A great island to bike and eat fudge

Trip Start Jun 16, 2012
Trip End Jul 28, 2012

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Where I stayed
Straits State Par k

Flag of United States  , Michigan
Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27

Since it was only a two hour drive to our next destination, we did a bunch of errands today. First, I dropped Pooh off at the laundry mat. Then I was off to get some diesel – cheapest we would get for the next month. Then to a bank to get my $2500 travel voucher notarized and then to a post office to send it away. My last stop was supposed to be the oil change place, but I had left Pooh's bike on the rack on top of the truck and it would not fit in the Jiffy Lube. So back to the laundry place to help Pooh finish that up. After all that was done it was time to hit a Middle Eastern place for lunch – yum, yum. We had shish kabobs, shwarmas, and baba ganoosh. One of our best meals sitting at the window in downtown.

Back at the RV we packed it up and then drove northeast toward the Mackinaw Bridge to take us to the Upper Peninsula. The drive along two lane roads was top notch heading north on US 31. So many cherry stands but since we had the RV it made it a little hard to pull over. We passed a couple of cities that deserve a few days exploring themselves – Charlevoix and Petoskey. I’ll stop by next time. After a few hours be were back for a short while on a familiar highway – I-75, which runs through Atlanta and is our major thoroughfare going north or south to Florida. But here we are in Northern Michigan. And right in front of us is a huge tower that monsters over everything – the Mackinac Bridge which goes over the Straits of Mackinac that connects Lake Michigan and Huron. It took us over 100 ft. above the water and it is almost 2 miles long. Since there is some construction going on it, it was down to one lane each way at only 30 mph over a metal grate. So you could see the water below you as you are driving over the bridge. As a kid I hated going over bridges with water underneath. I’m glad I’m over that fear now. The toll was not too bad for an RV at $7.

Right after the windy bridge we took the exit toward the town of St. Ignace and our campground, Straits State Park which is right on the Straits of Mackinac. This time we knew to fill up with water at the water station before we parked. Our site was supposed to be a back-in but after trying several times there was no way to back our big rig in – a tree on one side and a ditch on the other. So Pooh found a way to drive through the site – we made it a pull-through with a little weaving in and out. Our site was very nice as it was only 100 yds. from the lake and you can hear the waves which was nice and relaxing. Since it was the afternoon, we had some time to check out the town. Being close to town we biked it. Seemed like a sleepy little village at first – I thought it would be a bustling tourist town close to Mackinac Island. But after a few miles we came to the main drag. This had a good mix of local places and tourist places like motels, restaurants, and the ferry lines to Mackinac Island. I went ahead and bought my ferry ticket for tomorrow. Pooh did not want to go as again she was not feeling well. After a few hours we rode back – this by via a shortcut which was up a monster hill (at least on a bike it is a monster hill). Then back down a major hill – had to ride the breaks more as we did not have helmets on. Our shortcut to the park was through the town graveyard – kinda interesting, but at least it was not at night.

Back at the RV we did some dinner and took the dogs for a run on the beach. Poncho had a great time running through the water and chasing the other dogs. Right in front of us was the Mackinac Bridge.

Thursday, June 28

Woke up early so I could catch the first ferry over to Mackinac Island. I’ve seen at tourist places it is better to go early and get there before all the other tourist get these. This is especial true of families with small children as it takes them a while to get going. Once they show up it can get crowded and loud with breakouts of family crises in front of any major entrance. Just for the fun of it I road my bike to the ferry which only took around 15 min. I had my backpack stock full of Gatorade, snacks and bike gear as I did take my bike over.

Another reason to take this particular boat was that it went under the Mackinac Bridge on the way to the island – most do not. And my case of going early to beat the crowds paid off too as there were not many people on our boat. Going under the bridge was amazing as I took tons of video and pictures of this modern marvel that is just over 50 years old. You use to have to take a ferry across. It took just over 30 min. to get to the island.

Right off the dock you felt like you were in a different time period. One of the best things about the island is that there are no cars – only bikes and horses. Of course, with all the horses you have to dodge the poop while on your bike. Before the crowds got to the island or the heat could take effect, I took the 8 mile road around the island. What a great feeling – it was like I had the island to myself with just a few other early risers on the path. I took a few small footpaths that branched off from the main road. Just a few miles in, the island had its own natural arch – not as amazing as those at Arches National Park out in Utah, but impressive for back east. Back at the town I parked my bike and took a round of all the shops. I had an early lunch – again, before the major crowds came – and the Yankee-Rebel Tavern. I had a pot roast sandwich which is one of the things to eat up here and it was very good. After a few hours in town, it was starting to get a little crowded with the screeching of small children in strollers invading the car free streets. Time to head out.

So I took off for the center of the island – to the top view of the arch, Sugarloaf Rock, some graveyards, and some very fancy houses – or cottages as they call them out here. Rich people sometimes have very funny names for places. On these paths you were either heading up a hill or down a hill, so not that easy. I stopped by to check out the famous Grand Hotel which is over 100 years old and has the largest porch in the world – I’m a sucker for turn of the century stuff. Back in town, I popped in a few more stores and decided to buy a t-shirt and some famous Mackinac Island fudge – yum, yum. But there seemed to be a fudge stop every few shops – kind of like Panama City Beach and all the airbrush shops. I settled on one that had Michigan Black Cherry Fudge along with Vanilla and Maple. Good sinful stuff. This was around 4:30 in the afternoon so it was very crowded now – could hardly ride my bike through town without almost hitting a stroller. Time to head back on the ferry. The ferry back was not too crowded. I talked to a few people that come here every year and they said it was not too crowded – sometimes it is so bad you can hardly move in the city. I was glad I did not come at that time.

Back at St. Ignace I biked back to the campground and had a little dinner. Then I drove Pooh and the dogs out to the town as the car show was getting started over the next few days. Many people just park their foldable chairs on the sidewalk to watch the hotrods going by. In town there was a nice pathway along the lake front with a nice lighthouse. We did this for a few hours before heading back so I could rest after biking for around 20 miles all over the island.

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