29th October (1999) Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA

This Week: Fran’s travel’s to Mackinac Island, Michigan in 1999 for a movie themed weekend.

29th October (1999) Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA

Most of this entry is quoted from my diary but it is too much to have in italics. So I have not italicised it allowing me to add information and correct grammar where required if it does not distract from the sentiment at the time. I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out the diary sections by now.

This weekend took a great deal of planning to come about. Basically, one of my favourite movies from my childhood was called Somewhere In Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. The romance, the time travelling, the costumes, what’s not to love? I discovered there was a Somewhere In Time fan club and that they held a yearly get together at the hotel where the movie was filmed. I had to go. So I joined the club and found out more about the weekend event. It was too expensive for me at $769 for a single. 

I advertised in the club newsletter to see if anyone wanted to share the double cost with me which would make it more affordable at $435 each. A woman called Sue, from Indianapolis got in touch and we made it work from there. We could not meet until the day, but we spoke on the phone once and, like we did back then, organised everything via snail mail letters. 

The hotel was beautiful. You can actually see it from the mainland it’s so prominent. We were met at the ferry by a beautiful enclosed horse and carriage that took us up to the hotel (very slow, but lovely).  There are actually no motorised vehicles allowed on the island except for emergency service vehicles. So horse and carriages were the norm if you weren’t walking or cycling. 

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan Somewhere in Time weekend
The prominent white of the Grand Hotel
Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan
The wonderful horse and carriage that meets you at the ferry

The Grand Hotel was magnificent in its size and Victorian majesty. At the time, it was the world’s largest summer hotel. It still has the world’s longest porch, which creates a masterpiece of white Victorian grandeur you can’t help but feel. The porch overlooks the gardens and water beyond.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island, Michigan
The world’s longest porch

Our baggage was dealt with separately. We were pretty early, so we weren’t sure what to do, check in-wise. We arrived, got out, and walked up the red carpet into the parlour. It was just like in the movie. It was all perfect. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. A couple of people were already dressed up in period clothing, and I was jealous. I was so sorry that I didn’t have authentic clothes to wear. It would have been magical to be dressed up over the entire weekend. Thank goodness Sue brought me one dress to wear on Saturday night. The movie was set in 1912, so the women’s wear of the day could be quite spectacular and how many times in your life do you get to pretend at being back in time?

We found SIT (Somewhere in Time) stuff downstairs. You could sign up for activities, pick up a program for the weekend, buy souvenirs, enter a raffle for a Grand Hotel music box that plays Rachmaninoff, join INSITE (International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts), buy CDs of music inspired by the movie, look at books about clothes and about Maude Adams whom Elise McKenna was based on. Elise is the character played by Jane Seymour in the movie. It was so crowded I hated it, but there was a lot that I was interested in at the same time. 

Then we checked in and were told our rooms were ready even though it was well before the 3 pm check in time. We were on the ground floor and at the back, but apparently we were one of the last to book. It was a sold out event. Isn’t that amazing three-hundred-and-forty-three rooms, all full of people for SIT? That is a lot of fans. A couple of people at least were staying elsewhere on the island and coming in for the events. They had to pay $70 for dinner, not including any drinks. Wow!!!

Our room was lovely. Two canopy beds. I’ve finally got to sleep in a canopy bed. Looking at the photos now, the rooms were very chintzy and would not pass muster in a historic hotel now, but at the time, I thought I had died and all my luxury historic dreams had come true. We had a double bed each, both complete with four posts and a floral material canopy. The wall paper matched the canopy so was chintz on chintz. I was just thrilled with the canopy that nothing else mattered. The beds were comfy, but I didn’t sleep well. My mind was so busy.

After settling in a bit, we walked into town and looked at all the old buildings and in the quaint shops. I bought a Christmas ornament with the Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island on it. I still have it in my collection. There was some lovely jewellery to look at. Many of the shops were closed, unfortunately. It was the last weekend of the season and being a special function, the season was really over before this weekend.

We bought lunch completing an expensive day money-wise, but it was all worth it. 

I went back to the hotel earlier than Sue, and basically from then on, I did all the activities. I started with a tour of the kitchens, which was interesting. Two-hundred-and-ten-thousand pieces of cutlery and crockery used per day. Wow! They have dishwashers with conveyor belts. We saw them making desserts and so on.

Then there was a slide show by the cinematographer showing all different techniques used to film the movie and told stories about it all. He was really good. Izzy Mankofsky. Then there was a member’s meeting for INSITE, and then time to dress for dinner.

It was nice to get all dressed up for a change. I didn’t see Sue from the time I left her in town until maybe the INSITE meeting or even dressing for dinner. We went down to the cocktail reception together, but once she had her drink, she just disappeared. So I was by myself, feeling very self-conscious in my short blue dress. Luckily, I sat down and shortly after someone else sat down and we started talking. They invited me to join them for dinner. I was so pleased. Sue eventually joined us as well. 

We had a table of eight. Clark, Darlene, Maureen, Julie, Rosslyn, Peter, Sue and me. We got along so well we decided to eat together again the next night. So it worked out in the end.

Dinner was five courses with at least three different choices. My choices were:

Appetiser: fruit cocktail (melon balls). 

Soup: mushroom. 

Salad: I skipped. 

Main: roast veal. 

Dessert: white chocolate mousse cake. 

I had a coke to drink and at the end of the night, they presented me with a bill for it. I had no money with me. Clark paid my bill, thank goodness. I just assumed you got drinks with the meal – at least soft drinks. But a lot of it was that I didn’t have an evening bag in which to put everything/anything. I’ll have to buy a nice one when I get back. 

Anyway, then we went and watched the movie, SIT of course. It was a new print made that had never been seen before. It was given to Jo Addie (the Editor of INSITE) and would have cost the studio at least $10,000, but most likely double that. It was amazing seeing the movie on the big screen. I had many, many goose-pimply moments and had to fight back the tears a few times. I loved every second of it. I’m kind of glad I didn’t watch it before I came. It meant a lot more after not seeing it for so long.

After this, I had a quick look at the dancing. I wished I’d had someone to dance with. I waited for Sue to come out, but she never did. I didn’t have my key, so I presumed she must have been already in the room, so I went and knocked on the door. She finally opened the door after I knocked three times. She didn’t feel well so went to bed, so basically I woke her up. I felt really bad. Another repercussion of not having an evening bag. I’m a mess fashion-wise.

Mackinac Island, Michigan
A sneak peek of what I wore to dinner on Saturday night. It was an incredible night and I loved wearing that dress. The full story will be in the book!

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