Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mackinaw Island, Michigan

The Grand Old Hotel on Mackinaw Island, at the Straits of Mackinac...
In our travels the past four years in our home on wheels, we have had so many people tell us about this remote part of Michigan.  This island in my way of thinking, joins the mainland part of Mich to the infamous UP (Upper Peninsula) part.  I mean, there is the icons that we have come to know and the natives take them so matter-of-factly.  When in fact, they have quite the treasure here.  
First, the jet boat ride!  Star Lines have these high powered, fast boats that get you from St Ignace (where we camped at Straits State Park) or Mackinac City on the south side of the famous bridge.  I was surprised to see many folks preparing to board our boat.  I mean we are talking Aug 28, and most kids are in school by now.
Take a look at the rooster tail this big boat throws out.  Powered by two turbo-diesels...the below pic was from the Island.
And of course there is the iconic Mackinaw Bridge, linking the two Michigan's, lower & upper.  And to hear the "Youpers" (as they are affectionately as) they consider them somewhat sovereign from the lower part, and are proud of that.  We'll blog later about that as we travel across the UP over the next week or two.
Approaching the Mackinaw Harbor, we can see clearly that it is a very busy place.  Wow!  Who knew?
We spent the entire day on the Island, and could have spent at least another full day to take in more of what the Island offers for the unsuspecting & unknowing visitors.
Miss Nancy leading the way, and shedding her fleece, as it warmed up quickly in the bright sun.
Oh, as most folks know, there are no motorized vehicles on the island.  Horse drawn or pedal-power: that are the primary means of conveyance, besides the old fashioned "one-in-front-of-other".
And do they ever have pedal-power...even the trash and luggage and tours are all horse drawn...neat place, no catalytic converter smells or diesel exhausts...
We took the carriage tour of the island.  It consisted of two different carriages and teams, one with two and the second with three horses, as it was a bigger carriage.  Below is the first carriage that transports us to a place near the stables.  And it was quite cozy on this first one.
Above are the three Belgians from our second part of the tour.  Below, Miss Nancy relaxing in the larger second carriage.
We spent about an hour touring the old Fort Mackinac.  From Wiki:  Fort Mackinac is a former American military outpost garrisoned from the late 18th century to the late 19th century near Michilimackinac, Michigan, on Mackinac Island. The British built the fort during the American Revolutionary War to control the strategic Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (and by extension the fur trade on the Great Lakes) and did not relinquish it until fifteen years after American independence. It later became the scene of two strategic battles for control of the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. During most of the 19th century, it served as an outpost of the United States Army. Closed in 1895, the fort is now a museum on the grounds of Mackinac Island State Park.  
Here are a few pics from inside the Fort.
Did I mention it was a bright, sunny, late summer day?
We took so many photos while here it took me an hour to go thru them prior to posting to my Picasa web site where ALL of our travel photos reside.
Well, time to leave the Fort and have some lunch and see more of the Island.  Below, Nancy, at the Fort exit,  talking to one of the many young volunteers.
Did I mention pedal-power?
Where we had us a nice lunch...
The old Catholic cemetery entrance that could never be used.  Just to the left is the entrance road that has always been used because the archway here was a little too narrow for any of the carriages to fit thru, and a little too short.  Below, a pic out the front, down the road.
These two pics are from the top of the Island at a rest stop along the carriage tour.  The entire tour takes about two hours and is well worth the price as the drivers share their knowledge with everyone and answer as many questions as we could ask them.
Up the hill towards the Fort and below down Main Street...
We could not believe the amount of fudge shops on the Island.  There must have been 20, no kidding...
The architecture and design of the homes and hotels are memorable.  Structure after structure just gleams with history and ambiance of times past while reckoning yet another generation of visitors to share their storied past.  Here a few pics of these lovely homes and hotels.
I would imagine that the harsh winters and continual wind and weather keeps the maintainers busy.
And then there is this Grand Old Dame herself, the Grand Hotel.
From Wiki:  Constructed in the late 19th century, the facility advertises itself as having the world's largest porch. The Grand Hotel is well known for a number of notable visitors, including five U.S. presidents, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, inventor Thomas Edison, and author Mark Twain.  Grand Hotel is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The Grand Hotel served as a backdrop and one of the settings for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Every October the hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the cult-classic.
The hotel also served as the setting for the 1947 musical-comedy This Time for Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams (after whom the hotel's swimming pool is named).
Supposedly, there is $10 charge to just visit the Hotel.  We managed to walk up the back way from the pool, and escaped the $20 charge.  Proper attire is required to visit, all day and evening.
Below, one of the many luggage carriages entering the drop off area under the hotel.
Above, a carriage about discharge some patrons of the hotel at the front.  And below a landscape of a shrub of a carriage with a team of leafy horses.
It's hard work guarding these steps.  A little stretching should straighten out the old bones.
Well, about time to depart the Island.  Here we are awaiting the 6:30 back to St Ignace, but first another cruise under the Bridge.
It was a long yet satisfying day on the Island.
These boats are big & fast, and what a rooster-tail.
So ends our day on Mackinaw Island.  It was everything we had heard it was, and more.  We thoroughly enjoyed wearing ourselves out today.  It certainly will go down in our journal as one of our oat memorable days together on our journey across America, our beautiful America.  So, until the next blog, from Cleveland, OH (of to Rock & Roll birthplace and the Hall of Fame today), RVing Beach Bums signing off.