July 13-20, 2019 Our main goal this week was to visit the two Great Lakes (Huron and Superior) and to see Mackinac Island.
We heard that driving the RV over the Mackinac Bridge onto the Upper Peninsula was tough for RV’s because of the wind. They make trucks go 20 mph. So we decided to park the RV at the Mackinaw Mill Creek Campground and took day trips from here. We could see the bridge from here.
The campground has a very efficient check in process. They offered discounted tickets for the ferry ride to Mackinac Island, which saved us $15.
We had Campsite #46 which wasn’t on the water because those sites don’t have sewer. But there is a huge community space that we took advantage of everyday.
My favorite thing to do at the campground was setting up our hammocks by the shore and doing our school work while listening to the waves of Lake Huron.
Loved the open public area on the lake.
We rode our bike and ran around the camp ground most days.
One night we attended a Lumber Jack show. These are the shows you see on ESPN. The show was a competition between two lumberjacks, AJ and Chris. They did a great job of having the audience interact with the show. Mackenzie was called down to compete in a yelling ‘Timber’ competition. She won a frisbee and a free ice cream from a local fudge shop.
After the lumber jack show we went downtown to get Mackenzie’s free ice cream.
We watched the process of hardening the fudge for 20 minutes. The man manipulating the fudge is the son-in-law of the father’s family that has owned this shop since the beginning. They don’t refrigerate the fudge to harden it, they just manipulate it. We learned that this process makes Mackinaw/Mackinac fudge special.
Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island. You don’t pronounce the ‘c’ just like you don’t pronounce the ‘s’ in Illinois. The city of Mackinaw wanted to be different so they dropped the ‘c’ and changed it to ‘w’. They are two different places. If I get them wrong in this post, please forgive me.
The only way to reach the island is by ferry. Except in the winter time when the lake freezes. There is a strip of ice they line with Christmas trees and people snowmobile from the dock on the peninsula to the island.
There are a few ferry timed rides each day that will take you under this beautiful bridge. Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. Michigan is shaped like a mitten and then there is this extra peninsula at the top that is nicknamed UP for Upper Peninsula. The UP looks like it should belong to Canada or Wisconsin but in fact it belongs to Michigan.The bridge was built in 1957 and is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere.
We were so lucky with the weather today. We wore sweatshirts in the morning but by the afternoon is was warm. The ferry boat will take only people and bikes. There are no cars on the island. In fact, the only vehicle on the island is the fire truck. In the summer, they ferry over horses for the horse drawn carriage rides they provide as transportation around the island if you don’t want to walk or ride bikes.
We ferried our bikes over.
We had an early start so we waited to eat breakfast when we got over to the island. We tried eggs, bacon, pancakes, smoothies- all of it was great.
We took off on our bikes towards Arch Rock, riding along the shoreline.
We parked our bikes at the base of a trail and hiked to the top to see Arch Rock.
Horse shuttles and the Grand Hotel. The Hotel is a registered National Landmark, constructed in 1887.
Michigan’s first state park
The Fort is the oldest building in Michigan. It is comprised of 13 outbuildings and reminds me of Williamsburg. They have cannon and rifle demos, and the soldiers march around teaching games and dances to bring history alive.
After riding around the island and visiting the fort, we were hungry. Luckily they have a tea room in the fort that serves lunch.
Great lunch with an even better view!
Blacksmithing demos at the Fort.
Outside the fort, down the hill on the right, is a small fur trading shop museum. We stopped in a learned that in 1822, there was a shot out where a man, Alexis St. Martin, was shot in the stomach from 3 feet away. William Beaumont, the doctor, saved his life. During the healing process, his stomach did not close up properly, so he had to be fed through the hole. Dr. Beaumont basically did experiments because this was the first time someone could learn about how the stomach works. Until now it was all theory. He proved the stomach operated chemical with gastric juices. He became known as the father of American physiology. It’s a very interesting story if you want to dig deeper.
We made it to the Grand Hotel and Golf course, it was a tough uphill ride. We didn’t realize you have to pay $10 pp to go inside to see the hotel lobby so we decided not to do that and instead spend the money on Ice Cream! It was inside the hotel so technically we have been in the hotel:) After we rested we headed back out for our tour around the island.
Everything that goes up must go down….Best downhill ride ever!
We rode to the other side of the island. We came upon a little shack and stopped for a snack and on the way back to the port stopped to play on the playground. Endless energy fueled by sugar.
At the port we stopped in Sanders and Rubys for a bite of fudge.
We were sad to leave the island. This is one of those places we say that we would visit again. There aren’t too many places we say that about. It is so quiet! We loved not hearing any cars and just riding our bikes everywhere. Mackenzie loved it so much she looked for real estate signs because she thinks we should buy a summer home here.
The next day we drove over the The Bridge connecting the lower and Upper Peninsula.
We had Perfect weather so there was no trouble passing.
Pasties. Pasties. Pasties. We were told, by several people, we had to get a pasty when in the UP. We stopped at Bessies and tried chicken and beef with and without gravy. I was the only one that liked them. A pasty is filled with beef, potato and onion and looks like a calzone. It’s the original hot pocket.
We found a great place to camp out for the day and enjoy Lake Superior. We swam, flew a kite, read, took a walk and photgraphed beautiful rocks.
It is the last of the 5 Great Lakes we have visited. We collect little vials of sand from each of the lakes to display in a shadow box when we settle into a house.
Point Iroquios Lighthouse
We did not make it all the way to Pictured Rock. Had Chris not had to work tomorrow we could have camped and had time to explore it.
On the way home from our ‘beach time’ we drive over to Point Iroquois Lighthouse. It was built in 1855 (wood replaced with brick in 1870). We arrived at the Lighthouse just as they were closing. We had just enough time to visit the museum and climb the 65 feet to the top. From here we could see Canada and the mouth of the St. Mary’s river. There was a great battle here that the Iroquois lost and the name of the area on Gi ally given by the Ojibwa, meant ‘place Iroquois bones’. This is the first part of what is now Michigan that was explored and settled by French men in 1620.
The lighthouse is part of the Hiawatha National Forest.
This was our library this week.
Mackenzie lost two teeth this week, 2 days apart. Both girls lose both sides of their teeth within two days of one another.
Chris enjoyed playing golf with the girls at Mackinaw Club.
The following week we were in Indianapolis and we found this ice cream!