On Friday morning we got up early and made the 2.5 hour drive to Mackinaw City. Our plans were to stay overnight in Mackinaw City and visit Mackinac Island on Friday afternoon and Saturday. The drive north took us along US Hwy 131 to I-75. We were hoping to see some fall colors in the trees, but only saw a few trees that have turned. A quick explanation on the spelling of Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island: Mackinaw is the British spelling of the word while Mackinac is French. They are both pronounced as "Mack-in-naw".
Once we arrived in Mackinaw City we starting looking for a hotel room for the night. Connie had picked out the Clearwater Hotel, but they had no vacancies for the night. The desk clerk recommended a couple of other small hotels in the area and we called the Beachcomber Motel which did have some rooms available for the night. We booked one of their larger rooms with a king bed, a view of the lake and a large jacuzzi bathtub.
|View out our hotel room of Mackinac Island|
|We did not spend much time on the porch.|
|Inside Scalawags - Freshwater Bass poster|
|The fish and chips was very good here.|
|Ferry boat at Shepler's dock. The waves on the lake were 3-6 foot swells|
so everyone sat inside rather than on top of the ferry.
Once we arrived on the island we booked a "carriage" tour with the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour Company. The carriage tour usually lasts about 1.75 hours but ours was the last of the day for our driver/tour guide so it ended up being a little over 2 hours.
|Anna was our tour guide/carriage driver. She has been doing this for several years|
and was an excellent guide. She is a college student working on her undergraduate degree.
|View down one of the roads along the tour.|
|Rooms are about $400 per night|
We proceeded to a stone arch (Arch Rock) that was created thousands of years ago when the lake was much higher than it is today. The Native Americans believed that this arch was a portal into the next life and was controlled by one of their deities. Once a person died their soul had to pass through this portal to make it to the next world.
|Connie in front of the Arch Rock.|
|Standing on top of the Arch Rock.|
|Mike in front of the Belgian Draft Horses that pulled the carriage.|
The one closest is 18 and the other is 7 years old. They work 6 days a week
and are always with the same driver.
After walking around the Arch Rock for a few minutes, we proceeded to the East Bluff. This is an area with great views of the lake and the town. Several Victorian summer homes have been built along the road.
|Victorian summer houses along East Bluff.|
|Taking a break on East Bluff.|
|View of the harbor.|
|Our "carriage". The horses wear a hard rubber shoe on their front hoofs|
and a traditional metal shoe on the rear. This helps the horses from sliding on the
|View down the East Bluff.|
|The Bark Chapel. This recreation of the type of "church" built|
by Father Marquette and the early French Catholic missionaries.
|View of Fort Mackinac. The area below was used by the fort to grow crops and corral animals.|
After the fort closed down it was turned into a city park.
|Connie in front of the statue of Father Jacques Marquette. He visited|
this area in 1671 and taught the Native Americans about the
On Saturday morning we ate the continental breakfast in the office of the hotel. We met a couple from Indiana who used to take extended trips in their 5th wheels (they owned several) over an 18 year time frame. They told us about some of the trips they had taken in the Upper Michigan area and gave us some tips of what to see.
We got in a long line to board the ferry and had a nice conversation with two couples (one from Michigan and one from Alabama) who were traveling together on a trip to the island. The temperature was around 50 degrees with a 25-30 mph wind, so we were trying to stay warm. Connie had 5 layers of upper clothes on while I had 4. The wind chill factor made it feel like it was 32 degrees.
Once we got to the island we spend several hours visiting Fort Mackinac. The fort was originally built by the French in 1715 and located at Mackinaw City. In the 1760's, ownership was transferred to the British who moved it to the island in 1780. At the end of the Revolutionary War, the fort became the property of the United States. During the War of 1812, the British captured the fort with a single cannon shot (they occupied the hill above the fort and out numbered the American troops 10 to 1). The British held the fort until the end of the war when it was returned to the Americans by the Treaty of Ghent. The fort was used as a training facility until 1875. In 1875 most of Mackinac Island was made into the 2nd national park (the first being Yellowstone in 1872). The soldiers located at the fort became the "rangers" for the park and their duties now included taking care of the park. In 1895, the fort was closed and the national park was given to the State of Michigan to become the state's first park. Most of the houses located outside of town are inside the park. The houses are owned by individuals who "lease" the land from the state each year (they are all on long term leases).
|Map of the island and the state park|
|Connie at the entrance to the Fort|
|View of harbor from the fort.|
|Mike outside of the Guardhouse. This is where prisoners were kept.|
|The Parade Ground in the middle of the fort. There were several "soldiers" dressed|
in 1880's uniforms who gave talks and demonstrations while we were there.
|One of the soldiers about talking life at the fort.|
|The club for enlisted men. included a billiard's table and an|
original "pinball" machine located to the right of Mike.
|The "bar" inside of the enlisted men's club. Beer was sold for 5 cents a glass. They|
tried selling coffee but since no one was drinking it they discontinued serving it.
|Park and harbor below the fort.|
|One of the churches in town with golf course behind.|
|Golf course with Mackinac Bridge in background. The golf course has 9 holes next|
to the Grand Hotel. You take a 20 minute carriage ride to the other side of the island for
the "back nine".
|Another view of houses in town.|
|Another view of the golf course and lake.|
|The lighthouse in the foreground is still in use. The older one located to the left|
was closed a number of years ago but is now being restored.
|Wave breaking along the boardwalk on Mackinac Island|
We ate a hot late lunch (Connie had clam chowder and I had chili) at O'Reilly's Bar and Grill and then made the return trip to The Duchess. On our return trip we took Hwy 31 which goes along Lake Michigan from Mackinaw City to Traverse City. After a quick stop at Walmart, we returned to the campground and settled in for the evening.