Sunday, September 7, 2014

Honeymoon in the Hotel Chevette

Since our wedding anniversary was just a few weeks ago, I got to thinking about our honeymoon (and hey, who doesn't enjoy thinking about their honeymoon?), and recalled that I had posted a story from our honeymoon, some years ago, on my old blog.  It's been a long time since I re-posted anything, so I suppose you all won't mind too much.  Besides, it's a pretty good story. . .


For our honeymoon, Jenn and I went on a tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We actually spent our first night in our own house, then went to Mackinac Island. We spent two days and a night on the island, then drove on to the tiny village of Paradise (sign on the outskirts: “Welcome to Paradise; Glad You Made It”), where we spent our third night of wedded bliss (yes, we really did spend a night in Paradise on our honeymoon) before taking in Tahquamenon Falls the next day. At the end of that day, we drove on to Munising, where our plan was to take in the Pictured Rocks the following day.

Now, other than Mackinac Island, I hadn’t made any reservations. Northern Michigan, especially along the shores of the Great Lakes, is blanketed with hundreds of little mom-and-pop cabins, and it is not usually a very big deal to just drive along the road near the area you intend to stay, looking for a ‘Vacancy’ sign to be lit at a place that doesn’t look too nasty. I’ve done it dozens of times, and never had a problem. Except once.  On our honeymoon.  Oh yeah. . . Good, good times. . .

After a delightfully scenic drive from Tahquamenon Falls to Munising (I think I'm not supposed to mention skinny-dipping at a secluded beach on Lake Superior, so I won't), we began to see the little cabins popping up as we got close to Munising. ‘No Vacancy’. Hmmm. . . OK. With the Pictured Rocks, though, there ought to be no shortage of other cabins available to choose from.

Next place – ‘No Vacancy’. And the next place, and the next place, and the next place. We were into town by now, looking for a not-too-seedy-looking motel, and we found several, all with the ‘No Vacancy’ sign lit.

Hmmmm. . . well, we’ll just head on down the road on the far side of Munising, and see what we find there. . .

Again, ‘No Vacancy’, ‘No Vacancy’, ‘No Vacancy’.

I’m starting to get frustrated now, and Jenn is starting to get a little concerned as I’m getting more and more agitated as the ‘No Vacancy’ signs continue piling up. Finally, I pulled into a gas station, and asked a guy where I might look that I haven’t tried yet. He suggested a couple back roads out into the hinterlands surrounding Munising, and I thanked him for the tip. We followed his directions, and found the places he was sending us to.

‘No Vacancy’.

I actually went into the office at one of the places, just to confirm that they really didn’t have any rooms, and the neon ‘No’ wasn’t just inadvertently lit. Alas, the sign told the truth. But the manager pointed us farther down the road, to the little village of Christmas, Michigan, about 10 miles or so west of Munising. I thanked her, and we drove off.

We arrived in Christmas (greeted by giant plastic candy canes, and a giant plastic Santa Claus, as we drove into 'town', such as it was), and found a small cluster of three or four cabin-resorts.

‘No Vacancy’, ‘No Vacancy’, ‘No Vacancy’


What!? Was this a mistake? Did one of these places actually have an available room? Or was the neon ‘No’ cruelly lying in its unlit state? I pulled into the parking space by the office, and fairly sprinted in. When I walked through the door, there was a guy standing at the desk, with a mildly disgusted look on his face, and I heard him say,

“Well, if that’s the only room you’ve got, I guess I’ll take it.”

My heart sank. I looked imploringly at the manager, as if to say, please tell me you didn't really just rent out the very last room you have? The very last possible available room within three days’ drive of Munising? She shrugged, nodded, and said, “Sorry.”

I asked if she had any suggestions for where else I might look, and she said, “Well, you might try the KOA.”

I thanked her, and retreated to my car (a still-pretty-shiny ’79 4-door Chevy Chevette) to weigh my options, as the neon 'No' flickered into light above our car. At this point, I was NOT a happy camper, despite the prospects of spending the night at a KOA. On my honeymoon. Here I was, four days into my marriage, and I was already an abject failure. Tasked with nothing more onerous than taking my bride on a nice vacation so we could (*ahem*) get to know each other, I had failed miserably.

As the steam slowly seeped out of my ears, Jenn tried to be helpful. “You know, we’ll look back on this and laugh, someday.”

I was in no mood to think about how funny this predicament would come to seem, from the vantage point of some future time. All I knew is that I had failed. The Universe had conspired against me, to make me look like a fool in front of my bride, in whose eyes I had previously been able to do no wrong (well, OK, maybe she wasn’t quite that star-struck, but I wanted to think she was). And I was, how shall I say it. . . pissed!

I think I spent a couple minutes having a small tantrum in the car (it was a small car; there wasn’t enough room for a really big tantrum), before Jenn finally got me to calm down. She said how it would be fun to sleep in our car at the KOA, and c’mon, we could make it work out, and it would be fun, and a great story to tell afterward. I wasn’t really mollified (those of you who remember my old blog will get the pun that this used to be), but, lacking any better alternative, agreed that the KOA was probably our best (meaning, 'only') option, at this point. The sun was setting, and it was too long a drive to our next destination (the Porcupine Mountains, if anyone is interested), and besides, we really wanted to see the Pictured Rocks.

So I drove back toward Munising, and pulled into the KOA. The very portrait of dejection and defeat, I moped into the office. Approaching the desk, I simply asked the clerk, “What’ll it cost me to stay here tonight?”

“What have you got?” she cheerfully replied.

Now wait just a minute, missy – I wasn’t born yesterday. I may be desperate for a place to sleep tonight, but you just tell me your price, and I’ll pay it.

“No, no – do you have a camper, or an RV, or a tent, or what?”

Oh. Uh, we’ve got a Chevette.

“What’s that?”

Our car – we’re sleeping in our car. Do you just have a place where we could park it for the night?

“Oh, um, sure.” She seemed almost embarrassed, like I was some poor unfortunate homeless person asking her for a handout. “I guess two bucks is plenty for that.” I shoved a couple dollar bills at her, and shuffled resignedly back to our car.

When I arrived, Jenn was well into the process of transforming our little Chevette into the Honeymoon Suite Munising. She collected every towel, or grocery bag, or t-shirt we had readily at hand, raided the first-aid kit, and taped towels/bags/shirts over all the windows with band-aids. “There!” she declared triumphantly. “That ought to do the trick!”

My wife is a great, great woman.

I could only smile at my new bride’s resourcefulness, and her glee at having rendered our little car honeymoon-worthy was just irresistible. I grabbed one of the towels that she hadn’t used as a window-covering, and went off to take a shower. When I returned, I poked my head in through the car door, to find Jenn wrapped in my bathrobe, flashing me her very best ‘come-hither’ smile. The back seat was folded down, and our sleeping bag was rolled out. The car was too small for us to stretch all the way out – when it came to sleeping, the most comfortable arrangement involved us draping our legs over the backs of the front seats.

But it was our honeymoon, and we had business to attend to. Getting to (*ahem*) know each other, and all that. . .

When we emerged from the car the next morning, and began taking down the window-coverings, and packing up to get back on the road, I think the folks on the neighboring campsites were looking at us a little bit oddly. But who cared? We were on our honeymoon! We were going to see the Pictured Rocks!  Life was good!

And our very first marital crisis had been successfully defused, besides. . .


  1. And years later you get to laugh about it.

    1. Yeah, I've been able to laugh about it since. . . oh, last week, maybe. . .


  2. Ah, an absolutely brilliant story! I dearly love re-runs like this, even though the post was new-to-me.

    1. Glad you liked it, Buck (and yeah, it occurred to me that I've had a bit of turnover in my readership since the first time I posted this. . .)

  3. Traveling with my parents in the 70's, we normally didn't have reservations anywhere. You just traveled till you were tired. Then again, it wasn't in the Upper Peninsula!

    1. Well, we were on our honeymoon; we didn't want to get too tired. . .


  4. Ahhh, our honeymoon was not nearly so eventful.

    In more ways than one.

    But we did find places to stay every night with only a couple reservations.

    1. Well, you know, there's 'eventful', and there's 'eventful'. . . if you take my meanin'. . .