Coast Guard, Bergmann Center and Charlevoix
Michigan – Friday, November 15
I got an email this morning with news I’d been hoping to hear. It came from an officer on the Coast Guard ice-breaker Mackinaw, and it was letting me know they had checked with their legal department and would be able to accept my donation for the Coast Guard Family Christmas Party. My communication with them had started a few days ago – it had occurred to me that despite all my military-based donations, I still hadn’t made one to the Coast Guard. The “Mackinaw” is a heavy-duty Coast Guard ship based in Cheboygan, Michigan and in addition to its ice-breaking duties, the crew also assists with buoy cleaning and repair, search-and-rescue missions, maritime law enforcement and other duties. (This weekend it becomes the Christmas Ship – delivering 1200 Christmas trees to Chicago as part of a maritime tradition that began in the late 1800s, and also dropping a wreath in the water where a Coast Guard ship sank in 1912 during a bad storm.) When the Mackinaw is in port, visitors are welcome to tour the ship, but the weather had delayed the ship’s return to port today so I wouldn’t be able to visit it. In an effort to contact them about making a donation, I had read what I could find on-line, then sent an email to the ombudsman with a short explanation about what I was doing, and why I would like to make a donation to them. They apparently forwarded my email to an officer on the ship, who called me yesterday and told me he thought my journey was really “neat” and that he would have to get legal clearance to be able to accept the donation (kind of the same thing I ran into back in Yorktown, Virginia) and he would do what he could to obtain that. And then I got the email this morning that they could indeed accept it for the Coast Guard family Christmas party, so I was happy about that. I’ll just mail the donation in since I can’t visit the ship, but he gave me the address.
I had another visit to make to start off my day. Taryn had to work til 3, but I had been talking with one of my oldest childhood friends who now works for the Bergmann Center in Charlevoix. The Bergmann Center is a place for adults with developmental disabilities, and many of them run little businesses (making jewelry, dog soap/shampoo, fire starters, rock painting etc) and they sell some of their things at the Bergmann Center thrift store. They had occasionally been following my blog, and my old friend Jan had asked if I could stop by to talk with them for a few minutes and answer some of their questions. So I stopped by and it was fun to meet them – they were an enthusiastic bunch and had a lot of questions. My friend Jan’s mom was also there, and it was fun to see her again after about 30 years! Some of the clients gave me some things to pass on to other organizations, and Tim, one of the employees, actually gave me $56 to forward on to a good organization (a couple days later I gave Tim’s donation to the Kids Food Basket in Muskegon; a worthy organization that my aunt Phyllis often helps with – I wrote a note with the extra donation explaining who had made the donation). Some of them wanted to meet Tula since they had read about her too, but Tula was kind of shy and only met a few of them outside.
When I was finished at the Bergmann Center, Tula and I set out for a walk in Charlevoix. This is such a pretty part of Michigan! We passed a drawbridge that was opening up for the Beaver Island ferry and walked out on the breakwater. After a mile and a half, I put Tula back in the car (one of her legs seems to be bothering her a little and I don’t want to push her), and then set off for another 3+ miles of walking all through town and into some of the historic neighborhoods with grand old houses. The docks were pretty empty – most of the boats were in winter storage, but there was at least one hardy soul who took their sailboat out, and the drawbridge opened again for them to sail out onto Lake Michigan from Lake Charlevoix. Jan and a couple of the clients tracked me down in town near the water so that I could meet one of them who hadn’t been at the center in the morning.
Then I made my way back to Petoskey – Jan had given my name to one of the reporters for the Petoskey paper and we had arranged a time to meet for a short interview. When I was done with that, I met Taryn at the hospital and she gave me a tour of the place, although of course I couldn’t go inside the operating rooms. It was fun to see where she works. After she changed out of her scrubs, we set off for a walk on the Little Traverse Wheelway along Lake Michigan. We walked almost 3 1/2 miles and went out on another breakwater to see the lighthouse. Then we had appointments for pedicures, and after that we drove to the ski lodge in Boyne City to enjoy their Friday night special – an all-you-can-eat prime rib dinner that was absolutely amazing, and I had seconds! It was fun to look around the lodge, and imagine it all full of chilly skiers warming up in front of the fireplaces. It was a nice way to end a very full day!