Saturday, August 3, 2013

Field Trip

Maybe the most wildest drmexploits would be one in which the whole fam-damily would be involved in.  So a few months ago I proposed that we head to Mackinaw City/Mackinac Island for a get-away from the every-day.  First destination would be to northern Michigan (lower Peninsula northern) for 3 or 4 days to check-it-out.

I had driven through/by Mackinaw City about 3 or 4 times in the past 5 years.  It really does seem like a neat place - and the Island, I have understood, is significantly better.  Last year I stopped off my bike for 2 hours here and had a great time....  So I was sure it would be even better with Shelly and Molly in tow.

It is basically a 600km drive from Goderich - We hit halfway, Sagniaw, without any issues.   We got out of the car, had a bite to eat, walked around Birch Run, and felt confident that the remaining kilometreage wouldn’t be a problem.  And it really wasn’t.

We basically got checked into our accommodations and made the short 1km walk downtown.  It was a beautiful July night.  The weather was terrific.  There are all kinds of general store type stores, lots of fluorescent neon t-shirt stores, cheap trinket stores, and proprietors like that.  All the restaurants are home-grown, the bakeries aren’t Tim Horton’s nor Starbuck’s, and despite of the vast amount of corporate hotels, this city is very pure and untouched by the larger business brand.

We were treated by community karaoke in the downtown area whilst having a cold refreshing pint of on Thursday night.  It was marvelous.  With the combination of that feeling you get on a vacation, drinking a delicious pint, hearing decent music, and being with the family - it was a great way to finish the first day on the road.  

Off and over to the island.

Mackinac Island is amazing - The hustle and bustle of people was awesome to see.  I easily imagined turn of the 20th century type sensations.  Arrived by ferry. (18 minutes by a high speed water jet propelled craft.)  First thing I saw was a team of horses getting round bales of hay at the docks.  People arriving with only items in a suitcase or that which they could carry.  Horses, carriages, people walking, bikes, porters taking luggage and directing people where to cue, or go to....  No traffic lights.  Modern clothing and conveyances like cellular phones and hip-ish restaurants makes it all so 2013however.

The big/significant thing about this 9 square mile piece of land is the lack of motorized vehicles.  We saw hundreds, and hundreds of horses - pulling the linen supplies, pulling the items for the wedding, pulling people, collecting garbage, as taxis - horse power here is literal.  And these horses seem absolutely bomb proof....  They don’t seem to spook, or kick or bite of have any bad vices that one would expect from your typical farm.  It is hard to be impressed by horses, but in a way I was pretty impressed about how it all seemed like clockwork.

But I can’t tell you how immediately impressed I was - and Shelly of course.  We were in the right spot.  We had our bikes and a gym bag and we were ready to go.  We got a map of the island - Brian Prout rule = first thing, always get a city map when traveling.  We found out that the perimetre loop was 8 miles about - and set off with hundreds, if not thousands of other men, women, and children of all ages to complete a circuit. 

Every mile, if not a bit more often, there is a placard or system of interest to stop at, read about, take a picture of, and so on....  We certainly didn’t rush, but completed the circumnavigation in about 2 hours.  It was not difficult whatsoever.  Even going super slow and stopping to see the interesting sights, you wouldn’t need more than 3 and a half or 4 hours.

Another highlight was going to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  We didn’t get off the bikes and go for tea or have a game of cricket there, but we cycled past and admired it, and the views it gives.  It is something else.  It really looks like a fantastic place to stay.  Near here, was a museum of horse drawn carriages and the equipment horses where doing their horse things.  It was also a working barn for the hotel.  I guess they have four Hackney bred horses to be used for really special occasions - They obviously carry themselves (trot/pace/walk) with a bit more pomp and prestige.  I saw a few horses that might of looked a bit extra special I suppose in this location, but I didn’t quite get the specifics on them and them and their PR’s and what college they went too, if they had made a national team before - All that important athletic stuff. 

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