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Friday, July 29, 2011

Mackinac Island

     We spent a full day in St. Ignace, MI so that we could pay a visit to Mackinac Island.  It afforded a bunch of nice pictures, but before I get to that, I'll start with a shot of the bus in the campground.
     Most of my Yankee readers will figure out what that red and white pole that is attached to the hydrant is.  For the Houstonians and their ilk in the audience, that pole is so that the hydrant can be found in the winter!  We are just north of the 45th parallel, so we are closer to the North Pole than the equator.
     Today was an ideal summer day to visit the island.  As most of you know, Mackinac island has no motor vehicles.  There are hundreds of draft horses that, in addition to transporting tourists, provide 24/7 taxi service and routine deliveries to support the many restaurants and small shops.  Only the police and fire departments have a few trucks.  Normal police patrols are on bicycles.  In the 1800s it was the home of Fort Mackinac, the site of the first battle of the war of 1812.  Today it is the home for 520 permanent residents and a large tourist business.  The state owned governor's summer home is on the island.  During our ferry ride to the island we made a diversion under the Mackinac Straights Bridge...all 5+ miles of it.
     A couple of observations about the bridge...only the top third of those towers are above the water.  The water here in the shipping channel is 300 feet deep!  Notice in the third picture that the structure is almost delicate.  The road bed is mostly steel grid decking.  That is for two reasons.  First it saves a lot of weight over the more conventional concrete road surface.  Also, it is much more flexible.  The length of the span and the strength and duration of the winter winds dictated a structure that could deflect up to twenty feet (!) and still return to its original position when the winds subside.
     This is a shot of the Grand Hotel, a world-famous hostelry with 480 individually decorated rooms...no two alike.  The covered porch, said to be the world's longest, is over 400 feet long.  With 600 employees it is the island's largest employer.
     Up on the ridge line is the aforementioned governor's house.  The carriage tours are comprised of two parts.  The first part around the markets and historical district are two horse teams.  At the top of the hill you transfer to carriages pulled by a three horse team with 35 passengers for another hour and a half.  At the transfer point there are a number of attractions including a butterfly house.


     As we wandered around the island, our guide struggled to make his line of patter last for ninety minutes.  He was pretty good, but his attempts at humor included a number of lame jokes that were real groaners.  Actually, I think I got the best laugh of the trip.  He asked if anyone knew what breed of horses was pulling our wagon.  I said, "They're Belgians."  He asked how I knew, and I said,"their accent".  It wasn't great, but it was bettern' his.  We stopped to take pictures of a scenic natural stone arch and to water the horses.


     Well, that's ten pictures; probably too many for an easy download.  Next post will be from Canada

3 comments:

Dan Taylor said...

One more for the bucket list. The good news is that a trip to this area is easily within reach for a one week trip from the northeast!

Anonymous said...

Dad, your blog is better than any travel essay in a Sunday paper. Like the experimental chef you are, you've developed the perfect blend of pictures, anecdotes, information and reflection that brings us along for a pleasurable ride.

Anonymous said...

well, we grilled home made pizza's (dough from Market Basket) in 85 degree heat. Heather actually did the grilling :) The only accent you can detect from a Belgian horse is probably one you don't want to remember.... Mark