Friday, June 23, 2006

What I Saw in Mackinaw

Photo of the Day: My girls, Amanda on the left and Bonnie on the right, in something of an extreme closeup. We've had an awful lot of fun up here in Mackinaw City the past four days. We rode on a ferry, rode on a horse, rode in a carriage, and walked until our legs were sore. Personally, I'm still recovering from that stupid horse.

I tried to upload some vacation photos to my website, but the Internet connections here are just not cooperating long enough to do anything. Watch for them to be there by Sunday evening.

Today we toured the Mackinaw Point Lighthouse, climbing 51 spiral stairs through four floors and 11 rungs on a ladder to reach the tower top. The lighthouse ran from 1892 until 1957 when Mackinac Bridge opened. The Bridge has flashing lights at the top of its towers, which rise 552 feet into the air, making the lighthouse obsolete. The Bridge also has its own foghorn. Five men were killed in its construction, though we were told the builders expected to lose a baker's dozen. It was built for $99 million and in three years, coming in under budget and on time. It is the country's longest suspension bridge. There will be a picture of it on my website by Monday.

Then we hiked over to Fort Michilimackinac, which was built by the French and occupied by the British until 1779, when they moved the whole thing over to Mackinac Island and a better defensive position. The fort was carefully reconstructed and today is the site of the longest ongoing archeological dig in Michigan. A dig that began in 1955 we took pictures of today.

Tomorrow we start for home, much to the chagrin of everyone. I only hope our builder finished the bathroom remodel....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Of Forts, Fudge, and Ferries

Photo of the Day: That's me and Midge. Midge is the horse. Midge had a mind of her own. I'm wondering what I'm getting myself into. We went horseback riding on Mackinac Island at the insistence of my daughter. Next time I'm renting a bicycle.

We spent Wednesday on the island, enjoying a carriage tour and Fort Mackinac and the ferry ride over from the mainland, and we've even had a little bit of fudge. There are at least four fudgiers (is that a word?) who claim to have the state's best fudge. Fact is, you mix that much sugar with that much chocolate and it's hard to tell the difference.

I put a whole bunch of other vacation pictures up at my website. Have a look if you'd like.

There are only four vehicles with large combustion engines on Mackinac Island: one ambulance, one police car, and two fire trucks. Everyone else gets around by horse or bicycle. During the winter, it's either a horse or a snowmobile.

And we found the reason Mackinaw/Mackinac are pronounced the same. The Ojibwa Indians called the area "mishilimakinak" ... which means either "great turtle" or "many turtles" depending on your interpetration. The island was given the name Mackinac by the French fur traders and when the English settled the city in the 1880's, they gave it the more phonetic pronunciation for a name.

We spent Thursday in the city proper, having a good look around, playing some miniature golf (Bonnie won), and then we slipped across the big bridge into the Upper Peninsula and journeyed over to "Mystery Spot" in St. Ignace, which was founded as a tourist attraction in 1955. It's claim to fame is that gravity seems to work backward in this little 150 square feet tract of land. My wife claimed she grew lightheaded upon entering the "spot" so maybe there's something to it.

Tomorrow we're off for a tour of a lighthouse and the colonial land-bound fort here in the city, before taking in a Beatles look-alike show in the evening. Should be fun.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mackinaw City

My mother's condition has stabilized, allowing us to go ahead and take our family vacation, as originally planned.

So here we are in Mackinaw City and today we're bound for Mackinac Island. Can anyone tell me why those two are spelled differently, but pronounced the same?

So far the word we've coined most often is a concoction of my daughter's: "purtiful." It's a combination of pretty and beautiful. The scenery in northern Michigan is certainly purtiful.

I'll try to post a "Picture of the Day" later this evening. My Internet connection here at the hotel seems to be a bit dodgy, but I'm more determined than it is.

Monday, June 19, 2006

In A Heartbeat

This is my Step-Mom. Hazel Esther Raymond. It's a pretty good picture, isn't it? My nephew and amateur photographer, Chad, snapped it recently. Just by looking at the photo, you'd never believe that she'll be 87 years old this November, would you? She's a petite woman, coming in at just under five feet and just over 100 pounds.

I wish I could show you the picture I took two days ago in the hospital. It paints a gruesome portrait of a woman suffering dearly from an automobile accident that may end up claiming her life.

My dad and mom were driving west on a Michigan highway in an Olds Silhouette minivan, with the cruise control set to 55 m.p.h., when a car driven by a 17-year old (carrying three other teenagers) attempted to cross the highway directly in their path. My dad barely had time to tap the brakes when they hit. The passenger side of the other vehicle was driven nearly to the center of the car and into the ditch. Inside the van, the impact was so sudden and hard that the seatbelt broke my mother's sternum as the airbag deployed and smacked her in the face (saving her life in the process). Both her hands smashed against the dashboard and when the van spun a complete 180 degrees, Mom was thrown against the arm rest, breaking a rib.

During the same time, my father was thrown into his airbag, bruising his nose, and his head was thrown back so violently he fractured the C-2 vertebrae in his neck, as well as bruising both legs against the steering column and dash. Being a larger man, the seat belt merely bruised his torso rather than breaking anything. Again, despite any damage caused by the airbags, they are both alive to tell you this story because of them.

Well, Dad could tell you. Mom is still lying in the neurological ICU as I write this, an oxygen tube in her nose and a fluid tube down her throat. Her arms are black and blue from the elbow all the way down into the palms. She cannot talk. She suffered a mild heart attack late Sunday night, but because she was in the Intensive Care Unit, they were able to administer aid quickly and now she's in stable condition. Pneumonia and/or congestive heart failure remain very real possibilities. Her life hangs in the balance.

We may never know or understand why the other driver felt it was safe to cross that intersection. Was the sun in his eyes? Did someone or something distract him? Did he think he had time to cross? Was he more concerned about impressing the three girls in his car than he was about driving safely? All we know is that of the four people in the car, the front passenger broke her leg severely but everyone else walked away with bumps, bruises, and lacerations ... despite the fact they were trapped so badly in the mangled automobile that paramedics had to cut the roof off the car to get everyone out.

In a heartbeat, my parents lives have changed. Perhaps irrevocably. The only "blessing" that can currently be found in this situation is the outpouring of love from all those who have been touched by my mother and father's ministry in life and are lining up to offer their help, support, and encouragement. It has also brought my stepsisters and I closer together. And I got to spend most of last week with my Dad, helping him adjust to life in a cervical collar. We haven't spent that kind of quality time together in, literally, decades. It's an honest shame it takes such a tragic event to trigger these "blessings."

In the end, only God knows and time will tell what roads this story will take.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Just a few scattered thoughts today. The picture is from my wife, taken this morning as Tregilgas Tree Service went to work, owned by the husband of the daughter of some good friends of ours. Networking! Wes is lopping off one of the branches and then he did some tall acrobatics for us, which are not pictured. We'll have plenty of "before" and "after" pictures, but I'll probably put those up on my website.


Our builder also dropped off our siding materials and he took some more door measurements as well. He'll start in earnest tomorrow. The materials are being stored in our garage so one of our cars has to park out in the street for about six weeks. Eh, a minor inconvenience.


I saw the very definition of "uncouth" the other day. I was in the restroom at my postal unit, and there was a man using the urinal ... talking on his cell phone. Ewww! And then HE FLUSHED, leaving the caller *no doubt* about where he was and, more grossly, what he was doing. People, people, people, let's conduct our affairs with a little more decorum, shall we?


The concerts this past weekend were a blast. The guys of "Big Daddy Weave" are all really nice and I recommend you run out or go online and purchase all of their CDs. We got to have a bite to eat with them in the "green room" before the show and had some time to chat. The sound company was over an hour late, so all the sound checks were rushed and we were feeling a little anxiety about that, but we just decided to leave it in the hands of the Lord, play with confidence, and have fun. And boy, did we!

Someone in the audience came up to Bryan, our lead guitar guy, and told him how much she enjoyed our music and that "she heard our stuff on the radio all the time." Bryan had to let her down gently and let her know we don't have anything on the radio, we just cover popular music in our band. Still, a nice compliment.

The Lapeer Art Festival was also nice. The weather was gorgeous, we got to play twice as long as we did the night before, and there were some really creative artists and their works on display along Nepessing Street, which is the main thoroughfare through the business district in Lapeer. We played on the lawn of the courthouse, which is the oldest courthouse in the state of Michigan.


We've finished making our vacation plans. We'll be heading up to Mackinaw City and over to Mackinac Island in a couple of weeks for a few days. We were supposed to be going on tour with my daughter's community choir, but that fell through when not enough kids (or their parents) were able to commit to doing the tour. So we decided to make it a family week. I'm looking forward to it.


Well, the tree service folks have got their commercial-grade chipper up and running again, just outside my office window by the curb, and it's nearly dinner time here, so I'm going to run. Thanks for reading, as always.

What are YOU doing for vacation this year?