Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mackinac Island

Days on cruise:  130


Last night’s storm was ferocious. Late in the evening it grew  dark earlier than usual, the rain fell in sheets, and lightning and thunder were continuous. We were pleased to be in a slip at a marina instead of at a remote anchorage. Today we saw further evidence of the havoc wreaked by the storm.


This morning we caught a Shepler’s ferry from our marina at Mackinaw over to Mackinac Island. The water was calmer than during our trip on Next To Me through the Straits of Mackinaw yesterday.


Mackinac Island, with 800 residents (500 people, 300 horses) takes you through a time warp to the late 1800s in many ways, and also offers the worst of over-crowded tourism in others. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. All transport is by foot, bicycle or horse.


We took our own bicycles on the ferry ($8.00) to avoid the $30  charge we’d have each incurred by renting bicycles.


We began our tour by riding our bikes around the flat, paved road that circumnavigates the island. It was 8 miles, and the views were spectacular, the shoreline rimmed with water so clear and turquoise it looked like the Florida Keys, and the crowds bigger than expected. But it is the height of the peak summer season, which is short, so we were naïve to think it would be otherwise.



Next we parked the bikes and walked up to the Grand Hotel, a fabulous summer resort which opened in 1887. This beautiful spot on the bluff has the largest verandah in the world with almost 100 rocking chairs for relaxing and enjoying the view, boasts over 300 hotel rooms, each one unique, and serves a delicious buffet lunch from 12:00 – 2:00 each day, of which we partook, in the beautifully decorated, fancy dining room.



There are well-tended gardens, bocce ball, tennis and croquet courts, walking paths, a cupola, boutique shops on the main floor and lots more. It’s lovely!



Next we took a carriage tour of the island. We’ve taken several such tours in the south-east part of the U.S., in places like St. Augustine, Beaufort, SC, Charleston and more, usually trolley tours. This one was interesting in that the carriages are pulled by horses, but was otherwise a little bit disappointing. Nonetheless, we saw a bit more of the island this way, and it’s a very scenic place.



Shortly before the dinner hour we caught the ferry back to Mackinac City and our marina slip, tired and having enjoyed the day immensely. This was a more-than-worthwhile stop. If anything, we wonder if we should have stretched out our visit over two days instead of just one, as we were tired before the day was over.



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