These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

the north country

we went up north this past weekend with mig and denise. what a great time. whenever we go up north -- only twice now -- it's like going into a state of bliss. it's heavenly, so far-removed from life. it's like being in the wilderness, yet not really. it's hard to explain, but i think if anyone's escaped from life (and it can be anywhere peaceful), you'll understand what i'm saying.

we left friday and headed up us 31 with denise. we took the beautiful scenic route up toward traverse city. denise wanted to see mission point peninsula. it juts out like a small finger into grand traverse bay. it's about 18 miles long. we took the scenic drive up along the shore then headed inland, where we found the old lighthouse and a cabin that was several hundred years old. perhaps the most fascinating part was going down to the beach and finding the waters receded by hundreds of yards. denise and i went down and walked where the water should have been and found the ground mushy as if water had covered it in the recent past. after we left, we stopped by an old general store that'd been around for more than 170 years. the guy there said the store had one of only two gas stations at one time in history. outside the sore was an old telephone that was rotary with a hand-held earpiece.

after an hour and a half of that, we were off, arriving in petoskey at the terrace inn. it's the same place dawn and i stayed the previous july. it was nice to share the place with good friends. the rooms were smaller than the one dawn and i shared last year. still, it was nice. it's the kind of room you'd imagine 100 years ago. supposedly hemingway stayed in one of the third-floor rooms to write when he wanted quiet and privacy.

mig joined us and we went to the city grill (i think). had a nice meal and then went to the noggin room at the perry. we immediately fell in love with teh place. it's in the basement, it's a little rough, great drinks and the guy playing guitar was awesome. funny guy singing funny songs.

then, i broke my casino cherry. we headed to the odawa casino for a bit. i'm not a fan of gambling. but i went for the experience. it was something like 12:30 a.m. when we got there. not many people frequenting it that late. i played a few games. i stayed mostly at the blackjack machine. i played for more than 30 minutes on $1. between dawn and me, we lost $7. good experience, but i doubt i'd do it again. too much smoke in there.

the following day, broke another cherry. well, two more. we took a ride over the mackinac bridge and went into the u.p. into st. ignace. we grabbed a ferry and headed to the island.

the island is a beautiful thing. it's quiet and so removed that it's like going back in time into a tourist destination. still, it was great. we got two tandem bikes and headed along teh shore where the sights were amazing. mig and i were baptized: we went down to the beach and cupped in ourhands lake huron water. later dawn took a pic of us standing by a small pine tree: godfather and godson. ha ha

we stopped our bike ride and headed up a very steep hillside to see arch rock. holy crap it was awesome. what a natural wonder. if you looked down through the arch, someone had spelled out on the beach far below "i love you" in portuguese. we headed up higher up another flight of stairs and we touched the tops of pine trees. we were at the highest point on the island. what a view.

we stayed a few hours. we ate at a restaurant and got some fudge, of course. then we headed back to the ferry and back to petoskey. lovely time.

after another trip to the noggin room, we headed back to the inn. there was a ghost hunting tour there. we chatted up one of the guys before we settled on chairs and relaxed. the guy told us that in the basement an other worldly experience was a baby carriage that moved back and forth. it was caught on tape. eerie.

the following morning. dawn and i left early. we caught some awesome fall colors as we headed onto m-75 through walloon lake, boyne city and boyne falls. hills were covered with reddish leaves. it was a quick, quiet drive through this area, but something that awes the senses.

the trip itself is something to remember. there's nothing like sharing that time with dawnie and our close friends. it makes you appreciate many things in life and the importance of people and how nice it is to have special people in your life.