I fell, head over heels in love, in the summer of 1985. I had finally been granted permission to watch the movie Somewhere in Time, released five years previous. (It was a bit "racy" and not fit for one so young) The Grand Hotel made me sigh and my heart sing.
I watched the movie as often as I was allowed, and felt I knew just about every room of the hotel by heart. I thought I could be able to navigate the entire building and grounds, with no map. I poured over brochures and pamphlets, looked it up in our encyclopedias (remember those?) and drew it as well as I could.
My father surprised me, two years later, and took our family on a trip to Mitchimakinak (Mackinac) Island. There are no words to describe the feeling within me as I watched the Island approach from the Ferry. I was so excited, I talked to just about everyone on board and spewed facts about the island, and the hotel as well. MUCH to my parents chagrin, I even talked to those who appeared to be traveling to the tourist shops, and a day without cars.
As we rode up to the grounds of the Island on a glorious carriage with tassels swaying to the rhythm of the horses trot, I felt my heart would simply burst. The grounds were immaculately kept, the porch was glistening, the flowers vibrant and the doorman looked like an Angel.
I was in Heaven. For a week I was allowed to wander the hotel, the grounds and the town. It was marvelous. I found a little hidden path that led down to the water, where, if you leaned over your body just right, you could see the hotel though the trees. I loved that spot. The only sounds to reach it were the sounds of nature. It seemed it was not only MY secret though, as just a few yards away, a boy about my age used to sit and just stare out over the water.
Occasionally he would look in my general direction, but, like me, he was lost in his own thoughts and in the beauty of the lake.
On the day we were to leave my fairy tale land, I went down to the lake one last time. Even though I had never shared a word with the boy, I thought to tell him he would again have the lake to himself. It was a one sided conversation, and I could not help but feel saddened that I had wasted the week by not talking to him sooner.
Maybe we could have explored the Island together. He never spoke a word, but the look in his eyes were so sad, that I flattered myself to think that he would miss sharing his secret place with me.
On my walk back to the hotel, I stopped in The Mission Church, to say a few words. There I met a man I talked with briefly, and I asked him about the boy. With only a little over 500 residences on the Island, I thought for sure this man would know who he was. He had no clue.
The ferry ride back across to the main land was a depressing one. I could not help but to stand at the aft quarters and watch the hotel until it could no longer be seen. I then went up to talk with the employee's of the Ferry. I told them about our stay, and they humored this young girl who seemed to be filled with the magic of the Island, as so many before me.
When I mentioned the little boy, their expressions changed, and Eric Lightfeather told me where it was that I saw him. I agreed.
Seems that, on a snowmobile ride to the Island one blustery winter day, a young boy and his father fell through some thin ice near the shore of Mackinac Island. The father was not found until the spring thaw, but the boy made it to the shore. When he was found, he was frozen on the banks of Lake Huron.
Just an added note to this story. The hotel in the movie Somewhere in Time is NOT the Grand Hotel, but the Island was used. The actual hotel that was in the movie was The Hotel Del Coronado, in California. Once I was made aware of that, I decided to visit IT as well.
The Island of Mitchimakinak (Mackinac) is a sacred place in the tradition of some of its earliest known inhabitants, the Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) tribes, who consider it to be home to the Great Spirit.