On Monday, June 3 we spent the day visiting Mackinac Island which is about an hours drive North from Petoskey, Michigan. The drive up there was reasonably scenic with sightings of deer as soon as we left our campground. This island is less than 4 square miles and the French, British and American armies have had forts here. A popular tourist destination, it can be reached by private boat, commercial ferry or aircraft…and over the frozen lake, by snowmobile in the Winter. The 1980 movie “Somewhere In Time” starring Christopher Reeves, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer was almost exclusively filmed on the island.
In 1875, it became the nations’ second national park (following Yellowstone) and twenty years later became Michigan’s first state park. Although 80% of the island is forest, much of the attention is focused to the downtown area. Automobiles were banned in 1898 as they supposedly scared the horses. There are three automobiles on the island – a police car, ambulance and fire truck. While in town, we saw one UPS-uniformed worker delivering packages on a cart pulled by horses. We saw one police officer riding a bicycle.
We chose Star Line as our ferry to the island from Mackinac City. Not impressed with their logistical proficiencies, they loaded the wrong groups on the wrong boats and our special 11:00AM ferry which was supposed to go under the Mackinac Bridge turned into a rushed 11:50AM ferry that did not go under the bridge. We had lunch at a cute spot named Mary’s and everything is understandably pricey. Two beers, one whitefish and chips and as brisket cheesesteak was over $80 with tip. We opted for a 2 hour carriage ride, having always been impressed with downtown Charleston tours. This tour was so-so and did not feature much real insight into the island, its history or much else. It did however provide two tours in one. The first was a two horse downtown tour which terminated at – yes, you guessed it – a gift store developed by the carriage tour operator. Then, we got on a three horse carriage with more elbow room and wandered the dirt roads of the forest area.
Our visit coincided with multiple school field trips, so if you like the sights and sounds of a few thousand middle school kids….you’d have loved our choice of days. All in all…a beautiful place to visit. Lynn thinks she’d like to do an overnight here. Me, a few hours was enough. It reminded me a bit of Bermuda….the Maine coast….but it has a look and vibe all its own.
After arriving back and pounding through wind-whipped 20-30 foot swells on Lake Huron, we grabbed coffees and went on a “reconnaissance drive” over Mackinac Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. At over 26,000 feet (Siri says 5 miles), the roadway is 200 feet above the water and …. if that’s not crazy enough, the water depth at the midpoint of the bridge is 290 feet deep. So, think of me this Friday at noon when all 45,000 pounds of Julie, Velvet, Lynn, Spangler and I cross that bridge on our way to the North Shore of the Upper Peninsula in Munising, Michigan
Lynn’s 2 cents – This was our second Great Lake of the trip. We will be hitting another one next week. I loved the atmosphere of no vehicles. There were SO many bikes. We did find one #odditie thanks to Roadside America – a miniature Statue of Liberty. My favorite part was Arch Rock. The colors of the water were amazing!