~Wednesday, July 14, 2021~
Sad that today was our last day in the St. Ignace area, but at least we’ll still be stickin’ around the U.P. a little longer. And what’s a better way to spend your last day in this part of Michigan than heading back over to Mackinac Island hoping to discover some new things since our last trip 5 days ago; especially when the weather is holding out for us to do so. But this time, it would be just the two of us.
Had we known that we’d be coming over again during our stay, we could have purchased a discounted rate for the 2nd ferry ride. They even offer a bigger discount if you ride a 3rd time. But, I thought I’d at least try to see what they could do for us. With receipts in hand from last Friday, I asked if they would still honor the discount No can do. Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Compared to last Friday, we had a bit more wind on the ride over and the island was much more crowded, likely due to the beautiful weather. I’m sure the experience would be completely different with rain which is what they were in for in the next couple of days. We found out that just the other day, the island had a record visitation of 30,000 people, in just one day. Obviously, everyone is excited to FINALLY get back to some normalcy.
Instead of riding around the perimeter of the island as we did last time, we went more inland, and in the opposite direction. It turned out to be a great call. We stopped in one of the Protestant churches, a quaint, small church, where many couples say their “I Do’s”. Next stop was the Grand Hotel, the world’s largest summer hotel. In its old-world charm, the hotel attracts guests from all over the world with stunning views of the Straits of Mackinac. Intrigued, we parked our bikes, hoping to get a glimpse of the property and the inside of the hotel. But in keeping the hotel’s exclusivity, only the guests of the hotel are allowed, unless you’re willing to pay a $10 fee. We get it. If you were paying the $429 price/night rate, I wouldn’t want hundreds of tourists coming through my hotel either. We decided we didn’t need to see the hotel that badly, so we moved on, though it would have been nice to see the “world’s longest porch”, at 660 feet long. No other hotel in the world matches it.
We toured around a few other modest lodges (at least compared to the Grand Hotel). Next was a stop at the Grand Hotel’s Horse/Carriage Museum. Yeh!! More horse time. This is a working facility home to the Grand Hotel’s 12 horses, some Hackneys, some Percherons (the big boys!). We were able to get a glimpse of a few of them in their stalls, either resting or having a midday snack. They all seem to be happy and appear to be treated very well. We also enjoyed the carriage museum with its 20 antique carriages all meticulously restored. One carriage in particular,
looked too beautiful to ever use.
Next, as we continued on our bike ride, we stumbled on a sign that said “airport”, and decided to check that out. What does an airport for such a small island look like? It was perfect timing, as 2 young women were being escorted out to one of the 20 or so light aircrafts headed to their next destination. We only saw 1 small light jet plane. Mackinac Island Airport has just 1 runway, and averages about 30 or so flights/day. With that infrequency, we were happy to see at least one take off.
Then something called us to turn down this side road, toward the water that led us to an absolutely gorgeous, charming, forested neighborhood. We both agreed finding this little gem section of Mackinac was a highlight in visiting the island. Maybe it was because I got a glimpse of one of the most beautiful horse barns I’d ever seen.
Believe me, I was about to go knock on the door and offer a compliment. The neighborhood was off of Lakeview and Park Avenue, where the homes are tucked away in lush forest, all beautifully landscaped, leaving us to wonder if the gardens are replanted every year after hard frosts? As we exited this lovely spot, Grand Avenue surprisingly dropped us on the backside of the Grand Hotel property. Even though we didn’t get to go in the hotel, at least we were able to see the grounds without having to pay the $10. Love the unexpected stuff!
After our bike ride, we headed back to the chaos of Main St, and we’re talking an insane amount of people. We checked out a few restaurants, but something told us to head to the Pink Pony. We had the perfect setting to enjoy a few cocktails (Jeff an IPA, me a Bloody Mary), sitting right next to the pier only feet away from the live acoustic guitarist bringing us back to the 70’s. We didn’t mind waiting an hour for our table having a scenario like that. I had a whole different level of respect for this guy when he took on “Stairway to Heaven” and actually did a very good job. Most people are not brave enough to tackle Led Zeppelin, let alone “Stairway to Heaven”. tries to copy Led Zeppelin. Finally, our table was ready, where we headed to the top balcony with its beautiful marina views. Our waitress was from Jamaica who works summers in Michigan and winters in Florida. Sounds like a good strategy. The service was pretty good, but our food was top-notch in flavors and in presentation. Jeff and I split an apple/walnut/goat cheese salad, and our main courses were a shrimp pasta for me (I know I’m not supposed to have shellfish), and Jeff, a stuffed chicken with pesto and sun-dried tomato. Both of us were in foodie heaven. And since everyone gets ice-cream while on Mackinac, we couldn’t leave the island without participating. In this case, we were listening to our taste buds and not our stomachs. After a milkshake and a 2-scoop ice-cream cone from Good Day Cafe/Moomers Ice Cream Shop, we were officially FULL!!! I guess we can justify the treat after having ridden a few miles today.
We didn’t get in line for the ferry until 7:00 p.m. The last ferry is at 9:00 p.m. And man, the line was LOOOONG! When you pair a long ferry line with delays, you likely won’t get off the island until 9:00. And that’s what happened to us. Apparently, their fleet of 3 boats dwindled to 1, where the wait became 1 hour between boats, instead of 30 minutes. So we didn’t get back to our car until 10:00 p.m. Then we found out they took our bikes to dock #3 instead of dock #1, so we had to drive down a ways to pick those up, though it wasn’t a big deal. Despite the ferry issues, it was an absolutely fantastic day and we’re so happy we made the trip back to the island! We’ll definitely be back.