Tag Archives: Fort Gratiot

First Day of Freedom

Imagine six years of life where your movements are controlled, where you have no privacy, where you can make phone calls out but no one can call you, your mail is read prior to you receiving it, where you can never go visit, but must wait for people to visit you.   That is the life my son led from the time he was 24 years old until he was 30.

When he received notice in December that he had received parole he began counting down the days.  March 20th seemed like it was in the distant future for him.  For me it went fast.  I was trying to get things done prior to his release, and of course I made the six hour drive to pick him up.

Patrick was released from Newberry Correctional Facility in Michigan’s upper peninsula at 8:00 am March 20, 2018.  Although he is on a tether for the first six months of his two year parole, and he must abide by curfews that in the beginning are tight, it is considerably better than the spot he was at.  So how did Patrick spend his first day of freedom?

I picked him up at the correctional facility, we loaded his belongings into the car and than took our last two prison photos, a “selfie” of the two of us, and then one of him in front of the facility.  Every time I (and my now deceased husband) visited we paid to have photos taken of us together and one of Patrick alone, so this was our last prison photo shoot.

Our first stop was a gas station/McDonald’s combination where he got a McGriddle sandwich — also one of my favorites.  When he asked if he could have bacon added to the sandwich the girl responded “you can have whatever you want” and Patrick responded “those are words I’m not used to hearing.”

I had purchased him a cell phone, but phones have advanced considerably in the past six years.  He was on the phone talking as we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge and I heard him say that the water looked really cool with the ice on it and “if I wasn’t on the phone talking to you I could take a picture.”  He got instructions on how to stay on the phone and take a photo at the same time.

Two years ago my husband/Patrick’s father passed away, and I had obtained permission from the parole agent to make a few stops, Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly being one, where Patrick saw his father’s grave-site for the first time.

We then headed to Fort Gratiot, he did not have to check in with the parole agent until the next morning, and we had permission to go shopping at Kohls to get him some clothes and then out to dinner.  We ended up spending about three hours in Kohls.

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Patrick tries on a hat at Kohs

Patrick helped me pick out short outfits for my grandchildren’s Easter baskets, then we shopped for clothing for him.  He had changed sizes while incarcerated and had to try on a few things.  A pair of tennis shoes, four pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, one shirt (couldn’t find many he liked), some boxers, and socks and we felt he had a nice start.  I had already purchased him a nice pair of fleece pants, hoodie, polo, and a v-neck t-shirt prior to picking him up.  During our shopping Patrick had to exit the building and stand in an open area of the parking lot so the satellite could take a picture of him/his location.  He was told that happens frequently in large department stores or malls if in for a while.

Next stop was Red Lobster.  Lobster Fest is going on, and we had the same meal — two different kinds of lobster and green beans with mushrooms, and of course salad and biscuits.  The place was quiet, the service was good, the food was fantastic.

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Dinner at Red Lobster

We were on our way home when my daughter called and said her boyfriend had the truck torn apart and needed to pick up a hose to complete it, could I swing by, pick him up and take him around the corner to the auto store.  I went by her house, dropped off Patrick, picked up Rob and took him to the auto shop, then went back around and dropped off Rob and picked up Patrick and we came home and unloaded the car.

The evening was finished off with Caroline (my daughter) and her three kids coming over for a while, and then Patrick and I watched a bit of TV.  It was a wonderful day for me, and I’m sure a great first day of freedom for him as well.

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Filed under celebration, children, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, events, Family, food, home, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, parents, travel, Upper Penninsula

Peaceful, Relaxing, Happy

Everyone needs a favorite spot close to home.  A place that makes them feel peaceful, relaxed, and happy.  I actually have several that are anywhere from about two minutes to 20 minutes from my house.  Places I go just because I enjoy being there.

St. Clair Board Walk.  Photo by Grace Grogan.

St. Clair Board Walk. Photo by Grace Grogan.

My favorite spot is the boardwalk in St. Clair.  It is the world’s longest freshwater boardwalk and overlooks the St. Clair River, the world’s busiest shipping channel.  More freighters go down the St. Clair River than the Panama and Suez canals combined.  The water is a beautiful blue, and across the river is Canada.

I love the boardwalk in both summer and winter.  The summer months you can view freighters, boaters, kayaks, jet skiers, kids jumping off the boardwalk into the river, and the beautiful park it is located in.   Winter is also special, with freighters moving though the frigid waters amongst ice floats, Christmas garland strung on the rail, and the snow covered walkway and park.

St. Clair Boardwalk.  Photo by Grace Grogan

St. Clair Boardwalk. Photo by Grace Grogan

My second favorite spot is the Thomas Edison Parkway.  This is where you will find a walkway along the St. Clair River and Lake Huron where they meet under the Blue Water Bridge.  A perfect viewing spot for freighters and boaters traveling along the channel.   If you are feeling energetic you can walk from the International Flag Plaza just north of the Blue Water Bridge south into Pine Grove Park where the Huron Lightship Museum is located.

In addition to those two favorites I also enjoy Lighthouse Beach.  The beach is located on Lake Huron and offers views of the Blue Water Bridge and the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Lake Huron as seen from International Flag Plaza. Photo by Grace Grogan

Fort Gratiot County Park is also located on Lake Huron and includes a path through a small wooded area, a boardwalk lets you walk out onto the beach close to the pavilions without actually walking in the sand, and of course the beach itself.  You will also find the 1971 Tunnel Explosion Memorial in this park, a construction accident that claimed the lives of 22 men.

Blue Water Bridge in Winter.  Photo by Grace Grogan

Blue Water Bridge in Winter. Photo by Grace Grogan

Kettelwell Pond in Fort Gratiot is a great spot for viewing birds, turtles and other wildlife.  The pond has a paved walkway all the way around it with benches placed periodically for sitting back and enjoying nature.  This is a peaceful place good for a leisurely stroll, but is also popular with people who enjoy jogging the path.

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Turtles in Kettelwell Pond. Photo by Grace Grogan

These are only my favorite spots here in the Blue Water area.  There are so many, too many, to go into detail on.  You may also find me on the river walks in Marine City or Algonac, at Chrysler Beach in Marysville, Lakeside Beach in Port Huron, or Desmond Landing in Port Huron,   So much water, so many relaxing spots.

I hope each of you has, or finds, a spot to relax.  Somewhere that is peaceful, relaxing, and makes you feel happy.

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Filed under Blue Water Area, Life is a Melting Pot