Wednesday, June 21

Mackinac Island Getaway

In 13 years of marriage, Shannon and I have spent, I think, 4 nights together away from our girls, and never more than one in a row. So, for a three-weeks-after-our-anniverary gift to ourselves, we went away on our own for three whole nights. (Shannon's parents were nice enough to stay at our house with the girls.) We decided to take our romantic getaway to Mackinac Island, which is a small island between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. (Lesson time: Mackinac Island is near Mackinaw City and yes, that's how you spell each of them. They are both, however, pronounced the same - "Mackinaw".)

Part of the allure of Mackinac Island is that there are no cars on the island. So if the whole point of the trip is to have a relaxing weekend with your spouse, no driving sounds pretty good. In our quest for a quiet, car-free weekend, we strapped our bikes on the back of the car and drove 7 hours to get there. Late May is really the earliest you want to try and vacation in northern Michigan. The daffodils were out up there, and the tulips were just starting, but we mostly avoided the rain and had temperatures in the 50s. The advantage to going in late May though, is that the hotels are about 15% cheaper before the main tourist season starts, and the island is much emptier.

We spent 2 nights on the island at the Cottage Inn, which is an 8 or 9 room B&B. Because I'm nuts, I got up the first morning and went for a run around the island. Literally, I ran around the whole thing, because I guess I wanted to be able to say that I had. (It's 8 miles around.) I went back to the B&B, had breakfast with Shannon and then we rode around the island together. There's a state highway that goes around the island, but because there's no cars you only have to contend with walkers, bikers and horses and horse-drawn carts. (The horses mostly stick to town.) Here are some sights:

Arch Rock. This is a sea arch from when the Great Lakes were deeper. This shot is from the road looking up at it. Once you climb the 6 kajillion stairs to the top . . . 

This is from the top of the arch, essentially. You can see the road around the island through the trees.

 Panoramic shot from the arch looking out across Lake Huron

Shannon at the beach. You can see the Mackinac Bridge in the distance, which connects the two Michigan land masses. While I did run and bike the island, we didn't do more than stick a finger in the water - it was extremely cold.

 Shannon at British Landing. The British landed here at night and sneaked up on the American fort on the island before they had even realized that the War of 1812 had started.

 Here's the view from the fort looking down on town. This is the main tourist part of the island. We stayed in the yellow house just to the left of the church steeple. The island is basically just tourists and people there to sell fudge and t-shirts to the tourists. I asked one college aged girl working at the fudge store what they all do on the island for the whole summer. Her response was, "I'll be honest with you. We work a lot of hours, and then we drink."

 From the fort looking over the town and harbor.

Having been around the island on day one, we used the second day to explore the interior of the island and head down dirt roads and trails to exciting sounding places like "Skull Cave" and "Crack-in-the-Island".

 Shannon was super impressed by Skull Cave.

This is Sugar Loaf rock.

This is Shannon standing inside Sugar Loaf rock.

 The sign said that there are many cracks in the island. This is the largest one. I can't imagine how we missed all those other ones.
Downtown Mackinac. I even saw a horse drawn street sweeping machine.

The Grand Hotel. We're far too poor to get any closer to the place than this, but it is beautiful.

After two days on the island our rear ends were tired of our bikes. We went back to the mainland and spent a night in Mackinaw City and then drove back home through the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin. (It wasn't all that exciting.)

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