Friday Night Flashback Number Two

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I want to start off by apologizing to my wonderful, amazing, loyal followers, friends, and confidants.  I know it’s been longer than I wanted to go without posting an entry.  Things have been crazy lately, trying to transfer my blog over to the new domain and find the right format.  I’ve been reading and learning a lot more about hosting on my own.  I’ve been chatting way too much with tech support, trying to fix errors and issues.  I’ve been fretting over trying not to lose any of my current followers and subscribers, so I hope you all have been moved over properly and get this update.

On a good note, I have also been spending some time planning one more end-of-season adventure.  I’m not going to give too much away at this moment in time, but next weekend, I will be on a river in a National Park with a good friend of mine that I’ve known since high school.

Okay, enough of the excuses, I’m ready to get to the good stuff.  So…Happy Friday everyone!!!  This Friday Night Flashback is going to take us back to August 2009.  Man, that was a while ago.  After seeing these photos of me, I feel so old now.  What was going on in August 2009 you may ask?  Well, my wife and I were celebrating our 3-year wedding anniversary.  This was two years before our first amazing child was born.  Abby was but a mere twinkle in my eye.  My wife and I were still free of many responsibilities.  We hadn’t even purchased our first home yet.  I was a Property Manager at the time, and if I remember correctly, I was just promoted from Assistant Property Manager/Manager-In-Training and handed 3 apartment communities to manage in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  This was an exciting time for me, but stressful as well.

I have always been the kind of guy to keep our vacations a secret and surprise my wife as to where we were going and what we would be doing.  I remember this trip, and how Jackie had tried to get the scoop out of me, even during the drive.  But I wouldn’t budge.  I just advised her as to how long to pack for and what she should bring.  We hopped in the car and hit the road.  I’ve always loved driving north in Michigan.  You can definitely feel a difference when you actually hit “up north” and it just keeps getting better and better the further north you go.  Then, when you cross the Great Mackinac Bridge, it feels like a whole ‘nother country when you arrive in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula).

My wife loves the outdoors and nature, just about as much as I do, and she loves taking photos while I drive, even though a lot of them end up blurry and she snaps away while we drive seventy-plus miles per hour on the freeway.  I find it absolutely adorable, as we view the photos afterward and realize that half, if not more, are too blurry and out of focus to even recognize what we were trying to capture, but some good ones do turn out sometimes.  As I was going through the folder on the external hard drive from this trip, there were a ton of photos taken while driving.

The first stop on our list for the trip was Mackinaw City, just at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula.  I knew how much my wife loved to shop, and with her passion for arts and crafts, the small mom-and-pop shops of Mackinaw City would be perfect.  On our way, we noticed multiple billboards along the freeway advertising Sea Shell City.  Wow!  That sounded absolutely amazing.  I remember how excited we were the closer we got.  Each sign that we came to stating we were getting closer and closer gave us a sense of excitement as to how many beautiful sea shells we would see.  An entire city of them.  Maybe the buildings were constructed using them.  Tiny sea shells.  Giant ones.  Vehicles and furniture made of sea shells.  A beautiful beach just covered in sea shells.  We couldn’t wait.  Then, as we reached the billboard that stated “Sea Shell City – This Exit” we almost couldn’t contain ourselves as to what we were in store for.  We took the exit, and almost immediately, a sign pointed to the right stating “Welcome To Sea Shell City.”  It was pointing to a small parking lot with a small white building with a red roof.  It was a store that sold sea shells.  We couldn’t believe how much hype the owners had created for this with the dramatic and tantalizing billboards.  Even today, whenever we drive up north, we still laugh about Sea Shell City.

After a much shorter stay than we thought at Sea Shell City, we finally arrived in Mackinaw City.  The first thing that we had to do was head to the beach, take off our socks and shoes, and get our feet wet in Lake Huron and feel the sand in between our toes and the cold waters of the Great Lake.  After the long drive, it helped us relax and unwind a bit.  Then, of course, we needed a drink.  So we stopped at the Dixie Saloon to wet our palates.  Jackie loved walking up and down East Central Avenue and checking out the small shops.  We procured some trinkets and souvenirs, and couldn’t help but purchased some real Mackinac Island Fudge.

After a few hours, we packed ourselves back in the car and crossed over Big Mac (nickname for the Mackinac Bridge).  I remember how windy it was, and how tough it was to try and stay in the lane.  You could feel the bridge sway below us as we drove across.  What an amazing feeling it was, almost like we were crossing through the Stargate to another world.  Next stop, Sault Ste Marie, where we would stay for the next few days.

I had made reservations at a quaint motor motel just on the outskirts of downtown Sault Ste Marie, as we aren’t usually the type of people who want to stay at the ritzy, high-end hotels in the downtown areas.  We prefer more peace and quiet, where we can watch from afar, but still enjoy ourselves, doing more things without breaking the bank on the accommodations.  It was perfect for us.  That evening, after unpacking our things, we drove into town for a bite to eat and to check out the renowned Soo Locks.

The rest of the evening would be filled with bowling, bars, and beers, celebrating standing each other for three whole years of marriage.  I remember that I was amazed at how she could still put up with me for that long and am still astounded to this day.

The next morning, I had an amazing day planned for us.  We would have an hour’s drive ahead of us to visit Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise, Michigan.  As we hit the road that morning, the sky was dull and it was raining.  I wasn’t quite sure how the day would pan out, but I was praying for the skies to open up for us.  The rain didn’t stop the entire drive there, but as we pulled into the State Park and up to the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, my prayers had been answered.  The sun quickly began to dry everything up as we enjoyed our brews, before our hike to both the Upper and Lower Falls.

The Upper Falls were absolutely magnificent, watching the Tahquamenon River drop 50 feet.  It was so loud, hearing over 50,000 gallons of water per second rush over the edge of the drop, creating such a thunderous roar.  The sites were mesmerizing, as the water over the falls was brown in color, due to the tannins leached from the cedar swamps which the river drains.  The path that leads to the Upper Falls was lined with American Beech trees, Sugar Maples, Yellow Birch, and Eastern Hemlock.

After quite some time spent enjoying ourselves and the beauty of nature around us, we wanted to check out the Lower Falls as well.  The Lower Falls aren’t quite as grand as the Upper Falls but are made up of five smaller drop-offs.  The photo opportunities were endless, and we both basked in the splendor that Mother Nature presented.  We spent the entire day at the state park, relishing the outdoors and our time together.  It was like a dream come true.

I had one more day planned for us for our third-anniversary trip.  We were to spend the entire day on Mackinac Island.  We left the motel early that morning, with enough time to drive to St. Ignace and catch one of the first ferry trips to the island.  I was elated to see that the weather was still on our side.  The ferry ride was breathtaking, especially as we got closer and closer to the island.  Jackie didn’t know that I had planned to rent a couple of bicycles, as there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.  With the bicycles, we would be able to visit more of the island in a day, including riding all the way up to the highest point, looking out over Lake Huron.

We had such a great time with each other, visiting the historical fort, watching cannons being fired, shows of battle reenactments, biking the wooded trails in the heart of the island, relaxing along the sandy beaches, and the multitude of gorgeous photo ops everywhere.  Mackinac Island, in my eyes, is a must-see for everyone, and one can spend more than a day (if you have the time).  In a place where horses and carriages were never replaced by the automobile, and a historical Revolutionary-era fort still stands, it brings you back to simpler times.  At the end of the day, I was in search of Marty and Doc Brown’s Delorean to take us back to the future.

This was definitely a trip to remember, and many memories for the books.  I’m glad I was able to flashback with you on this trip, and I hope you enjoyed the story as well.  Until next time, adventurers.  Cheers!

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