Mackinac Island

I anticipated that my last post would be the last before a stretch in the remote Upper Peninsula, but here’s a surprise one with some more photos. I decided to see Mackinac Island on my way across the straits from lower to upper Michigan, and a few miles into my jaunt around the little island’s interior, a mountain biker pulled over and introduced himself. He was a sometime bike tourist too, and instantly invited me to stay for the night. I’ve gotten a fair number of these invites over my years of hiking and biking, and going with them has never been a bad decision. This time was no exception. I just got done eating steak. The guy used to be a professional chef. Now he owns a souvenir shop, and as a local business owner he was able to get me into the Grand Hotel to look around for free, among other perks. 

I spent most of the afternoon exploring the historic fort, which changed hands several times between the American Revolution and the War of 1812 before becoming a fairly sleepy outpost. Then I checked out the very upscale Grand Hotel before their 6pm coat-and-tie dress code went into effect, and finally rode the beautiful 8-mile loop around the island. 

Tim, my impromptu host, is a pretty chatty guy, as most hosts tend to be – people who enjoy being hospitable mainly for the pleasure of meeting new friends. I’ve heard quite a bit about the history of the island and how idyllic a place it is to raise kids – one of its attractions is the total lack of cars!

Last night’s host, arranged more formally through Warmshowers, was quite a guy as well – thiugh a teacher and school principal by day, he’s a self-described passionate musician and seems to get much of the enjoyment of life from jam sessions with other creative musicians. The host before him was another retired guy who rides bikes everywhere, grooms his area’s bike and ski trails, and plans to ride around the four Great Lakes he hasn’t circled yet. All these folks make the idea of being in your 60s seem a lot less daunting. 

Ok, trying to keep this short. I’m apparently about to be taken on a tour of more historic hotels here. Some photos first. 

The water of Lake Huron seems very clean. 

Scenic vistas. Lots of old lighthouses to match the shipwrecks. 

The five mile bridge that connects the two sections of Michigan, as seen from the ferry to Mackinac Island. 

The natural and unnatural attractions of the island. It’s been a tourist spot since the 1840s. Did I mention there are no cars?

The fort and its views down to the town. 80% of the island is state park and the permanent population is around 500. 

The very fancy Grand Hotel. Ties required after 6pm. It felt like a good setting for a murder mystery. 

Plenty of natural beauty up here. I can really see the appeal, though being connected to the world only by boat and snowmobile is a big commitment. 

Shadowy forests of northern white cedar. I’ve never seen so many of them. 

Ok, so tomorrow I should reach Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and be camping for the next four nights or so. Ive been told blackfly season has just begun. These are bugs that make you wish you were only being tormented by hordes of mosquitoes, apparently. 


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