Time for Lunch
Well, the gang’s all here and true to what I’d heard, the lunch buffet was really an event. The number of choices available was astounding. The service was gracious. It was a dream come true – sort of – and I am grateful to my family for the chance to have the experience.
Still, it wasn’t THE dream come true. Aside from that rocking chair moment, this wasn’t the Grand Hotel experience my mom had wished for me. Mom had come to the Grand Hotel on a bus tour called Great Hotels of the East with my sister and my aunt. They’d already stayed at Mohunk Mountain House and other amazing places. Stepping off the ferry, they’d boarded a horse drawn carriage and been welcomed at the front desk as guests, without paying a $10 fee and being handed a self-guided tour pamphlet. They stayed in the uniquely decorated guest rooms and were invited to the tea dances and the formal evening dinner. Most of all, there was nothing called COVID going on and the hotel was full to bursting with others who were enjoying all the Grand Hotel had to offer.
For Mom, this was the ultimate experience. Oh, she’d been to Europe on one of those 32-countries-in-16-days tours. She’d visited the British Isles. She’d been to Hawaii. She’d planned and enjoyed innumerable road trips, but she never had the opportunity to do the kinds of things I have done.
Her tours of England and Europe happened on a bus, shuffling through major tourist attractions with 60 or so people she would never see again. She never wandered Britain on her own, staying at bed and breakfast inns and taking her time on Cotswold backroads or seeing the Potteries with some locals she chatted up at a pub. She hadn’t stayed at the Mena House in the shadow of the Pyramids, sailed on the Nile or ridden a hantoor through Alexandria. She never attended a friend’s wedding in a German cathedral nor her nephew’s wedding in Cairo. She’d never taken a river cruise down the Nile or hurried through the streets of Budapest to make it back to the boat on time. She didn’t celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony on a luxury cruise ship in the Mediterranean.
The leap my mother made from working at the five & dime on the Square in McKinney TX to sitting on the porch at the Grand Hotel was pretty amazing. It was beyond her wildest dreams. She wanted so much for me to have the same moment she did at the Grand Hotel, but by the time I got there I’d ridden to the Pyramids on a camel, feasted in the Sinai, watched a ballet performance in the Schönbrunn Palace, had drinks at the Monaco Yacht Club as the guest of the CEO of Celebrity Cruise Lines and so much more.
Still, I didn’t do what she did at the Grand Hotel. I was just a visitor, not a guest. So while I can say I have been to the Grand Hotel, staying there will remain on my bucket list. I have no idea what will take me back, but there are many places and many experiences I never even had enough imagination to dream, until they actually happened to me, so I will keep the faith that there are more exciting things in my future than there have been in my past.
Come back next week. There are still adventures on Mackinaw Island. We’ll take a carriage ride around the island next.