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Our first stop on our trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP) was in Mackinaw City. We had left home at 0-dark-30 (otherwise known as 5:00 a.m.), so by 9 a.m., we were wanting some breakfast. I’m going to “plug” a travel site. It’s “Trip Advisor.” I had downloaded the app (don’t you just LOVE all this new lingo?) into my new “smart” phone. We were looking for somewhere to get a good breakfast before heading over the big bridge (more on that in just a bit).
We opted for Darrow’s. It had many good-to-excellent reviews and was known for homemade hash. Jim’s a sucker for good, home-made hash. We arrived just in time to be seated right away before the Saturday-morning rush. The service was quick and friendly with little wasted motion. I had biscuits and gravy which was good. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good. From my experience, it’s a lot easier to mess gravy up than it is to make it great. Jim was very pleased with his hash and eggs (and a whole lot more – it’s a big meal).
We decided a walk was required after that meal and with a long ride to Marquette as our day’s destination. As an aside, I know just about the whole country was experiencing epic heat in early July. Mackinaw City was no exception. It was early in the day, but the heat was already building. We decided to just walk around the waterfront where there were good breezes and then head on with our journey.
History Lesson Alert! Fort Mackinac and Colonial Michilimackinac are right near the water. The Fort was first occupied by the French guarding the straits between the mainland and Mackinac Island. As you might remember from American History lessons, French trappers and priests were the first ‘known’ Europeans to settle in Michigan. The area was full of game and the English were establishing themselves in Ontario, Canada which is just to the East. There were also native Americans who could sometimes take issue with the new kids on the block. It made sense to build a fort. This fort was Fort Mackinac. The village of Michilimackinac grew up around the fort.
So why are the Fort, the Island, and the bridge all Mackinac, and the City is Mackinaw? They are both pronounced exactly the same. (Mack in awe) The spelling with a w is used only in Mackinaw City. (from the English occupation). The spelling with a c is used on the island and for the fort and for the bridge (French occupation).
We walked up to the edge of the water and were lucky enough to catch a Lakes Freighter going under the bridge. It’s quite a sight! We also walked up to where the lighthouse stands. There is a nice, paved, tree-shaded path. We stopped in the gift shop (how could I not?) and bought some nice things. (It’s amazing the level of merchandise in state-run, gift shops in Michigan!)
On the way out, we heard Black-throated Green Warblers and Pine Warblers singing in the trees around the Fort. What a pleasant way to start our vacation! We were serenaded all the way back to the car. Then it was off for our trip over the bridge to a completely different world – the Upper Peninsula.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t like heights. Now, I can sit on a mountainside and be perfectly happy. I can even be inside a tall building with no trepidation. However, climbing steep steps or going across tall bridges make me woozy! One would have thought that I would have no problem with bridges – especially suspension bridges – as I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida (home of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge). Know what? I still cringe all the way across the top span of that sucker, too!
Here is a YouTube link of my video. I hope it works properly without a bunch of bunk at the bottom of this page!
So it was with the Mackinac Bridge. Luckily, there were two of the hydrofoils that ferry people to and from Mackinac Island “racing” each other across the strait. (There are no powered vehicles allowed on the Island. UPS even delivers by horse-drawn cart.) I could amuse myself (and take my mind off the bridge) by video-taping the ferries and their “rooster tails.” Almost before I knew it, we were on the other side of the bridge. Phew!
We stopped just after the toll plaza at the UP Welcome Center to pick up all the requisite fliers and folders advertising things to do and see in the areas we were going. We knew, darned well, that there was no way we could see it all, but we wanted to be able to choose the areas that interested us most. Then, it was off to our first destination – Marquette!