I am home! Late yesterday afternoon, after more than ten days away and long rides on several large planes, I got on one of the small “eight-seater” airplanes in Charlevoix, and twenty minutes later was back on Beaver Island.
The entire trip was wonderful. It started on Friday, the 21st of February. It was a little hectic getting away. I had to get my dogs in to the vet, who had just arrived the previous afternoon, for a couple vaccinations first thing in the morning. Next, I took them to the kennel for a sad good-bye. Then, I ran back home to complete a few last minute tasks before going to the airport. The flight was on time, but the car was not there waiting for me. A couple phone calls revealed that a flat tire caused the delay. So, I was late getting on the road.
I had arranged to stop in St. Helen for a short visit with a long-time friend (doesn’t that sound better than saying “old friend,” now that we are all pretty old?). On the way, I stopped and purchased a cell phone – my first! With the flat tire weighing on my mind (what if it went flat again, when I was on the road? How would I get help?), I thought it was a good idea. Plus, I was able to call my friend, Donna, to let her know I was running late. It was an unexpected expense, and something I’ve avoided having, but in this day and age, a cell phone is probably a good idea.
St. Helen is right off I-75, so not out of my way at all, and it’s a nice break in a long drive. We had a good dinner, and found plenty to talk and giggle about over too many glasses of chocolate wine. After breakfast the next morning, I got back on the road.
My next stop was Lapeer, the town where I grew up. My sister, Brenda, and her husband, Keith, were graciously putting me up in their guest room for the two days until five of us sisters flew out to Florida. That night, we joined my sister, Cheryl and our good friend, Joel for a night out. We met for dinner, in a nice new restaurant where the old Villa restaurant used to be.
From there, across the street and down the block, where the Lyons & Smith clothing store (where my mother worked, as a teen-ager) and the Pix Theater (where I saw Babes in Toyland about a hundred years ago, and many other memorable movies over the years) have been converted to an art complex, with gallery space, and changing entertainment offerings.
Our tickets were for a show based on the lives and music of “the Carpenters.” It was fantastic! The musicians were all multi-talented, changing out instruments throughout the show. The singer’s voice was spot-on; if I closed my eyes, I’d be sure I was listening to Karen Carpenter. She was also very knowledgeable about the lives and music of the brother-and-sister duo, and peppered the evening with bits of fascinating information. I loved it, from start to finish!
Sunday, after breakfast, I did a little shopping, and went to visit my brother, Ted. Monday, we got up early to head for the airport. Five sisters, Brenda, Cindy, Cheryl, Robin and Amy gathered at Brenda’s house, and our friend, Dick, drove us to the airport. Flint to Atlanta to Panama City Beach, Florida, where our wonderful accommodations were waiting. Because we had started out so early, and gained an hour due to a different time zone, Monday was a very long day!
There was time to check out our living spaces, unpack, and become familiar with the resort and it’s offerings. We got groceries, as the generous kitchen would make it easy for us to prepare some of our meals each day. We were right on the Gulf coast, with a view of the ocean out the window, and a beautiful beach right below. Also right beneath our fourth-floor apartment was a heated pool and a large hot tub.
The resort stood on both sides of the street, joined by a bridge. On the bridge was the SkyBar, where we spent a few fun evenings. One day, our sisters team competed (and won, by one point) in ’50s Trivia. In the area were excellent restaurants, fun shops and outdoor marketplaces. Inside, we had games, jig-saw puzzles and books. Outside, the water, white sand, bright sky. All of that, with my sisters as the very best travelling companions, made it a perfect get-away!
On March 1st, we packed up and headed out. With several hours before our flight, we managed to find a fun breakfast spot, then an “endless mimosa” bar. Next, my sister, Amy, treated us all to an “Escape Room” experience which was a great way to finish off the vacation!
We re-traced our flight on the way home, and got into Flint just before midnight. I had a bowl of cereal, then went right to bed. Yesterday, I got up early, and packed up all my belongings: Florida suitcase (already loaded), two small suitcases with clothes for Michigan weather, a tote of Christmas gifts and other things I accumulated in my travels, and got on the road.
Roads were clear, and traffic was not bad; I made good time. I picked up a few groceries before checking in for my four-thirty flight. Home to Beaver Island, where the warmer temperatures has caused significant melting. The parking lot where my car was parked was ankle-deep in mud. My car had a dead battery. Finally getting it running, I nearly buried it in muck on the way out of the lot! There were plenty of puddles on the way to pick up the dogs, and plenty more on the drive home.
Our evening walk down the Fox Lake Road was a muddy one, too. We cut it a little short, as I still had at least a dozen trips to make from car to house to get everything unloaded. I turned the heat up, unpacked a suitcase and started a load of wash, fed the dogs, and started my dinner. While it cooked, I deleted about two hundred unnecessary Emails, and tidied up messes I’d left in my rush to get out of here. Early to bed, with my dogs close by. It’s good to be home!