|Yesterday, I left Canada, coming south into Michigan. My first stop was Sault St. Marie, Michigan for breakfast, grocery shopping and a bit of looking around the town. Then, I continued south on 75 to St. Ignace, which apparently is the third oldest town in the country, according to various brochures. I pull into a KOA Camp there as I want to go to Mackinac Island tomorrow.
I cross the Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest spans in the world—five miles—and briefly visit Mackinaw City, looking really for a Sunday New York Times, but to no avail. A thorough walk of the camp ensued\s when I return there. This is definitely the summer season, with lots of kids everywhere—in the pool, on bikes, roasting marshmallows.
This morning, I catch the 9 a.m. shuttle to the boat for Mackinac Island. Well known in this area of the country, it is a small, beautiful island which was a fort for 115 years, taken over by the British for a time. Eventually the federal government did not use it for military purposes and turned it over to the state of Michigan.
No motor vehicles are allowed on the island. Getting there is by boat or plane. Once there, bicycles and horse drawn carriages are the preferred means of getting around. Walking also works. Always popular with tourists, it features the old fort, the Grand Hotel, some beautiful homes, and, maybe you can guess the rest—all the trappings tourism brings. It is a lovely day and I am willing to be a tourist for awhile.
To begin, I walk up to the fort, just in time to witness the cannon being set off, and then hear a 15-minute history summary. Then, I go building by building to the barracks, office quarters, bathhouse, commissary, school, hospital, all of which have the household goods and clothing of the period on display. By the time I've seen the whole place, it is time for lunch on the site at the Tea Room, overlooking the bay, which is operated by the Grand Hotel. It seems a little ironic that all of the waiters are black and most or all of the customers are white. I'm sitting alone at a table for four and the place gets pretty full, so I ask a couple looking for a table if they would like to sit with me. Introducing themselves, they sit down. From Austin, Texas they have a son who lives in Palo Alto. We have a good conversation.
Walking back down town, I find it thick with tourists, but still buy some of their famous fudge and walk for quite awhile, just looking the place over, finally ending up at the grounds of the Grand Hotel. There is a charge of $10 just to get in the door and I am not sure it is worth it.
The flowers outside are profuse and colorful, as is true at other spots around the island—hotels, b&bs, and restaurants, and hanging pots of blossoms line the main streets. Here, I do find a Sunday NY Times and a quiet place to sit and read it.
While reading, a family sits down. One man explains to me that the rest of the group—a family of six—are cousins of his visiting from Belgium. Another nice conversation takes place before they leave.
Eventually, I rent a bicycle and take the outer road circle around the island, which takes less than 45 minutes.
Around six or so, I'm in line to return to the mainland. A very pretty, unreal place. I can't think what I would do if I returned, though staying there would offer other possibilities.