We were on the last few days of our retirement road trip. Our journey has been an overwhelming success so far but, after our visit to Mackinac Island, it was obvious that we had saved one of the most scenic spots for last. I invite Easin’ Along readers to scroll through previous posts and revisit some of the stops we have made on this trip. All were fun, but the scenery (and the weather) for this trip was incredible.
Our initial plan had been to stay on the island, but accommodations were a little pricey for the few that were available, so we reserved a room in Harbor Springs and, after spending a few days there, made the 45 mile drive to catch the ferry in Mackinaw City where we would spend the night. Our stay in Harbor Springs had been a lot of fun and we will give the details of that visit in a future article where we will consolidate several short visits to some outstanding small cities into one post. For now, let’s board the ferry.
Mackinac (pronounced MAK-in-aw) Island sits in Lake Huron in the state of Michigan between the state’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas and is reached by a ferry ride across the Straits of Mackinac. We arrived at the harbor with plenty of time before the boat left the port, but there was already a line forming to board the vessel. It was an overcast day and looked as though rain was in our future. We both carried raincoats on the boat where we found seats on the crowded top deck. Our tickets on Sheplers Ferry included an up-close view of Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. This massive structure is an incredible feat of engineering that stretches for 5 miles to connect the two peninsulas.
The ferry ride took about 25 minutes and it was not long before the Mackinac Island harbor came into view. We passed by the Grand Hotel as we approached the Harbor and could only imagine what it would be like to stay there. We’ll probably never find out…rooms start at over $300 per night, but we’ll hold out hope for the next visit.
By the time we pulled into the harbor, things were really looking up. Although the day had started out exceptionally dreary, we now found ourselves basked in brilliant sunlight with the temperatures moving toward the low 70’s. With raincoats tied around our waists, we strolled through the very quaint downtown of Mackinac Island City toward the bicycle rental shop, passing several horse drawn carriages along the way. The principle means of transportation on Mackinac is bicycle, horse cart, or feet because Highway M-185, the eight mile road around the island, is the only highway in the USA where automobiles are prohibited. The horse carts looked like fun, but most tourists were opting for bikes.
At the bike shop we made use of another Senior Citizen discount and rented two very nice cruiser bicycles and made our way out of the city. Highway M-185 led us through a neighborhood of beautiful homes with manicured lawns before we made a turn and began to follow along the shore of Lake Huron. By this time, there was not a cloud in the sky and only a light breeze to push some gentle waves against the rocky shoreline. I took a few pictures of Helen (adorable wife) ahead of me, then risked life and limb to make a video of our bike ride which is posted on the Easin’ Along You Tube page. A link to that page is posted here. Please have a look at this video, and see the beauty of this quiet island.
At about the halfway point of our trip around the island, we made a short stop to purchase some bottled water at a snack stand and chat with a few of our fellow cyclists. We asked one very nice couple to take a few pictures for us (bottom of page) and we returned the favor.
Our second stop was at Arch Rock, a formation that sits high above the road. After thinking it over, we decided to climb the 207 steps that took us to the small park at the top of a bluff overlooking the lake. It was a tough climb, but a good decision as the view was spectacular. This side trip was made even more fun by the arrival of several horse carts carrying tourists also eager to capture the view. The horses were beautiful, but looked like they were ready for a break after the climb to the top. After a lengthy photo session at the top of Arch Rock, we made our way back down and resumed our ride back into town.
Once back into town, we stopped in Doud’s Market and picked up a couple of deli sandwiches and walked to a small park along the waterfront for lunch. I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were for the weather and a picnic was certainly in order…the sandwiches were excellent.
After lunch we still had plenty of time before the next ferry so we worked our way alongside both sides of the street of downtown to do a bit of window shopping. Once we passed Murdick’s Fudge Shop, window shopping ceased and we went inside. A young man was putting the finishing touches on a huge roll of fudge and, as we watched him cut the roll into sections, he picked up a generous slice and handed it to us. It would be impolite to refuse his generosity, so we accepted the fudge and made sure he was aware of our gratitude by eating every bit of it in front of him. A lunch dessert never tasted so good.
By now we were sandwich stuffed and fudge filled and decided it best to waddle toward the dock and wait for our ride home. This had been one of the best days of any on our road trips. This short narrative does not come close to capturing the beauty of Mackinac Island so I have posted many of the pictures taken through the day on a Picture Gallery on the Home Page. (Click here)
This post will end the expanded summaries of Easin’ Along’s tour through the Heartland. As mentioned above, I plan to write one more post and about some of the short stops we made in some lovely small cities along the way like Alpena and Sault Ste. Marie, MI, Sheboygan, WI and Clarksville, TN. Please look for that in the days ahead.
Helen and I consider ourselves so very blessed to be able to spend our Golden Years being active and doing things we have looked forward to for years. With the holidays upon us we hope to have the opportunity to reflect upon the blessings that have come our way. The next two posts will be a couple of pieces written for our church Advent Devotional booklet. I hope you enjoy them and that your Christmas season is filled with joy, merriment, and meaning as you celebrate with friends and family. May your every wish come true.
As for us…we’re delighted to be Easin’ Along.