While I have a couple of hours respite and sister spends the day and afternoon with Mom, I thought I’d quickly throw together—ladies and gentlemen, I do mean in reckless haste—many of our best images with a sampling of cell-phone videos I managed during our Family Getaway this past June to Mackinac Island, Michigan. A teaser, if you will.
As you read on, please play this musical accompaniment to better set-the-ambiance of this magnificent island stuck in a most charming bygone time…
Why did I wait six-months to share these pictures and videos? It wasn’t intentional, I assure you. There are some days and nights on Mackinac which in my amateur production expertise (which is none) deserve a brief backstory and context. Along with my perfectionistic cinematic ideas, I have wanted to make this feature presentation as delightful, humorous, eye-popping, and as memorable, for Mom especially, as was possible and even accompanied by Victorian-Edwardian time-period music in the background. It deserves in my mind nothing less. Furthermore, since my high school days I have dreamt onto my Bucket List a trip to the Grand Hotel ever since one of my favorite 1980 romantic films, Somewhere In Time was released. I am and always have been a huge sucker for time-travel stories!
Obviously, six-months later this dramatic award-winning aspiration has proven more problematic for me than I first thought. I imagined I’d have significantly more free-time upon our return to create this Oscar- and Emmy-nominated short motion picture. It hasn’t happened. Grrrrrr, Murphy’s Law-firm: 6, Dwain: fat donut-hole. 😒
Without further ado, here is a quick Teaser of what I hope will arrive here sooner rather than much later…
Day 1 — on the grand veranda at The Grand Hotel after finally checking-in about 3:00am in the morning due to my brain-fart at the Detroit Metropolitan International Airport. More on that in the final production.
Day 3a — exploring the island after relocating to our second accommodations at Harbor View Inn. Our two nights at the Grand Hotel when all said and done ran a measly $1,799.82. Harbor View Inn was a welcomed relief on the pocket-book, hah!
Day 3b — horse-carriage ride into town to Main Street to grab a visitors map, then Astor St. for lunch at the Yankee Rebel Tavern. I had a remarkably good Summer Orchard Salad with Bell’s Amber Ale on draft, a combination I couldn’t get enough of over our stay, followed by a walk on Market St.’s shops and parlors.
More themed music for your reading, listening enjoyment…
Day 5 — the family splits up! What? Say it isn’t so Nellie! I want to visit the military fort and museum, Fort Mackinac, and for some unfathomable reason, the ladies had no desire whatsoever to steeply climb the walkway up to the harbor-side gate, watch a celebratory 6-pounder cannon fire over the town, and witness a 19th-century soldier reenactment firing his M1873 .45-70 Springfield rifle. Seriously? What could possibly be more fun than hearing a barrage of Springfield rifles firing in unison? Here is what they did, pffft…
Here’s what I did, furthering my vast historical, military, and cultural knowledge of northern Michigan and the old U.S. frontier:
I promised a few of you birding, butterfly, and insect enthusiasts a video of Mackinac Island’s Butterfly House & Insect World and I am delivering! Now, granted I am not a professional videographer, not even with my own Motorola moto e5 Go. In fact, I was sternly criticized by a dear female friend for two production-and-editing screwups: 1) what’s my malfunction with recording horses-asses all the time, and 2) “hold the damn phone sideways Steven Spielberg wannabe!” Case and point:
I will have to stop here. I know, I know… many of you are crushed by this. My sincere apologies, but I have run out of free-time. Sister has returned with Mom and she must dart off to her mandatory house-meeting before the Xmas weekend and holidays officially start tomorrow. Until next time when I finagle a bit of solo time, I will endeavor to work hard on the entire final, award-winning feature with full Victorian-Edwardian music accompaniment. It should be something Mom will cherish—at least that’s my hope.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Today’s blog-post is going to be slightly out of blogging character for me. Well, in the sense that I don’t often unveil amorous secrets behind the curtains of the Professor’s heart, today I am sharing a portion of my private, romantic, sentimental side. WARNING! For any Alpha-hyped He-Man reading this, if you have aversions to being swept away in passion and raptured in the moment, then look away! Read no further! This will not be your pitcher or keg of beer. Sorry mate. No bowed-up pectorals or brawling here.
It may or may not come as a surprise to some of you who follow my blog that I am a sucker for serendipitous enchantment on matters of the heart. If this beguiling moment includes windows of history, windows I’ve been enamored by since I was a boy, then just count to three and ring the bell because I am out, done, a goner. I will be so lost you’d think I was hypnotized or lobotomized. Add aspects of time-travel in the story and like Richard Collier, I will never return. Yes, with hands in the air I confess; my propensity for moments when time stands still is my kryptonite.
Who is Richard Collier you ask?
Funny you are wondering. Elise asked the same question, sort of, and she could barely take a breath waiting for the answer. But I will come back to this moment in time a bit later, hah, apropos teaser intended. What I want to first spill is how our long-awaited family trip unexpectedly came about.
For over two years Mom has been itching to travel somewhere. For several years she has yearned to see Australia and her Great Barrier Reef. This has been a long-time dream of hers and her closest sister, her now late sister, unfortunately. Recently though if it was with her domestic partner, or a close friend, or with me and my sister, it didn’t matter. She’s wanted to go before it’s too late, at her advancing age, and medical issues make it impractical. The last three years she has been reminding us how thrilled she’d be to go and experience another part of the world, somewhere, anywhere she hadn’t experienced.
Lately we’ve been pummeled, so to speak, with her getaway-gestures every month, if not every week. The getaway bug-n-itch had had a grip on Mom for some time. I’d say it no longer itched, it turned into a damn rash! Her pleading was unrelenting sometimes! Yep, Mom’s former years as an Eastern Airlines flight attendant (above image) had been reenergized with a vengeance! Mom was once an Eastern Airlines Flight-attendant in 1958–1962, based out of LGA, JFK, and EWR, New York and New Jersey respectively. She wanted to fly a lot longer, but a special surprise from her then boyfriend (my father) stopped those plans after their very “romantic weekend” in San Antonio, TX in the former Robert E. Lee Hotel downtown. But I am rambling and digressing; apologies. Back to our story.
For years we had been tossing around destinations, but never made a final decision. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic along with the predictable outcomes and repercussions the last two-plus years. Pfft, no more elaboration needed on that world catastrophe.
Moving on. Fast-forward now to February 2021, but skipping over our two hellacious winter storms that came within a few hours of wiping out Texas’ entire electrical grid for a long, long, very long time.
With mass production of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc, vaccines finally rolling out once competent federal leadership in D.C. took office January 20th, followed by mass distribution scaled much higher and wider than the previous Administration ever cared to do, getting the vaccines into cold-storage, out to sites, and proper staff to stick Americans twice, our family getaway was back on and indeed probable. Hold your horses cowboys and cowgirls! Now comes a number of new stumbling blocks. I had the honor and privilege to temper Mom’s jet-setting excitement, if that was even possible.
I explained to her and sister that if we were going to make this dream-trip happen and safely, our first major hurdle was going to be full vaccinations for all three of us, in a timely immediate manner at that. Easy? No, not really. In fact, I thought I might have to persuade Mom to postpone our excursion for another year—ugh, after having just done that in 2020 due to the pandemic. Moreover, I knew how formidable it was going to be to motivate my sister to get fully vaccinated soon. I would have to hound her even more than I was already doing! Mom and I have received both our shots, my sister received her second shot this past week. Done! First couple of hurdles behind us.
Skipping back a month, when the three of us were able to finally coincide our three different schedules/calendars and meet for a weekend in mid-April 2021, we toss about places such as the Grand Canyon National Park, Glacier National Park, Sequoia National Park, Gatlinburg, Colorado Springs, Nags Head North Carolina, Portland in Oregon, The Finger Lakes in Upstate New York, and Augusta, Maine. Then I threw into the pile of possible destinations, one of my personal wishes: Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. To my dismay my sister and Mom became very intrigued. Mom was immediately sold on the Lilac Festival and the Butterfly House & Insect World, and my sister to the fact that it was an island completely unlike a hectic 21st-century tourist bee-hive rat-race with way too many rude people scurrying by you and over you. After all, she did suffer from panic-anxiety attacks easily triggered by too much perceived chaos. My sister is also an artist and art fan. She still paints when time allows. Mackinac Island has a sizable artsy twist as well, with art shops and an art museum. It seemed I had hit a homerun with my longstanding longshot, teenage dream destination! They had all sorts of questions. They wondered too how I even knew about this island lost in a bygone era. Answering their curiosity, I return to the beginning of this blog-post.
I admitted to them that I have always had a weakness for serendipitous romance, history, the Victorian-Edwardian Eras, and a very soft spot for time-travel stories, books, and films. Re-enter Richard Collier and Elise McKenna:
“Is it you?” Woah, I get goose-bumps every time I watch that scene because of what Richard Collier went through to get there with Elise. This 1980 cult-classic “Somewhere In Time” was filmed on Mackinac Island, Michigan because the Grand Hotel and island’s Tourism Bureau vowed to freeze time and banned all modern, polluting, combustible-engine vehicles as well as other “modern” developed fossil-burning machines in order to preserve its uniquely vintage history—its Victorian-Edwardian Age on Lake Huron. There is no other island like it within the United States proper. The island is seemingly and delightfully stuck in time. Needless to say, I was and I am beyond myself, ecstatic to be traveling there with Mom and sister in just a few weeks.
If any of you are unfamiliar with the timelessness of Mackinac Island, MI, then I give you a quick photo-montage (below) followed by a link to the island’s Bureau of Tourism. I hope you too can see why I have always held a special place in my heart for this island… lost Somewhere In A Time not so long ago when finer things in life were patiently appreciated, savored, sought, enamoring, and embraced. I start with images from the movie with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve at the Grand Hotel. Following those images are current photos of the small Victorian-Edwardian town, popular sites like the Butterfly House & Insect World—the place where Mom and sister will spend many hours—tea houses out on grand patios, Al fresco dining spots, Fort Mackinac where I plan to visit, and one location Mom and I plan to lounge many times: the Grand Audubon Wine Bar.
Should you be interested in more details and information about this incredible island, visit the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. There you can also view online their 72-page guidebook which introduces you to the island’s historic splendor.
We will return home after eight nights and nine days there. Travel will take two half-days. I do hope to bring back with me many photos of our getaway on Mackinac Island. This might be my last blog-post until then, after we return to Austin, TX, then I back up to Dallas. In the meantime, the anticipation is mounting, ugh, as if time is slowing down. Imagine what time will be when we are there!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always
Thursday, Nov. 12th, Qin and I took a much needed morning and afternoon to stroll lazily through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. We did strictly observe, of course, all necessary COVID-19 protocols for health and safety, not just for ourselves, but for all other park guests as well. It was tricky sometimes to keep 6-8 feet away on a few narrow bridges and pathways, but we did the best we could. Yes, there were a couple of occasions where other park guests were oblivious to how exactly 6-feet measures out—they seemed to ridiculously think it was 2-3 feet—and two park workers who thought it was 1-2 feet and supposedly no mask was required for one grounds-keeper. Hence, due to continued negligence by others our visit was not entirely tranquil nor altogether safe.
If the park wants to stay open for reasons of profit and revenues, then its authorities really must employ a regiment of security-like roaming guards monitoring guests’ compliance to safety measures. I am also quiet sure the 66-acre park (0.267 sq. km) allowed too many paying guests inside. This was hugely disappointing and shocking. I guess it doesn’t matter because over 73.6 million Americans voted Nov. 3rd for an incumbent of sheer ignorance, sheer denial, and subhuman wanting more and more needless deaths. But enough talk about our out-of-control pandemic and suffering; unimportant right? 😟 Let’s move on to the beauty and splendor of our planet and these botanical gardens shall we.
Qin and I brought along a cooler of Fuji apple slices and fresh-cut pineapple wedges for a noonday snack. Qin toted her thermos of freshly boiled (sterilized) water—a lifelong habit she formed when growing up and living in China. Not that she needs to do it in Dallas, but it’s a habit of comfort for her. I don’t mind. I find it exceedingly safe and charming. 😋
When we reached our designated parking lot and Gate-number, showed our prearranged, electronic time-slot admission receipt, we began the morning stroll and tour of this award-winning Arboretum. It would be a 4-hour respite from 12-days of self-appointed “Stay Home” orders, not to mention for the sake of our mental well-being on top of 10-months plus COVID-19 fatigue. We began at the organic restaurant A Tasteful Place, The Edible Verdant and Scenic Overlook (see below).
As we wound our way out and to the three nearby large lawns and beds of the Jonsson Color Gardens, a challenge was made. We both agreed to have a photo competition: Who could capture on our phones the best images and videos of our Arboretum Day. We wanted you readers to vote on the five images you like most. But before I get to those photos, I created a 6-minute video highlight of our day:
Making our way to the second lawn and bed Qin takes a cozy sit next to William Shakespeare on his bronze writing bench, “你好，威利。” (Nǐ hǎo, wēi lì. or Hello Willy). With a stiff grin and the usual iambic pentameter Willy answers:
That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
William Shakespeare – Sonnet 73
Ladies and Gents, time for the contest and collection of images we captured. Now here’s the rub. We have a total of 29 images. Obviously, I could not put each photo into the post-content; your loading time for the page probably would’ve lasted a snail’s pace 5-7 minutes depending on your connection, right? I did not want to torture you all. 😉 If I had tortured you that way, then you could’ve just clicked on a “Thumbs up” button “👍” on each photo to vote on your favorite fiveimages. That would’ve been most convenient for voting, I know. But I had to make a choice: A)torture all of you with a slow page-loading time, or B)fast page-load, jot down your favorite five photos, and put them in your comment at the bottom. I went with the latter. I hope you agree with my decision.
Therefore, as you are going through the images below, at the bottom-left is the photo number, e.g. #1, #9, and so on. Make a note of the number, collect your FIVE (5) favorites, and leave a comment at the bottom with your selections. After a few weeks, with your help, we’ll see who wins the photo challenge, Qin or me, the Professor. At that time I’ll post and reply to all you wonderful participants as to who won the Fall Day at the Arboretum Contest. Good? Good. Thank you for your understanding! Now, off you go with your votes please!
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Wear A Mask!
As a boy in primary school I was always fascinated and attracted to rhythms, beating tempos, and the various mixtures of independent rhythms into a harmonious grand production. To me there was endless possibilities of creating ensembles from endless particulars. Take this one unique rhythm, join it with another, then another, and so on until they all become a masterpiece. And so for the following years of my youth I wanted to be a drummer, a Maestro of metre, a Captain of cadence and Lord of the Skins. Doing just that was like a drug to me. Doing it with other drummers was the ultimate high. I miss it. I miss it terribly, especially the comradery and connecting syncopated souls. Today, that longing has another meaning.
During this time leading up to what is surely going to be a monumental, make-or-break election that determines whether the USA collapses in on itself in more strife and division, or it makes a turn for healing, for recovery—recovery across ALL sections of our society, economy, and government. In that spirit I want to offer a great example of sublime, supreme teamwork, incredible commitment to perfecting their art and discipline to THE WHOLE and to each other. It’s not just to self, or one or two sectors or class of people, but it’s to clear syncopation and united, of being on the same exact tempo, and thus performing as one with many. “E pluribus unum.” With many hardworking, unique parts contributing to a final product of sheer beauty, awe, exquisite precision, and collaboration by every single member.
I give you Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Corps of Drums and the Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps performing not opposed, but together as one. Something our U.S. government, White House and officials should learn and behave accordingly for ALLAmericans. Crank up your volume if you feel so inclined and send a signal you want beaten in to some thick skulls on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. 😉
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Come Together/Vote
It has been a hard, long road of COVID-19 social-distancing, or as I sometimes call it: healthy anti-socializing. Leave public health and safety up to the masses, the general public and things WILL breakdown. It will crumble. Many things breakdown when a free democratic society is forced to behave, conform, and be smart for the greater good.
#1 — Complicated phone conversations — Try having a conversation with your significant other on your phone about 4-5 specific items on your shopping list, in a noisy supermarket, through your N95 mask. Broke.
#2 — Have said broken phone convo while in the middle of the 5-ft wide Female Bodycare aisle trapped by a couple on one end waiting on you to move… and a store clerk unpacking boxes at the other end! Mexican standoff. Headed to broke.
#3 — When I finally got out the door of the very busy supermarket I was super primed for solo alone time! Not good! That’s broke. We are meant to be with others. We are a gregarious primate creature! Needed prescription?
#4 — Go on a thrilling, circular, looping (loopy?) ride like NASCAR does jamming to your best aggressive, break-something, get-it-all-out, squirm-n-bounce dancing Playlist with all eight speakers bangin’ serious decibel levels so that no one will notice you! Que some of my kick-ass, COVID-apropos, sing-along tunes. Click Playthen sing and jam with me…
After about 1-hour of driving around outer Dallas, singing my vocal-chords out, unable to hear with my broken eardrums the broken world outside, I did feel much better, almost euphoric. It was invigorating! Why? Because this/me could be a lot worse. I mean, I still have rhythm, I can snap my fingers, beat the steering-wheel, I can feel my toes, my fingers, and some of the 2-3 silver hairs I have left on my head and neck, and my ticker and ticker-manager organs still function fairly normal.
At least I don’t have a broken cup and crazy disobedient balls that won’t stay put in this pandemic! STOP IT! Get your minds out of the gutter already! How many balls do you have in your cup? Lost any? How many marbles do you have left in your brain?
See, things aren’t so bad. To the best of my knowledge at least I haven’t started losing all my balls/marbles… poor kid.
Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Lose Some Balls