Monday, July 18, 2005

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

LutheranChik's Day Trip Journal
Part I: Getting There

Brief notes on my adventures today:

9:45 a.m. After a morning of deliberation, I have decided to head up north -- way up north. Mom, despite having her own excellent northern adventure this past weekend, is starting to exhibit symptoms of Jewish Mother, Goyische Edition -- "That's all right. You go and have fun by yourself, and I'll sit here alone with my arthritis." I hurry out the door before I change my mind and wind up staying home watching "The Price is Right."

11:00 a.m., M-115, north of Cadillac Monday is a great travel day; traffic is light in tourist country, and I have my lane mostly to myself. As I've driven up from the flatlands into the hillier part of the state, I find myself becoming seriously relaxed. I'm lost in a pleasant reverie, in fact, when suddenly I notice it's getting awfully dark; I take off my shades and see that the sky is an ominous gun-metal gray. A few moments later I am caught in a heavy downpour; steam rises as sheets of rain hit the asphalt, and I can't see where I am on the road. I pass a car that's simply given up and pulled to the shoulder, but I'm afraid to put on the brakes, so I just pray (one of those short, to-the-point "Help!" prayers) and plow through the water. The wind is whipping the trees on either side of the highway, and thunder booms overhead. It's like those scenes in Twister just before cows and houses and semis start flying across the road. Here's a story for the blog, I find myself thinking.

11:40 a.m., downtown Beulah Hello, gorgeous! I feel my entire body unclenching, until I reach that altered state known as up north. The sun is shining; summer people are wandering the sidewalks on the main drag; there's a volleyball game down on the beach, and speed boats criss-crossing Crystal Lake. The lake is surrounded by wooded bluffs, and the view is breathtaking. I park in the municipal lot, next to a little brook that runs through town; sometimes kids come here to fish.

I'm hungry, so I head to the Phoenix Cafe, a pleasant downtown coffee bar that offers terrific breakfasts and lunches. (Their ginger scones are exceptional, too, although, alas, they are all out today.) A sign on the door advertises a job opening for a barista; I ponder this career change for a second or two. (Anyone out there contemplating a lifestyle downscaling: You could do worse.) The cafe is committed to supporting community farms and cottage industries, and uses local produce and prepared foods whenever possible. The day's specials include a red lentil soup with locally grown vegetables and fresh sage, served with foccacia; I order some and it is very good.

Sitting at a window seat where I can people-watch, I linger over my soup and some French-roasted Mexican Fair Trade coffee and read one of the local newspapers. There's an interesting article about a local shipwreck and a community-based agriculture initiative. The ads make me smile; resort communities like this are places where it is sometimes hard to find mundane articles like Jello or a claw hammer, but where Reiki practitioners and windchime emporia are a dime a dozen. There's an ad for a bodywork studio that counts among its specialties something called Russian sports massage; sounds a little frightening, unless you're into that sort of thing. Another ad, for a restaurant serving Asian-fusion cuisine, features a photo of a woman extending chopsticks toward a plate of sushi; I think the intent was to convey surprise and delight, as in, "My, what an attractive and unusual repast!", but the expression on the model's face suggests, "What in the hell is that?" For some reason I find this so funny that I almost snort lentil soup up my sinuses.

(to be continued...)

"Cherry Jerry" -- unofficial mascot of Beulah, Michigan Posted by Picasa

Crystal Lake -- the view from downtown Beulah Posted by Picasa


Wayne said...

Anywhere near Glenn Arbor?

LutheranChik said...

I didn't make it up to Glen Arbor, but yeah -- that's just up the road from Frankfort. Lovely area too...that whole "little finger" of the Michigan mitten. They have a nice blues festival in Empire, en route to Glen Arbor, in August. I love driving the Pierce Stocking scenic drive, up to the dunes, and poking around there. The area is also a foodie's paradise. (Note that this consideration is a common denominator in my travels!)