The Upper Peninsula. The UP. The 51st state (this has come up on the Michigan ballot more than once: citizens of the UP want to make their peninsula the 51st state of the union, but has obviously not been passed). It's home to clear waters, towering pine trees, plenty of pasties (the kind you eat) and the gateway to up north. However, on our trip to Mackinac, we only spent a little time in the UP as we crossed the Mackinac Bridge and then went back to the other side. This post is mainly about our adventures on Mackinac Island. Sorry to get your hopes up. Our island day officially began as we made our way onto the of the Shepler's Ferries around 7 AM. We wanted to be on the first boat out to avoid the crowds, and very glad we did. Naturally, we sat on the top and couldn't help playing with their hood. Or at least one of us couldn't.
We arrived on the island with grumbly tummies, which really worked out because nothing was open quite yet. And because we were so keen on this occur, we already picked out a place called The Sea Biscuit Cafe (highly recommended if you're traveling there sometime soon). The gentleman who served us (I forget his name, which will be a common occurrence) was delightful and also from Florida and served us some hearty breakfast burritos, perfect nourishment for our biking journey that day.
After we were well fed, we made tracks the bike rental shop, The Bike Barn (again, highly recommended) which the lady there spent time going over the map of the island with us, pointing out interesting stops, some things to skip and some cool animal areas.
We started off and let me just tell you all: it was the most perfect weather. As you can see by our attire, it was nothing like Florida weather in June. THIS weather, though sunny, was chilly, brisk and just delightful. We honestly lucked out the entire time during our whole trip to Mackiac, and were praying that we would have the best come our island day we our prayers were certainly answered. BUT as we made our away around the island, we stopped along and took in the sights and sounds of the locals and tourists alike beginning their day and going to and fro.
Once we left the city area, we made our way into the State Park, which makes up a majority of the island itself. A majority of the island is uninhabited, which makes biking and exploring that much more enjoyable. We kept consulting our map, and the first major stop was Arch Rock. Now, as you will see by the pictures below, the views were stunning and worth every step. I say step because it was about four hundred steps up to the top. Certainly worth it, but my goodness did we get our steps in that day.
I don't know if you can become masters at using the time feature and self forward camera on the iPhone, but we've gotten hella good at using it for selfies, as you can see above. That one was taken at Arch Rock, which reminds me that because we had started so early, there wasn't anybody around. It was pretty much empty, which made it seem like we had the entire trail to ourselves. Arch Rock, to the right was created when the Native Americans wanted to make a really cool waterslide, so the blew a hole in the middle of the rock. Impressive, and I'm sure that water slide was dope.
Our journey continued for the next hour so, galavanting alone the bike trail that takes you around the island. We stopped off at some small trails to walk about and just take in the sights and the smell of the Earth. One of the best parts of the island that I enjoy is that you don't need a bike lock. You just set your bike up and you're good! I'm the locals have a different view on this, especially if you had a nice bike, but the whole "trusting your neighbor" mentality just sat very well with me.
This picture on the right is one of my favorites and once this blog totally takes off, I'm going to start bugging Columbia about giving me free things. Doesn't this look like something they could use in a print ad!? All I need is a Columbia hat and some PGF logo slapped somewhere and I'm golden! Give LeeAnna a nice jacket as well and that's even better! I'm just saying, if anyone knows someone in the Columbia ad department, just send them this pic.
Okay, so we biked around the entire island, which is roughly eight miles. Once we returned to the "main" part of the island, the crowds were out and about, so I was quite glad we were able to see the island when it was nice and calm. We debated on what our next plans were, and decided to head to The Grand Hotel. NOW, I'll spare you my personal opinion on the hotel, but suffice it to say, I wasn't that impressed. If you're that curious, leave a comment. Can you even leave a comment? Can I make that an option? I should probably check that out. ANYWAY, we spent time walking around The Grand, and then made our way back to return our bikes.
At this point, we were pretty hungry, and after quickly consulting the Google machine, we decided on this place called The Draught House. Hindsight: I really wish I would have wrote down all the beers I tried throughout the trip. You can see a couple of them here, but this whole trip to Michigan was basically a craft brewery tour of Michigan, and I'm kicking myself that I didn't write down all the beers I tried. OH WELL. This Draught House had plenty of beers, and I had a pretty great flight, coupled with a sandwich of some kind. Again, highly recommended if you're traveling out that way.
Once our bellies were full, we made our way through the various shops along the waterfront. Most were your typical touristy places, but there were a fair amount selling some unique, local items. A lot of art galleries, which I'm always a fan of. TONS of places selling fudge, naturally, and honestly, don't care for it one bit. Maybe that makes me a bad Michigandder, but nope, not for me.
After our shopping detour, we looked at the map the lady at the bike shop gave us, and decided to make the trek to the very top of the island, where Fort Holmes resides. Remember how I said the further inland you get, the higher everything is? Well I said that in earnestness because it was quite the trek. There's an incredibly steep hill to get to a paved trail, and from there, it was probably a mile and half to the fort. We thankfully had plenty of water packed, and it wasn't like this was Florida heat, but we were both huffing and puffing when we got to the top. I was also made fun of on numerous occasions for pumping my arms and lifting my legs, with the insults of, "You look like you're a middle aged dad" being hurled at me. But, I persevered AND made it to the top of the hill first. HA!
The hike to the top, was most definitely worth it though. Stunning views of the Macinac Bridge, the endless lake and the entire island itself. And it just so happened that another family was hiking up as well, and we traded picture taking!
The hike down was much, MUCH easier and after one more stroll through the city we decided to head back to the ferry to take us back to the mainland. It was easily the best day of our Michigan adventure, and we couldn't recommended it highly enough.
Remember, adventure is always out there!