We did it. We did a wander! It wasn't the SMOOTHEST wander we've ever done. Our beautiful forecast went to hell and we ended up with rain and storms and gray. Then again, I like gray…so there's that. Our car didn't behave and died periodically which stressed us out inordinately but it always started again…so there's that. When we got to our main destination we found there'd been a big upsurge in COVID cases in the area so we had to abandon our plans and ended up just staying in our hotel and skipping a lot of the places I'd planned to check out. However, we ended up sitting on the deck of the hotel that overlooked the river and drinking a bottle of wine and it might have been our favorite moment of the wander…so there's that.
Ernie loved this picture that was on the wall behind us at the Al-Gen bar. The bartender said it was her father in law's band. He was the drummer but third from the left in this picture. The best part? She proudly told us they'd even put out a 45.
A wander in the age of COVID is definitely a different beast. Normally we check into our hotel and then go find a local place for a drink. We sit, review the day and then get some food to take back to our room. Just couldn't bring ourselves to do it this time. We did stop in one dead empty bar for a drink but as a few people drifted in we took off. We went back to our budget hotel (they all seem to be owned by Wyndham now and some of the trademarks are no elevators and bathrooms so tiny to have to scuttle to the side of the toilet just to close the door. They did the trick though and were clean) in the drippy weather and decided to order food. Our choices were Pizza Hut, Domino's and Subway. Oh well. We went with Domino's and my gluten-free pizza actually wasn't terrible, nor were Ernie's chicken wings. Breakfast the next day was the thing we really missed. No going to a local place and getting our standard two eggs over easy, sausage patty, hash browns well done with iced tea for me and coffee for him. He ate his beloved Nutrigrain bars (since starting chemo he lives on them) and I ate an apple from the hotel. Later we stopped and I introduced Ernie to the glories of Frito's. If you are in a tiny store in the middle of nowhere with only have junk food snack options and you're really hungry, I recommend Frito's. Unless you can have gluten in which case I would go with pretzels. Frito's are more filling than other chips. Ernie fell under their spell and I was so proud. The next night was our aborted night. We were cranky and tired and couldn't decide what to do. Our hotel was right on the river (yes, I know I'm repeating myself) and had a big deck right off the lobby. Our room overlooked the parking lot so I suggested we take our bottle of wine out there and relax. It was absolutely perfect. We watched boats gliding along. The air was soft. Another person came out and sat down aways down from us, opened a beer and did a crossword. At one he called over to us, "Look, did you see the eagle?" And sure enough, a huge eagle swooped by us, following the river until he darted into some trees. Just magic. Eventually, it started drizzling so we went back to our room. Ernie had asked at the desk if there was any place that delivered other than pizza and they had given us a name. Unfortunately, they never answered their phone so we gave up. Pizza Hut this time. I don't think I've eaten either Pizza Hut or Domino's in a million years but I gotta say….the round goes to Pizza Hut. My gluten-free pizza was really very good. Who knew? By the time it was delivered a full-on storm had hit. We opened the curtains and sat on our bed eating pizza and watching the lightning, the wind and the rain. That and a Hallmark movie made for a pretty great evening.
The next day we had to dart amongst downed trees and power lines. The days' eating was Nutrigrain bars, pecans and Fritos. We got into the town we were staying in kind of early. I had done my research and had found one bar that had outside tables but when we drove by we could see the tables were right up against each other. Sigh. We were really done with driving though so given the previous night's success I sent Ernie into a gas station to get ice and wine and I googled until I found a nearby park on a lake. We headed there and again, it was was lovely. There was a fishing dock with benches so we sat there and let the drive work its way out of us. Eventually we felt relaxed and rejuvenated so we took some pictures before decamping to our motel. That night we lucked out with food. There was a local burger/pizza place across the street and the food was so good that we kept talking about it the next day. Ernie had his standard Club sandwich (the boy LOVES a good club sandwich) and I had a burger on a gluten free bun (!). Absolutely amazing. Storheim's in Iron Mountain, Michigian. Another Hallmark movie, a piece of chocolate and some more rain and we were done.
We headed home on Sunday. We stopped once or twice but once we were on the highway we got impatient to get home. As much as I love to wander, it always feels lovely to be home. Thank you so much to the folks that helped make this all work. It did our hearts good. We didn't get tons of pictures but got some nice ones I think. I will post more soon. I'll be posting images on my Instagram as well.