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A day in an Island Paradise

sunny 72 °F


It was a 'long haul' to the top of Michigan, a 300 mile journey from Sturgeon Bay along Lake Michigan. The scenery was woods, logging and not much else. Once we got to St. Ignace, MI we crossed the famous 5 mile Mackinac Bridge southward into Mackinaw City. This town is geared for tourism with dozens of hotels and restaurants. Our campground is located about 2 miles from downtown and one is of the nicest we have stayed at, so far. Its large, with over 700 spacious sites and over 200 rental cabins on the property.

The next day, Saturday 7/13, we boarded the passenger ferry to Mackinac Island, for a half hour trip across the Straits of Michigan & Lake Huron. The 2 lakes, Michigan and Huron come together at the Straits where the famous Island is located. Multiple passenger ferries transport 2 1/2 million visitors each year to the island. Their schedule to this island paradise runs every half hour from 0830 to 11:00 pm daily through the tourist season. Motorized vehicles are forbidden on the island so horse-drawn wagons, taxis, and coaches transport people and goods throughout. Literally, hundreds (maybe thousands) of rental bicycles fill the streets and roads. Quite a site to see as one steps back in time with the laid-back island lifestyle. Hotels, B&B's abound, as do restaurants, bars, and gift shops. We had brunch at a place on Main Street then took a 1 1/2 hr. narrated tour of the island on a horse-drawn taxi holding about 30 people. Draft horses pulled the wagon up and down the hills. Poor horses! At the end of the tour we walked to the Grand Hotel which overlooks the lake and bridge. It is one of America's most beautiful and famous hotels & has hosted US Presidents and world leaders through the years. Its dining room seats 1,000 people! We chose to have a bite of food and a chardonnay at a cafe on the porch. The porch is 660' long and is lined with rocking chairs from one end to the other creating an atmosphere of tranquility. Beautiful flower gardens enhance the building and grounds, also.

Built in the 1880's & backed by investor Cornelius Vanderbuilt of New York Central Railroad wealth and a few others, the hotel was constructed in just nine months. It was (in today's terms) prefabricated and assembled by the best tradesmen of the day. Every room, every window, every door, etc. is exactly the same thus making for efficiency of construction. It is an amazing story. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and minions flock here each summer. We talked with a lady in one of the art galleries who resides here 12 months of the year. She told us that about 500 people are permanent residents with the island service staff swelling to meet its demands during the peak summer months. The island has historic importance in that a British fort was constructed during the late 1700's then transfered to America in a British-American Treaty. John Jacob Astor (of New York fame) made his fortune here with his fur trading business. He was America's first millionaire. He wisely invested his money in New York City real estate. He retired with a personal fortune of $23M, which translated into today's dollars is in excess of $1B. Some of his money built the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City which still exists. It all started on Mackinac Island with his fur trading enterprise. Quite a story.

We found a waterside lounge overlooking the harbor and marina called the 'Pink Pony' and spent a couple hours enjoying music and margueritas during the afternoon. Later in the evening we had appetizers and wine at the Iroquios Hotel on a point of land overlooking the Straits along Main Street. They have an outdoor patio which is truly elegant so it made for a superb ending to a wonderful day.


Posted by dixter 16:36 Archived in USA Tagged island mackinac

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