TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — The 50th anniversary CAR Management Briefing Seminars is certainly off to a... distinctive... start.
I arrived at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, home of the annual automotive gathering in Traverse City to find a hotel lobby packed with guests in varying states of boredom and a distinct lack of functioning lights.
My keen journalist's mind deduced that the storms I had driven through on the way into town had likely knocked out power to the hotel. This was around 6 p.m. Sunday, the evening before the event.
I checked in, asking the same questions as everyone else: How long until it's fixed? Can I get to my room? Is there anywhere I can go that has power?
We don't know. Yes, but you'll have to take the stairs (17 flights never hurt anyone, right?). Maybe, but downed trees are blocking the roads.
“Thank you for staying with us. Have a glow stick.”
In the hallway to my room a single emergency light bravely whittled two square feet of carpeting from the darkness. I wandered around the corridor bumping into things until I found the correct door, then proceeded to sit morosely in the dark until I remembered I had camping gear and a toolbox in my car.
Three flashlights and two camping lanterns later, I was patiently awaiting any news of the anticipated re-emergence of electricity, diligently wearing down both my laptop battery and the patience of the nearest hotel staffer, who was disappointingly not up-to-date on the power restoration efforts of Grand Traverse County.
Downstairs a hundred travelers ate dinner by candlelight, and someone correctly reasoned the best way to soothe powerless nerves would be to offer an open bar.
As I write this Monday morning, power has not yet been restored. The seminars, cancelled for the morning hours, are set to proceed this afternoon.
The positive thinkers among us are calling this "an adventure" and "a return to a simpler time.”
It will definitely be memorable.