We couldn't travel to the state of Michigan without seeing Mackinac Island. For those that haven't heard of it, the entire island of Mackinac is a National Historic Landmark located in Lake Huron. All forms of motorized transportation have been banned on the island. It's a small island, measuring only 3.8 square miles, and can be traveled easily by foot, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage.
We hopped aboard the 9:00 am Star Line Ferry, whose dock was directly across the street from our hotel, because it was the only ferry that detoured slightly so to take us underneath the Mighty Mack Bridge on our way to the island. Driving over the bridge at dusk, we didn't feel like we could soak in how impressive it is. In the morning light, with the bright blue water below it, the bridge is really incredible. It is only 400 feet shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA.
I kind of went overboard taking pictures of it. It was so cool.
We sat on the right side of the open-air second deck of our triple-decker ferry so we could have good views. It was a brisk morning and I felt unprepared (though I didn't admit this to Kelli) as the only member of our foursome without a sweatshirt. Our ferry captain came over the speaker system and told us that due to the cooler-than-average temperatures and the wind, there was a good chance people in the second and third decks could get splashed. Kelli and I quickly calculated the wind direction and thought we should be okay. We were. We felt a little spray as the entire opposite side of the ferry got wet and crammed over onto our side, but it wasn't bad.
Charly was fascinated by the boat ride!
Hayes fell asleep.
We could not believe how blue and clear the water of Lake Huron was. The waves were a little wilder than usual but combined with the blue sky and numerous clouds, it all made for a rather picturesque ferry ride.
The above picture shows Mackinac Island's two lighthouses, the Round Island Lighthouse (far right) and Round Island Passage Light (far left). The lighthouse was built in the 1890's because Mackinac Island often got in the way of ships traveling in Lake Huron. The island itself was a hazard so the lighthouse was built to warn vessels it was there. It looks more like an old schoolhouse than it does a lighthouse, but it has awesome character nonetheless.
This strange feeling came over both of us, the closer we came to the island. It's hard to describe but it's a feeling that never really left us the entire day. We felt like we were being transported to some strange place that didn't really exist. Suddenly, home felt very, very, very far away. Even though we were just in Michigan!
There are three different ferry companies that shuttle tourists to Mackinac Island and all run on similar schedules. So when we docked on the island, so did literally, thousands of other people. We thought maybe being a Tuesday, the island wouldn't feel so crowded. That was not the case. It was packed. We discovered that the Bayview Yacht Club's "Race to Mackinac" sailboat race had just concluded. The island was crawling with racers, racers' families, and fans.
We used Trip Advisor to do a lot of our research and it sounded like renting bikes was the thing to do. While pricey, we found many testimonials suggesting renting bikes and riding around the island to sightsee. We thought the kids would love tooling around in a Burley so our first stop off the ferry was one of many bike rental places on Mackinac's Main Street. For $8 and hour, we rented bikes and a trailer and started out.
The island's "Main Street" actually leads to the shore and follows the perimeter of the island. It is precisely 8.3 miles around. We were feeling ambitious!
The kids were not as big of a fan of the Burley as we thought they would be! Hayes couldn't quite get comfortable and Charly demanded the cover closed! We stopped about a mile down the road to let them stretch and throw rocks into Lake Huron. Charly is obsessed with rocks lately, and we were worried that we wouldn't be able to get her back in the Burley!
We eventually did get them back in the trailer and hit the road again. Another mile down the road we found Arch Rock, a famous rock on the island that is eroding from the inside out. It is believed that within 5 years the rock will be gone.
Along the side of the road we noticed all these stacks of stones. Apparently a popular thing for visitors to the island to do is see how high they can stack stones on the shore. We tried our hand at it but Hayes ended up knocking more down than we could stack up, so we gave up!
Another mile down the road (3 total now) and my ambition turned to exhaustion. Charly and Hayes still weren't really fans of the Burley, the temperature was mid-to-high 60's, and a good 10-15 mph wind was blowing directly in my face! We really wanted to say we biked the full 8.3 miles around the island, but I couldn't pull the nearly 60 lb. trailer behind me in midst of all the obstacles. I wussed out.
Of course as soon as we turned around to bike back to downtown, the kids fell asleep and the temperature rose! Figures . . .
The bicycles proved hard to maneuver downtown amidst all the people, so we turned them in for the day and decided to explore downtown on foot. Our research had turned up a number of shops and restaurants we wanted to check out and we didn't think it was fair to keep the kids confined to a bicycle trailer any longer.
To Be Continued . . .