Friday, October 19, 2012

Marcy's Travel Blog- A Train, A Castle, And A Life Time Friendship!

This past week I headed back to Kalamazoo, Michigan! In my last blog I told of some of my fond childhood memories associated with train travel. So, once again, pulling my car into the train station in Ann Arbor gave me that feeling of excitement. A "New" adventure was about to begin!

The station agent's name was Cliff. He was a busy man that morning, and short-handed from what I could tell. Usually there are two behind the glass enclosure, but that day it was only him. Still, Cliff graciously and with patience answered all questions. When it was my turn I showed him my I.D.- a requirement of getting a senior citizen discount.
I asked about a parking sticker that would save me from dragging my suitcase up and down a couple of metal and cement stairways connecting the "free parking" to the station itself. Without hesitation he gave me a paper to put on my dashboard, giving me prime parking- AND saving me from the struggle of roller bag against long and difficult stairways! Thank you, Cliff!

Once on the train I immediately smelled the wonderful aroma of fresh brewed coffee! Ah! (DO love my coffee!) I stowed my bag at my seat and headed for the snack car. (I have given myself permission to pay a bit extra for Business Class- where coffee is free and the seats area bit more comfortable!)

The train crew consisted of Daniel (the Conductor), Terry (the assistant conductor), and Clayton (the Lead Service Attendant). All were friendly and pleasant!

Conductor: Daniel
Lead Service Attendant Clayton.

Assistant Conductor Terry on the left. 

Terry and I talked a bit about some of those "old time" memories of mine, riding trains when I was little- and what it was like growing up in Iowa.

This is a bit of a blur- but it shows the gold and orange colors
The scenery swept past me as I sat in the snack car. Mother Nature indeed was dressing for fall! The colors of the leaves were changing, and it was beautiful!

The purpose of this particular trip was to return to the "Henderson Castle", and share my Castle adventure with a dear friend that I've known since we were teens! The feeling of excitement and anticipation certainly was there! For those of you who have a life time "Best Friend", you know what a reunion can mean! It had been a full year since last we saw each other.

My friends name is Gail. She lives in Big Rapids, and is a real-estate agent. Since her schedule is a busy-busy one, and we're about three to four hours away from each other, our reunions are rare! I was looking forward to memories and family news shared, and a bit of "down time" for both of us!

Once I reached Kalamazoo, I called Francois Moyet (pronounced Frah-n-zwah)- owner of the "Henderson Castle". He graciously came to the station to give me a ride!

It was like reuniting with family! I was so happy to see him again, and he seemed to feel the same! As we rode, we talked about his dreams for the future, as did I. How wonderful it is when you connect with a kindred spirit!

Beautiful old doors at the entrance to the Castle!

I arrived before my friend Gail- so checked in- again having the "Victorian Room" that had two beds. After settling my belongings, I wandered a bit- again in awe of this wonderful old Victorian mansion!

I stood on the porch, looking at the flowers that still bloomed in the hanging plants. All at once I heard her voice! Gail was here! After hugs and greetings, I introduced her to Francois, settled her stuff in the room, and had the privilege of giving her the grand tour! What fun!

At this point I will apologize to you, dear readers! In the excitement and joy of seeing my friend again- I often forgot to take pictures! So- where I can, I will describe in words where a picture should have been!

Our dinners at the castle were set for 7:00 p.m. After wandering the castle we went to the dinning room. Jane and Jen were our servers the first night. We decided on a 5 course meal. We had a wonderful salad, cream of potato soup, Steak Diane with potato, and chocolate mousse for dessert.

Even though the Castle has been approved for a liquor license, they don't have it yet. But we are allowed to bring a bottle of wine to the kitchen for them to serve us, if we wished. Gail and I had picked up a bottle of red wine- can't remember the name- but did each have a glass with our main course.

Laughter and memories were the addition to the meal that evening! (No- it wasn't due to the wine! We each only had one glass! Ha!) What fun to see each other again! Gail received many phone calls that evening, since the real-estate business didn't stop because she was out of town. But she did a wonderful job of taking a few minutes before dinner to answer calls, then left the phone in the room for our dinner. One of the joys of eating at the Castle (along with Francois being a French chef and his gifted assistant doing the cooking) is being able to take your time, enjoying each course, and leaving time to enjoy the company of the person you're with!

Back in our room our chatter continued. LOTS to catch up on! Laughter was the topping on the cake for our evening! I dozed off full and happy- knowing I'd have another day and a half with my friend!

Please check back in to see how Gail and I fared the second day- wind storm and all- and the wonderful gift she gave me!!

Life is a wonderful adventure! And nothing enhances an adventure like the pleasure of sharing memories and laughter- and making new wonderful memories with a BEST friend!! I am truly blessed!

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