Days 36 and 37, WLBT

July 21 and 22, Traverse City, MI

by David Runkel

The Tour had July 21 off, which gave us time for a full-scale tour of the Peninsula by our hosts, Gail and Kevin.  This included Empire with a beautiful, but small beach; Fishtown with two rows of weathered fish shops separated by a stinky, boat-filled canal; and other towns on Lake Michigan along with endless inlets, bays and lakes. We tested the waters, visited a few shops, looked over the impressive Sleeping Bear sand dunes, marveled over a red car-boat, ate and drank.  It was a wonderful day with Kevin doing the driving and Gail pointing out the way and the sights.

At the end of the day we found a Sunday New York Times, and collapsed into an orgy of reading, marveling in our first tactile contact with newsprint in weeks.

Monday morning, Gail took us on a visit to the Asylum, the former Michigan State Hospital. A good half of the campus has been converted into shops, condos, a high-end senior residence, and offices.  Work continues to other of the three and four story yellow-brick buildings topped with red-roof spires.  What a terrific reclamation project! 

Day Thirty Seven of the Scone by Scone Book Tour
Day Thirty Seven of the Scone by Scone Book Tour

Deedie signed books at Traverse City’s leading bookstore, Horizon Books, during the late afternoon and read from Scone by Scone to a group of 20 or so at the city library in early evening.  The crowd included a young couple, cooks at the family restaurant nearby, who are contemplating going into the innkeeping business, preferably in New England.   The Tour answered multiple questions and agreed to respond to further inquiries later on. It was clear to The Tour that the two of them were not on the same page…yet, a necessary state of being for taking the next step. 

After a tour of Gail’s fabulous library, we returned to the Asylum for dinner at a spiffy restaurant where we all over ate.  Our table was in an alcove along a long arched hallway of small spaces with rock and brick walls. What was this space used for?  Nothing exciting, we were told, just the root cellar and cool storage.

It was a respite for Gail, who on a day off to show us around, kept being interrupted with library emergencies, starting with the arrival of a patron who was paying off his fines before, he said, committing suicide, followed by a controversy involving a disgruntled board member and ending with a fire in the cigarette ash disposal tube outside the library’s front door. The first led to a call to the police but not before consultation with the library’s lawyer for an interpretation of the library confidentiality law, the second remains an issue and the third was put out by staff without a call to the fire department.  Despite all these interruptions, Gail remained the perfect host. 

We even got in a visit to Kevin’s lakefront landscaping project a half dozen miles outside town.  Rocks, patio stones, trees and plants were being placed in the front and side yards of a new house by Kevin, his son and two helpers. Quite a job. Kevin is a beautification expert. 

The next time The Tour sees Gail and Kevin, they’ll be man and wife, as they plan to be married at Kevin’s family’s compound on the UP August 25th

The Tour’s plan was to stop at the Gerald Ford presidential library on Grand Rapids en route to Detroit. Fortunately, we checked before departing and discovered the official presidential library is actually in Ann Arbor.  The library is a lot like President Ford – modest, honest and humble. One is reminded of the enormous job thrust on him by the scandals of the time. The library display also included memorabilia of his life, including his job offer from the Green Bay Packers in the mid-30s.  They were looking for a center for which Ford would be paid $110 a game, with the $$$ being doled out after play ended.  He opted to go to Yale Law instead.  Betty Ford’s life and longtime support of the Equal Rights Amendment were also highlighted.

The Tour got a taste of the Ann Arbor vibe and great sandwiches at Fingelman’s Deli; the tour director had a Reuben, while the author delighted in a pb and j.    In Detroit, we caught up with Marsh’s high school pal Toby Barlow and joined Toby and his gal, Liz, at a terrific restaurant that they co-own in the Irish section, Corktown – Gold Cash Gold.  Then the old folks joined the younger couple in the swish, cool, Palm-tree highlighted bar in at a recently rehabbed hotel, part of Detroit’s ongoing revitalization. If it hadn’t been Tuesday, we wouldn’t have been able to get in.