The last time I was at Mackinac Island, my cousin's son had started his freshman year at college and I was still working. He's 32 now. Or 33. He has a wife and a baby and a good job. I have retired. Time to return!
My fellow retiree, Mike, hadn't been in ages either and since we both have cottages up north, decided that we'd head off and check it out again. Had anything changed on this wonderful piece of living nostalgia in the years since either of us had been? I'll tell you soon -- but meanwhile, let's start with the boat ride!
Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac, which divide Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas. Connecting the two peninsulas is the Mackinac Bridge.
When built, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world (and to be honest, I still get heebie-jeebie driving over it.)
Our ferry ride to the island didn't go over it, but under it, a view I'd never seen before.
With a bright blue sky and only the pretty, puffy clouds, it was a perfect day for our excursion.
When you land, this is what you see -- a foreground of boats in the marina and a background of hills with cottages high on a bluff (with quite a view) and the historic fort where the first shot of the War of 1812 was fired.
And when you get off the boat -- this is what you see. A charming mainstreet with horse drawn carriage and taxis and loads of bicycles.
Visiting Mackinac Island is a multi sensory experience. Sight? There are plenty -- gorgeous old homes that are now guest houses.
Wonderful views of Lake Huron.
Sounds -- there are no cars on Mackinac Island so one sound you hear often are horses, drawing the carriages.
This white horse is the tallest horse on the Island, we are told.
And I learned that horses stand like this on their back feet to balance and steady their weight while at rest. But if they do it on their front foot, the horse is lame. Who knew?
And you'll hear the rolling of large carts carrying supplies to the various restaurants. This beer cart was pulled by several horses.
Smell -- Well, there are three smells you'll find with great ease on the island. The smell of the above mentioned horses (they do a very good job of cleaning up after them -- street sweepers are everywhere with buckets of water and clean-up equipment); the smells from the demonstrations of canons and rifles at the fort (for a future post) and fudge.
You can't go to the island without buying fudge. It's why they call the tourists Fudgies. (Actually, you can -- because I didn't get fudge. But I wanted to.) It smelled fabulous. There must be 20 fudge shops on the island -- most two or three doors away from another and often more than one of the same company. Murdick's is the "original."
Taste -- If fudge isn't your thing, lunch might be and there is no end to the spots where you can dine. We chose Millie's on Main which had delicious sandwiches and for Island food, very well priced.
Or, you can pick up a snack (or bring your own) and enjoy it on a picnic table overlooking the water. There is loads of park land and wonderful natural sites for bikers and hikers so if you have good feet or feel so inclined you can venture farther from the town's center to explore.
The photo below is from VERY long ago (c. 1975, maybe?) when I went to the island with friends and we had a wonderful time skipping the smooth stones we found in the shallows.
As you turn up the side streets, you'll come to the stables, and I greatly admired their hollyhocks!
The gardens in front of the houses are always lovely and well maintained. I wonder how they feel about having hundreds of tourists snap photos? Probably pretty proud!
And actually, who wouldn't want to shoot photos of lovely spots like this?
Although we didn't venture to the Grand Hotel on this day, here's a shot from a previous trip. It still looks the same with its long porch.
And, as seen from the ferry!
If the Grand Hotel and other sites on the island look familiar to you, it may be you are a fan of the movie "Somewhere in Time" with Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. It was shot on the island (and they allowed a car for one scene!). I've not seen it in ages but after my visit, might check it out. You can buy all sorts of "Somewhere in Time" memorabilia on the island and the Grand Hotel has an annual "Somewhere in Time" weekend. For $1,179, you, too, can attend (includes meals and accommodations and sometimes Jane Seymour, along with author talks. Of course, real fans can find a map to locations online and check out various sites on their own. If you're a fan of the film, this site highlights some of the locations.
Of course in time, all good days come to an end...
...but ours hasn't yet. Next time we'll step back into history.
But so far, fresh as a daisy!
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