The Jewel of the Straits ...Wed, 7/6/16

In our travels, we've come close, but missed visiting Mackinac Island.  A number of people had told us, "you've got to go to Mackinac Island."  So this was high on our list of places we wanted to see on this trip.  Among others, we have my sister and the Abbeys to thank for the tip.  Weather was an issue, with a variety of predictions for the one day we'd set aside, all the way from 80% to 20% chance of rain.  We knew we'd take our bicycles, but we didn't want to ride 'em if it was going to pour down rain.

Arnold Ferry has a scenic 40-minute cruise from Mackinaw City on the mainland to the island (there is no bridge to the island).  Camped at Wilderness State Park on the Lake Michigan side, we barely made it on the 10 am ferry.  I think there were as many bikes on board as people!  The Arnold Ferry (above) is returning to the mainland.  Mackinac Bridge is in the distance.

The Round Island Light, aka the "Old Round Island Point Lighthouse" is located on the west shore of Round Island in the shipping lanes of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Built of painted brick in 1895, it served as an active, manned lighthouse and fog signal from 1895–1947. I think it's cute.  Abandoned in 1947, it was replaced by the Round Island Passage Light (below), an automated light tower located in the adjacent channel.


Once on the island, there are only three ways to get around:  By foot, bicycle, or horse.  No motorized vehicles.  The street at the ferry dock was jam-packed with tourists, using all three modes!

Arch Rock is popular, but we didn't climb to the top.  We left that to the kids.

Horses and wagons fill the streets of Mackinac Island.
I recognize that bicyclist in the background!

Thank goodness for the "honey bucket" men who cleaned up after said horses!  Boys on bikes were funny -- when they spotted a steaming pile of horse ploppers, they'd yell out, "Ewww, more horse poop!"

I'm including this pic because I believe it's the prettiest post office I've ever seen!

No motorized vehicles.  Period.

Jimmy and I didn't know what to expect, but I promise you, we didn't expect island opulence such as you see above.  Many very fine homes grace the island. 

And I include this one because we wondered if islanders closed up their homes for the winter and flew south like migrating birds.  But, you see, certainly some of them stay for the winter and can cross the Straits on the ice bridge.  Cool beans (literally).

Dray horses and wagons filled with goods (Amazon seems to be well-used on the island) make regular, as in daily, deliveries.

Man, the bicycles!  Everywhere.

When the ferries come in, luggage, bikes, people, everything goes by drayage.

For some reason this sea cave (niche) is called Devil's Kitchen. 

Anybody can ride!

On the far side of the island, a rain squall had just gone through and (lucky us), we just missed it, altho we got "misted on!"  We really enjoyed riding the beautiful 8.2 mile Lake Shore Drive loop trail, with its breathtaking views of Lake Huron, limestone bluffs, and the endless summer wildflowers lining the sides of the road.  Despite the forecasts, we escaped any rain.

Lake Huron water in one word:  Cold.

We wanted to make sure it was "one of ours" patrolling the waters.

We eventually parked our bikes to grab a sandwich and walkabout the town, and when we came back to claim our bikes, these two horses (with wagon) were blocking our path, sort of.  The near one was eyeing my red bike bag.  Shoo, I told him, shoo, get away from my bike bag!  They didn't move, but we managed to squeeze the bikes out.

We roamed and biked the island all day, and caught the 5 pm ferry to return.

Back aboard the Chippewa to mainland Michigan.

The "Mighty Mac" is the one of the world's most beautiful bridges and the longest suspension bridge in the Americas, with a total length of 8,614 feet suspended. It's currently the third longest suspension bridge in the world.  Took three years (1954-1957) from ground-breaking to opening.  What an amazing span!

Much of the beauty comes from the setting at the Straits of Mackinac. The Straits link Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge links Michigan's Lower and Upper peninsulas.

For me and Jimmy?  Wowzers, what a absolutely stellar day!


  1. Anonymous5:37 AM

    Knew y'all would love the island, happy you finally made it there!

  2. I think I'll pass on applying for that "honey bucket" job ;-)

  3. We biked the island too, it's a pleasant way to spend the day.

  4. I tried to reply to your email but I don't think it went through. If you guys are staying that far north I wouldn't be able to catch up to you until the 14th. Will you still be in the UP at that time or are you coming down into Wisconsin or heading on West?

    1. Pam, we'll be long gone by the 14th ... too bad.

  5. Oh, I am so happy to see this. We read about it when we were in that area, but didn't have time on that trip. Won't miss it the next time we head northeast, for sure.

  6. Great place to be in the summer:)


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