We had a virtual cafeteria of possible Michigan destinations after Detroit, including more of Detroit itself, but the consensus was that we would next stop in Mackinaw City and from there tour Mackinac Island, and Sault Ste. Marie over several days. This meant an extended one-day drive from south to north, missing many points of interest, but, as usual, you can’t see and do everything.
Although our camp location was tucked away in a charming wooded area, the park itself was right on the shore of Lake Huron, which of course we had to see right away. Necessity dictated that we needed to stock up on food and supplies, so we did a little sightseeing, had dinner in a neighboring town, did our shopping, arranged for the next day’s ferry trip to Mackinac Island, and settled in, anticipating another long but interesting day ahead.
One of the ferries had arrangements with our park to shuttle us to their dock in town and once we were out traveling over the waters of Lake Huron it seemed very much like riding on the waters of San Francisco Bay. On the way over to Mackinac Island, the pilot made a slight detour to sail under the Mackinac Bridge and back, thereby adding Lake Michigan to my lake list. Not only had I now seen portions of three Great Lakes, but I had actually been on two of them.
With the ferry terminal on Main Street, we were immediately deposited in the midst of lots of other tourists trying to become oriented to the new surroundings. This is indeed the main street of Mackinac City, lined with boutiques and restaurants and novelty stores—and candy shops featuring Mackinac fudge. It seems that every family living on the island has a hundred-year-old recipe for fudge that is different and better than anyone else’s. But we weren’t there for fudge tasting, fun though it might have been.
About five hundred people live on the island year-round, with about 15,000 tourists a day invading during the summer months. The principal modes of transportation are walking and biking for residents and hiking and horsepower for tourists. It’s not exactly easy to go marketing and bring home the results, biking or walking up fairly steep slopes. Why not horses for residents? It’s too expensive for most people, considering the cost of feed, which has to be transported from the mainland, and there is a bit of maintenance.
M-185 is the only state highway where cars are banned. In the 1890s, with the advent of horseless carriages and an increase in traffic accidents, a law banning motorized vehicles was passed. The island has only three motorized emergency vehicles—ambulance, fire engine, and police car. (But in winter residents now use snowmobiles.)
There’s a great deal more to describe, and it will be in the next blogs.