St Ignance and Mackinac, Michigan

This is a fun and amazing area to visit. The five mile long Mackinac Island Bridge divides the Michigan Upper Peninsula from the Lower Peninsula, St Ignance to the north and Mackinaw City to the south, and Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east.  Evidently Mackinac and Mackinaw are pronounced the same – Mac-ki-na. 

Grand HotelBoat service to Macinac Island is available from both cities by three separate companies, each running boats every half hour for the 15 minute crossing — Star Line, Shepler’s and Arnold.  We chose the Star Line because of their "Hydro-Jet" boat.  You see their roster tail across the bay.  But to my disappointment, the boat is equip with three engines — two 1400 hp that drive props, and a 200 hp engine that does the roster tail just for show.  When approaching the island, the Grand Hotel looms on the hillside.

Mackinaw CityMackinaw City has an historical downtown with fun shops and large new set of buildings very nicely arranged in a series of courtyards. Colonial Michilimackinac is a rebuilt fort whose building are based upon extensive archaeological research in 1959 and continuing to the present.  So much change of "ownership" in the area, that I lost track of the power struggle and cooperation that went on between the French, British, US, and the natives between 1671 and the late 1800’s.

horse drawn carriageThe next day we enjoyed Macinac Island, including its own Fort Mackinac.  The island has banned automobiles since 1898 (and this is not an Amish community).  Everything is done by walking, horse and carriage, or bikes.  Even the UPS deliveries were done by bicycle, or horse and cart for large packages.  There is one gas fire engine and one police car.  The island is approximately 2,200 acres, two miles wide, three miles long and eight miles around by bike.

We started our tour by two-horse drawn carriage.  At the butterfly exhibit, we transferred to a large three-horse drawn carriage which took us up into the hills, through the woods, and by the cemeteries.  The 1.5 hour tour cost $22 each.  Somewhere In TimeHorse carriage taxi’s are also available.  Over 3000 bicycles are licensed by the city — mostly to bicycle rental companies who rent them from $6-10 per hour, depending upon type.  You may also bring your own bicycle across on the boat for $7.

We learned that "Somewhere In Time" was filmed at the Grand Hotel on the island.  Tonight we watched the DVD, both as a standard movie, and then repeated with the Director’s Comments sound track.  Very interesting.  The Grand Hotel is such a magnificent structure.

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