Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Drummond Island to Mackinac Island

We planned to take an extra day at Drummond when the wind kicked up again the next morning, but it died down around 10 AM and the forecast looked good, so we decided to press on to Mackinac Island. We've learned to try and move when you can as the weather and wind always have a delay right around the corner for you.

Mackinac and Mackinaw - The best answer I've found for why this is pronounced Mackinaw (and some references spell it that way) is that the French pronounced it "aw" but spelled it "ac." The British heard it pronounced "aw" so they spelled it that way. Whichever way it is spelled, it is always pronounced "aw."  We are generally not attracted to tourist towns like this but pretty much everyone says we should stop here, and it's the perfect jump-off spot for starting our trip down the western shore of Lake Michigan.  We're glad we did as it is definitely unique, lots of history, beautiful homes and yards, nice shoreline, and we had an awesome 8-mile bike ride around the perimeter of the island.  No, we did not go to The Grand Hotel other than to get some pictures.  They charge $10 just to walk on their porch and I had some trouble finding "coat and tie" attire in my closet for the evening meal.  Formal wear is required at some of the other restaurants in town for the dinner hour.  Formal attire in my life now is pretty much limited to weddings - my last tux worn was when Adam and Jen married 11 years ago and we're still waiting for our younger son, Scott, to step up to the plate.  Maybe I'll get one more shot at it. 

When you leave Drummond you run the northwest portion of Lake Huron for about 45 miles and the water is just absolutely beautiful.  It's crystal clean and clear. 

Rhonda loves Michigan's lighthouses.

Here's our first view of Mackinac.  The harbor is semi-protected by two breakwaters but the the real problem is the constant arrival and departure of the ferries.  They are huge and move fast. The reviews of the marina, which sits right at the heart of all the activity, warned of constant wakes but also recognized the great location.  Becky and Galen had departed early that morning and opted to go to Mackinac City and ride the ferry over, but we decided to take our chances for the island's marina.  The Grand Hotel on the hill definitely has a huge "presence."

Here's one of the ferries in wide-open mode throwing up a rooster tail for the passengers.  They never slow down until right as they enter the harbor.  And they don't waste any time picking up speed when they leave either.

We got the end inside slip right next to the ferries which turned out to be a good spot.  By the time they got this far in to the loading docks, they were at idle speed and the turbulence for us really didn't seem bad at all. Rhonda has a conspiracy theory - she thinks the reviews about the boats rocking in the harbor are put out by locals so that transient boaters don't take up the dock space. We have definitely moved a lot more in other marinas than here.

Check out the water again - we're in about 10 feet of depth here.  It's as clean as any we've seen, including down in the Florida Keys.

And the Mackinac Bridge doesn't actually connect in any way to the island.  

It's west of the island and it makes sense - the big deal of Mackinac of course is that there are no cars or motorized vehicles on the island, so what good would a bridge with cars and trucks do?  Everyone moves by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage and there appeared to be no exceptions to this rule.  I'm pretty sure Schwinn and Huffy are not going out of business any time soon, just as a result of Mackinac!  I have never seen so many bicycles in one place.  They lined every street and were in every yard and parking area on the island.  Imagine everyone on foot in NYC on bicycles - of course you're only talking a few major streets here but you get the idea. - lots of bikes.

They have a great 8-mile perimeter road that we took advantage of. With the "no vehicles on the island" rule, the lanes were about half the normal size, wide enough only for a horse-drawn carriage.  There was a steady stream of bicycle traffic with everyone honoring their side of the road.  The "Arch Rock" is one of the sightseeing stops along the way.  You can climb to the arch from the road, but a landslide had taken out the stairs so this was as close as we could get.

There are no sandy beaches here, but very pretty rock beaches and shoreline.

All through Georgian Bay and the North Channel, we saw lots of stone statues made of rock pilings.  We have heard that the story behind these is that people originally erected them to provide directional guidance along the roads and pathways.  Now, it's a clever thing to do.  This small beach area had several, so we decided to build our own.  We added a few purple flowers for our granddaughter, Alexis.  She does love all things pink and purple.

We rode the entire 8-mile road.  On the west side of the island are lots of heavily wooded areas, many times with the branches covering the road.

There were a few horse-drawn carriages out also.

The downtown area is a madhouse of people and there is a fudge shop about every other door.  We were not impressed with their fudge - very dry and just too much sugar texture.  The best we have had on the trip was in Orillia, Ontario, very creamy and "smooth."  However, we did love the beautiful homes, yards, and flowers at Mackinac.

Really loved this all-purple theme at one of the inns.

Lighthouse in the bay, viewed from downtown.

Very nicely-done sign at the courthouse.

There is lots of history in the town, mostly around missionary influence, Fort Mackinac up on top of the hill, and fur trading.  There are 4 churches on the island, from a historic 1670 "bark chapel" overlooking the bay to "The Little Stone Church" of 1900.

Nice view of the harbor.

"Help Me Rhonda" 

We were glad to get past the "washrooms" of Canada back to "restrooms" in the US.

I try not to dwell or note much negative in the blog, but gotta say something about this horse-drawn carriage thing.  That's obviously a major part of the novelty of Mackinac, but there is horse poop throughout the streets and the smell of that and horse urine really detracted from the beauty of Mackinac for us.  And when the poop-cleaner-uppers come around to scoop and sweep it up, lots of the dust gets in the air and...... well, you get the sense of what we're talking about.  Just seems like they could improve on this.  I'll spare you a view of the poop in the streets and just use the topic to transition to what you've been waiting for - The Grand Hotel!

This was a quite clever presentation of the horse-drawn carriages.

And that is Mackinac Island.  Glad we stopped but time to move on. 

We had another "last supper" with Galen and Becky.  We've had several of those the past couple of months, thinking we would not see them again, but we've continued to travel extensively with them since Delaware City, DE  and have thoroughly enjoyed their company.  They have decided to leave their boat at Harbor Springs, MI for some maintenance work and to take time to go home for a week or so.  We're hoping they'll hurry back and catch up with us again soon.  

Next stop - Petoskey, MI.

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