Here’s another one you can file under “you ain’t going to believe this.” And I hope you are sitting down…...and holding on to your hat! Last week I paid forty-seven dollars for lunch. And I didn’t feed the whole family. Nor did that include my first wife. I laid down 47 bucks for one single noon day meal! I told Cathy if she wanted to eat, she’d have to fork over her own money.
As the tuxedo clad maître d’ was ushering us to our seat I grabbed him by the arm, “Hey, Boris, I can’t hardly wait to sink my teeth into some pickled pigs feet.” I knew for the price I was paying there wasn’t going to be nothing but the good stuff here.
This story actually started three years earlier. Jill Hendrickson and Gabi Bowditch were bicycling across America. They had started with the rear tire dipped in the Atlantic near Jacksonville Beach and they pedaled into our lives late one afternoon as they journeyed toward the setting sun.
They looked tired. And hungry. And I can tell you for sure, both were in dire need of a bath. We fed them, encouraged them to linger in the shower and spent a wonderful evening listening to “their story”. They were college buddies from Michigan and they now worked together on some island out in Lake Huron. They laughed easily and often. Their enthusiasm was catching. And they loved life, adventure, America and this island of theirs.
They headed west the next morning as our newest lifelong friends. And they did not forget us. They graciously included us on the trip via pictures and notes as they traveled across Louisiana, Texas and climbed the mountains of New Mexico. Cathy and I cheered from three thousand miles away when Jill ran her front wheel into the Pacific Ocean.
They have been pleading ever since for us to come to visit them on their precious Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw by most everyone up there—but that’s another whole story) Island. We figured three years was long enough. We packed up and broke out a roadmap. “Holy Cow, Son of a Gun, Mother Maybelle!”—this place was in Canada! We threw in another case of Nekots and headed north.
The island is actually located at the eastern end of the Mackinac Straits between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It’s still far enough north to have a Jack London sighting.
The ferry ride over takes twenty minutes. We were about half way across when Cathy spied the Grand Hotel. “Oh,” I thought she was going to swoon. “it’s where they filmed ‘Somewhere in Time.’” By the reverence in her voice I knew it was a tear-jerking chick flick…...and I tossed the tour guidebook overboard.
Gabi and Jill filled us in. “The Grand Hotel is the nicest, most elegant place on the island. The main porch is the longest of any hotel in the world and the food is fabulous. They filmed the movie, starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, here in 1979.”
As the girls turned to go to work, Cathy fairly flew up the hill. “I don’t think there’s any need for speed.” I yelled after her. “Chris and Jane have more than likely checked out by now.”
As our personal white gloved waiter seated Cathy with much pomp and circumstance and laid the lace encrusted napkin in her lap I leaped to my seat and stuck out my hand. I didn’t want nobody laying anything in my lap!
The buffet table in this gigantic dining room would have stretched from Cheboygan to Hoboken. I didn’t waste time or belly space on salads, bread or vegetables. I went for the shrimp cocktail, smoked tuna, baked swordfish, prime rib and barbequed pork. The buffet was so long that by the time you got a plate load and trekked back to your seat, you were hungry again. Dessert consisted of fruit parfaits, crepes, truffles, bread pudding and an assortment of cakes and pies. I laid to anything with a sprinkling of chocolate in it smothered, of course, with vanilla ice cream. I can proudly say I left no éclair unturned.
According to the tall case clock over behind the piano player, we ate for an hour and fifty-three minutes.
As we were waddling out the door Boris asked how I liked the pickled pigs feet. I shook my head in wonderment and disbelief. I hadn’t seen any pigs feet. “Oh sir, I am so sorry,” he seemed genuinely saddened, “It was down at the far end of the table between the pork shank and the sautéed possum innards.”