TRAVEL

Our Day on Mackinac Island Winds Down

Strutting and Putting

After our “witty” carriage driver dropped us off at the tourist trap terminal, another carriage took us into town where we reconnected with the rest of the family. The girls were shopping and the boys had found some putting greens. After buying up some obligatory Mackinac Island fudge, Bill and I strutted off in the direction of the putting greens.

Were I the type to wear sensible shoes, this little stroll would have been a lot more fun, because the scenery was charming – one lovely Victorian home after another. As I’ve mentioned, the Grand Hotel has a dress code and in honor of my mom, I held myself to an even higher fashion code. I’d worn a pair of strappy, high heeled espadrilles to go along with my large-brimmed sunhat and floral dress.

Now on a normal day, these shoes serve me well. In my experience with them, they had qualified as comfortable shoes. Stomping up and down the hilly streets of Mackinac Island they were torture chambers.

I wasn’t totally insane. I had put a pair of flip flops in my back pack, but I’d waited a little bit too long to change into them. By the time we met up with Shad and Daniel, I had blisters on the bottom of my feet. Every step was miserable and quite frankly there were a lot of steps.

Please, I Just Want to Sit Down

Bill scurried down to the putting greens as soon as he saw the guys and I trudged on to a promising looking patio. You can see the yellow umbrellas in the first photo above, it was near by, but to my poor sore feet, it felt like another mile.

As I approached, I observed a couple of tables with patrons, but the balance of the tables were empty. So, I imagined being able to sink into a seat and take the load off my poor tired dogs almost instantaneously. However, the restaurant was not exactly happy to see me.

In fact, they really didn’t want to seat me. At first, they just shuffled me back and forth between an outdoor hostess station and another one inside. I’m not usually the pushy type. Tell me no and I will go away, but a quick survey of the area told me these were the only seats within sight line of the golfers.

The only options I could imagine to relaxing under one of those yellow umbrellas was either plopping down in the grass, which I am allergic to, or figuring out someplace else to go and then walk there. Desperation was setting in.

The people in charge had left me standing somewhere in between the two hostess stations without any indication of what their problem with me might be. A waiter approached and asked if I was there for dinner. I said no, I just wanted to have a glass of wine while my family played on the putting greens. “You leave by seven?” I looked at my watch. Seven was still hours away. “YES! I leave by seven!!”

The waiter led me to a table and I wanted to kiss him. Instead, when it was time to go I left him an obscenely large tip. Come back next week and find out what happened next!

TRAVEL

Carriage Ride on Mackinac Island

Not What Mom Had in Mind

One of Mom’s fondest memories of Mackinac Island was a carriage ride around the island, so of course, I wanted to take one, too. I am quite certain things had changed since Mom visited, because I do not remember my carriage ride with same fondness she remembered hers.

To begin with, I think her ride was on a Grand Hotel carriage, driven by a member of the excellent Grand Hotel staff. Mine was not. We caught a carriage downtown that took us to the tourist trap of all tourist traps. Little did I know that short trip would be the best part of the experience. Our carriage driver for that short hop was a Mackinac Island long-time resident. She knew and loved her horses. Her carriage was pristine. She knew and loved the island.

Then we arrived at the terminal. In non-Covid times it is probably a bustling building. For us it was an empty barn-like place with a tacky souvenir shop. Like most Covid-related disappointments, I just tried to ignore it. The carriages bringing customers from downtown dropped people off on one side and the tour carriages were loaded on the other. We went through the building, to the tour side and waited for our carriage to arrive.

I have nothing to say about the carriage ride except that the driver was a disaster. Some kid from someplace else and limited carriage driving experience was our driver. He didn’t know or love the horses. He certainly didn’t know or love the island. What he loved was himself and his wit. Yep, it was miserable.

However, Mackinac Island was beautiful and much of it I would not have been able to see without the “witty” carriage driver, so I am glad I went – this time. I would never do it again. I would ride bikes like my family did while we took the carriage.

I’m not going to let a bad driver keep you from seeing the beauty of the island though, so here are some pics.

The day isn’t over, yet. We got back together with our family for some final moments on Mackinac, so come back next week for some more fun (and no “witty” carriage drivers.

TRAVEL

On Our Way to the Grand Hotel

An Exciting Day Begins

For years, it didn’t matter which exotic and exciting place I told my mother we were about to visit, her response was the same, “I sure wish you’d go to the Grand Hotel.” Well, when I woke up in the Marriot Courtyard Inn in Petoskey, Mom’s wish was about to come true.

I was up early like I always am and hit the shower, because we had tickets for the first Shepler Ferry Boat of the day. Then I went down to the cafe where I’d already scoped out the fact that they had Diet Dr Pepper. Returning to the room, I helped Bill get ready for the day, because we all had to report to the lobby at 7:30 AM sharp. Our ride on the ferry was without incident and we were soon on Mackinac Island.

Welcome to Mackinac Island

We made our way down the gangplank and onto the island. The one thing everyone knows about Mackinac Island is that there are no motorized vehicles allowed. Near the pier you can catch many types of horse drawn vehicles, but we opted to walk up the hill to the Grand Hotel.

What a charming place it was! My excitement was building with every step. I was nearing the place my mother had recommended to me for years on end.

Then suddenly the wait was over. I was at The Grand Hotel.

If you’ve never been, then be warned, you can’t just waltz in for a visit. There’s a $10 per person fee for everyone. And you can’t show up barefoot in your bikini. Proper dress is required. After 6PM men require a jacket and The Grand Hotel does not believe women should wear slacks. I guess we passed muster, because they gladly took our money and allowed us to take our self-guided tour of the grounds.

My mother had told me all about rules and for her sake I’d dressed up for our day on Mackinac, from my full brimmed sun-hat, to my floral dress, to my snazzy shoes, I was intent on making Mom proud.

The place has a huge visual impact, but I just couldn’t wait to get out on that long front porch and sit in one of their rocking chairs. Mom loved everything about The Grand Hotel but she loved those rocking chairs best of all. I finally planted myself in one and whispered to my mom, “Well, Ruth, I made it.”

Emotion swept over me in a way I never expected. Tears began to run down my face and my shoulders shook, from my sobs. I guess everyone else thought I was crazy, but Mom and I were having a moment.

The tears passed and the moment was over. I was ready for my self-guided tour. Bill and I headed one way and the rest of them headed in another. Here’s a sample of what we saw.

After walking around inside the hotel, we set out to see something of the grounds. Everything is immaculately maintained. I saw no leaf out of place, no paint beginning to peel and every single piece of grass seemed to be part of a large shag carpet. Here’s a few of those exterior shots, including our fellow travelers and us.

Our sweet nephew had arranged for us all to have the amazing buffet lunch. Soon it was time to make our way back to the dining room to be seated. I was really excited, because my mom had certainly been fond of the meals at The Grand Hotel. Come back next week and find out how it was.