Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer Road Trip 2010: Mackinac Island, Michigan

We made our way from Illinois, through Indiana, and up into the blue spruce lined highways of Michigan (with one quick stop at Big Boy's...once upon a childhood we had our own franchise in Texas :O().
Tree farms with baby Christmas trees (don't tell me they grow, that takes the fun out of it)? Yes, please! I'm now in the Christmas spirit.

We spent the evening in Mackinaw City, where I soon learned it stays light until 10 pm during the summer, and gets light early.

This is not 'normal' for me, but it worked out well for our vacation plans! They had just said goodbye to several days of rain, and things were clearing off, and getting ready for a sunny day with sunshine, cool breezes, and enough warmth to require shorts.
We headed out to the island at about 9 in the morning via one of the three ferry companies. I'm going to include a little more detail here for a friend who will be traveling this way soon. There are coupons throughout the town for the ferries. I was surprised they cost 24 dollars a person, on average. We ended up taking the Starline, it beat out competitor's coupons (of 3 dollars off). So our ride to and from on the 20 minute ferry ride was 20 dollars a person (I hate it when I find something cheaper, so here is too much detail for people like me, in the future!).
It was a pretty ride past two light houses, but chilly above deck.

Mackinac Island is famous for it's lack of cars. Everything is transported around the island (luggage, people, mail, you name it-it's not being moved by motor) by bikes,...

basket carts, foot, or horse drawn carriages.

It is a slower, safer pace to life, though I can't deny I saw a few mini bike rage incidents....I'm sure they were tourist, and some locals who were not happy about the wheels of a carriage being over the line on the road. There is also a horse dropping hazard I was not used to, but the city provides maintanance that is constantly taking care of this smelly problem. I've smelled worse in other cities!

The shops hug the island shoreline when you hop off the ferry.

There is a collection of souvenir shops here, and the next street back. (Let me pause and say, like most towns, you see the same thing over...and over....and over again, but the difference in prices from store to store is amazing. The same hat may have a range of 6 dollars. Fudge deals, coupons, etc should be paid attention to. Items like books varied in prices as well as much as 3 dollars. Considering how many repeating trends we saw....the price range for the same product had little rhyme or reason.  My favorite shop was on the 'main street' when you exit the ferry: Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island.).
The island is also filled with bed and breakfast locations, hotels, and restaurants.

(This is a picture of the Grand Hotel from the ferry.)
The thing it's most famous for (OK...other than the lack of cars, which is sort of a big deal, but you are about to learn my priorities) fudge....there are lots, and lots, and lots of fudge shops (I just broke every writing rule I teach fourth graders with that list of 'lots,' but it seemed important at the time, and schools not in session.).

There are also functional buildings for the people that live, and work here. This library is filled with a little collection of books, and the back porch has a rocking chair you can occupy while gazing at the water.

Most people ride bikes, or take carriages to get around the island, but we opted to walk it. We walked awhile in both directions from the ferry landing, past impressive residential homes.

We found some quieter shoreline.

We also made our way up a steep climb to see Arch Rock, which provided a great window view of the shore, and the lake below.

I believe there are other ways up....and it was a steep climb, with steps that are partially made of wood, and partially (washing away) dirt, so it was a little travel weary, but worth the view from the top. You can also see this rock from down below.
We ate lunch at the Pink Pony with good food and a clear view of the incoming boats.

After lunch we headed the opposite direction towards the Grand Hotel. It cost money to go on the grounds, so we didn't make it as far as the hotel, but we enjoyed the shoreline as we walked.

There is so much to see and do, but the overall idea is that it's relaxing. The hotels are a little pricey (think New York City, though I have not investigated the Bed and Breakfast rates), but everything else was affordable, just expect some additional fees to get in/on some grounds and locations. I'd definitely come back and stay on the island next time. Too often I go on 'doing' vacations, and this would be a 'relaxing' way to spend a vacation. No cars to hop into when you 'think' you need to go just one more place. There are beautiful flowers overflowing from the yards, and shoreline.

You also get to enjoy horses, lots of dogs, and a great view of the world passing you by.

Mackinac really is 'that great.'