A new adventure for Brian and Sue
We are on the road pulling our camper heading to Michigan. I have been so giddy with excitement the last few days that it has been hard for me to sit still. There are a couple of reasons for this excitement. First, it seems like it has been a LONG time since we have taken more than 2-3 days off to go anywhere. I am SO READY for a vacation! Secondly, we are going to Michigan. I have such fond memories of the entire state of Michigan.
I was born in Battle Creek, Michigan. I only lived there as a baby so I don’t recall it at all. My first real love, Terry, was from Kalamazoo, Michigan. After I finished high school I moved to Maple City, Michigan(outside of Traverse City) to start my ‘career as a chef’. But, my most fondest of childhood memories are from the summer camp I went to every summer from age 5-17. YMCA Camp Pinewood. I loved that place! I went there every summer starting with a week at a time then eventually staying the whole summer. My parents would put me on a bus at the local YMCA and then I would ride the 4 hours to 4230 Obenauf Rd. Twin Lakes, Michigan. I still remember the address after 35 years! I think Camp Pinewood was my saving grace. I am sure that is where I learned to be independent, self-confident, responsible, compassionate, a leader and a whole lot of other things. I know Camp Pinewood was where I learned to swim – in Lake Echo. I also learned to canoe, sail a boat, row a boat, ride a horse, build a fire and shoot a bow and arrow there.
It was just the other day that it finally dawned on me why I am so excited to see my old camp. My memory of past things has always been horrible. I do not remember much at all from my past (people, places, things, events, etc.) I had some events in my childhood that you would not want to remember, therefore I guess I have just blocked out all memories. My brother, on the other hand remembers EVERYTHING! He can’t understand why I don’t remember the highways, stores, people, places, etc. in our hometown of Arlington Heights, Illinois– a northwest suburb of Chicago. I don’t even remember my high school years or the building or friends. I’ve connected to some old high school people (who have requested my friendship) on Facebook, but I don’t remember them at all. They mention things I don’t recall.
Day 2: We spent the night in Decatur, Illinois with Brian’s dad. Now we are back on the road headed to Camp Pinewood – ‘My Piney Wood Hills’- about 5 hours before we will be there. I have spent the ride looking through my old Camp Pinewood scrapbook. I am such a minimalist that I haven’t held on to much that someone would consider sentimental, but I do have my camp scrapbook and all of the old Polaroid pictures! I wrote the names of the people on the backs of the pictures, but it is amazing to me how many of the people’s names I remembered without even looking. It wasn’t just the camping experience there is really something about Camp Pinewood. I went to all kinds of camps as a kid (Girl Scout camp, day camp, church camp, etc.) but I don’t have memories from any of those camps. I recently connected with my friend Jimmy from Camp Pinewood (through Facebook). We were the only 2 CIT’s (Counselor in Training) in 1977. We had so much fun! When I told him I was going back to visit my Piney wood Hills he told me that was the BEST summer he ever had in his life.
*see blog post “Adventures at Summer Camp” http://wp.me/p22j3r-9e
7 days later………. We are on our way home. I am very sad to leave Michigan as I know I will probably never be back. There are other places we want to go and see and now Michigan is crossed off the list. We had so much fun. We went to forts, beaches, islands, museums, shops, boats, lighthouses and of course plenty of fudge shops! My favorite part of the whole trip was the 8 mile bike ride around Mackinac Island.
We packed our bikes in the truck and drove to the ferry. Mackinac Island does not allow any motorized vehicles (no, Sharon, not even scooters!) so we knew our bikes would come in handy. We got off the ferry, hopped on our bikes and turned right to explore the island. At the time we didn’t realize it but we were on the road around the island. It was such a beautiful ride looking out to the lake. Even though I just recently got on a bike for the first time in 30 (yes, thirty!) years, I did not feel at all self-conscience. There were people in their 80’s out there riding bikes. I am REALLY glad we practiced riding our bikes at home this summer because it is not like people say: “It’s like riding a bike, you never forget”. That is so NOT true. Starting, stopping and balancing all have to be learned again when it had been so long. I must say I did pretty well on this 8 mile journey. I did not fall off the bike once, I did not run anybody down, I stayed on the road (even if I didn’t stay on my side as pointed out to me by an 80-year-old woman who yelled at me) and I only had one issue. My chain came off. Switching gears is still not easy for me. At least in Michigan on this ride around the island it was very flat and I didn’t need to change gears often like we do in Fayetteville. Brian turned my bike over and had my chain back on in no time. We pulled off the road to get out-of-the-way. One family actually slowed down and asked if we were okay. At the one bathroom stop on the route I met a lady (15+ years older than me) who had not been on a bike in 20 years and did not practice ahead of time. She concurred with me that it is not as easy as it once was. Later on down the road I decided it was probably a nice time to get a picture of us and the lake with the Mackinac Bridge in the background.
We pulled over at a point where there were a few people so one could take our picture. As I got closer I realized it was the woman who asked if we were okay when my chain fell off. I pointed out to her that she was the only one that asked as the others whizzed by. She said that earlier she and her young daughter who were on a bicycle built for two had a fall. She said not even ONE person stopped to see if they were okay. I know people from the north are not known for being as friendly as people from the south but I was still shocked. I am from the north and I think I am pretty friendly. Maybe I’ve just grown accustomed to living in Arkansas for so long. We also toured Fort Mackinac while we were on the island which I am pretty sure was Brian’s highlight of the trip.
Something else we noted on this trip, but it is not just the difference between the north and south regions of the US.
We have often times felt as though we are invisible at restaurants. It did happen 3 times on this trip alone, but it has happened in other states, including Arkansas before. We usually don’t have any problem getting seated at a restaurant; it is the service after that is bothersome. We have been seated and usually given menus and then left, for long periods of time. I know minutes sometimes seem like hours when you are hungry but I try to pay attention to the actual time. Brian thinks it might be because these are not “chain” restaurants where they are required to greet their guests in X amount of time. I think it is just lack of customer service these days. What do you think? Has this ever happened to you? After 15 minutes of not being acknowledged we usually just walk out. Last night I asked the hostess if she had let the server know that she seated us. She told me she probably “forgot”. How does a server forget to look at their section? A server did appear but she brought a ticket to the table next to us. She never acknowledged us. We were just beginning to get up from the table when the server appeared. We weren’t in a hurry, but it was just irritating being ‘invisible’. Are we just being too impatient? Brian thinks we might expect more because he has managed many restaurants and I have waited tables in our past lives.
We also toured “The Macinaw – Icebreaker”. It was the coast guard ship that spent the majority of its time breaking up the ice so that other ships could make it through. I always love learning about things I never thought of before. The ship was quite interesting but the strangest thing was that one of the men that was on tour of the ship while we were on it was a former US Coast Guard sailor who had sailed on that exact ship years ago. The ship was in operation until 2006 so it wasn’t that long ago, but how many times have you toured a place where one of the tourists was a former member from that era?
We parked our camper at Burt Lake State Park in Indian River, Michigan and just took day trips to play ‘tourists’ to different locations each day. This wasn’t like our typical camping trips as we basically used the state park as our home base. It was a nice state park, but a bit different from what we are used to. In Arkansas this summer we have not had mosquitoes due to the lack of rain, but the flies have been horrible. From my experiences as a kid in Michigan in the summers I remember LOTS of mosquitoes – big ones! I brought extra fly swatters and extra bug repellent just in case. Amazingly the BEST part of it was that there were NO BUGS in Michigan!! No flies. No mosquitoes. Nothing. That made the evenings so enjoyable.