A few years ago, there were regular tv commercials about “Pure Michigan”, encouraging everyone to visit this state on vacation. I always wondered….what’s the big deal about Michigan?? Why would I ever want to go there on vacation? Well, now I know why. It is spectacular, especially during this time of the year. The weather, the water, the landscape, the beautiful towns and villages, the family friendly parks, the hiking & biking trailways, and most importantly, the friendly people are making our time in Michigan one of the highlights of our trip.

Stel and I cruised across the US border into Michigan and checked into customs on Drummond Island. Knowing the requirements for re-entry, we had dumped our fruit, vegetables and plants before checking in. Customs came onto the boat, looked at our passports, asked a few questions and welcomed us back into the States with a smile. They didn’t even peek into the refrigerator! I was suddenly hungry for an apple or orange, as I pictured fruit needlessly floating around somewhere in Canadian waters. We spent a few nights on Drummond where we enjoyed great bike riding and even went bowling with friends one night. Our excitement grew as we cast off for Mackinac Island, a historic horse and carriage kind of place that we had been looking forward to visiting ever since we left Charleston. We had not planned to be there on our 37th anniversary, but as it turned out, we were able to enjoy a very special place during a very special occasion. We have been blessed with an incredible marriage and our anniversary has always been a time for us to celebrate! Mackinac Island provided a perfect backdrop for a fun day and a romantic evening.

We anchored in picturesque Harbor Springs where our friends Meg and Jim from Sanctuary had just “crossed their wake”! (completed their loop). In spite of their busy “re-entry” time, they graciously invited the group of loopers there for dinner at their cottage. We enjoyed 3 nights at our beautiful anchorage there, enjoying the local shopping, farmers market and bike riding. Petoskey was our next port, where I needed to leave Stel on the boat for a while and fly back to Charleston to take care of some business. It was tough to leave her, but Petoskey is a very friendly and convenient town where many other loopers had stopped for sightseeing and provisioning. Stel was in good company while I was away for 5 days. All went well for me in Charleston but looked forward to getting back to the boat. My son Sam dropped me of at the airport and from that point, the joy of air travel deteriorated dramatically. As I was going through security, TSA discovered five 38 caliber bullets in the briefcase that I brought back from home. Not good! I guess I had carried a side arm and ammo in the briefcase in the past and just forgot to remove the ammo. Needless to say, they took it very seriously and pulled me aside for an interesting body search and line of questioning. I am not sure what I was concerned about the most, the possibility of being cuffed and carted off or missing my flight back to Stel. I was finally released, barely boarding on time and was then asked to deplane because of thunderstorms. That was a first! After 2 hours of waiting, we eventually flew through numerous thunderstorms before we landed in a gridlocked Atlanta airport. During my next six hours in the airport, I had never seen such a distressed mass of humanity. With thunderstorms everywhere, nobody was going anywhere. The only happy people in that airport were the owners of the restaurants and bars. As I am writing this, I am still sitting in an Atlanta hotel, waiting for a flight to take me back to “Pure Michigan”.

In the meantime, Stel discovered what a small world we live in. As she was doing some last minute shopping in Petoskey, she was unbelievably surprised to run into Dale and Faith Hostetler, some good friends from Johns Island. What are the chances of that happening? After settling down from sheer amazement, Dale offered to drive Stel to the airport, an hour and a half away, to bring me back to the boat. When it became obvious that I would not be flying back that night, Stel invited them to spend the night on the boat. They agreed and had a great time together. As a side note, Dale built the teak countertop, name boards and front refrigerator panels for the boat before departing Charleston. Dale and Faith, I’m sorry that I missed your visit, but thank you for taking good care of my wife during your stay! You are truly great friends!!