8-18 Media: Not your standard trip across the ‘Mighty Mac’
Now that the school year has started and students have been thrust back into the monotonous routine that is school, I’ve begun to reflect on my summer and the events that took place during it. I put in some hours at my work, played a lot of tennis, spent a week visiting family in Lombard, IL, and, as usual, spent plenty of hours at the library. But there is one moment that sticks out in particular, in the similar, stress-inducing but historic way the pandemic has.
It was mid-July, and my mom and I rented a car and drove down to Mackinaw City so that my mom could spend that evening and the rest of the next day reuniting with two of her college friends and their families, who she hadn’t seen in 17+ years, besides a brief visit with one of her friends when I was no more than 9 months old.
It would be even more hilarious considering one of her two friends, Megan, was unaware that her friend of over two decades whom she hadn’t seen in over one, would be joining them. Mom was ecstatic as she drove through the empty, forested Michigan highways with 90s music blasting from the radio, and of course, I tagged along because for a teenager stuck in a small town for over a year and a half, spending her second-to-last summer vacation either in her home or the library because almost everything was shut down, anything is better than rewatching old movies for the 40,000th time because you’re too bored to do anything else.
The excitement reached a whole new level when we realized we were less than half an hour away from the campsite. Almost as soon as our excitement soared, it was crushed in one fell swoop when we finally reached the bridge and were told that we would need to follow the highway back to civilization and listen to the state radio channel for more updates as to when the bridge would be reopened. We weren’t the only travelers who were a bit ticked off at the lack of information from the city workers around the bridge, and we drove back to the small town of St. Ignace, a monotone man’s voice repeating the same few facts about the “Bridge that couldn’t be built,” with the same current message on repeat every few seconds between the facts. It went something like, “The bridge is currently closed. Please keep listening to this channel and we will update you as soon as possible.” When we reached St. Ignace, the highway was so packed that we couldn’t cross the street, and the restaurants in the parking lot we were stuck in were all closed. The large parking lot was so packed with people and their vehicles or RVs that mom said it looked like a giant tailgate party. Based on the rumors we collected from our fellow trapped travelers, the wait could be up to five hours, and the bridge was shut down due to a bomb threat.
So, for who knows how long, we were stuck in a parking lot in 90-degree weather with nothing but a sweaty, cramped car, a packed parking lot, and a tiny gas station at our disposal. I am the kind of person who tends to start freaking out and exploring every what if very early on in each nerve-wracking situation. What if we didn’t make it in time to surprise Megan? What if, since we were only staying the night and then spending the next day with them before returning home, we got there so late in the evening that we didn’t get to do much together? But if there is anything this experience taught me, it’s not to freak out over what you don’t yet know. I grabbed a soda and chips from the gas station, and just an hour and a half later, the bridge was opened and we finally arrived at our destination that was barely five minutes past the bridge.
I made some new friends who I can’t wait to see next summer, and mom reunited with some old friends. We swam in the pool, ate good food, played games, got to know each other, listened to ‘Dance Monkey’ on repeat in the car for an hour, and overall had a very memorable time. See you next year, Maggie and Maggie!