Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mackinac Island, Part I

Monday night I dropped the girls off with my parents where they were going to stay for half the week while Darren and I were gone. Then I went home to finish laundry, packing, and cleaning the house (I like to pace myself). Darren was out at a meeting, but when he came home around 10 p.m. he smelled fresh-baked cookies.

"I pulled 'a Lois,'" I told him. Whenever we went on a long car trip, my mom always made cookies so we'd have something to snack on in the car.

We were planning to leave at 5 a.m., but since we were up half the night that changed to 6 a.m. So, we were finally off on vacation--a rarity for us. It was great to have about 9 hours of uninterrupted conversation and to just listen to music and watch the scenery go by. About three miles before we reached St. Ignace, MI, where we were going to take a ferry to the island, a police officer pulled us over and gave us a ticket. Apparently we were going 15 miles over their ever-so-low speed limit. And he said he was going to be nice to us and mark our ticket as going only 5 miles over because that way we would have to pay only $85 instead of $200. Michigan, I am losing much of the love I had for you. $85 for going 5 miles over the speed limit? Are you kidding me? Not an auspicious start to vacation.

We got to the ferry and loaded on our bikes and luggage. Darren went to the top of the boat to take pictures, but I preferred to sit inside out of the wind, spray, and mosquitoes. First, we saw the Mackinac Bridge, which I enjoyed looking at but was thrilled we didn't have to drive over. Ever since I was six years old and almost fell through a 1,000-ft railroad trestle in upstate New York and also since we narrowly missed death on the Memphis Bridge--bridges are not really my thing.

And here we are, arriving at the island.

Since no cars are allowed on the island, the three ways to get around are on foot, by bicycle, or by this, which we took to where we were staying.

We stayed in this condo, which was about a mile and a half from the downtown area.

This was the view from our balcony...ahhh, relaxation.

Since it was evening (and cold) by the time we got there, we decided to eat at the inn on the same ground as our condo. After perusing the prices in the main restaurant, we decided to eat in the bar area. (Because this is the food blog, I'll tell you what we ate, of course). Darren had a mahi mahi sandwich, and I had lobster bisque and a fantastic salad.

Weddings are a big business on Mackinac Island, and we saw two couples who had gotten married at the inn during the afternoon. After eating, we just hung out at our place and watched HGTV, which was frankly, thrilling for us.

In the morning we slept as late as we wanted, also thrilling for us, and then headed out on foot. We walked some trails until we reached our first destination--the butterfly conservatory.

It was so warm and tranquil inside the enclosed garden; I just enjoyed looking at the flowers and butterflies while Darren took loads of pictures.

Then this happened--check out the beautiful design on the closed wings...

...and now the open wings...

We set off on foot again, passing Fort Mackinac and checking out some beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, because this has been such a cold and rainy spring, the lilacs were mostly not out yet. However, the days that we were there were the nicest they've had so far, and the lilacs agreed.

Here is the famous Grand Hotel. Darren took this picture the evening we arrived; that's why it's grey and rainy. Our taxi took us directly up the drive and dropped some people off who were staying there. There was a wedding reception on the front porch, and Darren was able to get one picture of it.

So, the day that we were walking all around the island and the sun was out, we decided to walk up to the Grand Hotel again, see if there were any more weddings, and just generally check out the hotel. As we approached the drive, a uniformed attendant asked us politely, "Are you guests of the hotel?" When we replied no, he answered, "Then I'm afraid this is as far as you can go."

Wait a minute--we aren't allowed even to WALK past the hotel? Darren said to the man, "Well, we were interested in having tea in the hotel; would we be able to do that?" The attendant told us that to enter the hotel would cost us $10 each, then we could have tea for $25 each. TEN DOLLARS? EACH? Just to walk in the door?

As we walked away, I said "That is outrageous. You can walk into the Drake Hotel in Chicago, where even Princess Diana thought it was the nicest place she ever stayed, for free."

Grand Hotel, you are dead to me. Needless to say, we did not have afternoon tea there. But...that's OK. We did however take a couple of pictures of the grounds. Notice the little bunny in the bottom left-hand corner. Somebody better tell him he owes the Grand Hotel ten bucks for munching on their lawn.

And here is the hotel flower shop...I thought Lucy would like to see it since she loves the name "Margaret."

By early evening, we were ready to walk back to our place and rest. We had walked around seven miles throughout the day so our feet were pretty tired. Darren ordered some dinner from the same place where we ate the night before, but I wasn't that hungry.

More reading, HGTV, uninterrupted sleeping, and we were ready for the next day. I'll post more later!


Melanie said...

I am loving these pics! Takes me back to many a summer spent in Michigan with. You guys were smart in getting that new camera before all these great events: i.e. Lucy's graduation and the trip to MI! So sorry to hear about the ticket and crazy rules of the not so grand hotel. Bummer. But looks like you stayed at a gorgeous place - what a sunset view you had! Can't wait to read/see more!

Laura Brown said...

Aaah! Little bunny rabbit! Actually, all the pictures are great.

Ann-Marie said...

So glad you had a good time! Brett and I loved the butterfly museum, too - it's so unique!

Yeah, the GH is a super-snobby place. We only got to see part of the outside...because we took a paid tour of the island! Our guide even insinuated the "snobbiness" factor. Did you know you can't eat any meals there in casual clothes?! You have to "dress" for all meals - let Brett out right there, let me tell you!

Oh well! I also can't believe you got a ticket - stinks! Don't they WANT people to vacation there? :-)

Great pics, girl! So happy you were able to have a fun getaway!!!

Danny Lucas said...

Mackinac Island.
Never been there Alice.

But when it was time to help Elizabeth Rapuleng in South Africa, via a plea from a friend in Amsterdam (originally from Wisconsin), and aided by flyers immediately produced and emailed from Pucon, Chile (another friend), and I met a woman named Alice, who wanted to help an orphan named Moali....

well, I thought you should know ALL those acquaintences grew from travel with a group called Up With People (travelled with them 2 years and hit 46 states, but NOT Michigan).

The group was organized and started at ....
Mackinac Island.

I would not know YOU if it were not for that Island.

Years later, I bought a home with huge roses in front. I ripped them out, to the consternation of neighbors who viewed them for decades before I came.

I replaced them all with Butterfly Bushes. And all summer, butterflies of every color, size, and shape, whispered their wings as soft air currents moved them around the bushes outside my window.
My home was a flappy butterfly heaven and all the neighbors came to view a new beauty.

It was living artistry and mesmerized all who walked by.

In the picture of "Open Wings" on your shoulder, I was reminded of the thousands of butterfly liltings and landings at that home of yesterdays.

Your picture of that Open Wings in beautiful blue butterfly splendor, is now in my memory and titled:
"Alice in Wonderland".

When you are home and plan a new vacation in just 12 years or more, :) , check out the Phipps Observatory in Pittsburgh.
They have butterfly gardens to die for.

I am glad you "pulled a Lois" before leaving. I am pulling for her in prayers, and I hope she is doing well.

Blessings to you, Darren, and the girls and parents.

Ps. Lilacs are my favorite flower and the fragrance is always in my home via candle, when the flowers are gone. They all frosted this year.

Jill said...

I didn't even know that have condos on the island that you can rent. We love Mackinac too --glad you had a good time. Can't wait to hear more!

Juliet said...

Welcome home!

This blog brought back so many memories of our trip to Mackinac Island. Sorry, I should have told you about the GH. We never went inside either.

Ann-Marie bought a butterfly necklace and I bought a butterfly bracelet to remember our visit at the island.

Looking forward to part 2.