Mackinac, MI (Chapter 2)
August 17 thru August 23, 2018
On Friday, August 17, we were scheduled to bring our 5th wheel into the Norco shop for a repair and although the Rally was not officially over until Saturday, we decided to go ahead and depart Goshen after the repairs.
The next visit on our travel agenda was St. Ignace, Michigan but it was so late in the afternoon when we left Goshen, we ended up staying a night on the way at North Higgins Lake State Park in Roscommon, MI https://www.stateparks.com/north_higgins_lake_state_park_in_michigan.html. This park was really nice with lots of families camping all around us, children riding their bicycles, laughter, campfires, and many people camping in tents because the temperatures are so awesome. The park has nice hiking/biking trails that are also used in the winter months for cross-country skiing. People were very friendly and we had several near us come by and chat during our short, one-night stay.
Only a few hours away, the next day we continued on to Castle Rock Campark, St. Ignace, Michigan http://www.campmich.com/ and arrived around 2 pm on Saturday, August 18. Our campsite was #49 with a lakeside view of Lake Huron (2nd largest Great Lake) and a nice site to enjoy fabulous sunset and sunrises, the sandy beaches and of course those awesome mild temperatures.
Lake Huron looks like an ocean, so big that you do not see the far-side shore. The sounds of waves hitting the banks and gulls flying around really added to the seaside vacation experience. The Mackinac motto is “unsalted, no sharks.” Interestingly this enormous lake freezes over in the winter and ferry rides to the island stop in early January so instead of ferry rides over to the Island, access is by snowmobiles/cross country skis. The distance from Mackinac Straits to Mackinac Island is 4.5 miles and the Island itself is 3.776 miles across and 8.2 miles around. The population is 492 from census taken in 2010.
Our first night, we went to lake-side restaurant Mackinac Grille for an enjoyable dinner on their patio. There was an outdoor wedding reception, right beside the patio and it was nice watching the celebration and listening to their music play as the bride danced the night away with her guests. There is a pier that leads out to a lighthouse that was so pretty after dark and one of the most-pleasant surprises was a big fireworks display at 10 pm. The entire evening was very nice, enjoyable and relaxing.
We met a nice couple from Canada, Freda and Shawn Brammer. Freda grew-up in Nova Scotia and offered suggestions on places to visit in that area. Cathy, our sister and her husband, are planning a trip to Nova Scotia the summer of 2019 and are wanting us to join them. We exchanged email information.
Sunday, August 19, was a beautiful day! We took our bicycles on the ferry across to Mackinac Island and spent the entire day on the Island. The cost of the ferry was $26.00 per person, plus $11.00 per bicycle (unexpected), total round trip was $74.00. We learned they rent bikes for $6.00 per day on the Island, but we were glad we brought our own. Karen’s bicycle is equipped to carry Gabby in her own carrier and she enjoys riding with us.
Mackinac Island is motorized-free with transportation only by walking, bicycling and horse-drawn carriages, quite remarkable to see. The streets are filled with activity, peoplewalking, many bicyclists, and many horse-drawn carriages. The horse-drawn carriages are used not only for tourists’ sight-seeing, but to transport supplies around the Island. People visiting the Island’s hotels have their luggage transported by ferry and delivered to the hotels by hotel staff walking, bicycling with pull-wagons or horse-drawn wagons.
There is a scenic, paved 8-mile bicycle/walking trail around the entire island with stops along the route. We rode 8.2 miles through town and around the Island and were amazed by the beauty and also amazed we made it! An article in the “Inside Mackinac” tourist guide writes there are more challenging rides with numerous trails on the Island’s interior offering a variety of rolling paved roads and bike paths, beautiful wooded trails for advanced cyclists, steep rocky routes for expert riders on mountain bikes only; we were happy taking the mostly flat, non-challenging ride.
All along the Island’s lake-shore are nice beaches, people swimming, hammocks hung along the shore, yachts, sail boats, kayaking/canoeing. It is a beautiful Island and we found ourselves again wishing there was a way to share this experience with our children and our grandchildren.
Monday we drove approximately 49 miles to Sault—pronounced Soo Ste. Marie, just a bridge away from Canada but we didn’t bring our passports on this day-trip so we stayed state-side. Our visit was planned to see the Soo Locks at the Visitor’s Center which offers a two-story viewing area. You can chose to take a boat-ride tour with “free-pet boarding,” although we decided to leave Gabby in the RV for this trip, she needed to rest-up from her busy day on the Island the day before. Bill took a video of the entire process as we watched the 833.2 foot long, Lake Vessel Roger Blough entering from the Lake Huron side. The lock then rose 21 feet and the Vessel exited through the lock on the Lake Superior side, the process took about 45-minutes. We also saw smaller boats, a sail boat with a very tall mask, and the tour-boats going through the locks and were always amazed at this process. We learned it takes 7-10 years to build a lock.
A Michigander and neighboring camper, recommended that we visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park, approximately 71 miles from our campsite in St. Ignace. This same neighbor suggested that if we wanted to bring our family to the Upper Peninsula area for a reunion, it was more affordable to set Travers City as our home-base. Rentals on the Island are outrageously expensive so choosing an nearby site like Travers City was a better solution when they had a family reunion a few years ago with many of their family members living in Texas. It is 125 miles distance between Travers City and St. Ignace, about a 2-hour drive. The bigger issue is that if our families drive, it’s an approximate 1,252 mile trip from Dallas to Travers, over 18-hours. Maybe flights is the option! (The brownish color in the falls is caused by tannins from cedar swamps that drain into the river, which is why it is also called Rootbeer Falls because of its golden brown color.) Bill was going to photoshop the brown color out from photo, but its an interesting story and unlike many falls.
On Tuesday we made the drive to Tahquamenon Falls State Park and we were grateful for the suggestion as we were not disappointed. It was a nice scenic ride through small towns and the Falls were beautiful. They report that Tahquamenon Falls are the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. There are the Upper and Lower Falls and you can drive between the two or hike it. It is a 10.1 mile hike. We drove! Dogs are allowed on the trails unlike many of your National Parks that do not allow dogs on their trails. We thought of Parker, our grandson who loves hiking, and how all of our grandchildren would so enjoy this park. At the lower falls you can rent a canoe/kayak to row over closer to the falls, without falling over of course!
We had a fabulous 5-days in Mackinac, Michigan. It is one of the places that is easy to see how wonderful it is during their peak season (May through October). Temperatures this August were so very, very nice for us, not hot, not cold, mid-high 70’s and although we did not swim in the Lake, many people were enjoying laying out on the beach and swimming. We put our feet in the water near the shoreline and it was a pleasant temperature. There were a few days we had light rain showers but they did not last long and the sun came right back out!
This Prayer of the Woods” sign was posted on the trail to the falls!
Thursday, August 23, off to Port Huron, MI (1-night) and Niagara Falls . . . the next Chapter of this road trip.
“And He said, My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14