Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mackinac Bridge Walk 2013

This past weekend, Lori and I headed north, to join the Mackinaw Bridge walk, and to visit Mackinac Island. We had a great time! (And I've written a rather long blog entry; sorry about that.)

Of course, best of all was the company; sister time is always treasured. We enjoyed the drive, and talked so much that the time (five-ish hours) just flew. We got settled into our motel (the Rainbow Motel), and then walked along the Mackinaw City / Lake Huron shoreline. It was a beautiful evening!

Trying for a selfie, with the bridge
in the background.
Right. We need practice.

A better photo of the bridge

We had dinner at the Pizza Palace. We gave it high marks: the dining area was pleasant; we got seated immediately; and our dinner was delicious! We had side salads, and the Mediterranean pizza: olive oil garlic herb sauce, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, roasted red & yellow peppers and topped with minced garlic. It was absolutely yummy. (And I reheated and ate the last piece, here at home - still yummy!)

Back in our room, we watched Somewhere In Time, to help whet Lori's appetite for a visit to Mackinac Island.

Stopping to pose with a friend

The next day, we took the Shepfler ferry to the island. We were lucky enough to be on one of their Might Mac departures - a slightly longer trip, that took us under the Mackinac Bridge.

The bridge divides the lakes - here we're on Lake Michigan

Part of the bridge has grating for the road bed. This allows snow and rain to drain, and also prevents the wind from taking too much control. I think it also made the overall structure lighter.

Lori and I both found the grate rather intimidating. We decided we would stick to the solid pavement, and leave the grate to more daring folks.

Looking up at the grate

The ferry ride was windy!

On Mackinac Island, we rented bikes, and rode the 8-mile highway along the shoreline. The weather threatened rain, but it never materialized.

Proof that we had bikes

There are several bike shops along Main Street. Jim and I rented bikes from Mackinac Island Bike Shop when we were on the island back in 2011. Lori and I figured one place was as good as another, and rented from Mackinac Cycle Bicycle Rental. When all was said and done, we weren't happy with the service - the staff was not at all helpful - but the bikes were fine and we had a great time. Jim pointed out that it's the end of the season, and probably none of the places were offering peak service, which is likely true. Also, I noticed something interesting, that suggests to me that they really are all the same. I've linked to websites for both rental places - and the sites are identical, with only the names changed. Go figure!

(Oh, and the rental folks commented that Lori needed a taller person's bike and gave her a 21-speed bike, compared to my simpler 7-speed. When we were returning the bikes, I mentioned this to Lori, and she said (as she has said before), "Well, I am taller than you." The woman waiting in line with us concurred. Ouch.)

After our bike ride, we walked to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory. Our route took us past the Grand Hotel, and other typical island scenes.

Horses and bikes, everywhere.

The Grand Hotel

Flower bed, in front of the Grand Hotel

The butterfly conservatory is delightful. It is such fun, watching all the butterflies, watching the little kids' (and adults') enthusiasm, and trying to photograph them with our basic point-and-shoot cameras (we are so optimistic). The blue morpho was the biggest challenge - at rest, we could see just the brown side of his wings; it wasn't until he was moving that we could see the beautiful iridescent blue.

Not sure what this fellow was

Blue morpho butterfly

We finally dragged ourselves away from the butterflies, and headed back to town. We were pretty tired by now, and delighted to find seats at the Yankee Rebel Tavern. We had another great meal, salads with salmon, and hot soup and hot tea (the weather had turned a bit). We lingered over our meal, and were happy to realize that we missed a downpour while in the restaurant.

We did just a bit of shopping, on the island and in Mackinaw City (the real shopper in our family is Jim; I was lost without him). Lori & I each found bridge walk t-shirts as souvenirs (and laughed at the shirt that said Hell no, I didn't walk the bridge!). Of course we bought fudge (Jim had specifically requested Joann's fudge). He also requested owls, but we decided against this chipper (and touristy) pair:

I remembered that Alford's, on the island, carried everything - including yarn. So we stopped in there, and I had Lori pick a skein of yarn, which I will knit into a souvenir hat of some sort for her:

Shepherd's Wool (made in Michigan)

Our evening activity consisted of several Scrabble games (which Lori won), eating fudge, and getting some sleep, preparatory to the bridge walk.

Star Line ferry offered a trip from Mackinaw City to Saint Ignace, for the walk, and we decided to give that a try. It was still dark as we headed out, and the water was choppy (and the ferry boat rocked accordingly). We landed at St Ignace, walked a couple blocks to the parking area at the Little Bear East Arena, and waited our turn for a shuttle ride to the starting area. All in all, it worked out well enough, but next time, we'd probably just take the bus from Mackinaw City.

The sun was rising as we arrived

7:45, and we're about to begin our bridge walk

Heading toward the first tower

Lori was cold!

In spite of her cold fingers,
Lori managed to take a
quick photo of me

Between the two towers, half the pavement was this grate. Lori and I mostly avoided it, but we each gave it a try. Our conclusion: it felt weird, and we preferred the familiar solid comfort of the pavement.

Looking back at the second tower, there is finally some blue sky, at least briefly:

The shifting clouds made for interesting light on Lake Huron:

We reached the finish line around 9:15:

I know, not an exciting photo...

We joined the crowds making their way back through town, stopping at Starbucks to relax and warm up (hot chocolate - yes!). Back to our hotel, and then (after a bit more rest) we headed home to Kalamazoo. A great weekend!

(Look here for a few more photos.)

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a fun trip!!! Such a beautiful place. Makes me want to go on a sister trip. I am glad that you had a great time,