To Mackinac Island and Back (36 Crazy Hours!)

I am not an adventurous soul by any means. I used to be, but as I age, I find my greatest happiness comes from just being at home. My neighbor on the other hand is hardly ever home. She is crazy, in a good way. She is planning on going to Ireland for the weekend for St Patrick’s Day next year. As I said, she is off her rocker. I mean who goes to Ireland for the weekend. But that’s a different story.

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My crazy neighbor

So why do you care that my neighbor has a wander lust that just can’t seemed to be tamed? Because not so long ago, she managed to such me into one of her hair brained adventures. It was a Friday and the country kids didn’t have school. The oldest had gone for a visit to my parents for the weekend. The youngest country kid and I? Well we didn’t know it when we woke, but at 9 am our neighbor came over and told us to pack, we were going to Mackinac!

I didn’t have time to think, nor pack properly, but I threw caution to the wind. By 10:30 am we were on the road heading north. We swung by the campus of MSU to pick up our “adopted” college daughter before getting back on the road. It’s a pretty long drive for a six year old, or at least that was our excuse for stopping in Claire at Cops & Donuts. I might have gained 10 pounds just walking in the door, but we HAD to go. Unless you have been there, you have no clue how bad you need to go!

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Yummy goodness from Cops & Donuts
The littlest country kid and our “adopted” college daughter. His face when he realized he was crashing a “girl’s weekend” was priceless!
Of course the adults had to have a little fun too!

Settled back in the car with our bakery selections, we drove…… and drove…. and it rained and rained…. and it got colder and windier the further north we went. Of course we had to stop at all the scenic overlooks, because, come on, Michigan fall colors are the best! Even if our shoes were getting soaked.

Michigan in fall

Many hours later, we arrived in Mackinac City and the littlest country kid got his first ever glimps of the Mackinac Bridge. To say he was impressed was an UNDERSTATEMENT. The weather was so bad, cold and rain, but he jumped out at the beach with no coat he was so excited. We did managed to talk him into a coat as he played on the beach, in the rain, with the winds whipping off the lakes.

Me, the bridge, and a selfie bomber!
You know your from Michigan when nasty weather in October seems like a great time to go to the beach!

After bouncing around in the rain like idiots, we headed to Wilderness State Park, excited to get out of the rain and get warm. The cabin had been rented by Team RWB, a veterans group of which my neighbor was a part of. The cabin had 24 bunks that were originally all booked, but on that faithful morning when we left, the number of folks who were planning to show up to do either a 5K or half marathon on Mackinac Island were dwindling.

That should have been a warning to us, but noooooo, we showed up. Of course I wasn’t about to do a 5K, but neither was my neighbor, so we were good. The cabin looked adorable from outside….. but that’s where this trip stopped being so much fun and started to go wrong.

Even though there was a fireplace in the cabin, it was a none stop battle to try to get any heat from it. It was in the 30’s outside and sadly only a few degrees warmer inside. And did I mention, it was still raining?

So cute, so cold

And even though we were cold, and only five other people showed up, we made the best of it we could. We made baked potatoes in an instapot for dinner. I personally voted to stick the potatoes in our beds for warmth, but for some odd reason, we ate them instead.

The littlest country kid and his “amazing” potato. Yes, we were so cold and hungry a potato tasted that good.

Now here is where the night got loooong. We all crawled into bed, freezing of course, but amazingly everyone else fell asleep. Not me! So as I sat there shaking all night, I kept that sad little fire going. The fire that did nothing to cut the cold in the cabin. When I fed the fire at 3 am, my left contact decided to jump out of my eye and into my hand. I stoked the fire with my free hand, holding onto my contact for dear life.

I managed to get my contact back in and around 5 am I went out to grace the outhouse with my presence. Of course as I was exciting the outhouse, in the rain, yes it was still raining, a little black and white “kitty” named Pepe le pew offered to walk me back to the cabin. All I could think was “Please don’t spray me, they won’t let me back in the car to get home!”

Bunk art

I crawled back into my icicle of a bed that was harder then a prison cot and tried to sleep. I laid there staring at the “art work” on the underside of the bunk above me and finally fell asleep around 6 am. An hour and a half later I rolled over, opened my eyes, and the littlest country kid was missing from his bunk. I was a little freaked out till I noticed my neighbor was missing too. Those numb nuts had gone back to the beach, in the rain, yes it was still raining, to look at the bridge some more. *smack forehead*

By now I was cold, wet and exhausted. I may have had my first ever cup of Starbucks that morning as we prepared to go visit the Island, in the rain. My neighbor wanted to rent bikes and do some site seeing. Now mind you, I haven’t really ridden a bike in about 20 years and it was so windy and nasty….. but I’m a trooper. I figured I had lost over 50 pounds, I could totally do this! Feel free to start laughing at me now.

Getting ready to board the Ferry to Mackinac Island
The ferry went under the bridge and despite the waves and rain, our dumb butts ran up top for a better view.

Join us as we go under the Mighty Mac!

While we were up top looking at the bridge, some jerky people took our seats. Since the ferry employees didn’t want us standing, they asked folks to scoot over, but no one would make space for us. Wow, thanks butt hole strangers who took our seats and wouldn’t scoot over.

I ended up having to sitting on the floor of the ferry with the littlest country kid on my lap. When we arrived at the island and my pants (and undies) were soaked to the skin because the floor I was forced to sit on was completely soaked. Was I mad? Oh yeah. Was I determined to not let it bother me? Of course! I mean it was such a nasty day and I figured by the end of it I would be completely soaked all over anyway.

Upon arriving at the island, we rented bikes to get around. The littlest country kid had brought his bike, so he had a perfect fit, while the rest of us were left trying to make the bikes we rented fit us. Needless to say, very quickly parts of my anatomy were complaining. The first leg of our ride (in the wind and rain) found us at Arch Rock. At this point I was still feeling adventurous and climbed the 207 steps up 146 feet above Lake Huron. Of course everyone else in my group climbed faster and by the time I reached the top, they were all ready to head back down.

The Arch from below
146 feet up looking down to the lake
The littlest country kid taking it all in


 Lake Huron was rough that day

As we got back on our bikes, all heck broke loss. No, not the weather……. PEOPLE, everywhere…. walking, running and biking. Remember I said there was a race on the island that day. Our bike ride turned into extreme dodge biking. Remember, I hadn’t ridden a bike in decades! Every time I had to slow down, I began to wobble. The wind off the lake blew my hair across my face but I was too afraid to let go of the bike handle bars to brush it away, so I road almost blind. Thankfully about four miles into the ride, the runners took a different path and I was able to relax a little, not having to dodge around so many people.

But then my girly parts began to hurt. Seriously, that bike and I were more intimately acquainted then should ever be the case. My butt on the other hand was doing okay. My legs were getting tired and I seriously might have been crying on and off as I peddled. In a bid for relief, I might have suggested to the littlest country kid we stop and look for a rock to take home off the beach as a momentum of our trip. Did he need a rock? No. Did my girly parts need 15 minutes off that bike? Yes!

Now mind you, I was trying to stay in the middle of our group on the bike ride so I didn’t get left behind. Our “adopted” daughter was always ahead of me. It wasn’t helping that she was doing this ride with such ease, making lops and circles with her bike so she didn’t get to far ahead. From behind I could hear my neighbor and the littlest country kid as she cheered him on. But somewhere around 6.2 miles I just couldn’t keep going. And then this happened…..

This is me, ugly crying….. but let me explain…. I spotted a large bolder ahead of me and thought “That would be a great place to die.” Seriously, that’s what went through my mind. My body hurt, I couldn’t catch my breath….. I was done. I got off the bike and collapsed on the boulder. As I lay there trying to catch my breath, the littlest country kid pulled up, threw down his bike, also crying like crazy, but he still had some energy because for the next few minutes he beat the living hell out of his bike while spewing profanity. Yes, I know he is 6, but seeing as how I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to breath, how was I supposed to tell him to stop? And in all honesty, if I had had any energy left, I too would have whooped my bikes butt while also cussing it out. Not going to lie.

So why did I take an “ugly cry” selfie? Because this moment, right here, was the moment I decided NOT to let the bike win. I decided to get back on that evil metal crotch killing, soul sucking device and finish the ride. This ugly photo is probably the most defining point in my life, because I did not give up, I found the strength, and I realized I can do ANYTHING I put my mind to!

Now I am not saying I didn’t cry a few more times as I peddled those last two miles in the rain with my underwear up my butt like a wet diaper, cause I did! But I made it, weather be damned, weight be damned, everything be damned!

Next time I’m taking a horse drawn carriage!

We returned the bikes, got the littlest country kid some ice cream that my neighbor had promised him if he could finish the ride, bought a few souvenirs, and headed to the ferry dock. We were all tired and wet and just wanted to get warm.

We were scheduled to spend a second night at the cabin, but after the day on the island, we all agreed we just wanted to go home to our beds where it was warm. After a quick stop at a rest stop to change into dry clothes, we headed for home. Hours later, in the dark, we unloaded out stuff from my neighbor’s car. We walked in the house, much to hubby’s surprise, and the first thing the littlest country kid said? “I didn’t want to come home, it was the best trip ever.”

I’m not sure he and I were on the same trip!?!? Did he forget about kicking his bike’s butt?!?! Was he not the one complaining he was cold?!?! But ya know what? After a few days, I too enjoyed the worst weekend ever. Because isn’t that what memories are made of? Laughing about being wet and wanting to pass out from the exhaustion? I doubt he would remember it half as fondly if the sun had been shining! And because of this trip I know know beyond a reasonable doubt, I can do anything I put my mind to. I may ugly cry in the process, but I can do anything!

4 thoughts on “To Mackinac Island and Back (36 Crazy Hours!)

  1. This great. We used to do these kinds of things shen our daughter was little and our grandkids. Unplanned trips are the best. This so needs to go in your book stories from the heart.

  2. What a memorable weekend. I felt your pain as I read about the bike ride. I look forward to you writing your book as I know it will be a great read. Remember, you now know you can do anything you put your mind to.

  3. What a wonderful funny lovely story…and you are so right!! We really CAN do anything(almost)….The memories you made for all of you are now permanently etched into your heart and soul…along with the myriad bruises and scrapes…some of my favorite memories with my sons are the ones that didn’t quite go as planned…but that’s what makes them so special… I’m smiling as I type this because I have done things like this…thanks for sharing!

  4. Ouchie. Sounds like your bike fit was off. Once I did a 25 mile ride down in Detroit with a bike that fit like that. The numbness/lack of circulation started at my crotch, then crept down the inside of my legs and eventually reached my toes. VERY, VERY BAD. But you’ve got to finish those group rides I guess, so I did. It took a couple of hours for all of everything to regain any feeling at all, a few days until normal. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.

    A bike shop or a bike savvy friend can fit your bike better next time if you have the opportunity to ask. Bikes at a bike rental are not interchangeable and I wish they wouldn’t treat them that way (and if it was your bike, all the more reason to get it fit before it hurts you again). Also, upright comfy roadsters or cruisers might work better than other bike types if you’re just starting back up. Also, also, I recommend a wide seat for anyone who is normal and has had a few children (like me-I got paranoid after that and put one on my road bike so now it looks a little funny but I fixed the fit and made problem recurrence impossible just in case).
    Good luck, and don’t be too afraid of biking.

    PS: You wanna know what happens to MEN who ride with a bike fit sorta like that? (*snicker*)

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