Tag Archives: Ludington Michigan

Signs and Omens – In a Samsung Galaxy Far, Far Away

 

It happened, just before bed last night…the first of the signs.*

Omen Number One

It’s nearing 2:00 a.m. I’m scrambling to get ready for our trip to Wisconsin tomorrow. My cell phone, as usual, was down to its last, flickering percentage. I plug it in and it tells me, “This is not the Android recharger you are looking for.” I shrug, unplug and plug it back in.  Again, “Please use original Android equipment to recharge device, you wompa-breathed buffoon.”

There is nothing I…or anyone at this lonely hour of the night…can do to save me. Obi Wan, it’s hopeless.

The next morning, the phone chirps a pitiful wake-up call before giving up its last percentile ghost. I’m swamped with a to-do list longer than my will to live. I shove my child on his 2 ½ hour tour bus for what they call “summer school” and I race to get a few boxes checked off.

The Verizon Death Star won’t be operational until 10:00 a.m. (stormtrooper reviews are more elaborate than a Broadway Musical) so I run to the mall to pick up the new pants from Fu Alterations. I stopped to visit my boyfriend.** And then I’m off to take on the Empire…and pick up my new pair of glasses.  I have one hour left.

(Cue the aforementioned, footnoted ominous music.  You all know the tune: Da Da Da, Dah Dah Dah, Dah Dah Dah…)

The heartless drone at Verizon takes my name and leaves me to stew and search fruitlessly for a clock to make sure I don’t miss the bus. I go through withdrawals as I have no way to play Words With Friends, so I decide to exchange words with a stranger instead.  It turns out, I sit down next to a member of the resistance force who is holding her notes about the Rebel Alliance just up the street (aka Sprint). We get to chatting:

Rebel Leader: “Sprint is offering a phone deal and lower rates. I’m checking to see what Verizon will offer before switching.”

Kir-Leia: “Phone won’t recharge…mumble mumble… the guy said I have to wait in the Samsung Galaxy for tech support…So I told him to shove his blaster down his Aldaran belt and fire!”

Rebel Leader:  “Come over to the Sprint side and save!”

Or words to that effect.

I’m finally brought before the Sith Lord…scarlet scourge of the Verizon Empire. After a brief back-and-forth about the problematic port, this is what he offers:

Darth-Insidious: “The best I can do is to ship a phone to where you will be tomorrow.”

Kir-Leia: “If I’m getting a new phone, why can’t I just get one from the store?”

Now he drops the thermite-detonator:

Darth-Insidious:  “We don’t keep replacements in stock. It will be a ‘Factory Certified’ Android phone.”

Kiri-Leia: “I get a used phone?  I only had the Samsung for about five months!  It’s not even paid for yet! Why can’t I get a new phone?”

Darth-Insidious: “It is not our way. Get back Rebel scum!”

Kir-Leia: “I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board!”’

Darth Insidious: “How charming…but wrong movie.”

 

Of course, I storm out in a huff, swearing that I will never darken the doors of Verizon again.

Over at the Sprint Rebel Base, I have enough time to toss my phone at Jedi Master Trevor and swear allegiance. (Fortunately, my midichlorians are off the scale.)

I dash to get the child before the bus leaves him wandering in search of a better parent. I send an emergency signal through a cousin to my mother and she agrees to watch my Padawan Learner (boy child). I race and to get my new iPhone…but it’s not ready. They have to match the geosynchronous orbit, or some technical mumbo jumbo I don’t understand.  So, I dash back to home base, stopping to get a thank-you pop and scratch-n-win ticket for the Grandma, when the universe speaks to me again…

The Second Omen

The swinging door of the Coca Cola cooler was obviously programmed for stealth attack. As I turn and let the door swing shut, it takes a huge bite out of my ankle.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaah. Fricken…Fracken…farken….” (Insert Wookie Howl Here.)

I’m bleeding as I leave the store.

Anklekle
Use your gory imagination here.

Mom patches me up, listening to the entire tale.  Wishes me well, and I’m off once more. Dashing back to pick up the phone, dragging the child in tow.

Then, I learn something wondrous…the deal I signed my life away for included a second phone!  And the Rebel Leader and I can declare ourselves friends and get a $50 rebate…if we can ever figure out how to sign up for it.

Things are looking marginally up. I’m battered and limping, but I have my new phone and…shit….look at the time.

The next few hours are a blur of manic packing, driving, and arriving at the RV Park & Campground where I have reserved a teepee for the night.

You heard me a teepee.  Did I mention it’s raining?  Have I also mentioned it is an authentic structure with a hole in the center and the floor has running water? (But the bathrooms are located in another building.) No matter.  I will find the fun in this.  I will overcome a most inauspicious start to our vacation. I will ignore the dreadful music that implies otherwise.

I’m trying to tell myself that I can relax about the small stuff.  So, there’s a little water on the floor?  So what? I move the electric cords to a table to remove the possibility of a third and fatal sign.  No electrocution for me, no sir!

The Third Omen

As I’m leaving the teepee to gather the bedding for the unauthentic mattresses, I don’t clear the odd lower lip of the oval door way. I trip in a most graceless fashion, landing hard on my left wrist and both knees. I break a blood vessel in my hand.

 

Handd

I raise my uninjured fist and shake it at the universe.

“Why?  Why? For the love of all that is Jedi…why?”

Somewhere, the dark side is taunting me. Or it could just be the croaking frogs. I’m not sure. It sure sounds like the universe laughing.

*

So, if I die on the boat crossing tomorrow, you’ll know why….

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Why does no one ever heed the signs?  In real life, I blame the lack of ominous music.

**One of these days I’m going to write the blog post to explain this remark, but this is not the day.

***I should have gone with Kirbaca as I did scream like an enraged wookie today, but it did not fit the scene.

 

Advertisements

A Farewell to Kitsch

Saturday, we over-nighted in Bear Lake – a tiny town 22 miles south of Frankfort, Michigan—the place my son randomly picked on the map that, surprisingly, did not have any hotel rooms available the night before a three-day holiday weekend.* Some people might thrive on the uncertainty of housing and the joi de vivre of impromptu journeys–it gives me hives.  Fortunately, we found succor at the Bella Vista Inn. As it turns out, the relief of making the 2 ½ hour journey was to be compounded by Fate wagging a playful finger in our direction.**

Bella Vista Hotel - Bear Lake
My son can mess up a hotel room faster than I can take a picture!

Bear Lake is a blip of a town, but that is part of its appeal; it isn’t intended as a huge tourism destination. The lake is placid and shallow fairly far out. Kiddos can splash in the water by sandy beaches. Gnarled trees of indeterminate species grow along the lake’s edge. The trunks dip and bend toward the water as the earth crumbles away in gradual increments.

Bear Lake

We’d navigated our way to the tiny motel and decided to walk across US 31 to admire the lake. Our access beach was a sliver of sand in a small crescent carved out from the neighboring trees. But it was sufficient for a quick dip. I opted to stand and watch while my son dabbled in the water. Now that he is older and can swim a bit, I’m less afraid of imaginary undertow currents taking him to Davy Jones’s locker.*** I snap a few quick pics with my phone and upload a selfie-free greeting to all my peeps on Facebook. My son scampers around in the water, barely bothered by his mom’s admonition to “Pull up your shorts, your butt is showing!”  (Time for a new swimsuit, I guess the elastic is blown in this one.) We stop at the gas station/store/pizza joint on the way back to our hotel to grab some dinner. I’m standing in line waiting for a sub sandwich when I get a phone call:

Vacation Reenactment Players present:

Peculiar Coincidence or Celestial Serendipity?

*BrrrrrrrRing* (Honestly I don’t know what noise my phone made, my son changes the ringtone daily.)

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “K…where are you?” (Names abbreviated to protect the clueless who think this will keep serial killers away.)

Me: “M? We’re at Bear Lake.”

Caller: “I know. I saw your picture on Facebook.  We’re at Bear Lake.  Where are you exactly?”

Me: “Uh…” (I stop to look around for the name of the gas station.) “We’re at a BP across from the Belle Vista Inn. The kid is getting some pizza and I’m waiting in line to get some dinner.”

Caller: “We’re down the road at a campground. We’re grilling hot dogs. C’mon over.”

Turns out it was walking distance from us. This is the kind of adventure you can’t plan.  (Okay, maybe you could plan it, but it would then lack romance—or whatever the parenting equivalent is!)

Pizza and sugary drinks in hand, we followed her directions to what had to be the smallest campground I have ever seen. It was a slice of beach carved out behind the town, lined with camper trailers and crawling with dogs and children.  Friend M was corralling her herd—she has three, which is enough for a herd in my opinion—with equal parts humor and no-nonsense parenting. She could write a book about it if she wasn’t so busy. We exchanged chit chat and delighted in the coincidence that brought us together.

“I grew up here. My grandfather planted trees along this lake.” She stops, looks around and points to a nearby tree. “He planted that one.”

There is pride in her voice. You can tell she is happy to be from a small town and has pleasant memories.  I’ve often wondered what that felt like.

She offers us canvas chairs at her parent’s trailer.  It is a cozy niche just down the road a ways from her childhood home. There, the grandparents are doting on a precious little girl who has decided to wear a batman mask, it slips off repeatedly as she toddles around. It is a bit incongruous with the pigtails poking out on either side of her head. Everyone is laughing or joking about Bat Girl.  I have a feeling I’ve accidentally wandered into a Norman Rockwell life tableau, except that M’s husband is on the road and she isn’t sure when his hectic schedule will bring him back into the family orbit. I comment on the peacefulness of location and she nods.  “This is my oasis—I can relax here.” She hands me a cream-flavored, alcoholic ginger ale. “I could stay here all the time.” Taking a sip of mellow intoxicant, I’m finding myself in agreement.

During the visit, her children are in constant motion—her son is off at the little playground beside the beach. Her daughters are crawling in and out underfoot. M is the serene center of a frenetic buzz of activity.  We stay as long as my son will tolerate and M hands me a plate of potato salad for the road. We hug before parting and I thank her for a wonderful time.  She smiles and says, “We’ll be coming up for a long week around the 4th of July, if you want, you could rent a tent space and join us.”

I’m touched.  It is a generous offer to be included in a family trip. (With a special needs child, it is especially nice to be invited anywhere.) I may question my sanity when I take trips with my son so far from home, but it is moments like these that make it worth the effort.

The rest of our weekend is a blur of touristy moments:

Frankfort, MI

Frankfort has a beautiful grassy park and nearby playground for kids to run around on.  My son looked especially appropriate in his yellow slicker standing on the mock prow of the playground ship.

IMG_3611
Obligatory kitsch tchotchkis.

 

Portabella and Pesto Sandwich - Crescent Bakery
Portabello, Pesto Panini–you can’t say it without drooling, can you?

In town, many shops devoted to the American spirit for shopping and dining abound. The Crescent Bakery & Cafe served about the best pesto/giant mushroom panini I’ve ever eaten. If I hadn’t forgotten my purse and had to schlep all the way back to our car, we might have avoided a major meltdown moment! One caveat if you dine here—it’s a popular place and the service can be slow, which is a bad combination if your son is starving to death before your very eyes. (Cell phones pay the price for such inconsideration.)

Phone Destruction
Farewell Good Friend

 

The death of his favorite entertainment hits my son hard…even though he was the one to throw it in a fit of hunger-induced rage. After lunch, we mourn with ice cream served up at the ever-so-festive The Scoop—a local joint that serves up Moomers Ice Cream.

Scoop Cropped

We are surrounded by candy and sugar on all sides—it is very cathartic. It is also just about the best ice cream I’ve ever had.

 

 

Ludington, MI

We drive to Ludington to spend the night at a Best Western.  Despite being tired from the day, I decide to take the internet’s advice and hit the popular local restaurant: The Old Hamlin.

The Old Hamlin Restaurant

Above the door as you walk in, the sign says “Family Restaurant Since 1926.” They must be doing something right because the place was doing pretty good business despite the later hour. The décor suggested its roots might be as a Greek diner—the dusty murals and ancient faux wood roof tiles suggested a warmer climate. Old Formica tables and naugahyde padded seats welcomed weary travelers; the furnishings’ sturdy qualities matched its customers perfectly. The food was the standard eclectic American Diner fare—good and plentiful. And as a local had suggested, the homemade bread made it worth the trip.

Dinner at The Old Hamlin

Stuffed to the gills, my son and I walked to visit the beautiful nearby Lake Michigan shoreline and enjoy Stearns Park where my son dragged his paper and crayons to every single piece of playground equipment to write numbers in a new, exciting location while his mother climbed sand dunes to get a picture of the lighthouse against the backdrop of the sparkling waves. It was reassuring to learn I wasn’t too old to enjoy a good sunset. (Although I wisely refrained from investigating the skater’s park nearby—one hip replacement is enough for now.)

Ludington Lighthouse Sunset

We walked a bit and discovered another sandy pleasure—beachside cuisine.  At The Sunset Side Concessions, I was momentarily tempted to order Deep Fried Oreos, when my better senses prevailed.

Despite having eaten enough pancakes and bacon to sink a battleship, my son happily gorged on yet another scoop of ice cream (What is a holiday without overindulgence and stomach aches?) before returning to the Best Western, splashing in the pool, and then conking out for the night. (If you are tired out reading this, imagine how exhausting it was to cram all this into a weekend!)

Best Western of Ludington
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like a home away from home!

Sunday heralded the end of our vacation. After barely making it under the wire for breakfast, we packed and visited the lake shore one last time before heading home.

Ludington Lighthouse.jpg
Apparently to be called a “Lighthouse”–you have to be able to live in it!

I managed to lure my child to visit the light-not-a-house via a long walk down the concrete breakwall to the Ludington North Breakwater Light. It was tricky going as he desperately wanted to fling himself down the slanting embankment to investigate the giant, no-doubt-slippery rocks framing the walkway. At the lighthouse–sorry, I can’t break the habit–I was dismayed to discover that, this far north, The Square™ is a tricky device that doesn’t always work if the wireless connection is iffy.  I’d spent the last of my cash leaving a tip for the hotel staff—and on the electric massage chair in the lobby. (The only way to travel.)  The volunteers graciously let my son pell-mell his way up the stairs to take in the view. Since they couldn’t get the credit card taker to work, they handed me an envelope trusting in the honor system to see payment received by check later that week. What a gift that was to a weary mom and an overly excited child.

Ludington Lighthouse View

We snapped a few pictures—my son insisted on photographing the graffiti—enjoying the sun and the boat wakes creating liquid contrails and a mock surf at the water’s edge. All in all, it has been a postcard-picture perfect visit. As the tourism ads voiced by Tim Allen would say, “It’s Pure Michigan.”

Don’t you wonder if Missy & Bob are still together? I like to think they are!

*

So that was our Memorial Day Extravaganza. Mostly unplanned and as spontaneous as I can ever get with my oh-so-special life. I hope you enjoyed tagging along; you’re welcome anytime.

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Did you catch the sarcasm in that one?

**Not THAT finger, thank you very much.

***One flavor of paranoia—imagined parental fears.

_______________________________________________________________

Yay, you actually read this far BONUS: Crayon Disaster Number 3

The ill-fitted swimsuit of the above story met its demise later that week in a tragic crayon-related incident. Totally not on purpose.  Who checks the pockets of a swimsuit?

 

 

Welcome To the Wonderful World of Kitsch Americana

Wandering Highway 31, driving north along the Lake Michigan shore is equal parts mind-numbing, tree-infested sameness interspersed with glimpses of magnificence and moments to marvel.*

One of our first stops was a total accident.

Riverflats Coffee and Tea
Location Cleverly Hidden by the Piper Tax & Accounting Sign.

We had been looking for the Riverflats Coffee & Tea cafe the highway exit had assured us was only 500 feet ahead, when we missed it and drove until another sign lured us to a quintessential part of American family entertainment–the well crafted Ye Olde Tourist Trap. Fortunately, this is exactly the kind of fun and surprises I had been hoping to run across.

IMG_3533
Not entirely sure how this sculpture embodies the late 19th century.  Thoughts?
IMG_3437
Wall of Murderer’s Delight

The White Pines Village in Ludington, MI is of the Potemkin variety. Buildings were collected from various locations to recreate a fake experience of life at the turn of the century in rural Michigan. (In other words, there is a great emphasis on farming and self-sufficiency.)

I love old homes and poking my head into a modern facsimile of the past. It’s convenient and tactile visual exploration that beats a book hands down.**

I had a great time.  My son, on the other hand, delighted in trying to escape the experience as fast as humanly possible. So, while I am quite overwhelmed with lovely photos, I am not quite as educated as I might be.

 

Enjoy the images and just imagine the rich, educational experience to be had.  Just, not by any child living today who has access to a digital device instead.

IMG_3430
My son, the blur.
IMG_3446
I like to imagine that any moment, the family will return and be horrified at the prospect of modern life.  “No electricity for us! That’s the Devil’s work!”***

After our brief sojourn in the bygone era, we gratefully climbed into our air-conditioned car and drove onward to Bear Lake…where amazing adventures awaited us.

You will have to imagine those adventures, as my son is demanding time on the laptop to play Where’s My Water…at top volume might I add. (Perhaps the Amish aren’t entirely wrong about eschewing technology.)

*

Oh, and we did finally locate the cafe…where we had lunch with a stuffed squirrel.

Squirrel Under Glass
The ‘squirrel under glass’ is to die for! You must try it!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Warning: travel brings on alliteration–as well as gas.

**Sorry, books. You just can’t compete with the awe-inspiring site of a fiberglass cow milking demonstration.

***And this is why it is a good thing the Amish do not use the internet.