Monday, February 19, 2007

Mackinac Winterfest Weekend!

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Friday <<<<<<<<<<<<< These days I spend a lot of time worrying about money, about the future and about where I am going to be in a couple of years... so this past weekend I decided to go for it - I went to Mackinac Island with Joe and Ben to meet up with a bunch of MSHP people. It was a great time! It really re-energized me, I was getting so down with the boredom of Basement of Grandma's: Sitting Engineer but after this weekend I feel great!!
I did quite a bit this weekend, and it all started Thursday Night. I headed over to Joe's place and had a beer while chatting with the guys (and Andrea) and headed out the next morning at 0630! We arrived in Mack City at around 1100 and headed right to the Mainland Office to chat with Katie and Dennis and the rest of the crew...
We spent some time talking with Katie and going thru the mainland library looking at old pictures and reading General Court Martial Records, and then headed over to Audie's for lunch. Dennis met us at lunch (which was tasty) and we had a great conversation about walking across the ice and all sorts of things, Dennis is so weird....
After lunch we headed back to the Office and chatted with Dennis some more before going to Fort Michilimackinac to chat with Jimmy Evans! Joe got the idea in his head that we should dress up and play some fife and drum -- I had thought the same thing but didn't want to say anything... So we did!

After we'd played fife and drum for a while, wandered the fort and changed back into normal clothes we all headed away from Jimmy, back to the Main office to say goodbye so we could head to the St. Ignace Airport! So exciting! We drove across the bridge and I marveled at the ice... the expanse of solid water... fascinating...
We got to the airport and waited for the next trip (which if you have more than 2 can be anytime as long as there is a plane and pilot). Joe and Ben flew ahead of us and as we were waiting Blake came in with his girlfriend Amanda! Great timing! Mel and I got on the next flight - 10 to 15 minutes later - and after packing in our bags and getting seated in the small single prop plane with a wingspan of maybe 20 feet we started off...
I've never been on a small plane before and I was most definitely nervous, but I was nothing in comparison to the woman next to me! She was a cross -country skier who was part of a large group coming up for their annual weekend trip. I am always fascinated by large groups of women, they seem to have this strange bond that older men lack. Older Men hang out and laugh and enjoy each others company, but older women seem to have all these rules and customs... politeness and complimentary procedures... etc. It's very strange to me because in my mind the older you get with someone the more comfortable you should be expressing yourself, but apparently not?
Anyway, a short airplane ride later we were on the Island!! We walked through the snowmobile parking lot that springs up around the airport and I saw one leave with a little sled behind it (the first snowmobile I'd ever seen in motion! I had a little private moment of triumph for my Life Checklist) and we started our walk. Joe and Ben are really great people, I look back to my first few years when I used to have some private reserves about working with them because of their overly serious - overly bossy/historically pretentious natures (I am sure they had some criticisms of me as well) but now I really count them as friends; people I really respect and enjoy spending time and working with. We walked for a long time, talking and laughing - me watching the snowmobiles passing with keen interest - and as it was late afternoon and we'd been up since 630AM we decided on a nap after we'd checked in at Pontiac Lodge.
I've been on that rock every summer since 2002 and yet... there are still nooks and crannies that I've never even seen. The island in winter is a small town again. I was so impressed, it's not a tourist trap anymore, you could be in a really small town anywhere, but you're not of course... still though. It just feeeeeeels different.

After about an hour or laying around we headed over to the VI to meet Blake and Troy - who we'd seen at the airport on the way in - to have dinner and drinks. A good time was had, and after a few hours there drinking beer in huge glasses for $2 (yea winter prices are amazing) we headed to Sinclair's for some more drinking and entertainment. Meghan had shown up while we were at the VI so after she'd deposited her stuff she and Mel had begun to play off each other and make fun of us boys. All in all a great time.

Sinclair's was basically the same, it was a DJ and loud music, Mel and Meghan met up with people they knew and we all danced and drank and I was pretty wasted by the end of the night. Beer was cheaper at the VI but the atmosphere was better at Sinclair's. Troy decided it would be fun to get me on a snowmobile so - slightly inebriated maybe - I jumped on and drove the snowmobile - jerkily - to the fort and around about the mission house and back. It was really cool! Though I wasn't very good at it... Afterward I pretty much stick to the bar aside from a trip outside to smoke cigars that Blake had brought... Yum... We stayed late into the morning before going home and passing out...

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Saturday <<<<<<<<<<<<<






















The next morning we headed right back to Sinclair's for breakfast - with the obligatory "Weren't we just here?" comments. A good $5 breakfast ensued before heading out the door for sledding and fun for the day! Stopping for aspirin at Alford's, we grabbed our sleds and headed up to the Fort for some sledding fun! I wish I could post the videos ... maybe on YouTube... I'll add the link later...















We made snow angels, sledded, got let into the Guideshack, played some music, and got cold and crazy until heading back to the Lodge for showers and relaxation before the Chili Cookoff - it was Winterfest Weekend so there were some activities including a Chili Cookoff at the VI! We paid our $6 and got unlimited Chili but were asked to rate each one (of the dozen choices) from 0 to 5! It was a lot of fun, though I was disappointed that I didn't enter because my chili is WAY good. Maybe next year :-รพ. There were some guys from New York at the table behind us who were loud and obnoxious but came every year to lose the Chili Cookoff.

Heather arrived during this time, and brought in tow about half a dozen girls from CMU. So did Katie, Bruce, Sandy, Myron and Cathy... so we pretty much had everyone! It was fab!

After the cookoff we went on a hike... heading up the west bluff with our sleds and as we neared the top Brother Jim snowmobiled up to us! After a brief chat he offered me a ride, I grabbed onto the back of the snowmobile and with my sled under me took a 20mph tour of the Annex and met everyone back at Pontiac Trail. Waving to Jim we set off on the snowy cliff side and hiked up to some of the well hidden Victorian Mansions to Enjoy their porches and take a sneak peek into their little secluded lives.



At one point we were catching the sunset from the front porch of one of the more elaborate houses and everyone snapped some photos... except me because my camera was back at the Lodge -dammit!!

After the hike it was back to the Lodge again before we met up for the pub runners... so we grabbed another beer at the VI and made it to Sinclair's for dinner and drinks. The P.R.'s were surprised to see us, but it was a great time. We all laughed and drank and I was on stage a couple of times to sing my songs, play the pennywhistle form the guys and when Jerry broke a string made Joe and I sing some songs... though by that point our voices were so shot there was nothing to smile about from those Mics... ugh!

At the end of the night we sat around the table just chatting and finally stumbled home and to my little patch of floor to sleep it all off. What a great night. Bruce was buying beer after beer, Nick Haan showed up and I tried a pipe (but I was too drunk to appreciate it), Mel snuck a beer steal and chugged one down when I wasn't looking - I was 2 or 3 behind Bruce at that point so I didn't mind -- I did catch up eventually... Whew... all in all... a good time.




















































































>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sunday <<<<<<<<<<<<<

Our last day was actually a half day... we got up at 10 or so, cleaned up, packed up and headed to the VI for a buffet breakfast, grabbed our stuff and hiked back to the Airport. It was a great end to the weekend and a nice walk to sober us up. Sandy and I chatted a lot about politics and the island and the plane ride back was infinitely smoother than the ride over which was REALLY BUMPY. We landed, said goodbye to Sandy, and made the long trek back to Lansing... What a nice weekend. I would love to go back to the Island in the Winter... It's the same, but different... beautiful...

I like this picture of the three of us... it was like we were going on some expedition with Ben in his coveralls and me in my huge coat, and Nanook-of-the-North there in the middle. We were asight to see. Feckin' Tourists...





Thats it! The car ride was just that... and then I slept like a log...

Trace Dominguez Will Return in:

Fun in Kalamazoo