We woke up and had breakfast with the East Coast Goudies and then the kids swam in the hotel’s indoor pool and hot tub – all to themselves.
We packed up, checked out of the hotel, and headed to Shepler’s dock around 11:15, where we joined up with Doug’s family and were joined shortly by Grandma Jan & Grandpa Bill – the stars of this trip. The whole Goudie clan was there to celebrate Jan & Bill’s 50th wedding anniversary at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
We boarded the next ferry on a cool but sunny morning, with most of us seated upstairs on the open top deck, but Leah was a bit skittish about the boat, so Rachel and few others stayed belowdecks with her. Aly & Maggie really enjoyed the boat ride as you can see, standing get the full wind in their hair as we watched a freighter pass under the bridge to our left.
Doug’s hair, as you can see, did not have a problem with the wind. We made it to the island and decided it was time for lunch. Except for Leah, who decided it was time to throw a fit and not walk, because she wanted us to rent bikes immediately. Once that was solved, we headed up to The Gatehouse for lunch – I remember this place as the French Outpost from earlier trips. We got a table outside and had a nice lunch, with the girls leaving for the nearby playground while we waited for our food. I’m not sure why Aly is making this face, but it’s the only picture I took during lunch.
After lunch we split, with the kids and a few adults heading back to the playground while the rest of us headed up to the hotel to check in. We waited a short time to get all three rooms checked in, and the playground bunch joined us just as we made our way upstairs. Our rooms were at the east end of the building on the third floor, with balconies overlooking the golf course and the main road down into town – a beautiful view.
We then headed down to the hotel’s tea garden, where people were playing bocce ball and croquet, which looked like a lot more fun than it sounds. Since all the equipment was currently in use, we checked out the pool and then cut through the woods down to the lake, where Leah threw rocks with Grandma Jan while Aly and Will hunted for crab claws.
After Leah displayed much vocal frustration with what she perceived the goal of bocce to be, and her apparently inability to meet that goal perfectly, we climbed back up to the hotel to change for that evening’s dinner in the main dining room. The day’s schedule was posted in all the elevators:
Leah loved our room, because nearly every surface was covered with flowers, including the wallpapered ceiling. We had arrived in our room to find two gifts from the hotel in custom wood boxes: a bottle of wine and a bag of chocolate covered cherries from Cherry Republic, our favorite spot in Glen Arbor. We met on the porch for a group picture taken by the hotel’s photographer and some cocktails.
Grandma Jan had given each of the kids a sock monkey, and we noticed that one of the monkeys matched Doug’s socks quite nicely.
Leah was pretty much at the end of her rope at this point, as she hates crowds, is easily overstimulated into anxiety, and was really just overwhelmed by the entire day. We worried about the long five-course dinner and how she (and the rest of the kids) would hold up. Our group was seated quickly at a table for ten and Leah was immediately unhappy, as the dining room bustled with activity and was also fairly noisy.
We spotted something we’d never seen in the Grand Hotel’s main dining room before – a kids’ buffet! The three older kids immediately went to the buffet and got an assortment of desserts before moving on to fried mac n’ cheese. Aly also enjoyed drinking apple juice from a fancy glass.
You see, “Mr Jaferay”, as Leah calls him, cracked her cranky exterior immediately with his sense of silliness and warm personality. He told her he’d bring her a special surprise, then went back to the kitchen and made her an ice cream sandwich out of two cookies and sprinkles. When she couldn’t figure out how to get it on her spoon, he cut it up for her. As you can see from the light in her eyes, Jaferary instantly changed the trajectory of her trip to the Grand Hotel. Maggie saw Leah’s treat and had to have one of her own:
Aly wanted something different, and he brought that as well: Jaferay appeared later to make Leah’s new sock monkey dance and sing, which had the whole table cracking up. At this point, Will and Maggie were both feeling unwell and had gone up to their room with Ann. Grandma Jan pointed out that the child we were most worried about surviving the 2-hour plus dinner was the one doing well at the end – all thanks to three great servers: Jaferay, Ansel, and Kevin, who had 34 years of Grand Hotel experience between them.
After getting the kids back upstairs and settled, I headed out to shoot some post-sunset pictures down at the lake. Unfortunately, I was not alone, joined by hordes of mosquitos, which is not a great thing taking long-exposure photographs. I would open the shutter, then bounce around throwing rocks trying to keep the bugs off my legs. And even though it had warmed up to the point where I would be comfortable in just a t-shirt, I had to keep my sweatshirt on with the hood tight on my head to keep the pesky bugs off my face. I did manage to get one keeper, though, and then I headed back up to sneak into the room where all were asleep or nearly so.