September 8 – 15, 2019 Yea!! Company from Home

Many years ago we had spent some time on Mackinac Island and it was enchanting.  No motor vehicles except some emergency and service vehicles.  Lots of horses and bikes, and beautiful scenery.  So for this visit – Stay on the island, or stay on the mainland?  Which would be best?  The weather is always the determining factor. There were some strong winds coming in from the south, just where the island marina is.  We had already been warned that docked boats get tossed a good bit by ferries coming to the island.  Winds would add to the rocking.  Mainland it was.   Friends from home – Kathy and Steve – were coming up to visit. SO glad to finally see someone from Augusta.  We have been gone since the end of March – a long time away from familiar faces.  

Some people were kind enough to help us get docked.  One gentleman was a native of Mackinaw City.  He and Ed got into quite a lengthy conversation.  Shortly after we arrived, Kathy and Steve also got to the marina.  Hugs all around.  Ed was still talking.  Before I knew it, we had all been invited to ride over to Mackinac Island the next morning with Ed’s new friend in his boat.  

The next morning, we got on their boat and were met with muffins, hot coffee and juice. I’ll say it again – Boaters are the Best!  The boat we boarded was an old Chris Craft.  She was a beauty and was well used and enjoyed by Bill and Marilyn (Crane) and their family members.  We had quite a ride over to the island.  The plan was to breakfast at The Pink Pony – a local favorite. Brunch was delightful and we were entertained by more stories of growing up around the island.  

We parted company with our new friends after brunch and then we headed off with Kathy and Steve to do some island exploring. A horse and buggy ride is a delightful way to see the island, so that is what we did, and we got a tour of the highlights of the island.

Our last stop was at the former military fort on the high top of the hillside.  The tour of the fort gave us some history of the island and then we walked to The Grand Hotel. 

 What an appropriate name!  She really is GRAND.  Sitting on the verandah, you can look out to the water and the lovely grounds of the hotel.  

Inside The Grand Hotel, it’s a treat to see the old craftsmanship and unique decorating style of the hotel.  The designer certainly didn’t go for neutral colors.  It’s lively and colorful and definitely makes a statement!  We walked throughout the hotel and ended up in the Cupola Bar which had a fabulous view of – Everything!  Great spot for drinks in the afternoon.  

The next day we walked around Mackinaw City (on the mainland) and also toured the US Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw WAGB-83.  It is now retired and set up as a museum.  It was built during WWII to ensure that war materials could continue to be transported during the winter months.  Got a treat during the tour.  One of the docents actually served on the boat, so we got some personal insight into the operation of the boat.   Later in the day we drove over the Mackinac Bridge – the third longest suspension bridge in the US – to St. Ignace.  We walked around that town and tried a local food item – a pastie – rhymes with nasty.  We tried it – won’t be looking for them anymore!

On the 11th, Kathy and Steve got to cruise with us to Charlevoix, MI.  We drove underthe Mackinac Bridge and started heading south.  Wish I could say we found warmer temperatures, but we still needed coats.  Charlevoix is REALLY charming and we docked right in front of the city and did a walk through the town.  

Next morning, Kathy and Steve retrieved their car and returned. Later that day we drove to Traverse City. We went to the old Traverse City State Hospital which is being renovated for use as stores, restaurants and even a farmers market. It’s a huge area of buildings with lots of potential. While in Traverse City, we also got to visit with more friends from Augusta – Dennis and Marita – who were doing a bike tour in Michigan.

On the 13th, we said goodbye to Kathy and Steve. It was SO wonderful to have someone from home come and visit. As much as we are enjoying this journey, there are still the moments of missing home. If others are so inclined, we’d love the company.

Later in the day we headed out to see more of Charlevoix.  This is home to what are affectionately called the Mushroom Houses.  Over a period of 56 years (starting in 1919), Earl Young designed many residential properties and even some commercial buildings that have a whimsical look to them, some resembling mushrooms.  They are enchanting.  If you’re interested, these homes are rented out to vacationers.

On the 15th, our Augusta friends Dennis and Marita rode their bicycles into Charlevoix.  They were moving more miles on bikes than we were in a boat.  Oh, have I mentioned the high winds – again.  Anyway, they came to see the boat and checked out Ed’s “man cave” in the basement.  Tomorrow is a good travel day.  We’re making tracks tomorrow for LeLand.