Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Over the river and through the woods

While the cockpit in a Miata is fairly roomy, and certainly comfortable for longer rides, the hold is another story. The square footage of the aft cargo bay is hardly what one would call capacious; Mr. Hall twice had to arrange and rearrange the valises to fit. But Mrs. Hall is used to traveling light, and after waving goodbye to Colleen and leaving her with specific instructions regarding the care of their aged and ailing cat, Pepper, the Halls once again took to the road.
With passports in hand, they plotted a trip through Canada, and into The Great Lakes State. First stop: Owosso, Michigan. Owosso has no real claim to celebrity; while possessing more than its share of intriguing sites for a small community, the primary reason the Halls overnight there is because its location is central to most of their Michigan shenanigans. After a quick breather at the Korner Pub and a night at the Comstock Inn, they awoke fresh and ready to take on a stroll back in time.
Rolling into Rockford MI, Mr. Hall's old stomping grounds, they paused for the obligatory hotdog at the Corner Bar. Nothing takes away the cares of the day for Mr. H. like a double dose of their world famous chili-dogs and a chance to watch his beloved Tigers on the tube. A walk around the town was enough to satisfy them that the old haunts were thriving, even in this ragged economy. Since the reunion was still a day away, they pointed Winston in the direction of Sand Lake and the Paradise Cove resort. Childhood friend and campground host extraordinaire, Paul Arntz and his lovely wife Jan, welcomed them with open arms. The Arntz's were harboring some charming youngsters for the weekend as well as a small dog, so the party moved outdoors to enjoy the seasonably cool weather. The sunset glinted across the lake and with the addition of their neighbors Del and Ruth, it felt like time for a little something. Rumblings of a pizza were starting to stir when word came down that the kids had requested a local specialty known as "Hobo pies." The Halls watched in fascination as the irons needed for this comestible were produced; the picnic table was covered in an instant with all manner of fillings and the next thing they knew, Mr. and Mrs. Hall were being coached in the proper form. The spirit of American ingenuity has never been in short supply in this region; over a firepit formed from a reclaimed truck wheel and the liner of an old washing machine, a dozen or so of the tastiest, meltiest cheese and meat pockets toasted to dinnertime perfection, and so completely was their hunger sated, no dessert (though readily offered!) was required.
Barely able to slide into the cockpit, they hugged their hosts and made their way to the hotel room for the night. The next morning, it was back to Rockford's Community Cabin for the reunion. "The Rockford Rams Class of '66 gets together more than any class I know", remarked Mrs. H. and Mr. Hall had to admit, it was true. Blessed with a core group of individuals dedicated to maintaining close ties (via the internet, gossip, the pony express or whatever means possible) with everyone from their little band still sitting up and taking nourishment, they managed to round up quite a few of the old graduates for the bash. The weather gods weren't quite as congenial as the warmth inside the cabin; almost as soon as the barbecue pig came off the grill, it began to rain cats and dogs outside. But to the fifty or so alumni gathered, it was a wonderful day. Every one present got a chance to get up and speak; and in doing so, it became apparent that the passing of time seemed not to have diminished the memories of old flames and childhood rivalries. Even their old principal, Mr. Cornelius Huizenga, showed up and addressed the crowd. Jay Grams and Neil Blakeslee, co-chairs of the production, took a well-deserved bow for their tireless efforts, and with all the hugging and backslapping going on, no one really noticed the rain at all. As endearing a town as Rockford is, however, the Halls knew they had miles to go. Pulling themselves together, they waved goodbye to the shrubbery and headed on east. Next episode; Brighton or bust! Stay tuned.

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