21 April 2013

Mar 2013 MICHIGAN Frankfort - Ninety Years Old

Today we took a day trip to Frankfort, Michigan, to visit Mike's mom on her 90th birthday. She recently moved there from the Clare, Michigan area to a VERY nice long-term care facility. She is still quite bright and active, but was having a hard time getting around and keeping her meds straight.

Years ago her parents owned cherry orchards near Frankfort. She went to school there and later visited often to help on the farm. This place will really help her along and give us comfort that she is looked after on a daily basis. After being there about a week, she is very happy.

Guests can visit (her brother, Son, comes every other day or so) and she can come and go as she pleases on the floor. She checks out and back in when leaving the building, so they don't worry about her.

No "lights out" or rigid schedule. At meal time, she has several selections to choose from. There is a big activity calendar and she can participate as much (or little) as she wishes. She can personalize her room and right now there is a big photo of her and Jack Parker (her recently passed husband). And she has a great view of Lake Michigan from the picture window in her room. Pretty classy situation.

On the drive up, there were at least seven smelly, dead skunk on the road ???, but we did see a beautify bald eagle in flight, a rare sight in Michigan until recently. Lots more snow up there than in Kalamazoo. Snow shanties still on Lake Cadillac. In Mesick, passed Mike's Uncle Al's high school and the Buck Snort Saloon (darn, no time to stop). Ski slopes and lifts still busy at Crystal Mountain. But the sun was shining, roads were dry, and it was a pleasant drive.

We arrived in Frankfort at 11am and met in the social area for a big catch-up and reminisce chat with Mom. Uncle Son (her younger brother (and Mike's uncle)) was there also. Glory, the cat, came round to say "Hi!" Another cat named Grace, a finch aviary, and a cool aquarium also entertain the residents. 

Then we headed out to do some chores for mom in the neighboring town of Honor. On the drive, we saw a bit of Crystal Lake and talked about swimming in the outlet and Mike sailing and rolling over our little sail boat there. Lunch next.

Mike had been yearning for a meal at our favorite Frankfort restaurant, Fusion. They have a nice view of Betsie Bay and the harbor. The menu is an Asian mix of foods, so we thought it might be a little too ethnic for down-to-earth, farm-raised Uncle Son. But he seemed up for anything, so we went for it.

Mom ordered a HUGE sizzling seafood platter, Uncle Son had a a salad and lemon chicken. As usual, I had my favorite pad-thai and Mike had his favorite General Tsao's chicken. Mike and I also had hot and sour soup. I did NOT order my usual sake flight, as I figured I should be on my best behavior today.

First off, I have to say the silverware (especially the spoons) were weird, even to me. They were triangle shaped with the flat part at the bottom where there is usually a more pointed area that fits neatly into your mouth. This deep coal-shovel like utensil was quite uncomfortable to scoop soup into your mouth. It tasted good though, so we got through the "task." The fork was huge as well and we got no knife.

Uncle Son's salad came with a very curly style of carrots, like the skinny, curly ribbon on an ol' time Christmas present. If you held them up and stretched them out they had to be at least 1-foot long each. No knives, so couldn't easily cut them to bite size. That was awkward for anyone to eat. Mom got a HUGE helping of steaming veggies, mussels, lobster, shrimp, and scallops. I never could have finished that heaping pile of seafood, but she ate every last bite. Almost licked her plate!! 

In spite of the logistical utensil moments, the food was fantastic. No let down there. Mike's mom ended with a "Mike, this was the best birthday ever. I never thought I would get another meal like that again in my life." We all waddled back out to the car.

After that we cruised our usual route of old family landmarks. With Uncle Son and Mom in the car, we got a first rate travelogue of things from the "old days" that was so enjoyable. We passed what was left of the family cherry orchards and the old farm. Only the barn was left standing from the old homestead. The plot is now owned by a guy that runs a port-o-pottie business and those ugly blue plastic "monuments" were scattered throughout the yard and trees. Sad. Too many wonderful memories to end up like this.

We drove to the lookout at Green Point Landing and saw the ice covered Frankfort lighthouse and breakwaters extending out into Lake Michigan. There was a lone swan swimming way out in the lake, a cold and lonely sight. We drove to the end of Main Street to see the snow-covered beach and the light house from that angle.

We drove around the area and saw where their original-original home was located, only land now. They talked about friends Mr. Baker and Mr. Hunt, other old school chums, and wondered where they lived and what they were doing now. So many good stories and laughter coming from the back seat from this 81-year old brother and 90-year old sister. We also drove passed where Mike lived as a 1-year old and the barbershop where he got his first haircut.   

The last stop was Uncle Son's senior complex. He showed us his cozy bachelor pad with a wonderful view of the woods and a little slice of Lake Michigan off in the distance. As we looked out we saw a herd of eight deer passing by, regular visitors, Son said. He also showed off a closet full of VHS tapes, a collection of which he was very proud. There were maybe 300 and covered every topic from documentaries to The Terminator.

As it turns out Uncle Al and Aunt Carol have a 2-bedroom in the same complex and had come down from Elk Rapids for the day to celebrate Ann's (they call her Nina) birthday. We almost missed seeing them, but caught them just as they were leaving. Seeing these three together just touched our heartstrings. They laughed and were so happy for these few short minutes.

After dropping Mom back off at the new "home," we headed back south to Kalamazoo. Round trip driving time today about six hours and covered drove about 390 miles total.

Tomorrow we trip off to East Liberty, Ohio, to see Mike's sister and her hubby.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.