Wednesday, June 25, 2014

California to Chicago and Michigan by Rail - Mackinac Island Day 1

Today was the day we travel to Mackinac Island.  We were up early and were on the road by eight o’clock.  Val and I rode with Judy in her car and my brother and his family were in another car.  We headed north to the city of Battle Creek where my brother Doug and his wife Janis had lived for three years after he passed the bar exam and went to work as an attorney. They wanted to see the home they lived in, and it was much the same as it was when they lived there.  From there we continued our drive north until we stopped for lunch in the little town of Clare and had an excellent meal at the Mullberry Cafe. 

Mackinac Island is located in the Straits of Mackinac accessed by ferry from the towns of Mackinaw City in Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and St. Ignace from the Upper Peninsula.  The Strait of Mackinac is where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.  When I was young and still lived in Michigan, if you wanted to go from the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula or vice versa, you had to take a car ferry across.  In 1957, just before we moved to California, Michigan completed a bridge across the strait which made it much easier to travel, but not as much fun as the ferry, at least for us kids.

The Mackinac Bridge from the St. Ignace side.

After we left Clare we continued north and crossed the Mackinac Bridge to St. Ignace where we would leave our cars behind and catch the ferry to Mackinac Island.  The Island does not allow motorized vehicles, and the only mode of transportation is on foot, bicycle, horses or horse drawn vehicles.  Mackinac Island is also the home of the Grand Hotel, which is an old and famous hotel.  We parked our vehicles, checked our luggage and waited for our ferry to leave.  The boats are hydrofoils and make the trip in about a half an hour.  We were soon on our way with views of the Mackinac Bridge on one side and the Island on the other.  We arrived on the Island and were happy to hear that our luggage would be sent on to our hotel so all we had to do was walk down to our hotel.

Mandy, Becky, Janis, Doug, Me and Judy waiting to board the ferry.

Mandy, Becky, Doug and Janis on the top deck waiting to go.
The boat shoots out a wake of spray (rooster tail) as we leave the mainland.

The Grand Hotel
The Mackinac Bridge is in the background as we arrive at the Island.
The streets were very busy with pedestrians, bicycles and horse drawn carriages, and is a very busy tourist destination during the summer months.  We were staying at the Chippewa Hotel, which turned out to be very nice.  We had booked a suite so there would be a place where we all could gather and it turned out to be very nice with a great view of the harbor.  After getting unpacked and settled in, we walked around town a bit and then gathered for dinner at the hotel dining room, which we all enjoyed.  After that we called it a night as we had a big day planned for our only full day on the island.

The view from our balcony overlooking the harbor.

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