Saturday, July 10, 2021

Friendstrip (No, it's not misspelled)

Baldwin, Barbara - Digital and Print EBooks (

 FRIENDSTRIP (No, it’s not misspelled)


               Friendstrip: the act of traveling (or hanging out) with another who adds
                passion and humor to your sense of adventure.

                As the COVID restrictions are easing somewhat, I have been thinking more and more about getting back to traveling; if not worldwide then at least within my immediate area. That means it’s time to awaken my dear friends and make plans for a friendstrip. Do you have people you can call with an “are you ready?” and they say “yes” without even knowing what you have planned? It might only be a coffee date and a browse through your favorite store. Ours was Pier One, but now that it’s closed, we need to find another. This is what happens when we visit a Pier One:

                “Look at this coffee mug,” I say, turning to face my friend, who has the exact same mug in her hand.

                “Isn’t this the cutest ornament?” I hold up a small reindeer with loose, dangly legs.

                “Mm-hmm,” she replies, trying to hide the two she already has in her basket – one for her and one for me.

                It’s not that we’re twins or anything. In fact, we couldn’t be more “not” alike. I’m at least fifteen years older than her. She wears beautiful flowing dresses; her red hair pulled up with flowers in it and gorgeous eye makeup and I…well, I do not.

I have found that traveling with another is not always easy; however it usually takes a trip to find out that you’re not compatible for long hours in a car; you have completely different ideas on what constitutes fine cuisine and you’re a night owl and your hotel roommate is not. Some of my trips have led to me imagining less than desirable consequences. You know the kind I’m talking about – like how long a jail term I’d get for throwing my travel companion off a bridge.

That is not the case with this particular friend and the train trip we took to Michigan. Well, the train went from Kansas City to Grand Rapids, then we proceeded north by car, stopping along the way whenever and wherever we wanted. We generally arrived at our reservations late but we were in no hurry. We ate in little, out of the way places like the “Real Food CafĂ©” and “The Wicked Sister”, toured turn of the century reenactment villages and talked non-stop. Of course, you can’t go on a friendstrip without mishaps. We parked along Lake Michigan to wad and however it happened, my friend landed on her fanny in shallow water, but definitely deep enough to get completely wet. As any good friend would do, I first took a picture, and then I laughed.

Traveling to Mackinac Island involves a ferry, lots of breeze and the chance to reenact “Titanic.” As writers, we weren’t on a research mission but everything about the island swamped our senses and triggered our muses. I later used much of the island as setting inspiration for “Prelude and Promises”, a contemporary set on a fictional island off the Washington coast.

                You can’t go to Mackinac Island without visiting the Grand Hotel, setting for the epic movie “Somewhere in Time.” I will say I am probably one of only a handful who hasn’t seen the movie because I read the book and didn’t like how it ended. However, in my opinion, the Grand doesn’t hold a candle to the Murray Hotel, right across the street from the ferry harbor, because the Murray Hotel is haunted.


We arrived on the afternoon ferry and checked in, depositing our suitcases, barely opening them before we went out exploring. When we returned, I found my copper ring on the floor next to my open suitcase; however I hadn’t opened my jewelry bag beforehand. The next morning after breakfast, we returned to the room to ready ourselves for sightseeing. My friend couldn’t find her sunglasses, which she swore were in her suitcase. After long minutes of searching, she found them behind the huge wardrobe that housed the TV and that sat next to her suitcase. Both strange incidents but easily explained as negligence on our parts.

                However, (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) the day we were to leave, I was out getting some last minute post cards and she texted me that the porter was there to get our luggage for the ferry and needed our return tickets. I told her exactly where they were – in the zipped pocket of my carry bag, which sat on the extra chair across the room from the bed and which hadn’t been moved in the three days we were there. She couldn’t find them; the ferry was going to leave without us, so I hurried back to the hotel. After thoroughly searching all our luggage and purses, we started looking in everything in the room and bathroom, although I had made a point of putting the tickets where they wouldn’t get lost. Sometime later, I looked under the bed and there, lying on the carpet just past the bed skirt, were the two pink tickets needed to get us back on the ferry. They were the length of the bed and a chair from where my purse sat. Neither of us had any trouble believing our room was haunted. This is what friendstrip is all about! You can’t come home without a story!


We continued our trip through the Upper Peninsula, staying in a lighthouse B&B, taking a boat ride out to Painted Rocks, touring the locks and visiting a coffee shop that would also outfit you for kayaking and paddle boarding. The few rules for a great friendstrip are 1) you don’t eat or drink at anyplace you have at home, 2) you do things you don’t do at home (like stay in lighthouses and ride horse-drawn carriages,) and 3) you believe in magic.


I found a unique clock at a little shop in Sault Ste. Marie that explains friendstrip. You’ll note it doesn’t have the traditional numerals but rather is made with a compass. As with all my good friends, we are willing to go in any direction, at most any time or for any amount of time, and we never go straight but rather tend to zig and zag as the winds of adventure send us.

                I challenge you to take a friendstrip. It doesn’t have to be long, or exotic or expensive. But there’s nothing better when you’re out exploring than to be able to turn to a friend and say, “Oh my gosh, would you look at that!”


Barb Baldwin




  1. many years ago, I took such a trip. We were heading to New Jersey about six hours away but ended in Pa. 8 hours away. All this while also typing my book due for a college course when we stopped at night. Took us five days to get toNew Jersey. Thanks for giving me a chance for a memory. Do keep telling stories

    1. Must be something about NJ and PA. I was driving in PA, turned left, and ended up in NJ. Not this trip though.

  2. What a wonderful trip! All I need is the right friend so I don't end up in jail :)

    1. Believe me, it was a very near thing one trip!


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