’t a good way to stay on my good side. I was just about at my limit and was ready to push my chair back when Shea lost his lunch–dramatically and comprehensively. Actually, it was dinner and a big serving of Superman ice cream an hour or so before. Superman is blue, red and yellow. Mix in a hot dog and too much ketchup and it’s pretty spectacular. By the time I got Shea back from hosing him off in the restroom our friendly foursome was gone–they didn’t even finish their beers.
If I had only known in advance I would have figured out some way for him to spew in the cow’s lap.
Of course, there were unintended consequences, like the poor lady at the table on the other side of us, enjoying a quiet glass of wine, who spent fifteen minutes with a menu three inches from her nose like a shield while Diane cleaned up. Diane has a pretty tender stomach too, I’m surprised she didn’t join the festivities.
On a positive note, I didn’t finish my chicken–look at the calories I avoided. And the funniest reaction was from James. He looked a little blue in the gills at first. Diane said, “go to the bathroom and Grandpa will help you”. He said “No, I’m okay now” and resumed eating. Diane said that almost pushed her right over the edge a second time.
This grandparent stuff is tough.