Thoughts on a Ferry 8/26/2012

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.

Since earlier choosing the wrong ferry, my whole day had seemed a little off-kilter, and as the boat pulled away from the dock . . .

. . . I closed the book and decided to people-watch instead..

As I looked around, I began to remember the excitement I felt boarding the ferry in our earlier years.

I didn’t care one whit then if I looked like a tourist – camera hanging from my neck, sitting at the front of the boat, oohing and ahhing over freighters and lighthouses and the bridge.

I remembered the joy of the trip – riding with the front hatch open – the wind and crispness of the pure Michigan air promising us an awesome time on Mackinac . . .

. . . and I remembered shaking my head in dismay when the door was closed because someone complained about a little “spray” coming in.

I remembered making up stories about the other folks on the ferry. Maybe this couple was on their honeymoon – or maybe it was their first vacation since the children came along, and now the kids were old enough to spend a few days at Grandma’s and Granddaddy’s house.  Or . . . . maybe he was taking her to the Island to propose!

I remembered especially loving to watch the older folks. Could this couple be celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary at the Grand? Had they stayed on the Island on their honeymoon? Or . . . were they arriving for a grandchild’s wedding on the Island?

And I remember thinking back then, as we’d curve around the Passage Light – so closely it seemed we could touch it –  “Don’t let our days here go by too fast!”

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.


22 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Ferry 8/26/2012

  1. The first thing I did today after getting off the ferry was to inhale the smell of the island! YES…. just as I remembered…love every minute of it. Oh and yes, sat in the last seat on the top deck in the back 😉

  2. What a great story Bree. When I arrive at the ferry dock headed to the Island I am just so excited I only hope I remember to close all the car doors & trunk lid and lock up before dashing off to buy that ticket. And when leaving the Island ;( I look at the people getting off the ferry and think, wow, their trip is just Starting. But I leave with great memories and pictures of another Wonderful trip to this special, magical Island!

  3. No matter how many times I come to the Island, that’s how I feel on the ferry. On another note, are you wearing Easy Spirit Travelers? I swear I have that same shoe shown in your picture. I love those shoes!

    • LOL – yes, Andrea – Easy Spirit Travelers! I’ve tried all the “trendy, expensive” brands and always come back to these. Have them in several colors!

      • I love them! I only have a beige pair and a black pair for the office, but I’m going to get more whenever I see them on sale. I feel like I’m wearing slippers all day. 🙂

  4. Great post today. We (myself, wife, daughter-9 and son -11) make our annual trip in Aug., and we all have those exact same feelings when we get off the boat. It’s like the pressure of the world is lifted off our shoulders for the next 5 days. It does go by so fast when we are there, but I know my children will cherish these memories as they grow up!

  5. I love listening to the kids while on the ferry. My favorite was a comment from a little girl about 4, she told her dad she was on the ‘angel boat’. He said “What?” She said, “Mom said it was a fairy boat and angels are kind of like fairies so I’m calling it the angel boat!” I smiled all weekend!

  6. Thank you for reminding us of the Magic. Also, when leaving the island I say a prayer that God will not let too much time pass before we will return to the island. Thank you for the photos of the look out point at the back of the library you posted the other day. It is one of my favorite spots on the island. I am dealing with some issues that prevent us from coming to the island this
    Summer. Those photos were just the pick-me-up I needed.

  7. Next time, when you’re going to the Mainland….Take ME ….maybe I would have “taken BETTER care of you”!!!! LOL

  8. Did you having that feeling of panic when you realized you were on the wrong ferry? Cute story though and I think anyone with that true love for the Island knows exactly “that feeling” you get when on the ferry approaching the island and also the feeling when you leave.

  9. I have the same excitement too every time I come. Now it’s about every three years and next year is already on the calendar. The last four times we’ve added a new family member to introduce to the Island. Next year it will be our youngest grandchild, Isabel. She has already been fully indoctrinated.

  10. What a great blog today. Could easily see how getting.on the wrong ferry could happen. You had never driven across the bridge? Hard to believe. Have you.walked across it at Labor Day? Slightly nervewracking. Feels like I’m riding the ferry…how fun.

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