NO CARS ALLOWED

26 Jun

Back to our Michigan trip shall we?

Saturday I woke up earlier than the alarm due to excitement for the day, the difficulty of sleeping in a different location and because the sun apparently rose DIRECTLY OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW and the hotel curtains were not doing their job of keeping it dark. I didn’t mind. 🙂 And I will never complain about waking up to sunshine on a day that was forecasted to be cloudy and rainy!

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We grabbed a quick free breakfast at our hotel and then drove over to Shepler’s ferry where we’d be dropping our car off for overnight parking. It was sunny but cool and we were glad we had jeans and jackets with us! A short wait and we were up in the very front by the railing on the top deck of our ferry.

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A few departures each morning are called “Mighty Mac” departures because they take a detour going over to the Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw like the city). You get to go under and around the 5 1/2 mile long bridge that connects Michigan’s lower peninsula to the “U.P” (upper peninsula). It’s the only place to drive over and it’s one of the longest bridges to span water. It was fun to see it up close!

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As we approached our tiny island the first thing you noticed was the famous and striking Grand Hotel-

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That is quite a piece of real estate! We were freezing from the wind and being out in the open on the water by the time we docked and we were more than happy to disembark. Luckily it felt much warmer in the sun once you got off the boat. Our luggage was taken directly to our hotel where they would watch it for us and then put it in our room once the room was ready; great service! Mackinac Island is, to my knowledge, the only place in America that is 100% free of motorized vehicles. On this 8 mile island if you want to get anywhere you walk, bike or take a carriage. We said we would always associate the smell of horse poop with the island after this. 😉

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This unique fact makes the island so quaint and fun. You can bet if I weren’t 6 months pregnant that we’d have rented bikes and been all over the place. As it was, I probably could have biked fine anyway considering I’m not all that large and off-balance yet but it’s not worth the risk. So on foot we set out and headed away from the little main street town area to a path by the lake to do some hiking.

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Zach couldn’t help but look for more petoskeys down by the shore’s edge.

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We were on the main paved trail with lots of people and bikes but not for long…

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We soon detoured off and up, up, up to get to a very cool natural formation- Arch Rock.

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This was beautiful! Pictures do not even do it justice.

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Up by the rock was also an overlook that allowed for sweeping views of the ocean lake that were breathtaking in their varying shades of blue.

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I suppose you can tell looking at these that it’s not really an ocean but to know I have something that looks that close to it a much shorter distance away is a very good piece of information indeed.

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From up by Arch Rock we took a trail into the woods that was not a much-traveled one since we were about the only people on it the whole time. I love when that happens. Our reason for a side trail was to find Sugarloaf, a large rock formation that centuries ago was surrounded by water and the rock stuck out above but now all that has receded and left a low area all around it.

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Being pregnant doesn’t stop me from climbing around on rocks. 🙂 It’s always been one of my favorites! Can you find me?

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After this…more stairs.

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Because they wind down to the right you can’t see the rest but let me assure you, there were LOTS. Enough that Zach’s legs were burning and he stopped us for a break. So you can imagine the challenge for me and my lack of lung capacity! My Fitbit told us we did the equivalent of over 40 flights before the day was through. I toughed it out though and enjoyed giving my body some good exercise. Plus the views were always worth it.

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See Sugarloaf sticking up on the right? I saw on the map we were close to something called “Skull Cave” so we hiked there next but it was dismally unimpressive.

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You can’t really tell but inside it ended as soon as it began. Apparently it was once a very large, unique cave that some guy hid in for weeks and found human bones littered everywhere (hence it’s name) but many decades later they decided it was dangerous and caved it in. Our last sight-seeing stop of the hike was the fort.

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We didn’t pay to go inside but we walked around and examined it from the outer walls, both of us rather fascinated with forts and it’s history. We made our way back down into town ready to take a break from walking and get some food in us. We put our names in at the Pink Pony and browsed through shops until they texted us that our table was ready. We had a striking view up on the top deck with our table right by the water.

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Thankfully food didn’t take long here because the baby and I were hungry!!

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I got a salad that had pine nuts and gorgonzola and tomatoes and some other delicious things that I can’t remember and Zach got the pork bbq nachos and we shared. Salad got halved and I had about a fourth of his food. The nachos were excellent! It had cheese and the bbq pork and jalapeños and delicious house made chips. It was good to refuel. Especially since our next adventure was an active one!

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Great Turtle Kayak Tours – a fun way to see the island. Zach and I were with a small group and we took a tandem kayak out into the lake to go exploring!

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Notice how bundled up we are again? That’s because for the first time all day it became overcast and it was getting chilly! One of the poor girls in our group tipped her kayak and that lake water is no. joke. I felt horrible for her! She was a trooper and continued though and we ventured out into the bay.

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Our Jamaican kayak guide, Kwami, is to the left in this photo with our cloud-shrouded island behind.

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Once we’d paddled across the bay we went through a small channel to the “open seas”.

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It was rough and choppy out here! People were almost tipping but luckily Zach and I have had enough experience (especially with kayaking in the ocean which is clearly much wavier) that I never felt in danger of falling. Thank goodness! We didn’t stay out in the rougher waters long since we had inexperienced people which was fine with us because everyone was starting to get chilly so we headed back in. Not ideal weather conditions but at least it didn’t rain! By this point Zach and I were more than ready to check into our room and warm up.

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I had gotten a room at the Bicycle Street Inn in their “Waterfront Collection”. This was a new series of rooms that opened up just in May across the street from their hotel directly on the water. We had a first floor water room with a balcony right on the lake.

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Cloudy or not, it’s always fun to stay somewhere with a view! Plus it didn’t hurt that our room was super nice. Everything was so plush and new, the bed SO comfortable and it had really high ceilings which is unusual for a hotel room.

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Nice personal touches – our luggage was already in the room with a letter from the staff and there was this waiting for us as well:

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A complimentary bottle of wine. Are you kidding me?! Any other time I’d be ecstatic to find this haha. I told Zach he could open it but he wanted to take it home and save it for after baby. I hid it away so it didn’t bum me out seeing it’s cute little set-up, ha. We unpacked and then walked back out on the main strip in search for one Mackinac Island must-have: FUDGE. Fudge is such a thing here that they actually call the tourists “Fudgies” haha! We watched it being made and saw enormous versions of finished products.

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There is a fudge shop about every 4 stores but I’d done my research (classic Jordan) and already knew where to go for the best fudge- Murray’s. Unlike a lot of the shops with the big windows inviting people in, this one was actually tucked into a hotel but with the incredible variety of flavors and the perfect creamy texture, it was the one to hit. There were flavors like bailey’s irish cream, chocolate-covered cherry, pistachio, salted caramel truffle as well as all the usuals. After trying several tiny samples we settled on “Heavenly Goo” and “Caramel Apple Pie”.

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Not sure why the caramel apple pie is such a smaller piece when we ordered the exact same size of both (which was the half slice, the smallest size possible – fudge is expensive!). The goo was Zach’s favorite and I was slightly surprised to find I liked the apple pie one more. We snacked on these a little back in our room while having a luxurious hot bath – time to finally warm up! We ran across the dilemma of no drain stopper and Zach even called the front desk and they didn’t have one (this surprised me) but luckily my handy husband jerry-rigged it so that we could take one anyway. We got to spend some nice down-time in our gorgeous room before dressing up for dinner.

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Dinner was at a place called Stonecliffe Inn several miles across the island so we’d arranged for a horse taxi!

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It was fun but cold in the taxi. Luckily for the drive over a nice family piled in who were pros at this and were smart enough to bring blankets that they kindly shared with us – a huge help. The nice thing about the taxi was that it took us farther than we’d been on foot and we got to see the sights differently as well as some things we hadn’t yet like the Grand Hotel!

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We arrived a little late for our reservation at the Cudahy Chophouse but they said they are used to it what with horse taxis running the show. It’s their own version of “island time”. 🙂 It was a beautiful dining room in a very classy, old hotel and we were seated with a great view of their grounds and the lake and even the bridge!

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I felt like we got very fortunate with all our meal views on this trip. 🙂 We started out with a lemony crab-cake appetizer which was very good.

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Zach’s dinner made me smile – an adult version of burger, fries and a milkshake:

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The fries were truffle crinkle fries, the burger was a simple cheeseburger but with a really quality beef patty and good ingredients and the chocolate shake was definitely not your kids shake. I said all it needed to make it more grown up was some kahlua! My dinner both looked AND tasted grown-up:

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It was a sweet-tea pork chop with apples on top of grits and a side of brussels sprouts. I was nervous when the meat arrived on a bone because that usually means chewy and I don’t do well at all with chewy meat but it was perfect! It cut easily, was tender and juicy and full of flavor. A good meal all around and no room for any of the delicious looking desserts. Our carriage ride back was FREEZING but it was mercifully faster than the one to the inn (we think we had a rogue drive this time, haha). We used the last bit of daylight to get a few pictures on our balcony before changing into comfy clothes.

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Zach ate more fudge and we watched some TV before I passed out cold! It had been a busy and wonderful couple of days!

Saturday’s Food Journal:

  • Breakfast – fruit, 1 pc. toast w/jam, 1 doughnut hole
  • Lunch – 1/2 salad, 1/4 pork nachos
  • Afternoon snack – fudge
  • Supper – 1 1/2 small crab cakes, pork chop, brussels and grits

346 miles.

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