Personal Note: I still consider this one of the coldest adventures I ever had on Mackinac . . . . and one of the most fun! This was from back in the day when Mission Point Resort played first-run movies in the auditorium on certain evenings during the season.
First Published 10/5/09
Three truths I have learned this summer about women on Mackinac Island:
1) They don’t call each other before ten in the morning.
2) Regardless of age, from the just-walking girl-child to the most silver-haired great-grandmother, they still ride bikes – and a lot of them still ride horses.
3) If they have a “Girls Night Out” planned, they are going OUT – regardless!
Case in point – Friday night a group of 20 ladies were planning on dinner and a movie. Julie & Julia had finally winged its way to Mission Point Resort, and every female on the island wanted to see it. It is a real “chick flick” – men would hate it and not understand it in any way. AND, it’s about a blogger! So it was all set we would meet at 6:15 p.m. at the Yankee Rebel for dinner, then go to the movies at 8 o’clock. We were all so excited.
Friday was a day of the worst weather Ted and I had ever seen in our ten years of coming to the island. It was pouring rain, the winds were howling, and the mercury in the outdoor thermometer was dropping so fast I asked Ted if there was a hole in the bottom of the little glass tube. Chris Ann, who was working at the fort on the island, reported seeing snow flakes at one point during the afternoon.
I called Jill and cautiously said, “So, are we still going to try and go out tonight?”
“Why wouldn’t we?” she asked.
“Oh,” I said cheerily, “No reason.” There was no way this south Georgia girl, who has spent the summer telling all my new Michigan friends how much I want to see snow and spend the winter on Mackinac, was going to say, “I think I’ll sit this one out – it’s a little too chilly for me.”
I called Bonnie, who lives half-way down the hill from us, to see if she wanted to share a taxi into town with me. She did. I made a reservation for a 5:30 taxi, hoping we would make it to the restaurant by 6:15.
Throughout the afternoon, the weather only got worse. One of the ferry lines stopped making the crossings, and the other ferries were providing seasick bags for their passengers. Someone reported there were four freighters anchored between the island and St. Ignace, waiting out the storm before crossing the Straits. We heard a huge tree was down at the Island House on Main Street.
I called Jill once more and said, “Um, are we still planning on going tonight?”
Jill asked, “Why wouldn’t we?”
I started layering at 5 o’clock. First, a long-sleeve cotton T-shirt, then a long-sleeve, zipper-front fleece jacket, then a 3/4 length hooded rain jacket, then gloves, then socks and shoes, then earmuffs. I was ready (I was to find out really fast that I was so not ready).
The taxi arrived at 5:30. Lucky me – I was the first one on. Ron, one of my favorites, was the driver. Ron had water literally dripping off his hat, and if he hadn’t been covered head to foot in very effective rain gear, he would have been soaked. I do NOT have very effective rain gear. His horses were streaming water – they couldn’t care less – they love the rain. I climbed on board and wrapped one of the blankets stored under the seats around me. I was on a taxi one night that stopped at a hotel to pick up some ladies to carry them to town. I had one of the taxi blankets tucked around me, and when one of the women sat down next to me, I said, “I’ll be glad to share the blanket with you.” I began untucking it to allow her to put it over her lap. She kind of sniffed and said, “No thank you. You never know WHAT that blanket may have touched. It may have even been on one of those HORSES!” I just pulled that blanket up to my chin, tucked it in tighter around myself and thought, “Wow, did YOU come to the wrong place on vacation!”
We went through the woods to the West Bluff to pick up Bonnie. When it is raining, the taxi drivers pull down the plastic sides to help protect passengers from the elements. But you still have an open space where you enter and exit the taxi. Friday night the wind was blowing rain straight through those open spaces, and water was flowing in riverlets down both sides of the dirt/gravel road.
We picked up Bonnie and went back around the West Bluff and through the Grand driveway, to pick up a couple who had walked up to the Grand just to see it. They were only on the island for one night, bless their hearts. Even in that weather, the lady was so sweet and said, “I can tell it’s really beautiful – we’ll be back.”
Ron dropped Bonnie and I off at the Yankee Rebel, and we ran inside and joined two more ladies who had arrived early.
When five out of the expected twenty had arrived, I said, “This is probably it, don’t you think?” Those five just looked at me and laughed. In the next five minutes 10 more ladies rushed in the door – five had ridden their bikes! I felt like a total wimp!
We were seated at two window tables where we could look out and watch the wind blow bicycles around on the street and watch taxis trying to keep up with the requests for rides to and from town. As all the women started peeling off layers, I began to realize why no one but me seemed to be too worried about the rain, cold, and wind. Everyone had on at least 5 layers, and some had on 7. These ladies know how to layer.
I ordered the biggest bowl of hot soup they had on the menu, and it was wonderful. The Yankee Rebel has great food, and the best sweet potato fries on the island – also the longest sweet potato fries!
We had to be at the movies at 8 p.m., so we had ordered a taxi for 7:40. We all layered back up again.
Back on the taxi we went – except for the five who were riding their bikes. In addition to the gale force winds and the pouring rain, the temperature was dropping again. All I could think about was the big hot tub of buttered popcorn I was going to get when I got to the movie. I wasn’t hungry – I just wanted to wrap both hands around it!
Boy, was I in for a surprise. We got into the theatre, paid our money, and I headed for the concession stand. Closed. No concession that night. We all went inside and sat down about two minutes before the movie started. It was then it struck me – not only was there no hot popcorn, there was no hot anything! There was no heat on! It was colder in there than it was outside!
I looked at Jill, who was sitting next to me in her seven layers, and said, “How long is this movie?”
Well, we stayed through the whole thing – and I have to tell you it was a really good movie. I watched every second – I know this because my eyelids were frozen open. I was pleased to note that no one took off a single layer – I know this because if they had, I would have stolen it immediately and put it on.
When the movie was over the five of us who were taking a taxi home (some rode bikes, some walked – I kid you not) climbed onto our taxi (Ron again). Bonnie and Molly (our pastor’s wife) stuck me between them and tried their best to keep me warm. I was literally shaking.
I don’t even want to talk about the ride home. I was the first one picked up – I was the last one off the taxi. Bonnie called her husband Don and asked him to put her blanket in the dryer so it would be warm when she got home. I thought, “what a great idea” and whipped out my cellphone and called Ted. No answer.
When I walked in the condo and up the stairs, Ted was in bed, but awake enough to mumble, “Bear wouldn’t go to the bathroom for me, so you need to take “your dog” out.” Thank goodness I hadn’t “unlayered”. I took Bear out, who immediately did his business like the wonderful dog he is, and we came back to the porch. That is when I discovered that I had locked myself out of the house.
I thought seriously about ringing the doorbell, and the only thing that stopped me was knowing that Maddie would start barking like every bad guy in the world was breaking into the house and would probably wake up the entire complex. So, with shaking hands, I punched the code into the lockbox, got out the extra key and opened the door.
I slept in a sweatshirt and sweatpants that night. I felt really bad for Ted because Maddie got sick during the night, and he had to take “his dog” out three times before daybreak.
So, that was our girls’ night out – Mackinac Island style. I had so much fun, and I hope that next year we do it all again. But listen girls, do you think we might could plan next year’s in July?
Note to Santa: Please bring me the following, just in case I ever get to spend a winter on Mackinac Island: An ankle-length raincoat, lined in fleece; fur-lined rubber boots (knee-high); a wool neck scarf long enough to wrap three times around my neck; a knitted hat with earflaps; fur-lined gloves (water-proof); thermal socks rated for the North Pole; and five (5) sets of silk long-johns.