Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mackinac Island

We took the ferry to Mackinac Island. Although the day was overcast, everything was beautiful. We learned that although the island’s name is spelled Mackinac, it is pronounced “Mackinaw”. You may want to click on some of the pictures to get a better view.
It’s such a small world. The people behind us on the ferry were from Louisiana.
The ferry took us under the mighty Mackinac Bridge. It is 5.2 miles long, so is longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. The piers go down in the water over 200 feet to bedrock and rise over 500 feet above the water.
Notice the car on the bridge grate above.
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As the ferry approaches the island we can tell that we are in for a treat.
The dock is a busy place with people, their baggage, and cargo.
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Got bicycles? Well these rental places have them if you didn’t bring your own.
Just as soon as we got onto the street from the dock we were confronted with two major themes that are central to the island, flowers and horse power. All of your senses are aroused. There are only two vehicles on the island, an ambulance and a fire engine. Unfortunately the smell of flowers does not overcome the smell from the major byproduct of the horses. However the neat shops, bustle of activity, and quaint city streets keep your attention on positive things.
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The streets and sidewalks are alive with activity. The buildings are all well kept and have an elegance of a bygone era. Bicycles of all sorts dart down the roads powered by people young and old. Some bicyclists are even dressed in business suits.
Huge draft horses pull wagons and carriages.
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Carriages of all sorts can be seen, most are ordinary but some are elaborate.
We stopped for a lunch at a cafe by the lake. We sampled the local white fish and chips. Of course the fish wasn’t seasoned like our fish in Louisiana.
Walkers and bicyclists compete for space on the streets with the horse drawn carriages and wagons.
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Despite the bustle of activity, the atmosphere is laid back as people play, shop and just sit back and enjoy.
Flowers abound everywhere, a stark contrast to what the island must be like in the winter when ferries don’t need to run because there is an “ice bridge” between here and the mainland.
The Grand Hotel (and someone’s arm) is a prominent feature on the island. We would love to tell you how beautiful the hotel is inside but we opted out when we found out they charge $10 to go inside. This is about where I dropped the lens cover for the camera while in the carriage. I had to jump out while it was moving, run back down the hill, pick up the cover, and then run back up the hill to catch up to the carriage then jump back in. I’m in better shape than I thought.
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The Grand Hotel was not to be outdone with their flower gardens.
The horse drawn version of a modern day street sweeper was cleaning the streets. You would think this could be a competitor for the dirtiest job like on that TV show, but the winner is the guy with the cart and the shovel cleaning the streets.
The horses are well cared for. They only work  a four hour day and have two inch thick rubber shoes to protect their hooves.
In the distance is Fort Mackinac. The clearing in between is the rifle range. The term get the lead out may well have come from the cost cutting measure used in the early days. The soldiers were sent out after a day at the rifle range to dig up the lead slugs from the bullets they had shot that day. The lugs were then melted and remade into slugs for new bullets since lead was so expensive.
The Arch was a neat place near the summit of the island. Lake Huron can be seen through the eye of the arch.
Bicyclists can also be seen through the eye as they travel the beach road around the island.
The coast along the island is very scenic.
The governor of Michigan stays in this home during official visits to the island.
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Huge trees edge the park with a bark Missionary Chapel underneath the spread of the limbs.
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Quaint houses line the streets. Notice the dog as he sticks his head through the spindles of the balcony.
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Bed and breakfast lodging is abundant on the island.
The blue plate hanging from the back of each carriage and wagon show that we are not in the past but the present. The government has to license and tax everything.
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The carriages are a common sight but the motor vehicle, the ambulance, at right is a rare sight on the island.
All those horses require hay as a wagon is loaded by a forklift at the docks.
Summer homes adorn the slopes above the beaches and harbor sharing the awesome view of Lake Huron.
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As our day long excursion ends, we get a last look at the Grand Hotel.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mackinac Bridge and St. Ignace, MI

We left Leisure Lake Family Campground around 10:50 this morning after saying our goodbyes to all our HitchHiker friends. Barb was dreading the crossing of the Mackinac suspension bridge. It is about five miles long and is very tall. It turned out it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be.
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I forgot to put the SD card back in the computer this morning so we will have to wait until tomorrow to get some good pictures of the bridge.
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Lakeshore CG
We are now on Michigan’s upper peninsula at Lakeshore Park Campground in St. Ignace, MI. Tomorrow we will take a ferry to Mackinac Island. As we crossed the bridge Lake Michigan was to our left  and Lake Huron was to our right below us.
 Village Inn
We splurged tonight after we set up the camper. We went into St. Ignace to the Village Inn Restaurant.
We both ordered the rib dinner. It was 3/4 a rack of ribs surrounded by Duchesse potatoes with a braised tomato and steamed vegetables. It was delicious with huge portions as you can see above. It was tempting to eat it all but we decided to save half for tomorrow.
St Ignace Marina
St. Ignace is a beautiful little harbor town at the base of the Mackinac Bridge.
Ferries leave the harbor in the wake of their jet drives for Mackinac Island as seagulls soar on the sea breeze.
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St. Ignace has that special seaside charm.
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The lighthouse is a focal point of the harbor.
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Flowers border the streets adding extra charm.
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Across the street you can see the Museum of Ojibwa Culture.
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This is the view from my bedroom window.
This is a closer look at the view of Lake Michigan’s shore.