July 16, 2016- Blog update, unnecessarily delayed due to laziness and needing a boat break……. being written on 8/10.
We arrived in Mackinaw in the afternoon and were lucky to get a slip at the Mackinaw Island Marina. There’s lots of activity there, with many ferry boats coming and going from Mackkinaw and St Agnes, both on the mainland. Although the island has only 600 year round residents, it has over 1,000,000 visitors a year, and basically, only during the summer months.
Checking in with customs was done via video call from a tiny phone at the marina. All of us had to hold our passports to the camera and state our names, etc. Kind of comical, but all went well and we are now legally back in the USA!
Mackinaw Island was a valuable island that marked the entry from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron, and had a fort that was contested by the Indians, British, Americans, French for several hundred years. In the early 1900’s it became a vacation spot, and the then new noisy cars were banned because they upset the horses. That law is still on the books and makes the town special with literally no powered vehicles allowed. Lots of horse drawn carriages and bikes. Watch the poop though!!!!
We rented bikes and circumnavigated the island, about 8 miles around. A very pretty coastline. Something unusual along the way were the many, many small piles of rocks stacked at the shoreline. Turns out they are called Cairns, and are supposed to be artistic, and used to mark your way on a trail, etc. Must be the touristy thing to do as they were certainly popular, and for some reason are common along Lake Michigan. We managed to avoid our intense desire to produce such a pile of rocks, and pedaled on…..
The island has a number of architectural controls which keeps the architecture period correct, and since it is a state park, little new growth occurs. It can be very crowded during the daytime with all the ferry traffic bringing day tourists along. In the evening, it quiets down and a walk on the main street is delightful, with lots of shops and restaurants.
For you sugar lovers- the island was apparently home to a big fudge store at one time and now boasts an incredible number of fudge shops all featuring the “best” or “most famous” or “original” fudge. Of course we did have to sample these just to confirm that there was no false advertising going on!
The fort itself was well preserved and had a number of daily activities. We saw a rifle shooting exhibition and heard the cannon firing. The fort is high above the town, and has a number of very good exhibits reflecting it’s years of use.
One special note – the flowers on the island are phenomenal. It must have the perfect mix of rain and temperature, sunlight, etc. as everywhere there was a beautiful garden to view.
Mackinaw Island also boasts the largest wooden hotel in the world. Although we didn’t go in, (they charge a fee just for entering which we refused to pay), the hotel clearly is five star and host to several events and weddings every year. Definitely a big structure which I wouldn’t want to be around if someone tossed a match into it!!!
Next up Traverse City and Charelvoix, where we will leave the boat for a couple weeks before heading to Chicago.