Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Touring the Island

We slept late this morning...until about 10 or so...and it felt SO GOOD.  We got ready and headed down to the Round Island restaurant for breakfast.  It was 11 a.m. and the little newspaper we'd gotten under our door that morning said the breakfast buffet was available until noon, so we decided that was perfect. 

We walked down to the restaurant and waited and waited and waited for someone to come to the podium to seat us.  Finally, a girl came and told us the restaurant was closed.  We were like, huh?  We told her that the newsletter we got under the door today said breakfast was available until noon.  There was another couple standing there with us and they said the same thing as well.  The girl acted all irritated and kept telling us we were wrong.  Finally, she went down and talked to a manager and they both came back, had the nerve to again tell us we were wrong, but that we could come in and eat if we wanted to, but they were going to begin breaking down the buffet.  How rude!  But, we really wanted some food, so we went in.  We asked to be seated out on the patio, but were told no because there was a wedding luncheon that was about to take place.  So, we were told where to sit, so we did. 

We sat there and sat there waiting for someone to bring us silverware and to get a drink order.  Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and I got up and went to a different podium and asked when someone was going to help us and asked for some silverware.  We were NOT impressed, to say the least.  About 5 minutes later, some guy brought out two small PLASTIC cups of orange juice.  I just looked at him like, what?  Within a couple of minutes, an actual waiter showed up.  He asked how we were doing and I unloaded.  He quickly ran to the back and got us proper GLASSES of juice.  He totally took care of us after that.  He was friendly and helpful.  He even comped our bill, not even giving us the opportunity to tip him. 

As we left the restaurant, I grabbed a few pictures of some interesting items - the Bay City Yacht Club flag hanging over the massive fireplace and a scaled replica of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

We left the restaurant and took a "taxi" to "downtown" for another $9.50 + tip.

For a Tuesday, it was quite busy - people and bikes everywhere.  I guess it IS a tourist town and it IS summer, so what else should I expect?  As we rode along, I took a few more pictures of life on an island with no cars...

This is one of the docks for the ferries.  This dock is for passengers going to Mackinaw City.  In the background, ANOTHER big ship!  Yay!

This next "vehicle" is a trash dray.  Twice a week, the trash dray drives around the island and picks up the residents' trash and recyclables.  Every other day of the week, the drays pick up garbage from the shops and restaurants and then takes it to the docks to be hauled off the island.

Another type of dray.

How would you like this job?  Horse pooper-scooper!  Um, yeah, not for me!  But, I must say...for all the horses on the island, the roads are incredibly clean!

When we arrived in downtown, we walked through a number of stores and shops looking at everything.  I had made a list before we came to the island of certain things I wanted to buy there as mementos of our trip. Some I found, some I didn't.  One of THE things I just had to find were "Mackinac Mittens" made by Liz who is the teacher I mentioned in yesterday's post.  She and some friends from her school make these mittens out of gently used wool sweaters.  These are the mittens I finally found at The Jaunting Cart and I love them! 

Now, why on earth would someone who lives in a desert where it's only cold enough to wear pants two months out of the year want to spend $40 on a pair of mittens?  Because they are nifty.  Because they match, but don't match.  Because they are helping 3 teachers put a few more bucks in their completely underpaid pockets.  Because once in a great while, my fat little fingers do get cold while driving to work in January.  Because I just wanted to.

I also bought a University of Michigan flag to hang up in the fall during the Michigan games.  I think I might even hang it up at work for Halloween!  That will really freak out the Ohio State folks!  (Yeah, I never really understood until just a couple years ago that there is an actual rivalry between the two schools.  The only college rivalry I ever knew about was Utah vs. BYU.  Little did I know that THAT is NOT a "real rivalry."  Ohio State versus Michigan - THAT is a rivalry.  Oh my.  The OSU and Michigan fans are psycho!)

After our little shopping trip, we decided to go on a carriage tour of the island.  Melon Man went and bought our tickets and we waited and waited and soon it was our turn.  We boarded the carriage and we were off.

These are a few of the sites we saw.  I didn't take this picture because of the neat building or the history of it.  I took it because of the cute Boy Scout out front standing there so stoically.  First, notice the spot he is standing in.  It looks like it was built for him to stand there.  Maybe it was.  I don't know.  But, it's the fact that he's standing there in a sort of protective mode that intrigues me.  Later on our tour, we learned more about this and the other Boy (and Girl) Scouts that are on the island during our stay.  Every summer, Mackinac Island has up to 54 Michigan Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their leaders over alternate weeks. These scouts serve the state as the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard. The program began in 1929, when the State Park Commission invited eight Eagle Scouts, including young Gerald Ford, to serve as honor guards for the Michigan governor (who has a summer residence on the island also).  The program is popular, selective, and a long standing tradition. Scouts raise and lower all of the flags in the city and in Fort Mackinac, serve as guides, and complete volunteer service projects during their stay. These scouts live in the Scout Barracks located behind Fort Mackinac.

Next, we headed up Cadotte Avenue.  This street was so beautiful!  It was lined with trees on both sides.  As we progressed up the avenue, we came to the second church on the island - the Little Stone Church.  This is where Bree from Bree's Mackinac Island Blog goes to church while she's on the island each summer.

 We continued up Cadotte Avenue and what came into view?  The Grand Hotel!  So I get the facts right, I copied this info from the Grand Hotel's website:

In 1886, the Michigan Central Railroad, Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad, and Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company formed the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. The group purchased the land on which the hotel was built and construction began.  At its opening, nightly rates at the hotel ranged from $3 to $5 a night (those folks would be dumbfounded at what it costs per night now!). 

The front porch is reportedly the world's longest front porch at 660 feet.  It costs $10 for non-guests to enter the building to experience the view from the front porch, which has drawn criticism from many.  The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, was filmed on location at Grand Hotel. The movie now has a huge following, with a fan club that meets at Grand Hotel each October dressed in period costume. 

The hotel is only open from May to October.  Each season, more than 83,000 pounds of prime rib, 23,500 pounds of ham, 83,500 pounds of potatoes, 23,000 pounds of carrots, 14,000 pounds of strawberries, and 6,500 pounds of pecans are served to Grand Hotel’s dining guests.  The Grand Hotel experience includes dressing up for dinner.  Evening wear is required in all areas of the hotel after 6:30 p.m. - coat and tie for gentlemen and dresses or pantsuits for ladies.  Room rates include full breakfast and five course dinner each day.  Well, they better include all meals for $650 a night for two adults (plus 27% in taxes)!


A few pics that Melon Man took...an English telephone, a little golf course, and geese on the green lawn.

Next we headed up to the mid-point of our tour.  This building had all kinds of old sleighs in it, along with the only hearse allowed on the island...horse-drawn, of course.  It was kind of a neat building - it showed a lot of the history of the ways of the island.

After going through the historical building, we walked down the little hill to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House.  What a cool place!  We were probably there for an hour!

These pictures - above and below - are of the butterflies in their cocoons.

Soon, our ride arrived.  It was a different style of carriage this time.  It is much easier for the horses to pull these carriages where we were going and it would be much easier for the passengers to get on and off at the next stop.

These were our escorts.  This was a 3 horse power carriage!

The next place we went was the cemetery.  It was very peaceful.  It kind of reminded me of a random burial ground though.  It didn't seem like there was any rhyme or reason as to how the graves were placed.

The cemetery was actually the St. Ann's cemetery.  It's really the only cemetery on the island that we saw other than the war cemetery.  Maybe there was another one, but I don't recall the tour guide saying anything about another one.

This is the war cemetery.  It holds the graves of those who died on the island during the war and also those who have died serving the country who were Island residents.  It was so very touching seeing it.  The flag at this cemetery is one of only 3 national cemeteries where the flag flies at half staff permanently.

The other entrance to St. Ann's cemetery.  I LOVE the stone arches and iron gates.  So beautiful.  The only way to be buried on the island is to have been a resident.

As we drove through the trees, we stopped for this view.  This is a view of the fort.  There was a whole story about how the cannons couldn't reach this point.  I wish I could remember it, but oh well.  It was cool at the moment!

Then, we went to Arch Rock.  I didn't feel like getting off the carriage and walking to it so I sent Melon Man with the camera.  He took a nice picture.

We soon meandered on our way again and arrived at Fort Mackinac.  Unfortunately, it was only open for another 15 minutes or so, so we didn't get to go in and look around.  But, I did take this picture of this little gate "guarding" this entrance below the pointed wall above.

We stopped right around the front of the Governor's mansion and I captured this next picture.  What a view of the Straits!  Love the little flags flying, love the calm of the view.  I could completely sit there all day and just watch the world go by.

We soon started back down Cadotte Avenue.  How pretty is this?  These trees are Norway Maples and have been lining this street for about 60-70 years.  Can you imagine how beautiful they would be in the fall?  GORGEOUS!  I wish we'd been able to go down the street in the evening when the shadows were falling and the lights were just coming on.  I bet it is so romantic.  Maybe THAT'S why they filmed part of Somewhere in Time right here! 

As we came down Market Street to head back into town, some of the other carriage drivers were telling our driver that it was a mess downtown.  They said there had been a fire.  A fire?  Oh no!  Melon Man captured this British flag for his buddy, Bob, who's from England.

So, here we were...on an island with no cars, no trucks, no vehicles at all...EXCEPT a firetruck...

...an ambulance...

...and a police car (which we didn't see).  This was truly a rarity - to see both the fire truck and the ambulance!  Apparently, there wasn't a fire, but almost.  It was at The Island Slice pizzeria.  The oven started smoking and they quickly took precautions to protect the island.

We were finally hungry so we decided to try out the Chippewa Hotel's restaurant.  They had a lovely outdoor patio and we didn't have to wait more than 15 or 20 minutes...plus we got a table right next to the water!  It was a lovely evening.

We watched the ferries come in and go out, especially the catamaran - called The Kat.  It was BIG for a ferry!  It seemed to just glide on the water.  It's the one Melon Man had wanted to take to come over to the island, but I was "new" to the whole experience and had just booked the one the hotel recommended.

As we were sitting there waiting for our meals, I noticed this little green boat in the marina.  It was quite the odd little thing.  I knew what was coming though if Melon Man saw it...um, yeah, "I want one of those."

And, yes, he finally did see it and yes, he did say he wanted one!

They finally brought our salads.  I got the iceberg wedge with blue cheese.  It was yummy - but a whole head of lettuce?  Oy vey!

Melon Man ordered the prime rib - and he said it was awesome.  He said, "It's almost as good as yours."  I was SO HAPPY that he actually loves something I make!  I tasted a bite of his meat and it WAS good.  It tasted very similar to mine!

I decided to get the Great Lakes Whitefish.  The fish part tasted good, but the fries were ice cold and the breading on the fish was soggy.  So, I wasn't too happy with my meal this time.  Now, the dessert?  It was fantastic and we scarfed it down!

We found another taxi and made our way back to our hotel for the evening.  It had been a lovely little stay on the island and it was almost time for us to leave.  It definitely is a magical little place.  I don't know that I could handle living there year round - especially in the winter - but to be there throughout the summer would be awesome.  I felt almost as if we'd stepped back in time.  I can't wait to go back again!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Gorgeous pictures. I wanna go there!