Macinaw Island has been a vacation spot since the 1860's, when rich folks began building summer homes there. Today the poorer folks stay in Macinac City and the well heeled still make Mackinaw a place to relax, enjoy the view and enjoy gourmet meals, especially in the historic Grand Hotel. The first time we came here, we could wander the grounds of the Grand, but last time you had to pay $5 just to walk on the porch. This time we just admired it from afar.
You can get to the island on a 15 minute ferry ride from Macinaw City. If you are lucky the captain takes you under the bridge for a unique take on the metal spans that unite the two parts of Michigan. The bridge has been painted so often since 1957, all the coats have made the bridge too heavy and every summer workmen labor to scrape some of the layers off again. You can bring a bike onto the ferry which comes in mighty handy since there are no cars on the island.
Biking the eight mile loop around the perimeter was such a pleasure. Once we left the hustle and bustle of town, we passed thickly forested high cliffs and listened to the pounding waves. If we had been more ambitious, we could have ridden up those cliffs into the interior, but experience told us it wasn't worth the effort. The lakeshore is the place to be. Many of the people riding with us were on rented bikes and looked grateful for the benches and picnic tables along the route where you could stop and rest.
The other way to travel the island is by carriage. These not only provide tours, but also haul the luggage to and from the hotels and B&B's, and bring in supplies. Most of the carriage rides were narrated, but you could also rent a self-drive. The horses know the way and there are few route choices to be made. A fleet of men on bikes with shovels and refuse wagons attached, stopped to pick up all the deposits the horses left behind. In town the smell of the horse manure mixed in a unique way with the sugary, buttery aromas wafting out from all the fudge shops. Many boasted their lineage from the 1880's and it felt like we were the only ones who left the place without a pound or two of the delicious stuff.
I would like to hire whoever is responsible for taking care of all the flowers on the island. Giant hanging balls of flowers hung from the light posts and the beds were crammed with artful arrangements of all shapes, sizes and colors. Perhaps the flowers in our yard would look a lot better if I stayed home to take care of them...