Thursday, 21 August 2008

A grand Grand Hotel

mainly sunny, mild, temps 25

Dear god, we've found Heaven and it's called the Grand Hotel and it's on Mackinac Island - on lake Michigan. Spread the good word.

Wow, is this place wonderful!!

Michael and I got up at 3:30 for a 6am flight from Montreal to Chicago, then another flight to Traverse City. Easy flights, not crowded. I was a little tired because I never sleep well just before a really early flight, for fear of missing it. Well we got into Traverse and Robin Agnew (who owns Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore in Ann Arbor along with her husband Jamie) said she'd arranged for someone to meet the place and get us to Mackinac...which being an island requires a ferry ride. We looked, waited...and couldn't find anyone. Except a nice young man about 12 holding a sign for a tiny airline.

We ignored him.

Finally it was just the three of us left and I was about to call to find out what to do when the young man asked if we were going to the Grand Hotel. I said yes, and he said that our airborne chariot awaited. He and his co-pilot (about 6 years old) took us to this toy plane, squeezed us in, and took off. For about the first 20 feet I was fine then I rememembered the main thing Gamache and I share. Not patience, kindness, tolerance or courage. It's a morbid and rabid fear of heights. And it seemed likely this boy-pilot planned to go more than 10 feet off the ground.

I immediately had a panic attack and spent the rest of the 40 minute flight with my head buried in my considerable purse. Michael was saying things like, 'Oh, wow, look at that.' He was all but giggling - not at me, but at his delight. He adores small planes and was once a rock climber.

I hate him.

One Atavan late (hard to swallow when I have no more spit left) and about 20 minutes and I can raise my nose from the belly of my purse.

And Michael was right! It was stunning. But the best was still to come. A horse-drawn carriage met us at the tiny airfield and June Carter Cash and Johnny (back now as Clydesdales) took us to the most astonishing hotel. Huge, sweeping, overlooking the great lake. No motorized vehicle on the island. gracious grounds...and a lunch buffet that includes oysters, shrim and bread pudding. After lunch we strolled the verandah and discovered a fleet of men serving ice cream, with a 'condiments' bar of caramel, chocolate, strawberry and raspberry sauce.

I won't get off this island alive, I know that now.

This trip is a gift from Robin Agnew and her family who own the Grand Hotel. When Robin invited us, last year (she invited one mystery writer every year) I said yes. it was clearly a great honor...but I did it, frankly, thinking it was a favour to a friend. I'd come and do a reading at the local library.

I had NO idea I'd fall so hard for this gracious, lovely, peaceful place...where ice cream and oysters are served to dozing guests.

This is also beautifully timed. Michael just announced he'd completed his book!!!!!

Amazing, wonderful man!!! and we wanted to celebrate!!!!

And hours before we left I finally staggered to the end of the revision for THE BRUTAL TELLING _ book 5. Another reason to celebrate.

Lucky, lucky us, to have such a friend as Robin.

Well, off to dress for dinner.


Rebecca Rose said...

Hi Louise,

It certainly sounds like you did find Heaven. I just don't know if I'd want to have to take a helicopter to get there, I too am horribly afraid of heights. Congratuations on finishing the revision for book 5 and to Michael for finishing his book.

Best wishes,
Rebecca Rose

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Rebecca Rose,

How kind of you - thank sure feels great to come to the end of the revision and take a breath and a breather. Michael is thrilled too, and thanks you for your good wishes.

Happily you can get to and from the Grand Hotel by ferry, and I'm hoping to take that route on Sunday. Or gobbled more Atavan.

Thank you for being so kind, and funny.