Monday, September 17, 2012

I Love...Michigan

First off, I was born and raised in Michigan, so I admit I'm biased. Most of my family still lives there, and each visit is an opportunity to see not only my close family, but also aunts, uncles and cousins.

But even if I didn't have family here, the state is just great for visiting, especially in the summer. I could list a million things, starting with the deer and sandhill cranes that stroll across my brother's backyard, but I've reduced the list to a couple from our recent vacation.

Torch Lake
I'm pretty sure this is the lake Kid Rock sings of in All Summer Long. Interestingly enough, my age matches the girl in his song. But it wasn't me. Honest. Nope, no "funny things" for me.

Torch Lake is nineteen miles of the clearest, bluest water--just perfect for zipping along at high speed. It's one of those places you could mistake for the least if it wasn't for the Burger Barge, which earns bonus points for cheesiness. 

In the middle of the lake is a sand bar built up with the softest sand, completely poke-free for big and little feet. In some places, the water only reaches your ankles.

Sutton's Bay
After stopping in this town on the Leelanau peninsula to have lunch, we decided to let the kids go wild at a playground near the beach. When they saw the beach, there was no holding them back. Bathing suits on and into the bay. Again, soft, smooth sand. Bath temperature water. An abundance of skipping stones.

Sleeping Bear Dunes – Lake Michigan Overlook
Good Morning America viewers apparently recently voted the Sleeping Bear Dunes the prettiest spot in America. I don't blame them. There's a 110-foot climbing hill that makes you feel like you've really worked to climb to the top. 

And then there's the view of Lake Michigan. Regardless of how much I love words, I'll just let the picture take over here.

How could you not love Michigan?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Airline Strike

We had a fantastic vacation in Michigan – I'll describe it more another day. In fact, I feel an "I Love" coming on....

But even the most divine vacation must come to an end. Ours ended with a Cabin Crew strike. Okay, so strikes happen from time to time, and I can even understand the necessity of them. I'm far more annoyed at how the airline handled the strike than with the strike itself.

My attempt at online check-in lead to the simple message that our flight was canceled, and I should call a Lufthansa number.

A few moments of horror, then, okay...I called, only to find that the telephone won't be manned for another thirteen hours. Thirteen hours where all my husband and I have time to do is wonder how and when we'll be able to get back home. Over a thousand flights had to be re-booked. There were something like 170,000 stranded passengers.

Instead of waiting thirteen hours, we used our noodles and found an airline number from Germany. Calling it - twenty times - was useless. It was always busy. They didn't even bother putting us on hold.

So it was back to the original number thirteen hours later. After twenty minutes on hold, the Sales Rep said the wrong number was mistakenly put on the website and that they aren't responsible for re-booking.

My Argh-O-Meter was running pretty hot by now. I semi-politely suggested they fix the website since it was still showing the incorrect number. Later, I decided it was strategy – a good way to slow people down who are trying to re-route their flights when there is a limited number of Sales Reps.

Finally, Wrong Number gave me a new telephone number to call. After just under forty minutes on hold with the new hotline (a dreadful time for a loop of commercials touting reduced fares), I talked to a very nice Sales Rep who asked if we could get to the airport within ninety minutes. Since our original flight hadn't been scheduled to go until several hours later, we weren't packed, our driver was at work, and we'd have had an hour drive anyway. No dice.

After about ten more minutes of searching (did all four of us really need to travel together?), an alternative flight for tomorrow was found. 


I don't know how they do it. We originally paid a higher price for a direct route, but now we're relieved we'll get home only 22 hours late with an extra stop in Paris.