We made it! It's hard to believe that after years of planning and hoping and saving, I am finally in Algonac, Michigan with my daughter, Carissa.
Yesterday, June 11th, I flew from Burbank, California to Salt Lake City, Utah and spent the evening with Carissa and her husband Cash. I wish I could say the flight to SLC was uneventful, but it was downright terrifying. I hadn't been on a plane in fourteen years and this flight reminded me why. The take off did some funky things to my body, and for half an hour I struggled not to black out. I broke out in a cold sweat and thought my heart was going to literally flip-flop right out of my chest. The same thing happened during our descent.
Fortunately, in between I met the fellow sitting in the seat next to mine. Chris McCormick happens to also be an English college professor and published author! (What are the odds!) He was also on his way to Michigan, where he teaches, and he grew up in Lancaster, CA, which happens to be very close to Santa Clarita. He was so kind and talked me through the landing. So I ended up okay. But the experience was so dreadful I was honestly ready to cancel the whole trip, rent a car in SLC, and drive back home. Luckily, Carissa talked me out of that.
My brother-in-law, Boris Reyes, gave me a priesthood blessing that the next flights would be all right. (He also advised me to seek medical care if needed.) I admit I was rather nervous about today's flights to Chicago and Michigan. But Carissa gave me a hefty dose of Melatonin, which relaxed me, and I sang hymns and Broadway tunes silently to myself to focus my attention away from the plane. That, along with the blessing, resulted in easy flights. Carissa got a little nauseated, but just for a few minutes.
In Chicago, during our two-hour layover, we ate at a burger shop called the Santa Monica where Carissa ordered the California burger! Then later after we landed in Flint, Michigan (a beautiful little airport!) we started down I-69 toward Algonac when we spotted a sign for Bob's Big Boy Restaurant! Well, I have fond memories of my grandmother taking me to Bob's in Los Angeles when I was a kid, but all of them (that I know of) in So. Cal have long since been closed. So for nostalgia's sake, we stopped for dinner. I had the best lemonade ever -- Desert Pear Lemonade -- and it was purple too!
My first impression of Michigan was that there are no mountains. My eyes kept playing tricks on me, trying to see mountains in the distance where there aren't any. I'm so used to seeing mountains all around me, it's weird to get used to. Next, it is very green. Trees everywhere! Not just trees, but entire pockets of natural forests. I had the urge to just pull the car over and walk through those gorgeous forests. But I didn't because Carissa said there might be ticks.
We found Algonac. There is a lot of land between Flint and Algonac. When we told the car rental lady where we were going, she said, "Nothing happens up there." We saw beautiful farm homes scattered across some of the most beautiful land I've ever seen. Carissa was already saying she'd love to live here. "Not in winter," I reminded her.
We rented a room at the Colony Motel. I had spoken to the owner, Debbie, several times over the past year about my plans to come. She was ready for us. Had the room's air conditioner running, the fridge stocked with cold water bottles and sodas, and even left us a sweet note. She charged us a very reasonable fee. The room is roomy and rustic.
After we checked in (by now, about 8:00pm Michigan time--5:00pm California time), we were exhausted. But we decided to go walk by the river. Wow. Talk about time travel. As I stepped around the motel onto the lawn by the river, I could swear I'd just stepped into a picture I have of my great-grandparents' home in the 1930s. While the houses now are all new, it was the same curve of the river, the same narrow wooden docks. I could just picture where their house must have stood not far from where I was standing at that very moment.
A family of swans swam over to check us out. Carissa kept telling me not to get too close to them because they bite. And what does she do? "Here Mr. Swan? Can I pet you?" She held out her hand and the thing nearly nipped her! Scared her good. We laughed though.
Now we are going to bed. Tomorrow we will explore the town and look for the Historic Society. I want to see if I can find out just where the Reids' home was located.