Once upon a time, Mom took us along on a business trip.

The Detroit Regional Chamber has a conference on Mackinac Island, like, every year or something and lots of organizations and politicians attend, and for a few years Mom got to attend as well through work. We were obnoxious, school-skipping, sleep-in-late-and-waste-the-day’ers. And, apparently, too young to go unsupervised on a 3.8 square mile island. Grandma was our adult buddy every year but one.

I have no clue how many years we went, but it seemed like the very beginning of every June it was time to skip a couple of days of school to take a long weekend, hop in the van and sleep through movies the whole way up north while Mom and Grandma yammered on up front.  Out of all of these times we went, I can really only remember a few scattered memories, one of which I’ll share with you today.

It doesn’t involve eating myself sick with yummy fudge, or watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on DVD as soon as it came out while it rained, or pillow fighting Drew on our hotel balcony while wearing my brand new *NSYNC concert t-shirt. The memory I’ll share with you doesn’t have anything to do with attempting (and failing) to learn how to skip rocks on Lake Michigan, nor does it include the time we went horseback riding and Angie’s (our cousin) horse went rogue and took off with her still on-board. (I hate horses.)

Oh no, dear readers, this one directly involves Grandma. And bikes. And a trashcan.

This is from one of the many trips. Probably not the same time as this story, though. Visual aids are always helpful. Note the bunny-ears. I’m super mature.

Riding one’s bike around the island is the thing to do on Mackinac Island. So much to do, so much to see! The foliage, the lake, the horse poop and the fudge. The Fort, and the Grand Hotel. Horseback riding, golfing, and eating. What’s not to love?

One day, as we had done so many times before, we decided it would be a grand idea to ride around the lake. After hopping on our bikes, we took a right, passing Fort Mackinac.  We continued on our way, passing one of the places I never did learn how to skip rocks. Soon enough we passed probably no less than 487 Adirondack chairs out in front of one of the lovely hotels with beautiful landscaping my grandma was likely dying to investigate. Unfortunately for her, Drew and I never were big fans of stopping to smell the roses.

The back side of the island is not as fun as the side with all the touristy crap. There are a lot of trees, people on bikes (omg tandem bikes are hilarious/adorable but impossible to ride- maybe that’s just me??), crying children, people with backpacks full of pb & j sandwiches and girl scout cookies, and one rest stop that I never wanted to use but we stopped at because Grandma wanted to ensure we wouldn’t pee ourselves. (I want to measure how many cc’s of liquid my bladder can hold because I’m sure it is superior to most everyone I know.)

Beyond that, we hauled our asses up big hills and flew down other hills with Drew making everything a race.  Soon enough we passed other landmarks, like the Grand Hotel and some place called Devil’s Kitchen, although I’m not sure if that’s an actual place or if it’s something Drew and I invented in our heads. It’s hard to say now, since it’s been so long since I’ve been there.

Finally, we’re on the homestretch. We’re riding down the main drag, past restaurants and hotels. We pass those touristy shops that sell crap you bring home and immediately break or throw away or forget about. We had convinced Grandma (okay, it was her idea) that it was time to get ice cream since we had just spent all afternoon in the hot, hot island sun (bahaha it’s Michigan, I know).  We were shouting the different kinds of ice cream we were going to get. It was so close, we could taste it.

That’s when it happened. Drew and I practically throw our bikes in the lovely flower garden off to the side of the building in an attempt to race to the door when we hear a human cry for help and a crash. When we turned around to see what happened, hoping to high heaven that a horse carriage hadn’t crashed, we saw that it was Grandma.

Fear not, dear readers, she didn’t crash into a horse carriage. She crashed into a garbage can on the side of the road. Turns out she had forgotten that her brakes were on the handlebars. Apparently in the olden days, to activate the brakes on one’s bike, one had to pedal backwards, so that’s exactly what Grandma did, only to no avail. She didn’t slow down at all. She went full force into a stationary trash can right in the middle of downtown. It was glorious.

We laughed because we’re brats. Then we went and helped her up, got the bike out of the way, and stood the once standing trashcan back upright. Grandma scraped up her arm and leg but we got some ice cream, a bottle of water and moseyed on back to our hotel for a nap. When Mom came home from her meetings at the Grand Hotel, with her fancy name badge and everything, and saw Grandma all scraped up, we dissolved into fits of laugher as we told and retold the story over and over, reenacting the yelp and the fall and the crash.

Good times were had by all at Mackinac Island. And that’s why we haven’t been back since.

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