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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I thought I was going to keep up with this blogging thing!

Holy cow, has it been a while or what? Looks like I failed to fulfill my promise made in the previous post. Whoops. Good lord, where do I start?

Well, let's see... school ended, of course, and on a good note. As I said I would be before, I finished the year a week and a half early in order to join my best friend on a trip to Mackinac Island, which her family so kindly invited me to come on. We spent four days driving up there. The first day we spent in a 6-person max pickup truck, but managed to squeeze seven in there. We started driving at 11PM on the night of May 27th. We were originally going to leave by five, but there was a holdup, I'm assuming. We drove through the night, parked at a rest stop so that her dad, who was driving, could get a few hours of sleep. The only problem was that there was no AC (the car was off) and a lot of people, which makes for a lot of heat. Not to mention we were in Georgia in summertime.

So the following day we arrived at the RV place and transferred all the luggage into the RV. The AC was a huge relief. We got going as soon as we could and drove off with the windows open and the AC blasting. And we drove for 3 more days like that, pretty comfortable with enough space and amenaties for the lot of us.

On that fourth day, we parked the RV outside the ferry harbor. Porters gathered up our mountains of luggage and Saran-wrapped it to a giant bellhop cart. They put our bikes (neccesary for transportation because of the 'no motor vehicles' law) in the ferry's cargo. In the meantime, we boarded to ferry and scanned the scenery. We could see several landmarks on the island, but perhaps the most predominant was the Grand Hotel, locally known on the island as 'The Grand'. Now, her family had already taken a few trips to Mackinac in past years, but this was my first time. How strange it was to see such high elevation, especially on an island! The highest points above sea level in Florida are the overpasses! We all continued to marvel at Mackinac's beauties until we came ashore.

There, we unloaded our biked and watched as several porters pedaled by, all carrying equal portions of our luggage. We headed down the street past horse-drawn buggies, countless fudge shops and cutesy cottages for rent, when we found our place. It was a mauve-lavender townhome complex with 5 or so townhomes connected. If you stood on the front porch and looked out ahead, you would see a large dandelion field and then a tiny road separating the field into two - the second half, further to the right, was a big slope with lots of lanscaped flowers. Down the slope and further to the right was another road, small golf course, and a tavern where a live band often performed classics in the evening. Coming inside the house was surprising, for it seemed much bigger than it had appeared to be from the outside. There were 3 stories - big, open kitchen - living room area downstairs and bedrooms on the second and third floors. It was veyr clean and quaint, with short, cream-colored carpeting and nautical-beachy themed furnishings. Molly and I finally decided on a room after switching at least three times. Although the other kids picked out rooms of their own, by the first night we spent there, they were all sound asleep in our room on blankets and blowup-beds, the soft hum and glow of the TV continuing through the night.

I'll give you the gist of how we passed the time during our stay - as you might have guessed, there was LOTS of biking involved. Nearly every day we would mash down on the pedals, furiously trying to bike up a hill so that we could lose ourselves in the lush, enclosed woods. Tiny trails in every direction. Scenic rocks with nooks and crannies perfect for climbing. The air unbelievably crisp and clean, for there was no exhaust in the air. Glorious temperatures and very sunny as well - you'd think I'd be OK with a few more cozy, rainy days hence the fact that I live in the sunshine state, but I never do seem to get sick of it.

Other than biking, we went downtown (or whatever you would call the 2-block shopping area that sat by the shore) several times to  look over souvenirs. A couple of stores were the usual chinsy, tourist-town, trading-post style shops, but a lot of them were actually really pleasant! Plus, the souvenirs there were surprisingly unique - for example, there's this specific hat that I saw nearly every kid walking around on the island wearing. I HAD to buy one, of course. I would post a picture, however I don't have the hat with me while I'm on vacation. I'll get to that later.

So we spent our days outside with her cousins, checking out the so-called 'downtown' area, and of course, biking and exploring. In addition to this daily routine we also went to tour The Grand, rent a horse-and-buggy to ride around the island, hang out in an abandoned theatre, and eventually get what you cannot leave the island without buying: fudge. Oh, and saltwater taffy. Mmm...

Soon I come to find out that they were planning on staying at the island longer than they said before. I was told that we'd be back by June 10th, however, it turns out they meant leaving the island by the 10th. This was a problem because I had to be back by the tenth max to be able to join my family on a month-long trip to Virginia to visit family. So what ended up happening was, we drove to the Detroit airport, and of course, there's nowhere to park the huge RV, and they had to idle outside the gate by the curb. Inside I wenr to get my baggage checked and my ticket with her dad, when suddenly we find out that the airport staff chaperone that my parents paid extra for and called in to make sure about, is nowhere to be found. And so, since I was an unaccompanied minor, her dad had to get past security with me and wait with me at the gate. Since he's the only one who knew how to drive the RV, we had no choice but to let it idle there outside the gate. And of course, that's when the cops came over to her mom, who was waiting at the RV, and reprimanded her. she explained the whole complicated situation  to them and they eventually let her stay there until I boarded the plane and the dad could come back to the RV and drive it away from the curb. I could not thank them enough for doing that for me.

Sooner than I expected, I was back home in the central Florida sauna. Typical me, I left nearly a third of my luggage with the other family. Then only three days later, I was off again with my own family heading northeast to visit our clutches of close friends and family, placed in various states along the east coast. We traveled back and forth between South Carolina, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, until a month later we were finally home again.

And that concludes, in a nutshell, what I've done this summer to this day. Other notes: I gave up reading Undaunted Courage (I promised myself I would just do it for the sake of feeling accomplished, but that wasn't enough to make me go through with it). Too many footnotes. So instead I picked up a classic my aunt gave to me: East of Eden. And I am finding that much more interesting.

And 'till I post again, have a great summer! (Or winter, if anyone in the southern hemisphere is reading this).


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