09-21-2012, 05:44 PM
The day before the trip I got out my to-do list and got to work. I'm one of those people who likes to do things ahead of time, from doing my taxes to planning a trip. No last-minute stuff for me--more time, less stress, that's my motto.
I had been given a hundred-dollar food allowance from MindFreak Productions so I decided to give Criss a taste of Michigan: Archway chocolate chip cookies, Better Made potato chips, UP-made beef and chicken pasties, Faygo soda in all flavors, and, of course, a chunk of Mackinac Island fudge. I could not resist indulging in that little slice of heaven when I got home. Take it from me: Mackinac fudge is, in my opinion, the last affordable luxury! I also picked up two twenty-four cases of bottled water and a couple of bags of ice to preserve it all.
Food packed, first aid kit stocked and ready, cell phone fully charged, insurance confirmed--I left nothing to chance. But I could not find my flashlight. Must have left it on the boat, I thought, as I finished my preparations.
Later, I got a call from my brother, Rich, that evening. Nothing dire, just a hello and bon voyage. Andi was still sore about not being able to go, but she'd get over it, he said. I thanked him and hung up. Poor Andi, I thought. She wants to go more than I do. But, the decision was made, and there was nothing she or I could do.
Eight AM. I arrived at the marina after an hour's drive. Seems everyone wanted to get the jump on the holiday weekend. I unloaded all the provisions onto the hand truck and wheeled it down the dock. I unloaded everything onto the deck and transferred it into the galley.
As I was stocking the galley cupboards, I opened one and my flashlight tumbled out, almost conking me on the head. How the hell it got there, I'll never know. Worse, the batteries were dead, so I would have to go all the way to the bait shop for more. It slowed me down a bit, but damned if I was going out with a dead flashlight. Fortunatly, the bait shop opened at six AM, so I was able to get in and get out without delay.
After that quick trip, I assured myself all was ready. Nine AM was my first moment to relax. Criss was not due until ten AM. I pulled out my John Grisham novel and settled back on one of the bunks. I was so absorbed in the plot I lost track of time.
Something in my brain went off like an alarm clock and I checked my watch. Nine fifty-five. Jeez! I bolted up from the cabin and onto the deck, looking for my passengers. No one, I sighed with relief. I did not want to create a bad impression.
I spied a long, black limo snaking it's way into the marina. That had to be him, I thought. Well, he was on time, anyway. It pulled up before the dock, the driver got out and opened the door, and two cameramen, laden with all this technical stuff, some guy in a suit and the star himself emerged. Criss was suited up more for water skiing than magic in a half wetsuit. I stepped forward to greet them.
The suit (turned out ot be Criss' manager) introduced me to hem and we shook hands all around. I guided them to the Angel. Criss said he loved the name, by the way. I told him my niece, Andi, thought I named it after him, but it was just a name that popped into my head at the moment. He was flattered by the association, anyway. Nice guy, Criss.
We all boarded and I gave a brief safety lecture before departure, like the flotation devices in the storage compartments, etc. I won't bore you like I probably did Criss and company, but as the owner of a charter boat, I am required by law to do this.
I gave them a quick tour of the boat. Criss was really into the control panel and wanted to know how to "drive". I obliged by showing him the throttle, the lights, the horn (which he immediatly tried out, scaring the hell out of everyone on board) and what-all. "Steering a boat isn't like driving a car, you know," I told him, "especially one as large as the Angel. Ask anyone who owns one, they'll tell you."
Finally, we were on our way. I pulled out cautiously from the launch and steered her into position, Criss hanging onto my every move. He really wanted to steer the Angel. Once we were on open water, I let him take over, making sure we stayed on course.
The weather was beautiful. There's nothing like summer on the Great Lakes! The shimmering water, the bluest sky you will ever see, the shoreline in all its natural beauty. It was worth all the money I invested in the Angel of the Lakes.
Criss was really into boating by this time. I like to think I made a sailor out of him, but don't quote me on that. As much as he wanted to stay on the bridge, he had a show to tape, so I resumed my position at the wheel as Criss went down to the main deck. I began to relax, cruising at a moderate pace, enjoying the scenery and the weather. Not many days like this left, I thought. Winter hits early and it hits hard in Northern Michigan. Warm summer days are precious here, and the minute the temps hit even the seventies, out come the boaters, the waterskiiers and the jetskiiers in force. Labor Day weekend is to Northern Michigan like Mardi Gras is to Louisiana--the final blowout before the big chill.
Suddenly, I heard a commotion down on deck. I cut the engine and went down to investigate. What I saw jolted me out of my senses. There, standing beside Criss Angel with a sheepish smile on her face, was my niece, Andi. Criss merely smiled. "Seems we have a little stowaway here", he said jovially.
I was furious. "Andi! How did you get here?" I demanded.
"I'm sorry, Aunt Vicky," she stammered, "but I wanted to meet Criss so much, I hid in the truck and..."
"You are in a lot of trouble, young lady!" I scolded. "Your parents must be worried sick!" Turning to Criss and company, I apologized for all this and promised I'd get her back as soon as possible. I was so embarrassed by all this, I was ready to do a complete one-eighty and go back to the launch. Production scheduling, however, would not allow it, I was told.
So here I was, with not only my passengers to worry about, but now I was stuck baby-sitting my love-struck niece on top of all else. God! What a trip this was going to be!