Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: a flashback to our fourth annual road trip, a meetup in Grand Rapids with fellow Star Wars fans for opening day of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones. Before and after the movie, we spent our first time in Michigan hitting a few key tourist attractions in the vicinity.
Katrina acted as our trusty tour guide and started us with the basics: scenic Lake Michigan. Much like the Wolverine State surrounding us, we’d also never seen a Great Lake before.
Grand Rapids is an inconvenient forty minutes east of the shore, so we had to drive out to Grand Haven State Park. We know next to nothing about their fair town except (a) on the way was a florist with pretty, fenced-in gardens that was already closed by the time we arrived; and (b) search engines really want you to know they have a big red lighthouse.
Between us and our objective: sand. It’s everywhere. I don’t think I’d ever stepped foot on a real beach before, either. As I’ve written before, my family couldn’t afford capital-T Travel when I was a kid. I do recall a few visits to Indiana’s own Patoka Lake, but we never approached it except on one of its non-sandy, untamed-wilderness sides with no admission fees.
Beyond all that showy elitist dirt, there’s your Great Lake.
We took off our shoes and socks and spent a good while roaming, feeling sand beneath our toes, and learning how much effort it takes to push off the sand with each laborious step, how many jagged edges one square foot of ground can possibly contain, and how uncomfortably chilly the weather was that day.
Once we had our fill of wading and grew tired of sandwalking, we braved the long pier leading to that big red lighthouse. Without socks or shoes protecting our feet from its stone surfaces and prickly textures, the walk felt about 73 miles long, give or take a march.
But at last we reached that big red lighthouse and hung around it for a minute, taking in its locked door and all the outer qualities that “big red lighthouse” already covered in full.
So. Big red lighthouse, then.
Katrina did us the honor and privilege of taking our photo, the only shot of the two of us together from this trip. I’m pretty sure my arm was around Anne because by this time we were both freezing and not looking forward to the 362-mile trudge back to the car.
Eventually we reached the car and moved on to our next to-do item: bathrooms. One major difference we learned between a normal vacation and our geek conventions: at least those crowded convention centers have guaranteed plumbing. Sure, sometimes they’re gross and potentially hazardous because some of our fellow fans are untrained pigs, but at least they’re there. Shores, parks, forests, hiking trails, and other areas of untold natural wonders don’t always have stalls right there waiting for you. Thankfully a convenience store down the road saved the day, so there’s a third thing Grand Haven has going for it.
To be continued! In our next chapter: someplace with pretty flowers that wasn’t closed when we got there.