August 11, 2019
“The natives call it Pure Michigan”
Kay and I spent last week with a friend in Michigan. I should have mentioned that to you while we were there, but didn’t have time. Our friend, Pat Carter, hauled our buns all over the place. I didn’t get nearly enough nap time. I would’ve complained more than I did had Pat not let us stay with her in her leased condo on a luxurious resort.
Pat actually lives around here, but was born and raised in Michigan. She spent some of her adult life living on a sailboat with her husband, Brad. Brad actually built the sailboat. Never built one before, but just had a hankering to build a sailboat. Pat would’ve gladly taken Kay and I for a sail, but she sold the boat a few years back when Brad developed cancer. I never got to know the man all that well, but Pat has told enough stories that make me see him as an old friend. Regardless, there is no way I would voluntarily live on a 26-foot boat… or a cruise ship, for that matter.
However, I have heard so many good things about Michigan that when Pat asked Kay and me to visit for a week, I was eager to fly out. I’ve heard great things about the non-Detroit part of Michigan. Were the accounts true, or were they just sneakers filled with sand? – That’s exactly what happened to my sneakers each time we waded along the beach in search of Petoskey stones.
Petoskey stones are grey to brownish, relatively round, smooth stones with dots and flowery spots on them. Seems Michigan and the entire Great Lakes area was once part of an ocean that gave way to glaciers that crunched up pieces of petrified coral. Apparently, the town of Petoskey called dibs on naming the coral stone, and named it Detroit. I mean Petoskey. The stones are rare enough to make the wading experience interesting, but just plentiful enough to make the search worthwhile.
In one location, I found a beautiful stone and gave it to a kid who I thought might enjoy it more than I would. I didn’t realize that Kay would’ve enjoyed it much more had I given it to her. Unfortunately, when I handed the kid the stone he said, “No give backs.” In ’54, Michigan passed a law enforcing “No backs.” That’s the only thing that kept me from wrestling the rock away from the little squirt. At least, that’s what I told Kay. The girl is so gullible. If I make up a “fact” and add to it the time of its occurrence, she’s been known to fall for it. Not in this case, though.
Moving right along, “Mackinac” is the French spelling of the island just east of the strait between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. (The French named the place after the tribe that lived there when they found it.) Turns out, any word in French that ends with a vowel followed by a consonant, the consonant is silent. So forget you even see the last “c” in Mackinac. Pretend you see a “w” because the British spelled the word according to the way it was pronounced -- “Mackinaw.”
The city just south of the Island was originally called Michilimacinac, but the British weren’t going to put up with that, so they called it “Mackinaw City.” The British refused to play word games with the Frenchies.
Most people above the age of 50 will likely remember that the movie “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was filmed on Mackinac Island. The view to and from the gigantic and gorgeous Grand Hotel was a prominent feature in the film. My only view of The Grand was from the road, but it was a sight to see. Here's a link to a short Grand Hotel video Kay took. https://photos.app.goo.gl/
I expected our visit to the island to cost a lot, and everything we experienced supported my assumption. That means I wasn’t disappointed. The one thing that made the trip uncomfortable was the crowd. The density of life on that island surpassed that of Disney World on New Year’s Eve.
You may want to wait until October to make your trip. That’s when they’re supposed to be having a “Somewhere in Time” convention.
Everything else we did in the northwest of Michigan was terrific. The state has the most fresh water coastline than any state in the lower 48. Beautiful sandy beaches. Once you step into the water, you’re pretty much stepping on rocks, some of which will be Petoskey stones.
It was in the town of Charlevoix that I bought my only souvenir. It’s a cap with “Charlevoix” sewed onto the crown. I like the name. It’s the French name for a native tribe. Since the word ends with a vowel followed by a consonant, the “x” is silent. The locals’ pronunciation is Char-la-voy.
The absolute best time during the entire trip was a boat ride we took up and down Torch Lake. Pat’s friends, Bob and Teri, live along the shore of the third most beautiful lake in the World. That’s what National Geographic called it a few decades back. The lake is 19 miles long and two miles wide at its widest point. The forest, the beachfront homes, and the sunset were among the most beautiful I’ve seen.
With the exception of the crowds at Mackinac, everything about this trip turned out great. Michigan is a state that has most consistently beautiful scenery. And, Pat Carter is one of the finest hosts I’ve ever been hosted by. She would be the absolute finest had she quit griping about me wanting to take afternoon naps.