Today I intended to do a pretty quick tour of Fayette Historic State Park, about 35 miles from Indian Lake State Park where I’m now camped. Then I would come back for the quick raft ride at the Big Spring (Kitchitikipi) at Palms Book State Park, only about 5 miles from the campground.
I intended to leave Indian Lake tomorrow so I could be at Traverse City at least a day before my daughter arrived from Austin to join me for our long-awaited week exploring that part of Michigan together.
Insert here the saying about best laid intentions…and all that crap…you’ll remember it later.
Because this post is not really about Fayette Historic State Park. I’m way behind in writing about places I’ve been months ago, so it’s only because of my intentions being waylaid that I’m compelled to write about it tonight. But I’m going to take you into the park with me a little bit in order to set the stage for the unintentional part.
I made it to Fayette at about 12:30, wasn’t yet hungy, so went in to visitor’s center/gift shop to see what all they had and started talking to this great lady working there, Karen. I got the map, but I told her not to let me buy anymore souvenirs because I already had enough and living in an RV I had to be careful about room, not to mention weight. I really didn’t intend to buy anything…
…So after carrying $60 of heavy stuff I bought back to the car (including another book that I swore I wouldn’t buy anymore of), I headed off for my “quick” tour of the historic site.
I knew from the DNR website that “Fayette Historic State Park houses a Historic Townsite, a representation of a once bustling industrial community.” OK, great – I always enjoy historic stuff and recreations of different periods. I had heard other people tell me it was their favorite park. But like so many other things I’d heard about sights I’d seen in Michigan, it wasn’t until I stepped onto the grounds and saw it for myself did I really understand the attraction!
And as soon as I walked into the main complex, I knew my “quick” tour was going to be about as quick as Gilligan’s Island’s 3 hour tour.
Wow!!! was my first reaction as I walked down the path. This shot is just a brief overview of some of the main buildings and ruins preserved here. And besides the totally cool historic buildings – the way the complex was laid out – the whole feel of the place was just great. I was actually a bit overwhelmed at this point – I really hadn’t expected this much!
And then I started seeing past the buildings to the scenery behind them…
Take a look at this bluff – with the bonus of treetips just starting to turn colors…
I could see some DNR folks working and it turned out to be Randy Brown, the Park Supervisor, and Brenda Laakso, the Site Historian, getting ready for the annual Fall Fest to be held on October 1. I so enjoyed meeting them and visiting for a while, but by the end of the day I wondered if Randy wouldn’t have rather me skipped his park altogether…
But at that point, I continued to enjoy the scenery and resting spots…
I was definitely getting hungrier by this time because I really hadn’t intended to be here so long…
But I was enjoying it all so much I just didn’t want to stop and besides that, I was also meeting some really nice people along the way…
This couple was from eastern MI, have also RV’d, and I enjoyed talking with them so much and was so touched by their stories that we exchanged cards and I took their picture, which they gave me permission for. I won’t use their names because I forgot to ask for that, but this “chance” encounter came to mean a lot to me later in the day…
But for now, I was again passing by my favorite building, the old hotel, intending to go back to the car for a soda and snack:
Nearby I saw Randy again and when he asked if I wanted to see the upstairs part not yet open to the public, I jumped at that chance!
It was so interesting to see and hear what they’re working so hard to accomplish here against a lot of adverse conditions, financial considerations not being the least of them, of course.
But again, this post is really not about how beautiful and fascinating Fayette State Park is – although it is certainly that and more – but my intent here is to write about what happened when I was finally trying to leave it.
Best intentions…and all that crapola…
So it wasn’t until about 4:30 that I was going back to the car for my snack, although I was starving by this point. But I was going to make do with peanut butter crackers and a soda while driving around the campground which I hadn’t seen yet, then come back to do the bluff walk.
That’s when I realized my keys weren’t in the compartment of my fanny pack where I always put them when I’m touring. I got into the car using the key pad on the door and started going through all the compartments of my fanny pack – then went through the car – went through the jacket I was wearing – emptied everything out of the fanny pack and went through the car again. No keys!
Went back to the gift shop where Karen and Randy were getting ready to close, told them what happened. Karen looked around the shop, Randy had another trio of state workers start searching around the complex.
“Where all did you go, Malia?”
“Everywhere – in every building – down every trail except the bluff.”
I took off to retrace my route exactly, but of course there wasn’t time to go through every building and room again, so I just concentrated on the trails. Randy went to one of the other ranger stations to see if anyone turned them in there. Along the way, I met the couple from east Michigan above again, and they went back to where we had met to see if I had dropped them there when we exchanged cards.
By the time I had made the entire trail loop again, they and other people I had met along the way were still looking for my keys! When we were all back at the parking lot figuring the keys weren’t going to turn up tonight, I won’t go into all the fun trying to get ahold of my insurance company – and roadside assistance – and Ford – about how to get another key for my car that would actually start it. The valet key I had (back at the RV of course) didn’t work to actually start the car and don’t get me started on the illogicalness of that one…
So this was my only car key and my RV keys were also on that lost ring. I had extra RV keys in the RV, but what to do about the car key now or how to get into the RV when I get there?
The east MI couple were right beside me as I was making all these calls and she would hug me every now and then and tell me to just stay calm and everything was going to be alright. Have I told you how much I appreciate all these angels that are brought into my life just when I need them? Remember Bruce from when my axle fell off in Sault Ste. Marie?
Finally, the upshot was that Ford roadside assistance arranged with the local Ford dealer to have the car towed which was the only way they could make another key – something about the anti-theft mechanism and the computer – whatever…can this get anymore complicated??? Uh, yes – of course it was after closing by that time, so the earliest this could be done was tomorrow morning at 9:00. They’d come tow the car now, but the key couldn’t be done until then.
When speaking to the local Ford dealer, he asked me if I was alone with my car and if I was going to need a ride somewhere. I looked around me and saw 7 people who had just spent at least an hour looking for my keys – the couple from east MI, the 3 state workers (Cassie, Jordan and Aaron), Randy and Karen. I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer at that point – not because I was upset about this unintentional turn of events (although I most definitely was not amused) – but because those 7 faces all looked like glowing angels to me at that point. Their concern and caring shown in their faces toward me and the tears were about that relief – that I wasn’t alone and I had help. I knew it was after hours, they were all tired and were ready to go home. I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take their picture as they were by me – I’m willing to bet they would have all shown halos on the photo!
Randy arranged with Cassie, who was still on duty, to stay there at the Visitor’s Center to meet the Ford tow truck who couldn’t be there for 45 minutes. In the meantime, it would take about the same amount of time to get me back to the motorhome at Indian Lake. As soon as we had a cell phone signal, Randy called Pat, who was on duty at Indian Lake to find out if there was a local locksmith who could get me in the RV. I couldn’t remember if I had left one of the larger sliding windows unlocked or not.
But when we got here, I could see that one was open, so Randy pulled his truck back so that I could climb up from the tailgate. It worked!
By that time, Pat arrived at the RV, and we were laughing at it all and I had him take a picture of how Randy had gotten me in the window.
I needed more help and height than just the tailgate, so Randy had to give me a lift. When he was recreating this, I told him not to look like he was lifting an elephant – but I kinda think he’s faking a hernia look here, don’t you? 🙂
Just another day for the DNR!
Yeah, it was all grins then, and I really am so grateful for everything all those wonderful people (really angels) did to help me out. I do know it will all work out – and hard as it is to accept, I do believe all things happen for a higher purpose whether we believe it or not – but I’m feeling pretty wrung out about now.
When I was apologizing to Randy for the umpteenth time for all the trouble I was causing, he kept assuring me it really was not a big deal and he shared some of his own experiences of things that truly were a big deal to prove his point.
I was especially touched by a comment he made that went something like: “Part of our job is to be here to help people have fun – and sometimes just to help people period.” Pretty profound, Randy! And I still can’t find the words to thank you enough. And tomorrow morning someone from Indian Lake is going to drive me all the way to the Ford dealer to get my car.
I’ll see how long that all takes in the morning and if I feel like driving all the way to Traverse City after that. I kinda doubt it at this point. I have one more day before I absolutely have to be there to meet Angelique, so I may just catch my breath tomorrow and go see the Big Spring – which was all I really intended to do as a “must do” today anyway…
I wanted to document this unusual, unintentional day, and I’ve certainly learned some lessons from it. But I’m too tired to list all of them right now. I’m just grateful that I am still blessed with miracles and angels all along my path…
P.S. The comments I got from my friends on Facebook are cracking me up and helping me keep the proper perspective!
This experience at least gifted me with yet another meeting with a fantastic Park Ranger, Jamie Anderson, when she drove me in to Manistique to the Ford dealer. It’s always so interesting to me to meet the people who live and work in these beautiful (yet to me – remote – settings).
Anyway, the Ford guy said due to the computer programming, etc., they couldn’t make just one key – they had to make two. Each key with the remote would be $135 – Yikes! It’s just one of the many things I don’t understand, but that’s the way it is. The only choice I had was to get one key with the remote fob and one “standard” key that would start the car but with no remote features. So I went with that and $212.00 later, I was on the road with my new keys.
By that time I was in no mood to drive all the way to Traverse City, so I decided to go see the Big Spring at Palms Book State Park and the soothing colors of the clear water there helped heal me, I think.
I then stopped for lunch at a great little restaurant/bar in nearby town of Cooks called “Sidetracks.” I met the owner, Mona, and discovered we had a lot in common. I like my hamburgers small, thin and practically burnt – and I don’t eat seafood. Her restaurant is famous for its fish- it won Fox UPs Top Choice as the UP’s Best Friday Fish fry this year, and she doesn’t eat seafood, either! When I gave her my card and told her I was traveling around this summer writing about Michigan State Parks, she said, “Oh, yes, I know – I saw the article about you in my local newspaper.” I felt famous – LOL!
After that, I decided to go see the Fayette Campground, since I was so rudely interrupted from that yesterday. When I stopped in to see Karen again, she told me a lady came practically running in with my keys this afternoon thinking somebody had just lost them today and would be frantic in the parking lot. Karen told her that was the lady from Texas yesterday. 🙂
But I’m off for Traverse City tomorrow and looking forward to a fun-filled week with my daughter!