January 11, 2022

I drove 800 miles each way to celebrate New Years in Northern Michigan with this lovely lady.  Don’t jump to conclusions we were exploring 
a business project together but for  sure getting acquainted.  Fortunately I found a way to mix business with pleasure and was rewarded with delightful New Year’s adventure.  

I am from Missouri where we occasionally have snow and cold weather in the winter months. Well in Harbor Springs Michigan they normally have snow and cold weather in winter.  I took 4 different coats, new snow boots, gloves for each coat and my burgundy scarf that Marilyn the Church Lady gave me last year.  I wanted to be prepared. 

It was a brief trip but a long story so l will break the trip into segments for today’s short attention.  If you decide to come along I’ll reward you with fun, beautiful and sometimes juicy details.

December 30th I dropped Daisey and Dolly off at my son’s house.  Granddaughter Kallie who was already watching her 3 boys graciously smiled as I added my 2 pups to her load.  

I filled up the Buick at Costco to save some bread on my first tank as I beamed north.  Oh by the way I stopped at Walgreens to pick up a home Covid test and took it before I left just to assure my pretty guide who knows I am a gad-about.  It was simple and cheap.  It took 10 minutes at a rest stop on I-44.  No line showed up on the test strip so I proved no threat to man nor beast.

I charged straight through to Chicago pausing only to fill the tank and empty the bladder, munching on baby carrots and raw almonds as the Buick climbed the map. 

I took a holiday from the trek as long time friend Susie Tatum joined me for dinner at Legands Bar and Grill In Melville iL.  Susie is a professional life coach and has been struggling to keep me focused for several years.  We have known each other for over 10 years but this was the first time to actually meet in person.  All the Zoomcasts paid off as we clearly felt the comfort of old friends.  Nick the Greek paid me the compliment of assuming we were an item as he showed us our table.  We smiled and played along even though Susie is in a committed relationship.  We shared a Caesar salad and each ordered a half pound burger with mustard cooked to pink inside. I finished mine but the slender Susie took half home. By the way she is an accomplished climber who has scaled to the top of Kilimanjaro. (My life coach can whip your life coach Lol.) 

3 hours later I was richer in spirit and on my way again to the waters of Lake Michigan.  I stopped in Holland, MI at a hotel I booked on Priceline for a brief slumber with good intentions to appear at Sheilah’s flowers in hand in time for New Years dinner reservations in Harbor Springsl.  

As I ventured north my study caught the morph from leaves to needles as maples and oaks gave way to knotty pines.  The roads narrowed and the trucks bore stacks of bark covered logs.  The sun took the holiday off but the air was clear and crisp occasionally tossing white flakes at my windshield.

I anxiously followed the ETA countdown as my GPS    guided my weather stained chariot up the slight mountain over snow covered streets carved through the wooded terrain.  Steve Jobs proved reliable as the voice announced “You have arrived!”

I stepped out of the car reached for the bouquet I found at a store in Petoskey and tromped through 3 inches of snow to her doorstep.  Checking my hair through the reflection in her storm door I held the flowers out of sight and pressed the call.  

 The door drew back slowly as a shapely silloette appeareared like a shadow that focused to reward my expedition with the rare beauty you see in the accompanying pictures to this story.  I smiled and brandished the flowers as toll for a welcome.

As my blues met her glittering greens my grin found a friend as my entrance was inferred.  I stepped through the portal toward the bright smile and glistening pink lips.  

With a gentle smile her slender arms reached out to receive the bright florals.  She pulled them close, took a deep breath to savor the fragrance and with a brisk step took them to the cocina for process.  

A brightly decorated Yule tree welcomed me to the living room where an old time Christmas special crooned classic Noels on the telly.  A dish of dark chocolates and almonds deliciously decorated the kitchen counter.  

The tastefully decorated quite immaculate residence sat peacefully in the quiet woods with big window views of small black squirrels playing in the snow.   Dashing from tree to tree their antics were ignored by the red headed woodpecker hammering away at a tall pine.

In just moments a vase was filled and holding the gift.  My chest swelled a bit as she placed them on the mantle.  She then pulled a leopard coat from the closet and a bright white fluffy scarf was thrown around her slender neck as we headed back down slight mountain for dinner by Lake Michigan.

The Pier Restaurant in downtown Harbor Springs had honored our early reservations and prepared a table for two overlooking the water.  Built before the days of prohibition the Pier was welcoming, updated but a uniquely quaint fine dining experience.

It only took moments to discover that I was in the company of one of Harbor Springs most popular residents.   She was greeted by first name on entrance and a steady stream visited our table to converse with this vivacious blond.  All left with a bigger smile as she has a way of making people feel refreshed by her presence.  Pretty good trait for a business partner.

New Years Eve had a set 4 course menu.  We chose the Tuna Tar Tar (ground raw tuna steak on crunchy bread) and gnocchi (which tasted like some kind of a pasta with cheese in a fancy soup sauce.)  I found both pretty tasty.  She squinted at the site of the raw fish and pretended to eat some on the crunchy bread.  After dancing with a couple of plates of lettuce the server pushed us to go ahead and order the main entree.  I told her i had driven a long way to get here and didn’t want to rush through dinner to which she boldly informed me they had more reservations after us.  It got her the entree order but cost her a few dollars off the tip.  

She had salmon, I had the steak and lobster, followed by flowerless chocolate cake with a dip of vanilla ice cream on top.  We slipped off the Pier with plenty of time for the next reservation, dodged a couple of well wishers, thanked the 80 some year old piano player for the gentle music and headed out to explore the evening in the metropolis of the one thousand plus populated Harbor Springs.  

I don’t know if Norman Rockwell was inspired by Harbor Springs or Harbor Springs was inspired by Norman Rockwell but our leisurely stroll downtown was a delightful step back in time.  The crisp air puffed powder clouds from our lungs invigorating our gait.  Unique ice cream and donut shops, clothing boutiques and the hometown bank adorned the streets.  The lights were on at the homemade candy store operated by the gregarious Mormon family with 8 children.  Sheilah said that they all worked together in the shop each day. I assume it was bedtime for the kids as the doors were closed but my mouth watered at the huge block of fudge residing on a stainless steel table next to the window. 

Still in Holiday dress Main Street was darling.  The highlight was the huge Christmas Tree occupying the two middle lanes  in the center of the street.  Cars had to drive around the tree to get up and down the road.  Who does that?  Put a giant tree in the middle of the street and force traffic to drive around it! Kudos to you Harbor Springs for the courage to preserve tradition in a liability timid world.  Majestically, an old steepled church stood watch in the background approving the Christ Child celebration. 

The clock was ticking so we headed back up slight mountain to watch Ryan Seacreast ring in the new year and drop the ball in New York.  Sitting at her couch the flickering fireplace gave contrast and calming to the flashing lights of the Big Apple.  It was my first time to actually celebrate New Year’s on Eastern Time.  

We toasted 2022 with a flute of orange juice mixed in champagne, then sealed the date with a G rated embrace.  I smiled as my walk to the car for my rustic room at the Birchwood Inn was accompanied by giant snowflakes decorating my shoulders.  It was as if Steven Spielberg had just chanted “lights, action, snow.”

(That is all for now,  episode 2 will appear in a day or so. Glad to have you along.  I always love it when you share my posts. For more of my words google Andy Willoughby and see what you find.)

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