Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mom and E.'s Big Adventure!

I've never seen the bridge from here before! 
Five miles of amazing engineering.

The Mighty Mac

   What a whirlwind summer it's been! I can feel it slipping away. The past two nights have been great for sleeping (in the 50's), but it smells like September. My two older boys have started two a days for football. For me, that just means they are already on a school schedule. I wake up, and they are gone. They don't get home till 2:30. It never fails that summer seems to fade away long before I feel I've had enough of my kids to myself!
    I shouldn't complain too much, we've had a great time this summer! One on one time with any of the boys is a good thing. We were up north for a little over a week. Mark, M. and B. left early along with a friend of M's that we brought along. This left E. and I up to our own devices for two days! Monday, E. and I took Mackinac Island by storm!!
    We awoke to sunshine, blue skies, and bright fluffy clouds. Perfect! Whipped up some pancakes, settled the dog into the camper. Camera, wallet, cell phone attached to belt loops and inserted into hidden pockets. No bags today! We will be biking the island!!
There are several ferry lines that can take you to the island. One of them is some kind of jet boat that spews water fifty feet into the air behind it, and is supposed to get you there in fifteen minutes. That was not for us! This was mom and E.'s Big Adventure!! We wanted to savor every moment and make it last. A half hour ferry ride gave us time to take pictures, people watch on the boat, and feel the wind in our face.

Me and E. at the beginning of our big adventure!

First view of the Island
   Upon our arrival, the first thing we saw as we left the docks, was the bike rental place. This is no coincidence. Mackinac Island has no cars! As the story goes, when cars were first brought to the island, one backfired and spooked a horse, since then...NO cars allowed! While standing in line and surveying our choices, we spotted the tandem bike! Neither one of us had ever been on one, and the thought was appealing...we went for it! We got on, adjusted and took a wobbly spin down the first block.
    The toughest part is merging into traffic after stopping at a scenic spots...and there are a lot of them! Bike traffic is heavy, and small children (as well as some adults) tend to think they are the only ones on the road. They'll stop and converse in the middle of the street (and even park their bikes), forcing those coming up behind them to swerve into oncoming traffic!

You have to really trust the person "driving"...I drove!!!  lol!!!

    We made sure to stop at Arch Rock. It took me ten minutes just to find a parking spot among what seemed like hundreds of bikes! Nobody worries about chaining them up. If you are going to steal anything, it's for sure not going to be a rental bike. We started the steep climb up the hill to the arch. We must be in tough economic times, because it doesn't look like the state of Michigan Parks System has done anything to the steps or handrails in a good 20 years! This isn't comforting to someone who loathes (and I don't use the word lightly!) heights. I made it to the top, and was it worth it!! Amazing views of Lake Huron! Michigan is so much more than auto plants. Now, for the hike down, which was worse because you can see exactly how high up you are!
Arch Rock

Look at those little bikes down there!

Incredible views!

As we  peddled our way around the eight mile perimeter of the island, we noticed rock towers all along the beach.  Some big, some small, some with embellishments such as pine twigs added, or beach wood connecting two towers.  People would pull their bikes off to the side and create their own little monument as proof that they had visited the island.  Not wanting to miss a thing, E. and I pulled over to make a rock monument of our own!  As I looked at the time on my cell phone (we were renting the bike by the hour) I began to imagine the owner of the bike rental shop sneaking out to the area beaches under the light of the moon, making tower upon tower of rocks!  A slick, marketing scheme to keep customers out on the trails longer!!

Little stone towers everywhere along the beach!

You have to find good flat stones to make your tower taller.

Michelle and David Miller (whoever you are) we found your stone!!

E. and I with the tower we built.

Most of the island is owned by the state parks system, so once you leave the town proper, there are only a handful of houses that line the trail. Small cottages with forest behind and stunning views of the lake in front. Occasionally, you would see horses corralled in the yard. So it came as a surprise to find the big, lodge style home atop a hill! The windows on the first floor had been boarded up, and many on the second were broken. The paint was chipped and the weeds had taken over. It semed a hundred years old!  The Ghost and Mrs. Muir come to mind.  But it had mystique...and I loved it! Who would have left it? The house had a history, and I wanted to know more!

The cottage adjacent to the main house.

I just love it!!  If I win lotto, I'm buying it!

Tell me if you see a face in any of the windows...

Beautiful old boat!  I would love to see the inside.

Devils Kitchen

We passed beautiful boats, stunning homes, amazing scenery, and after two hours on our tandem bike, I was happy to hear E. exclaim, "I'm tired, my butt hurts, lets get lunch!!"  That was just what I was thinking.  We made our way to the rental place, then tossed around our options for lunch.  It really was a no brainer.  I told E., there's only one place to go...The Pink Pony!  We made our way through the bar and to the hostess station.  It would be a 20 minute wait, but that was okay.  We were on "island time"!  We decided to find a way to fill our time.  We walked over to the front desk of the adjoining hotel and managed to talk our way into a self guided tour of the Honeymoon suite.  Very nice!  E. was impressed with the hot tub in the room and commented that it would make for a very romantic evening!!  YIKES!!

E. checking out the amenities in the Honeymoon Suite.

The whole place was just charming!
   Our tour was cut short when our buzzer went off to let us know that our table on the patio was ready.  The patio at the Pink Pony was voted best in Michigan, and for good reason!  The views of the harbor are amazing!  So, my  review?  Views...exceptional.  Food...good.  Service...our waiter mumbled!  I kept having him repeat himself!  General atmosphere...the music was tuned to a local pop station (the banter of the DJ was annoying), and was too loud.  I was hoping for something somewhat more sophisticated to go along with the setting.  The company...couldn't get ANY better!!  As we sat chatting over our morning ride, E. became quiet and stared at me.  Being the smart alec that I am, I asked if he was impressed with how beautiful his mother is?!  ;)  He said "No."  (eh~hem!!)  He said he was thinking about how awesome it was that I would do all of this for him today, this "Mom and E's Big Adventure".  WOW!  I almost started to bawl, but I didn't want to lose the upbeat tempo of the day!  It wasn't an extravagant day.  We spent some money, but not too much.  It was just an adventure, just the two of us, but what an impact it had!  We need more adventures.

E. at the Pink Pony

Pink Lemonade at the Pink Pony!

I'm a ham.  I know.

View from the lower patio.

I enjoyed the whitefish taco with sweet potato fries!
   Our day began to wind down after lunch.  We strolled on over to the Museum on Merchant street where fellow blogger Brenda (of Bree's Mackinac Island Blog works on Mondays.  I enjoy her blog, filled with stories and info on the Island.  I thought it would be fun to meet her.  She had worked earlier that morning and we had missed her.  However, we weren't disappointed!  Candy (who works the afternoon shift at the museum) and her cousin Stella, were a HOOT!!!  Truly, friendly Island natives!!  I look forward to seeing them again!  (Stella, stay on the Island!!!)
   I asked Candy about the big, old, abandoned house we had seen on our bike ride.  They knew of the house and said that it had been owned by...wait for it...the island's UNDERTAKER!!  I asked how long it had been abandoned, they said it wasn't.  The story gets better...apparently, his son still lives there!  Images of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir disappeared, only to be replace by visions of Psycho racing through my head.  It all seemed great fodder for the overactive imaginations of the Island's children at Halloween!

Candy and I

...and Stella too!

E. thought it was cool that this little one was bidding us farewell, and snapped a pic!

A favorite stop whenever we are up north..."The Big Dipper"!
     Our last stop on the Island was at May's for some fudge.  You can't go to the Island without bringing back fudge.  It's okay, I embrace the title "Fudge Sucking Lowlander"!  We thought about a carriage ride, but decided that would put us back at camp later than we wanted.   We went to the docks, and waited for the ferry to take us back to the mainland.  On the drive home, we hit our favorite ice cream shop in Cheboygan.  My kids are growing up so fast.  And my time with them is so short.  School and will be staring soon, and along with it a crazy schedule filled with extra curricular activities.  And in the midst of it, I will remember a warm summer day with a gentle lake breeze, and a twelve year old boy who thought I was the best because I spent it with him.

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