Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What I Did on My Four-Day Vacation

Northern Lites, where we drank $6 pitchers of Miller Lite and watched drunken teenagers perform Backstreet Boys karaoke. You can't see it, but there's a sign reading "Budweiser Welcomes Fishermen and Truckers"


Northen Lites is also home to a vending machine that sells both potato chips and cigarettes. Michigan: Meeting all your grease and tobacco needs since 1827!

Starr didn't believe there were beaches in Michigan until he was actually in the water.

However, he needed no such convincing regarding the awesomeness of swingsets.

Starr and I went to Okemos. There isn't much there.

Then we drove to Northern Michigan. There's lots there!

For a Purple State, Michigan can be pretty damn Red in some parts. I had forgotten that north of Lansing, there is a complete and total lack of irony. While driving past the endless cornfirelds and forests, Starr and I kept on coming across handwritten cardboard posters taped to stop signs advertising "Mal's Party!" or "Leelenau Firehouse Sourdough Pancake Supper Fundraiser!!!" If we'd had more time, I would have loved to spend it at Mal's or the firehouse listening to people's stories and connecting to total strangers with absolutely no agenda or cynicism.

One of my favorite moments during the vacation was stopping in Rite-Aid for bandages and tape for Starr's infected knee (this following my least favorite vacation moment, watching him get very gray in the face after having all manner of nasty liquids drained from said knee). While buying all manner of supplies, I made fast friends with Jai the Rite-Aid checkout clerk. In our four minute conversation, I heard about her Olympic runner turned alcoholic-lupus-patient sister, Jai's battle and 23-year victory over cancer, her history as a softball and football player for Traverse City High and the gossip from the horse show up Route 31. I love Michigan. We're all too busy to appreciate shit like this in DC, when such encounters are the great stuff of life.

Between hospital visits and bonding with the locals, we did all of the great Up North traditions-- beaching at North Bar Lake, wine tastings on Leelenau Penninsula, a quick walk around Interlochen. Stopping at the EZ Mart for truly excellent gas station cappucino, eating cherries from a farmer's stand at the side of the road, heading to the movie theater gasping from heat because it's the only air-conditioned place in the whole zip code. Starr and my family got along really well, which delights me to no end. Watching him and my dad play football on the beach was among the best things I've seen all summer.

All good things must come to an end, and I'm back with nose firmly pressed against the grindstone (two cliches in one sentence-- top that, bitches). Because our flight was delayed no less than three times coming back to DC and Northwest finally flew us into Baltimore as a pitiful subsitute, I slept in yesterday only to incurr the wrath of the HR gods who monitor my vacation time. Wish... had... comp... time... policy...

Oh, and I forgot to post it, but I also have a truly excellent photo of Starr being attacked by a racoon puppet. Pretty well summarizes my home, no?

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