Header Photo Credit: Steve Fridley, from a trip his family made to the Island in June, 2012.
Riding ferries back and forth to Mackinac Island has become such an engrained part of our lives that we consider it just as normal as main-landers opening their car doors each day and setting off to whatever event/store they have in mind.
Because 99% of my ferry rides take me to Mackinaw City to pick up the truck, I boarded the Mac City ferry Friday morning – chatting to Jill a hundred miles an hour (and vice versa) – waved “bye” to her through the window, and took my seat about three rows up from the back (if you want to blend in with islanders and not appear to be a “fudgie”, ride in the back of the ferry). I opened my book (Unsaid by Neil Abramson) and settled back to spend 15 minutes of bliss – reading with no interruptions.
About half-way across, I glanced up and noticed something strange. The Mackinac Bridge wasn’t where it should be at that point in the ride. Instead of being on my left, it was on my right. And that’s when I realized I was on the wrong ferry. I’d been heading to St. Ignace for a hair appointment, but in my usual “zone”, I’d marched onto the Mac City ferry, and the bad thing was Jill had LET me do it – knowing full well I was going to St. Iggy! I immediately called her and said, “You have GOT to start taking better care of me!”
Pat, who works for Shepler, sat down with me just as I was disconnecting with Jill, and I told him “what an idiot” I am. He got a good laugh out of it and said, “Just get off in Mac City, get back on the next ferry to the Island, then get on the right ferry to St. Ignace.” Just like a man. Didn’t he know that hair appointments were at a premium and I’d waited two weeks just to get on Pam’s appointment book!?
“No, no – that won’t work!” I said. I asked Pat to call and get the truck brought to the dock for me, which he did.
I was a little nervous because I’d never driven across the Mackinac Bridge before – but all went well, and I arrived for my hair appointment only 15 minutes late – with a good story to tell the salon ladies.
Two hours later – less gray and with 1/2″ of splint ends trimmed off – I crossed the bridge again, just in time to catch Shepler’s 3 p.m. ferry back to the Island. Once again I chose the rear of the boat and opened my book.
As I looked around, I began to remember the excitement I felt boarding the ferry in our earlier years.
While the ferry docked, I gathered my book, my bag of hair products, and my backpack. As I eased out into the aisle and joined the happy fudgies setting foot on the Island for the first time, I looked around and tried to see the fort on the hill, the horses, and the busy downtown area as I did when we arrived that first time in July, 2000. I remembered exactly how I’d felt.
And as I entered Main Street and turned toward home, I thought, “Don’t ever let me forget the magic of this place.”
I smiled all the way up the hill.