Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Long and Winding Road


                Honeymoons are supposed to be a romantic time, right? A chance to get away and have fun before settling into the routine of married life. I guess we must have somehow missed that memo when we started out on ours. Of course it might have had something to do with being twenty years old and not really having a clue what we were getting into.

                It began 45 years ago, June 17, 1972, when the two twenty year olds headed north for that fabled few days of R&R. The first night we spent not in a honeymoon suite, but in a cabin in the woods, with no running hot water. It was the family cabin, and I’d been going there since I was 12 years old, but…..we got lost on the way, because I was sure I knew how to take the short cut. Ha ha. By the time we got there it was late and since we were in the middle of the Manistee National Forest, miles from the nearest restaurant, we made our own dinner, a packaged spaghetti dinner, courtesy of Chef-Boyardee. It was wonderful, or maybe by that time we were just starving.

                The second leg of our northern journey found us in Wilderness State Park, where summer had yet to begin. I remember struggling to set up our tent on the shores of Lake Michigan while the wind tried mightily to take it away. But we were seasoned, determined campers and we finally won out. The next day we set off on the ferry for Mackinac Island. Having never been there before, I was really excited, until the waves got the better of me. Saying the lake was rough that day is an understatement. I recall seeing kids, who had been on the upper level of the deck, coming inside soaking wet. Well, that took care of thinking maybe getting some air would alleviate my increasing nausea. It really helped a lot when my new spouse turned to me and said, “You do look a little green.” Lovely. On top of it, someone had parked their baby stroller in front of me, so even if I'd needed to make a mad dash to the railing, I would have had to climb over the baby block. Thanks goodness we reached the island before that became a necessity, but then I spent the entire day worrying about how I was going to get back to the mainland without going through the same ordeal.

                I will admit the island was beautiful, and in those days anyone could enter the Grand Hotel and look around the lobby and wander the long veranda without having to pay. Considering their dresscode, I’m amazed two young hippie-looking kids didn’t get kicked out, just based on their clothes. I don’t remember what else we did that day, besides eat fudge and think about the trip back. Thank goodness by the time we did board the return ferry, the wind had died down and the lake had calmed, and we were able to ride on the upper deck. It was such a relief.

                Driving across the Mackinac Bridge was another new experience for me, and it’s hard to imagine that bridge was only fifteen years old at the time. We camped in Newbury, where folks said to watch out for the bears. New husband assured me they would be no problem. I was certain I heard one sniffing outside the tent that night. While making dinner on the campstove (spaghetti again!) one bruin did run through the campground with an entire entourage of campers following with their cameras. I watched the parade shaking my head at their foolishness. Then the bear turned and stopped to sniff the air, undoubtedly he’d caught scent of my spaghetti sauce. Figuring my safety was more important than dinner, I made a quick leap into the car. After a few minutes, new husband stopped whatever he was doing to look around for me and seeing me in the car asked what the heck I was doing in there. I pointed to the bear who was still within sight. He shrugged. Okayyyyy, better he gets you than me. Needless to say, neither one of us was eaten by the bear.

                But I did get chewed up by something much smaller when one night the weather finally turned warmer and we left the flaps up on the tent windows. Much to the delight of the neighborhood no-seeums. Have you ever seen a no-seeum? Well, I hadn’t either and even when I woke up to find a rash of tiny little bugs floating in front of my face, I wasn’t sure I was really seeing them. But I felt them, that’s for sure, to the tune of probably a hundred tiny red bites all over my face and arms. Boy did they itch! A trip to a local drugstore garnered me an oily lotion that was supposed to help with the itch. It didn’t, but I dutifully smeared it on and then for most of the rest of the trip all I could say was, “Don’t touch me.”

Honeymoons are supposed to be trips to remember, and I guess mine was, too, but no wonder these are the things that stand out in my mind whenever I think about it. Maybe I could have titled this post, #thehoneymoonfromhell, but in reality it was the beginning of a long and winding road that has taken us down many different paths with many lessons learned.

This weekend, 45 years later, we are making another trip north, to Mackinaw City, but this time I’m opting for a hotel room where I hope to be safe from bugs and bears, and I’m going to try not to eat any spaghetti!