Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mackinac Island

The next morning we arrived at the Arnold Transit Company pier, just next door to the Clarion Hotel, for our 20 minute jaunt across the channel (Mackinaw Channel?  Mackinac?) to Mackinac Island.

That dude scratches like me.

The ferry that Arnold runs is a catamaran hull with twin hydro-jet engines.  Imagine two ginormous jet skis with a mobile home filled with aluminum park benches glued to the top. 

Well worn.
Over the years since the ferry has been in service, the general girth of passengers loaded to the gills with fudge and butter burgers has made slight alterations to the structure of the benches necessary.

No word on if Mayflies enjoy butter burgers.  They were everywhere though, so if you are blood knotting a Parachute Adams to your tippet you are in luck.  If you are from the U.P. you probably have no idea what that means, and would rather just shoot the fish or maybe chuck a few sticks of dynamite into the water and just net harvest the dead.

This is a view back from the ferry to the Clarion. Note that all the hotels seem to blend in with one another and look like the same building.  That big thing in the middle is actually two hotels.  Between the two you can see the blue drain pipe that feeds god knows what from the Clarion into Lake Huron.  The hotel's swimming beach is bordered on the south (left) by that drain pipe.  You know you are too far away from Clarion property when you cross the drain pipe, or if you are visually impaired, when you're down-current from the drain pipe and your skin starts to burn.

Arnold Transit Mackinaw City dock.

Port side arriving at Mackinac Island, this is Round Island Passage Light, built in 1948 and automated in 1973.

Arriving, Arnold Transit dock, Mackinac Island.

Early, the streets of Mackinac Island are empty.  They would not remain this way for long.  Cars are not allowed on Mackinac Island, so everything is done by either horse and wagon or bicycle.  That man riding on the left there has a plumber shirt on as I recall, and the horse cart on the right in front of the blue passenger buggy was delivering drinks and sodas to the hotel on the right.  The man is clearly filled to the gills with butter burgers and fried cheese curds. No word on what the horses eat.

Fort Mackinac

This is looking up the hill to the fort from the main street directly across from the docks.

We rented bicycles and hit the M185, the only state highway in the nation where motor vehicles are not allowed.  M185 rings Mackinac Island and is 8 miles long.  I rented a 400 pound Electra single speed beach cruiser and a third wheel trailer for Jane and pedaled the entire distance.  With nearly 1281 pounds of bike/gear/child/gut to lug around it was quite the workout.


But the views were spectacular.

Northeast side of Mackinac Island

Weight Training

This was my rented pig of a bicycle.

Which weighed as much as this historic hotel; The Island House.  Ironic in that I rented the pig of a bicycle from the Island House.  Residents of the Island House sit in the row of Adirondack chairs shown above and bet on the success or failure of folks renting 400lb bikes from the rental shack.

'Think he'll make it, Clem?"

"Ahhh, nope!"


Carriage House Restaurant at Iroquois Hotel
We ate at the Carriage House on the shore, under some wonderful yellow sun umbrellas, looking out at the port side arriving light that I mentioned above.  The view was remarkable, but not as remarkable as the food, or the wine, or the beer, or the desert.  We stayed at our table for 2 hours.  The bill was huge.  I did not care.

Hotel Iroquois

Beer and Weed
Everything should be sticker bombed, even in a fancy shmancy place like this.

25% closed
This sign is misleading.  And Infuriating.  I walked up to the door just as the cleaning woman went inside and locked it.  What it should say is, 'This, the only public bathroom on the island, will be closed for 30 minutes, every two hours, 5 times a day". In a place on an island only open to the public by limited ferry service for about 10 hours each day, that means the public bathroom is closed a quarter of the time??  Surely the landscaping doesn't appreciate that failure of bureaucratic wizardry.  What's worse is, after being closed for half an hour I was the first person in the bathroom and there was dirty footprint water and toilet paper on the ground and water all over the counter.  I sure hope that useless old cleaning lady had a nice nap, because she sure as hell wasn't cleaning.

Fort Chapel near the entrance to the Fort

Before we left, we stopped for fish and chips and a few beers at the Grand Hotel's newly affiliated downtown  restaurant, Cawthorne's Village Inn.  Very nice meal and cool drinks made for a calming wind-down for a very busy day trip.

Looking across the marina as we boarded the Arnold Transit double-decker mobile home jet ski for the return trip to Mackinaw City.


A patriotic moment as Round Island Passage Light passes behind the flag flapping wildly in the breeze off the stern of the double-decker jet ski.  Passage Light is on the Starboard side as you are leaving Mackinac Island.

Tending this light should be a  job still available to a grump like me.

And to Port is Round Island Lighthouse.  This lonesome little sucker was built in 1895, automated in 1924 and deactivated from 1947 to 1996.  It fell into disrepair in the 50 years it was unused and battered by Lake Huron.  It was restored in 1978 and sits today as a vigilant reminder of a lifestyle long since gone from the Mackinac Island region.  Today Round Island is still uninhabited and is now managed by the National Forest Service.  Round Island Light, as well as many locations across Mackinac Island, were used in the movie, "Somewhere in time".

A peaceful view to close out a very busy day.

Next stop, Charlevoix.

1 comment:

Steve Reed said...

33 pictures in one post! That's gotta be a record.

That mayfly is kind of creepy. It looks much bigger than any mayfly I ever saw.

I like the rental bike! I think you need to buy one of those. Even if it was a pig.