Last Saturday we woke up early. We intended to depart early in the morning to Traverse City to enjoy the autumn colors. It is a beautiful place with inviting lakes, harbors, marines and sylvan scenery. But, as usual in a family where feminine sex is predominant, and half of it is in the teenage years, it took longer to leave. Several routines must be completed in able to do so. From picking up Diana up over one of her friend’s house where she spent the night in a sleep over, to returning home so that she could take the desired shower in her own bathroom, and to waiting for hours to other teens as she was deciding which jeans she should wear and for whom the house mirrors are not sufficient to observe herself from all the angles.

Finally, around 10 am, we headed to Traverse City. We had planned to stop on the way in Interlochem, a cultural and musical center. But after listening to a Sandy’s advice to also take the road between Traverse City and Petoskey where you go through threes like a corridor, and noticing that the overall voyage would take longer than planned, we decided to go directly to Traverse City. The city welcomed us with a gusty wind and a persistent rain. The girls, unaccustomed to the cold Michigan weather after spending a long vacation season under the Caribbean sun, could not withstand the cold, and went for only a short walk, drank hot chocolate and returned to the car, along with Mateo, their guardian, to wait for mom and dad. Anyway, for the head of the family, the so-called Paulo, it was a worthwhile walk. He could find one of his sacred places, where muses, lonely hearts, lovers of solitary pleasures and other rare and endemic species hang out: one of the unique coffee shops where a good espresso macchiato is served, not burned coffee but the elaborate result of mastering a technique, using the original recipe, and having an excellent coffee grain supply. None of his known Starbucks localities qualify. Besides this newly discovered coffee temple, whose address he recalls but not its name, he only had four in his meager list: LAB in Ann Arbor, Intelligentsia in Chicago and Blue Bottle Coffee Company located on Ferry Market in San Francisco.

Then we drove to the Old Mission Peninsula up to its trip, where the tourist guides recommend visiting a historical lighthouse. On the way there, instead of finding the fall landscape with its variety of reds, yellows and browns, the most visible color was the dark green of trees and grass, under a grayish sky that continued to pour its monotonous rain. The girls lost interest and immersed themselves in the virtual world of wireless texting, Nintendo video games and ipod music bands of the world. Mom and Dad found it difficult to convince them to leave the car to briefly walk to the lighthouse, which they grudging did. Right on the northernmost point of the Peninsula, a squall of wind almost blew us against the surrounding constructions, distracting us from realizing, as it was posted in a nearby sign, that we were located at the 45th parallel north, exactly midway between the equator and the North Pole, the same one that passes through the historical regions of Aquitania and Veneto in Europe. -If it is that cold here, what type of creatures would live from this point north? If any, there should be only Eskimos, polar bears and penguins-. Those were Paulo’s inner thoughts. The lighthouse was disappointingly small, as if it had been built by Lilliputians to guide the sailing of paper ships instead of real vessels. Again, because of the unexpected bad weather, against all the forecasts that had anticipated a sunny afternoon – the man sometimes forgets that he is a helpless creature overruled by God, or more likely Saint Peter, caprices- , Diana and Paula did not enjoy the place. The only one who really had a good time was Mateo. This conceited Schnauzer had the opportunity to go for a walk, to enjoy smelling the surroundings, and to leave his wet trace allover, and also a sticky memento as a courtesy to the visitors.

After leaving the lighthouse, still under a grim sky, and on the way back to Traverse City, we decided to stop at one of the wineries. Its name was “2 lads”, a strange one for such a place, more akin to identify, for instance, a men’s clothing store. The visitor reception house was located on top of a hill. It is a new building with a wide window that overlooks the lake. It evokes an atmosphere of good taste, modernity and innovation. We tasted a complimentary offering: the red wine was surprisingly good. Paulo was slightly in his cups and Monica had to be the chauffeur from then on. She said that is his type of excuse to avid driving. Before leaving, Paulo could not resist the temptation and bought a book on the wine tasting.