Home Away From Home, Michigan

Another Day on Mackinac Island

We woke up to a sunny day with blue sky and not a cloud in sight so we decided that perhaps the weathermen didn’t know what they were talking about (they did). In that vein we decided to go back over to Mackinac Island. We really didn’t get to see the Grand Hotel nor the fort when we were there earlier in the week plus we so enjoyed riding the loop around the island that we wanted to do it again.

A Ride on Arnold's Ferry
A Ride on Arnold’s Ferry
We decided to take Arnold’s Ferry today since it had been recommended and it was $18 cheaper. Jerry got the bikes on the back of the car and we drove to Arnold’s not very far down the street. Our ride over was nice, perhaps a little longer but it was fine. The water was calmer today so we sat up top and enjoyed the fresh air and breeze.

As soon as we got off the ferry and got our bikes Jerry got a map from the Visitor’s Center and we set out for the Grand Hotel. At one point we had a very steep incline and I just couldn’t make it up. I couldn’t get off the bike with the basket on the back and Jerry was long gone so I just straddled the bike and walked it up the hill. Sometimes it really is nice when you don’t know anyone around you! I got back on at the top and rode on up to the hotel. Jerry was waiting and we quickly put out bikes on the bike stands.

The flowers at the hotel are spectacular, colorful and plentiful. They charged $10 to walk through the hotel – guess that’s to keep the riff raff out and it worked – we didn’t go in!

We're really not very good at selfies!
We’re really not very good at selfies!
We then got on the bike trail from that end and rode the 8.2 mile loop again. It was so much more fun! I saw a lot of things that I didn’t get to see the previous time due to the rain and wind. When we got to the Mission Point Hotel I suggested we go out and sit in the large Adirondack chairs. As we were sitting there fiddling with the selfie stick we felt the first drops of rain so we headed on into the main part of town.

We had planned to visit the fort but decided to go on out for lunch first since it was raining was coming down pretty steadily. I had been told that the mussels at Yankee Rebel Tavern (boy, that’s a politically correct name for visitors) were delicious so we decided to eat there only to discover that mussels are only served in the evening. As we ate we watch the rain continue to pour so we decided to order dessert, something we rarely do except when we’re traveling. We got the crème brulee and it was pretty good – we scraped the dish!

The rain had let us a bit so we walked around a few stores. I bought a cap and then we realized it was 2:40 and the ferry only left at 3:00, 5:00, 7:00 and 9:00. We didn’t want to wait until 5:00 so we hustled out, got our bikes and were immediately at the loading dock. By this time it was really raining hard. When we got back to St. Ignace Jerry had to put the bikes back on the car rack in the deluge of rain. I think he did it in record time!

As soon as we got back I walked over to the office for a bit to see if I could get some Internet connectivity. After chatting with a couple tenting for two weeks (really) I went back to the coach, got a cup of coffee and promptly took a nap. Jerry kept asking me if I wanted to continue to sleep and I did. I got up and ate just a little bit and then went right to bed. I was tired!

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Home Away From Home, Michigan

St. Ignace and Mackinac Island

Yesterday was a travel day. We intended to get up early, ride bikes and then be on the way but I knew Jerry had had a bad night and he had a long day of driving ahead so I didn’t wake him. In fact he didn’t wake up until 8:30. He had read the night before that one way to lose weight while cycling is to ride without breakfast so we tried that today. I really couldn’t tell any difference in my ability to conquer 6 miles. It’s mostly level ground so that makes it easier. The first four miles are not that hard but the fifth one – wow, and the sixth one I just keep counting down!

We left about 12:00 and though it’s just a little over 100 miles it took us 3 hours to arrive. The road is two lanes, curvy, bumpy in places and a slow drive. We did drive through Petoskey which is a beautiful town but I was on the phone with Ivy planning our Louisville trip so I really didn’t see much.

We slowly crossed over the Mackinac Bridge due to road construction and arrived at Tiki Campground in St Ignace, MI. We got the Passport rate and only paid $105 for 5 nights. Our site is kind of up on the edge of the campground – hope we don’t roll over during the night! We can see Lake Michigan though. Wi-fi as usual is iffy even with the booster. The booster can’t boost what isn’t there! I do wish campground hosts would not advertise free Wi-Fi if it is so poor. I’m watching our data on our phones carefully since I know there is no Wi-Fi in Asheville, our last destination.

Thursday we got up early, dressed and had our bikes at the office by 8:30 waiting for the shuttle to Sheplar’s for the ferry ride over. The weather was nice as it had cooled down a bit and the sky was clear although rain was predicted. We were the last pickups so the ride there took less than 5 minutes. We had planned to sit on top but they made it clear that we would get very wet, like “bathtub” wet so along with many others we went downstairs. Although the route was supposed to take us under the bridge the captain wasn’t sure that would be possible due to high waves, 2-4 feet. We did go under it though and it is amazing!

On to Mackinac Island and oh my goodness. People, horses and bikes everywhere. We carefully rode our bikes down main street and then around the block. We had packed the backpack and it was in my basket on the back of my bike. It so changed the bike weight that I couldn’t ride with it. We parked our bikes at a bike rack and then ambled around. We went to the Visitor’s Center and for a few minutes just looked lost as we gazed around at the fevered activity. We finally decided to take a horse and buggy ride around the island. It was $120 or $60 per couple. We ended up sharing with another couple. The problem was that it was cash and between the two of us we had about $70.

The ride was very nice as he took us around the island. We passed right by the Grand Hotel, several nice stables and many of the private homes on the island. Boy, are they nice! The owner’s names were very recognizable.

After the tour we took our bikes and started on the ride around the island. Riding a bike is like riding an obstacle course. If everyone had brought their bikes and knew how to ride it would be nice but that is surely not the case. Of course there were many rented bikes of all sizes, even tandem bikes. At one point I surely wished Jerry and I were pedaling together!

The Arch on Mackinac Island
The Arch on Mackinac Island
The bike ride to the Arch was a nice ride and in fact we had passed it before we realized it so we turned around and went back. We locked the bikes up on the bike rack and began the 207 steps up to the Arch. About half way up there is a rest stop and Jerry reached in his pocket to get his iPhone out to take a picture only to frantically realize that it was still on his bike. Back down the stairs he went. Luckily it was still on the bike but then he had to climb the stairs again. We finally reached the top and it was well worth it despite the crowd. The view of Lake Huron is incredible to say the least.

When we climbed back down it had begun to sprinkle so we sat on the benches for a few minutes hoping that it would pass. It didn’t so we valiantly continued on our 8.2 mile ride around the island. After about 4 miles and a BIG hill that I finally walked up the wind picked up and the rain began to blow. I finally caught up with Jerry and we stopped at the rest station where there was a phone and bathrooms – and a locked building. By this time I was cold and a little wet. I couldn’t wear my visor because it would blow off and I couldn’t take off my sunglasses which were covered with rain because then my contacts would blow out. When I got to that rest stop my question to Jerry of course was “are we having fun yet?” We carried on though and the trail got easier and the weather improved. In fact my eighth mile was my fastest mile!

Our next stop was the Pink Pony for lunch. Although there was a line for inside we elected to sit outside so we had no wait. We both got the burgers and chips and they were good.

Afterward we just walked around the shops some. To say that Mackinaw Island is fascinating is absolutely an understatement. There are throngs of people going in all different directions, some trying to cross the street amidst the cyclists, walkers and the horse and buggies. Apparently because it was a week day and poor weather there weren’t as many people there as usual. I can’t imagine more. Our van driver told us that about 6000 people a day go over!

Streets of Mackinac Island
Busy Streets of Mackinac Island
After walking around some we decided to ride our bikes to the other end and possibly find the Grand Hotel. A mile later we turned around realizing that we had totally missed the turns. By this time it had really begun to rain so we parked the bikes and walked around the stores some more. Of course I got a magnet saying that we had ridden the 8.2 miles plus I got a sweatshirt. We went into one of the many ice cream shops and had a cone of ice cream. We also went in and out of a couple of fudge shops and sampled their wares. By this time we were too full to think about buying any!

Since it was raining so hard we decided to return to the campground and as luck would have it we pulled up to the dock just minutes before the St. Ignace ferry was leaving so we were able to quickly get on and get settled. The ride back was direct, no looking at the bridge so it was fast.

When we got back to the coach we fixed a cup of coffee and just rested for a bit. The plan was to bake the pasties we had bought in Traverse City earlier but that didn’t happen. I went to sleep on the sofa and after a little rest Jerry got up and fixed some more sausage balls. I just couldn’t seem to wake up so I finally had two sausage balls and some tea for dinner and went to bed!
It was a great day but tiring.