6/8/2011 – Day 63 – Saint Ignace to Mackinac Island to Sault Ste. Marie, MI – 46.7 Miles

In the morning we were picked up at our motel and driven to the port where we jumped on a ferry and took the 20 minute ride to Mackinac Island.  The morning was cool with heavy cloud cover, moderate winds and choppy water.

When we arrived at the island our senses were struck with two unique things:  1) No sounds of gasoline or diesel car or truck engines, and 2) The aroma of horses!

Cars have been outlawed on the island since 1895, and so the island depends on horses for transportation and trucking.  There is one other means of personal transportation on the island, bicycles.  And there were a lot of them, too.  They did smell better than all the horses — well better that what the horses left behind them on a quite regular basis!

We made a reservation for a personally guided carriage tour, strolled around the town, and ate lunch at the Chippewa Hotel Waterfront Cafe and then graciously accepted free samples of fudge from several of the 14! fudge stores in town.

We met our driver and climbed into the carriage with sticky fingers, ready to slow down the pace a little.  Austin, our college-age driver, clucked his tongue at the team of horses and we were off.

As we clip-clopped along, Austin told us bits of history on the houses were were passing and facts about the island and its history.  We drove by the Grand Hotel, famous for the movie, “Somewhere in Time,” with Christopher Reeve.  The hotel is indeed grand with a veranda long enough for 100 rocking chairs and dozens of columns.  It would be nice to stay there but it’s a little out of our price range and besides guests must don formal wear after 6:00 p.m.  It did look nice from a distance though.

Our ride continued up the hill and into woods filled with thick stands of trees.  Austin pointed out plants and wildflowers to us, including two endangered species, Lady Slippers and Trilliums.  We also spotted a lot of Forget-Me-Nots along the way.

We made a stop at one of the natural features of the island, Arch Rock.  It is made of rock and it’s in the shape of an arch.  Accurate on both counts.

As we got back in the carriage, rain started falling.  While we were rolling through the forest, lightning and thunder flashed and crashed around us.  We were startled, the horses were not.  Good thing!

We ended our ride at the entrance to Fort Mackinac and left the carriage after putting on our jackets and putting up our umbrella — I was glad I had packed both items in my backpack.  We walked into the fort and ran into the first building we saw which contained several exhibits which depicted life in the fort and filled in more of the history of the island.  We stayed inside the buildings until the rain slacked off.  By the time we left the fort and walked down into town, the sun was shining and it had turned balmy.

Jackets off and stowed, we continued our tour of the town, checking out the more interesting shops and after determining the best version of fudge, purchasing a generous portion to take with us.

We waited in the sunshine for our ferry and rode on top all the way back to St. Ignace, got a ride back to the motel, hopped in our Forester and took the onramp to I-75 north.

In less than an hour we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, MI and checked into our motel.

Tomorrow Diana will do a little more genealogy sleuthing, we’ll try to find and take pictures of some of her Eagle ancestor’s gravestones, and perhaps if we’re lucky, even meet a live one!

View of the Grand Hotel from our two-horsepower vehicle.

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