Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mackinac Island

Today we made the trip to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mack-in-aw.) The entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark and it truly is a special place. Although the year round population is only a few hundred, in the summer it bustles with tourists and summer residents.

We boarded the ferry with about 23 WINs and 15 bicycles. (You can see what kind of a host I am, I don't even have an exact count. Hmmm, I wonder if everybody got back. . .)

The crew loads all the bikes very efficiently.

The 10 o'clock ferry provides an added bonus. Instead of going directly to the island, it actually makes a pass under the Mackinac Bridge and back before heading to the island. The water was pretty rough and many compared it to a bucking bronco. Here comes the bridge.

And here we go under it. That was really pretty exciting and much easier than doing it in a kayak which someone had proposed. You can see the middle lanes are metal grid - rather frightening.

Because of wind, the speed limit for trucks and RVs was only 20 mph yesterday and it looked like that was the case today too.

Approaching the island, the Grand Hotel makes quite a statement. Built in the 1880's, the hotel is elegance itself and charges riffraff like the WINs to get any closer than about here. For movie buffs, Somewhere in Time was filmed there.

I wanted to get a nice shot of the WINs and their bicycles before they rode off, but it was a madhouse and this was all I could do. Diana and I had decided to walk instead.

The eight mile biking route around the circumference of the island is M-185, the United States' only state highway without motorized vehicles.

Mackinac Island is primarily known for two things - FUDGE and these guys.

I don't know why their fudge is so famous, but the horses are because motorized vehicles are prohibited, except for emergency vehicles. The combination of the two causes some olfactory confusion - sometimes there's a heavenly chocolate aroma, sometimes it's something not at all pleasant, and sometimes it's a strange combination.

Here's Diana recording the problem. She really will do just about anything for a picture.

They do have workers who clean up after the horses all day (now THERE's a job,) but we noticed they can't keep up with the problem.

Actually Mackinac Island is known for something else - these lovely Victorian houses, most of which are now Bed and Breakfasts.

Imagine taking this taxi to your lodging.

Leaving the shopping area, we climbed a long set of steps called the Crow's Nest to another level. There were some nice views, although it was clouding up by then.

Continuing up paths and more steps, we finally came to the highest point on the island which is where the British built Fort George during the War of 1812. After the war, the fort was renamed Fort Holmes after an American general who died there. The fort is 320 feet above the lake level and commands a 360 degree view of the surrounding lake.

Then we stopped at the famous Arch Rock which frames the colorful shallow water near the shore.

You'd think with no motorized vehicles, traffic congestion would be nonexistent, but when we returned to town we saw the influx of pedestrians, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages cause their own traffic problems. And this was a Wednesday - I'd hate to see it on a weekend.

Back on the ferry, tired, but happy WINs head home.


  1. Wow, I feel like I was there, and you saved me all that walking. How did I know you'd find a big flight of steps, you always do.

    I think this is your best blog yet, and you've had some pretty good ones. Pretty good, as in the road to the top of Colorado Monument is a pretty good hill.

    Thanks for the pictures and the commentary. Your sense of humor is really coming through, it makes me miss you. Sniff Sniff.

  2. I've always wanted to go there. Now I don't have to. Thanks for the great tour!!

  3. Fudge smells -- and horses. Memories. Thanks.

  4. Olfactory confusion! I love it! And to make matters worse, the two smelly things look somewhat alike!

    I agree -- absolutely terrific post.