A honeymoon plan gone awry | Sports | cadillacnews.com

2022-09-24 06:36:08 By : Mr. Felix Cai

Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. High near 55F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%..

Overcast with showers at times. Low 48F. Winds light and variable. Chance of rain 40%.

Spending a night of our honeymoon camping on the top of sand dune didn't go as planned.

Spending a night of our honeymoon camping on the top of sand dune didn't go as planned.

It was September 1970 and I had 10-day leave from Fort Hood, a short window of time to drive my black Chevy Corvair from Texas to Michigan, have a rehearsal dinner, get married with all the usual festivities, celebrate a honeymoon and get us back to our rental duplex in Killeen, Texas.

The morning after our wedding, Cyndy and I drove from East Lansing to Wolf Lake where we spent the night.

Up early, we were at the boat docks in Leland to take the Island Queen to South Manitou Island but Lake Michigan was hurling massive waves onto the beach.

The ferry wouldn’t be running that day. My army wages as private first class couldn’t stretch for a motel. Our fortunes took an upturn when George Grosvenor, the Manitou boat captain, offered his boat as sleeping quarters.

That night, we laid our bags out on the deck and slept a peaceful night, gently rocked by Lake Michigan.

The next morning, the lake was calm and we made the 1¾-hour trip to South Manitou, where we were met by island residents Marie and Mike Smith who showed us to our accommodations — a three-unit motel that Mike had built. I’m not sure we paid even $10 a night and with no restaurants or stores open on the island, it would be a cheap trip. Other than Mike and Marie and Ranger Pete of the newly established Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, we had the island to ourselves.

For the next five days, we hiked the trails, rode a rickety tandem bike on the gravel roads, took quick, chilly dips in Lake Michigan and clicked off dozens of pictures, mostly of us, of course.

Planning that the highlight of the trip would be a night camped atop the biggest dune, I had borrowed a backpack and a tent.

That morning, we pedaled the tandem —a bike that even in 1970 was a relic — across the island.

Then we climbed the huge perched dunes. It was beautiful bluebird sky day.

Photos show us running down the dunes, playing in the lake and our tent pitched at the top of the highest dune. It was picturesque with panoramic views in all directions, but not a good choice for a tent site if you had to contend with the weather.

That evening, we built a small campfire, cooked hot dogs and toasted marshmallows, oblivious to dark clouds building on the western horizon.

Lightning flashes lit up the sky. They caught our attention and soon we heard rumbles of thunder. I wasn’t concerned and assured Cyndy that I had spent rainy nights in a tent before with no problem.

On those occasions, though, my tent wasn’t sitting on top of a sand dune.

Shortly after we settled into our sleeping bags, the storm hit.

The tent began to shake, its sides flapping like sails, making so much noise we could hardly hear each other. With no floor, sand began to blow in under the sides. Then the tent pegs started pulling loose in the sand. I scrambled out of the tent to try resetting the pegs, a fool’s errand in shifting sand.

Next, the single t-bar pole holding up the tent began to keel over. I grabbed it and held on, trying to keep the tent from collapsing.

Hanging onto a metal pole in a tent sitting atop a dune in mid-thunderstorm was not a good idea …but that thought didn’t occur to me.

Then the rain came — hard drops that soon morphed into a full blown downpour.

The tent began to sway. Hastily, we stuffed our sleeping bags into a plastic bag and pulled on our raincoats just as the tent collapsed.

We crawled out from under our shelter and stood in the rain. The storm had won. We began the four-mile walk back to our motel room. The rain never let up, gradually soaking us. We sloshed through the puddles following the road across the island.

After lighting the Coleman lantern, we started water heating and slipped on dry clothes.

I remember looking at Cyndy as we sipped hot cocoa.

She smiled at me. I knew then that that I had a camping partner for life.

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