Tuesday Tour: Whitefish Point Lighthouse

Today is November 10th – a day of remembrance at the lighthouse featured in my Tuesday Tour.

Last year, Papa and I traveled to Michigan and visited various sites around two of the Great Lakes there. On a downright cold and blustery October day, we located the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.

Whitefish Point Light is considered to be the most important such structure on this Great Lake because all ships either entering or departing Lake Superior pass by this lighthouse.

Its location in Whitefish Bay on the southern shore of the lake is considered a treacherous spot earning it the nickname, “Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” Out of 550 known significant shipwrecks lying on the lake’s bottom, around 200 are in the Whitefish Point area, more than any other part of Lake Superior.

Thirty-some years before the placement of this lighthouse, a 60-foot trading ship named Invincible became the first known ship to sail on Lake Superior and it sunk in fierce winds and overwhelming waves.

The need for a lighthouse here became very apparent in the following years as ship traffic increased. Whitefish Point Light first became illuminated in 1849, marking the end of an 80-mile stretch of lake shoreline known as Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast and the entrance to Whitefish Bay. A four-room, one-and-a-half story stone keeper’s dwelling was attached to the 42-foot stone tower in this isolated location and retaining keepers there was difficult.

Constantly barraged by wind and weather by 1861, Whitefish Point Light was replaced by an 80-foot tall steel cylinder, supported by skeletal steel framework and designed to reduce the stress of high winds.  Fog signals were added and by 1894, a second assistant keeper was necessary to continue guiding mariners through turbulent waters there.  

The sheer force and duration of violent storms on Lake Superior have been compared to that of a hurricane. When sudden and treacherous winds build up over the deep lake’s many miles of open water, massive waves, often coming from several different directions, slam into ships with great intensity.

One such storm occurred in 1905 and is noted as the worst ever on the Great Lakes. During a combination of snow, wind, freezing cold, and violent waves, the temperature plunged to 12°F below zero. The after storm tally was 30 shipwrecks with some vessels actually thrown out of the lake’s water.

The U.S. Lighthouse Service operated this light station from 1849 until the U.S. Coast Guard instituted a Lifeboat Rescue Station there in 1923. Several changes transpired in the following years and in 1930, both the fog signal and a radio beacon signal were synchronized to help mariners determine their distance from Whitefish Point and guide them safely through the area.

The Lighthouse Service united with the Coast Guard in 1939; the lifeboat station was closed in the early 1950’s, and all Coast Guard personnel removed in 1970 after the light house became automated. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

But the Whitefish Point Lighthouse was still very much needed. It has guided vessels for over 170 years, and continues to do so, except for one horrendously stormy night.  

It was November 10, 1975 – 45 years ago today – when the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald struggled against extremely hazardous weather conditions as it attempted to make its way towards Whitefish Bay.

An assortment of failures accompanied this fated vessel. Its radar system had been damaged and the tempestuous lake was taking its toll. The ship’s captain, who was a 44-year veteran sailor, reported: “We are taking heavy seas over our decks; it’s the worst sea I’ve ever been in.”

And then the unthinkable happened. The automated radio beacon at Whitefish Point suddenly switched off providing no guiding light and the raging storm overtook the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Around 7:15 that night, the 729-foot ore freighter and a crew of 29 souls perished into the deep, cold lake.  The wreck lies offshore about 15 miles northwest of this lighthouse.

If you are of a certain age like me, you’ll well remember a song written, composed, and recorded in 1976 by Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot called, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s a long song, but you can listen to it and read the lyrics in the video below.

Every year on this date, a public memorial service is held at Whitefish Point Light in remembrance of the Edmund Fitzgerald crew. The ship’s actual bell, which was recovered from the shipwreck site in 1995, is rung 30 times, once for every crew member and once again for all sailors who have been lost at sea.

It’s fascinating to note that Lake Superior’s water is so cold it preserves shipwrecks quite well and scuba divers at the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve can enjoy 30-50 feet of visibility even at 100-foot depth.

Actually, a group of divers called the Great Lakes Shipwreck History Society researched shipwrecks in this area and consequently, opened the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on the Whitefish Point Light Station grounds in the 1980’s.

Owning the site, this society restored the keeper’s quarters, lighthouse, fog signal building, and all the structures associated with both the Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Coast Guard Lifeboat Station.

Both the lighthouse and the museum are normally open from May 1-October 31 daily, 10 a.m-6 p.m. An admission fee is charged to visit the lighthouse itself and the museum, but there is no charge to walk around the grounds, visit the gift shop, or stroll on the beach, where a memorial monument to the Edmund Fitzgerald is located.

When we visited, the wind was ferocious and the cold air quite piercing that October day, but there were visitors on the grounds and on the beach.

Today, this anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, I consider this thought – that freighter foundered and went down into that cold, deep lake and those men lost their lives in the midst of a terrible storm.

Yet they were only 15 miles from a lighthouse.

There are many of our fellow human beings drowning while they’re caught in a whirlwind of violent storms in life. Are we reaching out to them, extending a light that may rescue them from harm’s way, guiding them to a place of security and well-being? Or are we allowing them to sink into despair, fear, and anxiety?

Maybe I am a lighthouse and so are you.

“Don’t forget that maybe you are the lighthouse in someone’s storm.” ~ Unknown

©mamasemptynest.wordpress.com 2020

On a silent night

blogIMG_9797

Silent Night Memorial Chapel, Frankenmuth, MI

As one season ends, another begins. It’s that way in nature and it’s that way in life as well. Autumn is past and I must say farewell to it as we enter into winter.  I must also say farewell to my recent postings about our trip to Michigan.

As I wind up this series while preparing for and anticipating Christmas, I find it serendipitous that my last post highlights a well-known Christmas song, Silent Night.

You probably know the one: Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…

That beloved hymn, originally written in German and titled “Stille Nacht,” was composed by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr in Austria in 1818. Mohr, a pastor in Oberndorf bei Salzburg had written a poem and was hopeful that his friend Gruber, the church choir master and organist, could set the words to music for Christmas Eve’s midnight mass. 

It is absolutely amazing that this beautiful song was composed in just a few hours and first sung on that same Christmas Eve. However, because of a flood, the church’s organ had been damaged and could not be used.

So instead, Gruber composed the music to be accompanied by guitar. The church, which had its foundation damaged in the flood, was later demolished and when a new church was built, a small memorial chapel was also constructed, the Silent Night Chapel.

Many decades later in 1945, a man named Wally Bronner opened a CHRISTmas Wonderland store in Frankenmuth, Michigan. As his store succeeded and grew, Bronner began importing Christmas ornaments and on a trip to Europe, he visited the Silent Night Chapel in Oberndorf, Austria.

An idea became reality for the Christmas store owner. He had reserved space on his many acres site where his store is located for something to thank God for blessing his business. Bronner acquired permission from authorities to build a replica of Austria’s Silent Night Chapel.

Built and dedicated in 1992, Bronner’s memorial chapel stands 56-feet tall and is open for visitors every day during store hours; there is no admission charge to enter the chapel. Inside you may view a lovely altar behind glass and the words to Silent Night are portrayed all around the chapel walls in many different languages.

blogIMG_9792

Altar inside the replica chapel

Click here to see a video of Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland’s Silent Night Memorial Chapel.

It’s a tranquil spot to sit and meditate on the lyrics as the song, both vocal and instrumental versions, plays quietly in the background. Another interesting fact is that every Christmas Eve, carolers gather inside the chapel to sing Silent Night, first in German and then in English.

blog stained glass windows

Two of the stained glass windows

We found the chapel to be an inspiring place to visit and it definitely reminded us of the real reason why we celebrate Christmas, the purpose for setting aside this time to recall what happened on one silent night over 2000 years ago in a little town called Bethlehem.

That silent night became the most miraculous silent night of all time, when the Messiah, the Son of God, was born as a “holy infant so tender and mild” and was named Jesus. 

Bethlehem was just the beginning. I call Jesus Christ’s next appearance, Bethlehem, Act 2. No silent night this time, however. The skies will open, trumpets will blast, and a new kingdom will begin.” ~ Max Lucado

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Christmas wonderland

blogIMG_9801That calendar on my wall tells me it’s December already. I know it sounds so very trite, but honestly, where DID the year 2019 go?

Regardless of my incredulousness at it being the last month of the year, that calendar also shows me there are only 19 days until Christmas.  Yikes! This empty nest Mama needs to get her Christmas preparations jump-started.  

The empty nest will be filled to the brim with three grown up offspring, their spouses, three adorable grandchildren, and a grand-doggy for several days over the Christmas holiday. And my heart is so very happy about that!

But there is MUCH to do – hauling out the holly, illuminating the outside of our country home, decking out the halls, adorning the Christmas tree, menu planning for meals (carefully due to one family member with celiac disease who must eat gluten-free), grocery shopping, gift wrapping, and devising Christmas fun activities for the family to enjoy.

Thankfully, three items are already checked off my list – the Christmas cards have been signed, sealed, and are in the mail to be delivered, gifts have been purchased, and Papa handled the majority of the outside decorations.

Yet Mama’s plate is full of plans to make our home this year a Christmas wonderland, especially for the grandchildren.

But while I embrace this blessed season, I still have a couple more stories and pictures to share about our autumn trip to Michigan. Appropriately, the subject is Christmas, “the most wonderful time of the year.”

When we stopped at the quaint town of Frankenmuth, MI, our goal was to visit the world’s largest Christmas store, Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, which has been in business since 1945.

blogIMG_9802And what a wonderland it truly is! The store is open 361 days a year and is gigantic (they claim it’s the size of one and a half football fields!) and filled with everything you can imagine that has to do with the Christmas holiday.

I’ve shopped in many Christmas shops, but I’ve never been anywhere that comes close to Bronner’s with 50,000 decorations and gifts in 15 store sections.

The half-mile lane leading into this huge store is lined with thousands of lights and outdoor Christmas displays everywhere you look. We arrived in the morning as the store opened, so I can only imagine what a spectacular sight it would be to view the lights at night (dusk until midnight).

Onsite adjacent to the Christmas store is the Silent Night Chapel, a replica of the original chapel in Austria where, on Christmas Eve in 1818, the well-known Christmas hymn Silent Night was first sung.  (I’ll highlight that in an upcoming post.)

Papa and I spent at least three hours just browsing, being amazed, and purchasing some gifts and special ornaments to add to our Christmas tree.

Tree ornaments are grouped by categories in some sections, by colors in other areas, and by country in yet others. And there is a large area with ornaments that can be personalized (free while you wait).

Looking for Christmas jewelry? It’s there. Nativity sets? For certain. Nutcrackers? They’ve got them. Advent calendars, wreaths, Christmas trees, stockings, garlands, ribbon, cards, angels, lighted village sets, books, linens, snow globes, figurines, lights and displays, Santa suits….you name it, Bronner’s has it.  

It’s a Christmas treasure trove and certainly puts shoppers in a merry spirit for the season no matter what time of year you visit.

Even though I have a checklist a mile long to prepare for Christmas with my family, I pause for a moment to remember our visit to that Christmas store, admire the ornaments we purchased there, and smile as we enter into the “hap-happiest season of all.”

“Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.” ~E. C. McKenzie

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

As autumn’s journey ends

blogIMG_9838.jpgIf you’ve been following Mama’s Empty Nest the last few weeks, you’ve been reading about Papa’s and my autumn journey to Michigan.

Our trip proved to be just what we needed – a getaway from home and the sameness of routine. It also provided me with lots of blog fodder in the form of posts and photographs.

We came back from our road trip refreshed and renewed. A change of pace and scenery will do that, thankfully.

As I near the end of our journey story and head into the Christmas season, I want to highlight one more spot we visited in Michigan on our way back home. We’d heard a lot about a place called Frankenmuth and friends who had visited there told us we must put it on our itinerary. We’re glad we did.

Frankenmuth’s nickname is Michigan’s Little Bavaria and rightly so. This quaint town is filled with Bavarian-style architecture in shops, restaurants, inns, and homes. As you drive into town, a welcome sign in German greets you and as you leave, another sign bids you farewell.

 

Enjoy just a few examples of Frankenmuth sights I captured with my camera.

blogIMG_9823blogIMG_9827blogIMG_9831blogIMG_9833blogIMG_9836The town itself is lovely and we relished a delicious family style lunch and visit to an amazing on-site bakery at Zehnder’s Restaurant.

There’s plenty to do and see, but our foremost reason for a stop in Frankenmuth was to experience the largest Christmas store in the world – Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland.

Tomorrow I’ll feature that amazing place.

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~ Seneca

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Challenge or crazy?

blogIMG_9767Maybe it was a challenge. But there didn’t appear to be anyone witnessing it…except us.

If you’ve been reading my posts in the last few weeks, you’ve journeyed along with me as I recalled the autumn trip Papa and I took back in October to Michigan. At several gift shops, I noticed this saying about that state on souvenir items: “Smitten by the Mitten.”

Of course, Michigan is shaped just like a mitten if you look at it on a map. And in a snap of really cold weather, including a snow fall, Papa and I had to go in search of some ‘mittens’ to keep us warm while on our trip in the Upper Peninsula.

But we actually were smitten by the mitten as we enjoyed our trip immensely to this state we hadn’t really visited before (spending time in the Detroit airport didn’t count in our book).

We were smitten by the two Great Lakes we got to view – Lake Huron and Lake Superior – and intend to someday travel to the west side of the state and view Lake Michigan. 

We were smitten by Mackinac Island and all of the lighthouses we visited. I think we managed to see five in Michigan alone and five or six more in Ohio along Lake Erie.

We were smitten by the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn. And we were smitten by our last stop on our way home in Frankenmuth, which I will feature in posts next week.

Much in Michigan garnered our interest, but one unusual sight also captured our curiosity. Strolling through the park-like setting at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse on the south side of the Mackinac Bridge in Mackinaw City, we noticed something odd.

First let me tell you that it was very cold and we were bundled up as best we could be complete with hat and gloves since the wind was robust and nippy. Next let me tell you that since we live in a northern state, we are very accustomed to cold weather and I’m usually toasty warm no matter the temperature. So when I say it was cold, it WAS.

Since it was late in the day and (I know I’m repeating myself) so very chilly, there were no other people in the area except us. Once I captured some photos of the bridge and the lighthouse, Papa and I eagerly began to return to our vehicle to blast some heat, defrost ourselves, and continue our trip. 

We noticed a man walking in the park who stopped at a park bench, laid something down (which turned out to be a towel), and then stripped off his clothes to reveal swim trunks. We stopped because we wondered what in the world he was doing since it certainly wasn’t warm enough to swim.

He walked down to the lake’s edge and proceeded into the water. He didn’t swim, he just stayed in place in chest-high water, jumping over the waves brought in by the wind.

With my telephoto lens, I snapped a few photos while we stood and shivered in the frosty air. We shook our heads at his bravado and hurried to our car.

Was he completing a dare? There was no one with him to validate his challenge and he didn’t appear to be taking any selfies with a cell phone.

Did he just want to say he’d been in the waters of the Great Lakes?

Or was he just a little crazy?

My shivering self thought the latter as we cranked up the heat in the car and I held by frozen fingers in front of the vent.

“Some fish love to swim upstream. Some people love to overcome challenges.” ~ Amit Ray

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Both Sides

blogIMG_9744

The Mighty Mac – Mackinac Bridge

I’m not a fence straddler – really. But I do manage to often see both sides of an argument. Or an issue. I can see your point and I can see another’s as well. Both sides of the coin.

Sometimes that puts me in a quandary because seeing both sides can tend to make me a little indecisive. (Just ask Papa about how vacillating I become when we discuss where to grab a bite to eat.)

But often, I think there’s an advantage seeing both sides because it helps me understand the issue better. It gives me perspective as to why people choose one way or another to follow, to support, to believe.

I’m not convinced that a lot of folks look at both sides anymore. It seems we, as a society, are polarized and don’t want to calmly discuss our different points of view. And the media…well, don’t get me started on that. I truly do not believe they tell both sides of a story.

As happens more often than not, a photograph leads me to thinking about all of this. Pictures I captured on our autumn trip to Michigan did just that, giving me the inspiration for this post.

To get to the Upper Peninsula from the Lower Peninsula, Papa and I traveled across the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Unfortunately, that crossing occurred in the dark, so I didn’t get any photographs.

But upon leaving the UP, we once again crossed that amazing structure – daylight this time –  stopping at spots on either side of the toll bridge so I could capture some images of this eye-catching structure. 

blogIMG_9734

Notice how massive it is by the size of the trucks and cars

The Mackinac Bridge is touted as being the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world (the suspension is 8,614 feet long) and has a total span of about five miles. What’s truly awe inspiring is the engineering it took to construct this bridge sometimes called the “Mighty Mac.”

Because there are high winds over the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron, as well as significant temperature and weight changes, the bridge was designed to accommodate those aspects.

I’m not an engineering expert but the fact that the bridge’s center span deck can move up to 35 feet east or west because of the force and direction of severe high winds amazes me.

And windy it is as you drive across this bridge; that’s why the maximum speed limit is 45 mph for automobiles, 20 mph for trucks, and there is also a weight limit. Over-sized vehicles must have a bridge escort. If you fear driving across, a Mackinac Bridge Authority employee will drive you.

As we approached the Mighty Mac from the north, we noticed Bridge View Park, so we stopped there. It proved to be a marvelous spot to photograph the bridge. Windy, yes. Chilly, certainly. But so very worth the stop.

IMG_9727

Mackinac Bridge from north in Bridge View Park

Once we crossed the bridge, we again found another area to visit to view the bridge from the south side at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse.

blogIMG_9752

Mackinac Bridge from south at Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse

Two views. Two perspectives. It reminds me to always listen to both sides of a story.

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” ~ Walter Cronkite

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Eating like a yooper

blogIMG_9673

Trying something different in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Part of the fun in traveling is not just seeing the worthwhile sights but also partaking  tasty regional food as well. It’s all about experiencing something different.

If you ever venture to our neck of the woods, I’d suggest you try pierogies, a kind of unleavened dough dumpling stuffed with savory fillings like potato, cheese, or sauerkraut.

Pierogie dough is rolled out, cut in circles, filled, and then folded over in half with the ends pinched together to seal them. They are boiled in water until they float and served in melted butter with sautéed onions and/or bacon.

Or I might steer you toward a Primanti Brothers sandwich consisting of your choice of grilled meat, melted cheese, coleslaw, tomato slices, and French fries all piled up between two very thick slices of Italian bread.   Yum, yum.

Click here for a photo and to read more about this one of a kind, ‘almost famous’ sandwich. 

When Papa and I traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last month, I wanted to try something the local Yoopers (for those of us who aren’t familiar with that term, it’s what those who live in the Upper Pennisula call themselves) eat – pasties.

Pasties are pronounced PAST-tees – that is past as in not the future but the past and tees as in tee-shirts. Fortunately, the clerk at our hotel informed us about how to correctly order these goodies because mispronouncing them could cause some embarrassment when you inadvertently order paste-tees if you get my drift.

So while Papa enjoyed his fish dishes, Mama tried a pasty. Our Australian friends told us about meat pasties, although the U.P. Michigan version might not be the same, but I had never actually eaten one before.

I was so excited to dig into it that I actually took a bite before I snapped the photo above.

For those of you who haven’t heard of a pasty, it’s basically a meat pie but entirely different from anything I’ve eaten before.

It’s like a turnover with a crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside crust, filled with small chunks of ground meat (mine was beef, but not hamburger), cubed potatoes, cubed carrots, and finely chopped onions. My pasty also was served with beef gravy over it and a side of cole slaw.

I’ve gleaned the internet for meat pasty recipes and several of them used lard for the dough. That’s probably what made the crust taste so good. Some of the recipes also used rutabagas in addition to the potatoes and carrots.

Since I relished my pasty in a small but quaint café on Mackinac Island, I can’t be sure what the recipe was but I can tell you this — that pasty was filling and delicious!

“Food is not just eating energy. It’s an experience.” ~ Guy Fieri

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

A treasured island

blogIMG_9649

View of the Grand Hotel lawn

In a 2005 mystery novel, The Lighthouse, penned by P.D. James, the author writes, “Every island to a child is a treasure island.”

I can honestly say an island is not just a treasure for children but adults as well. At least for this adult.

As far as islands go, I’m not a seasoned authority. My list of visited islands is fairly brief: those across Puget Sound from Seattle, Washington years ago; Maryland’s Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay back in June; and Michigan’s Mackinac Island in Lake Huron just last month.

Out of the short list, Mackinac Island ranks the number one spot for the place that enchanted me most. For me, it just might have been my treasure island (although I haven’t made it to Hawaii or any other tropical island yet!).

From the first glimpse of the island while still aboard the ferry to the last sight of it as we departed, my eyes and my camera lens soaked up the atmosphere of Mackinac Island.

It was like stepping back in time and into another world – one less hectic and hassled. And I find I’m not yet ready to leave it behind.

So indulge me, please, as I give you a photographic tour of this gem of an island. If you’ve never visited there, put it on your bucket list. I think you’ll enjoy a trip to ‘another world.’

 “… everyone knew that all islands were worlds unto themselves, that to come to an island was to come to another world.” ~ Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana

blogIMG_9552

Quiet places to relax on a crisp fall day

blogIMG_9578

Just a side view of part of the Grand Hotel

blogIMG_9626

Looking out into Lake Huron from Mackinac Island

blogIMG_9627

Another view from Arch Rock

blogIMG_9636

No motorized vehicles anywhere!

blogIMG_9638

But plenty of horses, wagons, and carriages

blogIMG_9640

And bicycles. This just happens to be The Grand Hotel Parking Lot!

blogIMG_9658

Just one of the lovely churches – The Little Stone Church

blogIMG_9671

Quiet and peaceful streets

blogIMG_9700

Hitch your horse or your bicycle

blogIMG_9676

America’s first grocery store

blogIMG_96652

A view to the lake

blogIMG_9679

The only way to travel on the island: horse, bicycle, or on foot

blogIMG_9698

You can’t go home without entering one of the fudge shops (and buying).

blogIMG_9692

View from the lakefront

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Mackinac Island horses

blogIMG_9554They are everywhere you look on Mackinac Island – the powerful, strong horses. They pull buggies loaded with sightseers; wagons loaded with supplies; shuttle carriages with hotel guests settled behind glass; they even haul the street cleaner.

Take a look at the various shots I captured of these beautiful creatures hard at work during our autumn journey to this quaint and picturesque island in Lake Huron, Michigan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride,

Friendship without envy,

Or beauty without vanity?

Here, where grace is served with muscle

And strength by gentleness confined…” 

~ Ronald Duncan, “The Horse,” 1954

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Stepping back in time

blogIMG_9696

Mackinac Island, Michigan

One of the most compelling reasons Papa and I had for our autumn journey to Michigan was to visit Mackinac Island, an island in Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.

I first heard of it back in the early 80’s when the island’s Grand Hotel was featured in scenes from the movie, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

I don’t think the movie did very well at the box office, but I still remember the haunting music from it and the time-traveling romantic aspect of the film. And the scenes from the Grand Hotel.

Mackinac Island is a bit like stepping back in time because no motorized vehicles are permitted on the island. You must travel either by your own impetus (by foot), or by bicycle, horse drawn taxis, or carriage tours, although electric scooters are allowed for those with disabilities.

Even supplies to everything on the island are brought by ferry from the mainland and then distributed to locations by horse-drawn wagons. So there are horses everywhere.

We boarded a ferry in St. Ignace, Michigan on a chilly, crisp morning for the short voyage (about 15 minutes) out into Lake Huron and after a side trip under the Mackinac Bridge, we set foot on Mackinac Island and its quaint hamlet.

Restaurants, bed and breakfasts, inns, cottages, homes, and gift shops galore line the village streets, including several fudge stores for some reason.

We soon learned that island tourists are called “fudgies” by the locals because sightseers  indulge in so much fudge buying. (And yes, we also succumbed to the lure of freshly made fudge, namely peanut butter, chocolate mint, and Papa’s favorite, German chocolate cake fudge.)

The island sports many hiking and biking trails and plenty to see and do for the outdoor enthusiast. You can rent bicycles or bring your own. You may go golfing, kayaking, horseback riding, sailing and parasailing, fishing, and enjoy other outdoor activities if you want to step out of time in the hustle bustle world and step into nature.

If cultural activities are more your thing, there are museums and art galleries to visit and history buffs will enjoy Fort Holmes, as well as Fort Mackinac inside the Mackinac State Historic Park and old cemeteries.   

Papa and I opted for a carriage tour lasting about an hour and 45 minutes, which transported us to all the major scenic sites on the island. The driver/tour guide was personable and we enjoyed her narration during the ride.

By far, my favorite spots to see were the Grand Hotel and Arch Rock.

After winding our way through the village and into more wooded areas, our carriage stopped at Arch Rock, so we could leave the carriage and walk to view this amazing 50-foot wide rock formation which towers above the gorgeous lake water.

blogIMG_9622

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

Near the end of our carriage ride the last stop was the Grand Hotel, a majestic and pristine white landmark, which opened in 1887.  I’d claim it the showcase of the island with its 600-foot front porch looking out onto the lake. Picturesque? Definitely!

The historic hotel with 393 guest rooms is only open May through October. Overnight stays include breakfasts and dinners but it is quite spendy. So this Mama and Papa just hopped off the carriage after our tour, took a look at that beautiful place, and went on our merry way on foot.

blogIMG_9655

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

On our walk-about, we stopped at a lovely stone chapel, walked along the lakefront, and enjoyed the sights and sounds (the steady clip-clop of horses’ hooves) of Mackinac Island.

Thankful that we had changed our plans due to inclement weather (all day rain and sleet), we visited the island on a Monday rather than our originally scheduled weekend day, Sunday.  

Our day there was blessed with sunshine even though it was brisk and a bit windy, and the island wasn’t terribly crowded, which is always a plus in my book.

Mackinac Island is a place I’ll remember with fondness, a reminder of that somewhere in time when Papa and I enjoyed a splendid autumn journey.

“Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.” ~ unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com