ONE CHOCOLATE MUFFIN TO GO, PLEASE……and then on to Gitchigume.

I almost passed by the wooden octagonal two-person coffee booth along the two-laner that winds through 10 miles of forest before my freeway entrance and 50 more miles to work. Instead, on my last morning in town before The Pilgrimage, something in my inner being caused me to navigate an automatic turn into the second, more direct, approach to the Coffee Mug.

Today was to be the fourth day in a row of my weekly gym regimen, but my body told me to sleep an extra hour or so this morning and I heeded the call. So, it was sunny and 7:30 as I steered my sports sedan enrobe with all the finesse of Mario Andretti rockin’ to Coldplay on loud on a Bose system. Usually, it’s a dark, silent headlight-lit and sleepy 5:15 a.m. pass by and off to the gym – no coffee until work at about 9 a.m.

But instead of selecting a planned entrance via long driveway in and around to one side, I had unknowingly made a quick right and pulled up to the west side window — a spot I had never been before.

Even I was surprised to find myself sitting there.

My friend who runs the booth, a tall cowboy-mustached thin and ruggedly handsome man smiled knowingly at the surprise and guessed the meaning of my unusual entrance even before I knew myself.

“You must be needin’ a two dollar special!” he laughed at my entertainment for the morning. Yup, I did, I answered and presto, bingo, he instantly produced one small black coffee and a perfectly shaped chocolate muffin.

I handed him the money, asked him how he was doing, but while I tried to listen intently I was already thinking about the morning treat, my tasty reward for being such a good boy lately.

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is a good to The Vinman as a chocolate muffin and coffee for a treat to start the day. But I can only enjoy the treat as a reward for eating well, not on a regular basis.

And as good as I have been lately, today must have seemed like one of those days because as of tomorrow, The Vinman is gone from the area… to Squaw Beach on Lake Superior’s Big Bay. There I will be surrounded by pure oxygen, lots of strenuous physical labor and nothing but healthy eating.

I’ve headlined the trip The Pilgrimage because as you can see by the pictures in the posts below the Upper Peninsula if Michigan is a special place where time means nothing. It still holds the mystical spirit of Indians, settlers, miners, Bear, eagle, fire, ore and water. Granite and shale rock formations shield the land from a body of water that can be pristine and so pure you can count the hairs on your toes in waist-deep waters (if you can tolerate the cold temp of it) to a raging maritime warground that has claimed over 6,000 ships in its recorded history.

And only half of those vessels were found.

I have personally witnessed spiritual occurrences there that are not only real, but also verified by those with me. The beach has provided unwinding of the stress of life that cannot be duplicated for me (and many others) anywhere in the world. And still, there are few people around to distract or destroy the are of all it holds.

Tomorrow morning my sister, who lives on Long Island, mother and father will join me in our SUV and we’ll make the 9-plus hour trip from the land of rural/suburbia to for forests and wilderness of our destination. Sister Co is currently 35,000 feet in the air passing northwestward between Reading and Allentown, Pennsylvania at a speed of 339 knots, 335 nautical miles from Detroit according to my internet flight tracker ( that allows me to “view’’ the flight.

Mom and dad aren’t so excited about the journey yet. I called at 8 a.m. this morning to get my 75-year-old pops revved up but he said “At my age it takes a lot to get me excited and I have a rule to not get excited before 10 a.m.’’ My mom refused to talk to me because she likely knew I would tell her the women have to behave since this journey has typically been a father-son thing.

But I look forward to the dynamics of this trip. I can’t recall ever doing something with my mom, dad and this sister alone. Funny how that works.

The weather forecast is astounding as it can be…….sunny and 60’s….for the UP that’s tropical for this time of year. If there were a monsoon season here, this would be it. I’ve seen perfectly sunny skies turn to violent storms from the north or west or both and come across the lake so fast you barely have time to prepare.

And so, I am almost off. A Mother’s Day tribute with all siblings present tonight, some quick packing (let’s see, laptop, CD’s, hiking boots, walking stick and cool black leather outdoors hat) and we’re off.

No work, no phone, no news.

But I’m looking forward to connecting back up with the spirits……….

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