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Fudge, Smoked Fish, and Pasties

June 18th, 2004

Here’s my long-winded post regarding our vacation:

Sunday we woke up bright and early at 5-ish and was out the door around 6 am. We stopped for gas and were on our way sometime before 6:30 am. I don’t recall seeing much of interest on the ride, so I’ve got no comment on that. We arrived in Mackinaw City at around 12:30 pm our time (CST), which was 1:30 pm their time. It hadn’t even occurred to me that the entire state of Michigan is in the Eastern time zone. But the trip wasn’t bad considering that MapQuest pegged our travel time at 7.5 hours and it took us only 6 (thanks to Joe’s lead foot). ;)

* Oh and I have a bone to pick with MapQuest and their ‘reverse directions’ option. I didn’t find this out until it was too late, but apparently they like to pick a totally different route going home instead of actually just reversing the directions as requested. On the plus side, it appears that MapQuest is more accurate than maps are, as it directed us to I-127, but on our map of Michigan there was only an I-27.

Anyway, check-in wasn’t until 4 pm, but we stopped at our hotel to see if it was possible to check-in early. Our room wasn’t ready yet, but they told us to come back at 3 pm and it should be. They processed our check-in info to save us time though. I did have to remind them that I was due two free ferry tickets to Mackinac Island, but that was quickly resolved.

So we bummed around, scoping out the area. They weren’t lying when they said that the Mackinac Bridge was out the back door of the hotel. It was literally a block away. There was this really cool park area where the bridge and an old lighthouse was located. We walked around a bit, killing time. We also drove through the downtown area, known as the Mackinaw Crossings, a couple of blocks away to see what that was all about. Then we checked-in at the hotel and went back to the downtown area to eat. We ended up at this place called Scalawags for some fish and chips. The fish was good, albeit a bit pricey (and they don’t take credit cards).

After our late lunch, we went back to the hotel and went swimming for a bit, then soaked in the hot tub. It was a bit crowded, mostly with kids (the pool, not the hot tub), but at least there weren’t fifty teenage girls there like when we went to St. Louis. I had the presence of mind this time to ask the hotel if they had any large groups staying with them and they confirmed that they weren’t.

I don’t remember what we did after the hot tub. I think we just hung around in the hotel room and ate homemade ham sandwiches (we brought a cooler) to balance out our high-calorie lunch.

Monday I woke up to find out I had gotten my period (I know, EW!) early. Nice, huh? It wasn’t due to at least Wednesday. I was so pissed because I always get terrible cramps, I don’t like walking around all over, and we hadn’t gotten busy the night before because we were too tired, which meant we couldn’t add Michigan to our list of states we’ve had sex in (don’t laugh, I bet you do it too!). So suffice to say, I was not pleased. But what can you do, right?

So after some mulling over, we decided to go to Mackinac Island even though it would require some walking. We just missed the 9:30 am ferry thanks to slow-poke Jim in the ticket booth, so we had to wait around a half hour for the next one. The frugal gal in me was delighted to see that
had we not gotten the free tickets, our little ferry ride would have cost us $35. Wowzers!

The ride was pretty cool. I was surprised how fast the ferry goes … it’s more like a big speedboat. It was going about 35 MPH and it still took 15 minutes to reach the island! It was cool to see just how long the bridge is, since we were pretty much parallel to it most of the ride.

We walked around a bit when we first got to the island, but I quickly decided I was in no mood for a bunch of walking, especially since there was hills. They don’t allow cars on the island, so the only way to get around is a) by foot, b) by horse/carriage or c) by renting a bike. I wasn’t about to ride a bike all over either, so we paid the $40 fee for a carriage tour.

The tour was pretty neat. We learned some pretty cool things about the history of the area, particularly the island, as well as the Grand Hotel on the island. I didn’t realize that Mackinaw and Mackinac are actually pronounced the same (like the first spelling). The second spelling is the French version, apparently. I also learned that hundreds of bats are brought to the island every year to keep the mosquito population at a minimum.

One of the stops on the tour was The Wings of Mackinac, which is a butterfly conservatory. I liked the set-up inside, but it was far too small for the amount of people they were letting in, so it was too crowded. I didn’t get a lot of photos because the people were irritating me. I really got fed up when I watched this old woman just step on a poor butterfly, crushing it to death. They always tell you to look where you’re walking because the butterflies will land on the walkways, on people, whatever they can. But no, this idiot was walking all over, not looking where she was going. I gasped when I saw her crush the thing and was disgusted when an employee picked up the butterfly and the woman looked around, still oblivious to what she had done. So we left.

For the most part, I thought the $40 tour fee was reasonable, although I really did not understand why people would bring their kids on it. They were so bored, which translated to them constantly talking, which made it difficult to listen to our guide. And two old ladies brought their yappy dogs on the tour too. WTF!?!

After the tour, we walked around a bit more and bought some fudge because you can’t go to Mackinac Island and not get fudge. It would be sacrilegious! I got a slice of double dark chocolate fudge which is the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. Mmmmmm!

Once we got back to the city, we grabbed some lunch. I ended up gorging myself on a huge plate of deluxe nachos (diet, what diet?) which was followed up by a Dairy Queen Blizzard.

We went back to the hotel to digest our food and watch some tv. After that, I kept Joe company at the pool, and later in the evening, 9:30 pm to be exact, we walked up to the bridge to catch the tail-end of the sunset. It really messed with our heads that it was still light that late in the evening. By 9 pm it’s always dark where we live.

Tuesday we got up a little later because the zoo we wanted to visit didn’t open until 11 am. The zoo is located in the upper peninsula of Michigan, so we got to experience the huge bridge first hand by driving over it. I thought it was gonna scare the crap out of me, but it didn’t. See, I don’t care much for any large bridges over water due to these horrible nightmares I used to have involving them when I was younger. I’d dream they’d twist and turn like a rollercoaster and then end short of the road, requiring the car to gain speed to jump over the water. Of course, the car always missed and started to sink, and then I’d wake up. I have no idea why I had these recurring dreams, but I did.

So after making it over the bridge alive, we took our time getting to the zoo, stopping at a “scenic overlook” to see the bridge from a new angle. It wasn’t too exciting because there were a couple of trees in the way. We did get a good view from the roof of a souvenir shop on the way back from the zoo, however.

The zoo was kinda cool. It’s privately owned by a couple who personally take care of all the animals. The enclosures weren’t conducive to taking photographs, though, but we enjoyed the time spent there (which wasn’t as long as we had planned due to all the damn mosquitoes). They had some cool deer called Sika Deer, that made these strange sounds. Kinda like an ‘eeep’ noise. It was so bizarre, I couldn’t stop standing there, listening to them eep back and forth. We fed them too, which was fun.

After the zoo, we decided we should go up to Canada since it was so close. It took us less than an hour to get to the border where they checked our I.D. and searched the trunk of the car. We were also informed that they didn’t want us taking photos of the bridge, or off the bridge, due to 9/11. Whatever, people. No, I didn’t take any photos out of respect for their wishes, but come on, I think it’s lame. If it’s public, it’s fair game.

The part of Canada we ended up in, Sault St. Marie, was not impressive. Then again, we didn’t venture more than a mile from the border just because we had no idea where to go, and didn’t want to get lost. We ended up walking around Station Mall, which is right by the border. It looked really run-down from the outside, but was ok inside. I’m not sure what’s with that tourism site, though, because if that’s the biggest mall in Northeastern Ontario, I feel sorry for the Canadians. We ate lunch at this place called U-betcha Tap & Grill and then got the hell out of Canada. LOL! Oh, I did buy a magnet to add to the refrigerator (we collect them). Oh and we hit a poor bunny rabbit on the drive back to the hotel. Damn thing just ran out of the trees and there was nothing we could do. :(

Once we got back to our hotel, we just watched some tv and lounged by the pool again. Around 8:45 pm we went back by the bridge to watch the sunset again, and sometime after sunset, Joe proposed to me. He was so cute! I couldn’t figure out why he wanted to hang around after the sunset and most of the people had left because it was getting cold and the mosquitoes kept bugging us, which he really hates since they usually eat him alive. I kinda figured out what he was going to do when he kept hugging me and started shaking slightly. I can’t tell you the exact words he said, other than “It’s you”. LOL! He told me later he had this speech prepared, but he got so nervous he couldn’t remember everything he wanted to say. It’s not a big deal to me, because he tells me how he feels every day, and that’s what matters most.

After that, we went back to the hotel and cuddled, then fell asleep. Seeing how I was still on my period (ew!), we couldn’t even celebrate. Grrrrr!

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning to go home. We got stuck in some killer traffic twice, so our trip home took much longer than expected even though we gained an hour going west.

Mackinaw City isn’t the most exciting area in the world, but it’s nice enough that I’d probably go back there again some day. I didn’t get to see any lighthouses other than the one by the bridge, despite the fact that we followed the shoreline at two different points. Apparently most of the lighthouses are along the Lake Huron shoreline of Michigan and after driving 6 hours to get there, I didn’t want to spend even more time in the car. So despite that I had fun. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Oh and the proposal part got 10 out of 5 stars.

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