Trip to Michigan; The Drive/Ferry to Alpena
A week ago today, I set out on a 5-day trip to Northern Michigan with three friends (David, Lynn and Joe) and a dog (Indie who I kept incorrectly calling Sadie) in a 22-foot RV. Our first destination as we left Dubuque around 6:45 p.m. was Manitowoc, WI to board an overnight ferry and cross Lake Michigan.
We had a perfect set up: fully-stocked cooler, two comfortable benches/couches and a bathroom which was - as stated by the van's owner (Joe) - only to be used for #1.
The drive to Manitowoc, WI went by really quick; certainly because the cooler was becoming, well, less fully-stocked. Once we arrived at our destination around 10:45 p.m., we headed straight for a bar near the port called Capone's.
Capone's was exactly what we were looking for: plenty of available seating, some friendly locals, Christmas lights hanging year-around and a Touch Tunes player no one but us wanted to touch. To make it even better, they had tasty pizza.
We were at Capone's until shortly before midnight, when we drove two blocks to the ferry. We had all planned to bring a flask/bottle of our favorite "flavor" on-board to make the adventure across Lake Michigan as short and entertaining as possible.
I didn't have a flask. I had a full bottle of Southern Comfort (not because I needed a litre of alcohol, but because I didn't have a flask) positioned between my pillows (yes, I travel with my pillows...plural).
I wasn't certain that alcohol wasn't allowed, but I also wasn't going to advertise the fact that I was bringing a bottle of alcohol onto a vessel. When we got to a security check and a guy started rummaging through our bags, I knew I was going to be parting with my bottle.
They were cool about it, everyone's bottle/flask was returned to the RV and we boarded the ferry. We immediately found out (because I asked) that there was a bar serving beer until 2 a.m. Guess where we stopped first? We bought a few cans of beer (enough to raise an eyebrow or two from nearby ferry-goers) for the 4+ hour ride across the Great Lake.
We spent an hour walking around the ship as Lynn had never been on a boat this size and then retreated to the staterooms we splurged for because we knew that an hour or two of sleep was well-worth $25 extra per person.
At 5:30 a.m. (we lost an hour crossing into Michigan), we got up, collected our things, wished we had Asprin and boarded the RV to head to Traverse City, MI.
Traverse City is about an hour out of the way, but David - who's from Michigan (we're going to his parent's house) - wants to take us to Cherry Fest.
Cherry Fest is like the diet or light version of a State Fair; there are rides, vendors, C-list musical acts and...cherries! I didn't know Michigan was a big cherry producer, but you learn something new....anyway.
My buddy David is a smart guy, maybe the smartest friend I have. So I was surprised when we arrived in Traverse City only to find it didn't start until two days later. The trip to Traverse wasn't wasted - I got to see a really cool, ritzy city and enjoy a bloody Mary and breakfast at the Park Place Hotel.
After we had breakfast and went on a walk near the Lake, I had to visit the closest restroom which, lucky me, happened to be a set of porta potties; the potties were set up for Cherry Fest which, as mentioned, hadn't started yet.
I THOUGHT we (Joe was in the another porta potty next to me) were using these before anyone else, so I didn't bother to take account of my immediate surroundings in the potty.
After using the potty, I walked back outside only to notice a very cold sensation on the back of my leg and asked Joe to confirm if there was in fact a wet stain on my shorts. He confirmed and I felt like Ace Ventura when he found out Finkle was also Einhorn.
I will never know what the unknown substance that covered the back portion of my shorts was, but I'll think happy thoughts and tell myself it was a cleaning product.
We headed back to the RV and headed for Alpena, MI.