Mackinac Island photo journey

Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 11:43 AM
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Mackinac Island photo journey

(this same report with 40 photos is at

While visiting family in Mackinaw City on July 31, I decided to make a brief visit to Mackinac Island. I recently bought a higher resolution camera and wanted to get some new photos.

Saturday morning was overcast and foggy and followed a rainy Friday, so I almost didn't go. But while debating how to spend the day, the sun poked though and I decided to make the trip.

I rode Shepler's Ferry. There isn't a lot of reason to chose between the ferry services between Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island, mainly personal taste. The round trip ferry is $17, not too bad considering it was around $10 in the mid '70s. The nine mile trip takes about 20 minutes, though the departure from Mackinaw City was delayed slightly while presentations were made to the three employees of the month. The crowd seemed to enjoy the presentations.

Arriving on the Island about 10:30AM, it was hard to figure out what the weather was doing. It stayed foggy, while changing briefly between sunny, cloudy or lightly raining. I walked east on the main street, taking a few photos. The downtown was busy, but not crowded.

At the east end of town I climbed a set of about 150 steps up to Huron Road, a street with Victorian homes on one side and a bluff on the other. You can get up there by streets, but it is a lot longer walk. This stretch overlooks the town from the east and is one of my favorites. There are rarely many people around and you get views of the community that most people never see. I took many photos of the harbor, downtown, cruise ship, and nearby Round Island & Round Island Passage Lighthouses.

Then west following the top of the bluff, on Anne's Tablet Trail through the woods and then along the back of Old Ford Mackinac. The woods were full of wildflowers, but they really can't compete with the many gardens at summer homes and businesses on the Island.

After taking photos at the Fort and nearby houses, I walked along Huron Road past the Michigan Governor's summer home and then on across the backside of the Grand Hotel golf course. There was a rented carriage on the road behind me, but even though I was taking my time, the family with the carriage could never get their horse going fast enough to catch me.

**Tip: The 102 year old Michigan Governor's Residence is open to vistors on Wednesday mornings from mid June to late August. Admission is free. If the Michigan flag is flying, the Governor is in residence

**Tip: Do not bicycle or walk through puddles on Mackinac Island. Particularly if it hasn't been raining.

I continued across Annex Road and down grand Avenue to West Bluff Road with its gorgeous huge Victorian Homes. They have up to 15 bedrooms. The flowers in the gardens were spectacular. At the east end of the Road is the private street in front of the Grand Hotel.

**Tip: The Grand charges $10 for non guests to visit the Hotel and Grounds (the money is credited to any purchases made at the hotel), but they don't charge people coming from this direction.

It started to rain harder just then, so I went on into the Grand Hotel, visiting the art gallery and gift shop. Then I took the elevator to the top floor and walked up two more floors to the upper level of the Cupola Bar. The two level bar is at the very top, center of the hotel. Although they serve meals there in the evening, during the day it is a quiet bar with unique views.

After some photo taking and relaxing, I went back to the main floor. It was time for lunch and since I haven't had the Grand Luncheon Buffet in years, I decided to splurge.

**Tip: although the Grand has a dress code after 6PM (jacket & tie for men, dresses or pants suits for women) relaxed clothing is fine during the day. T-shirts and cutoffs are prohibited in some areas.

I hadn't thought to ask how much the buffet is, and almost choked when they asked for $45. Still it includes tax & tip, and I don't do this often. The room was much as I remember it, very long and elegant. I was seated at a window with a view across the porch into the Straits of Mackinac. The 2nd photo in the row above is taken from my seat in the restaurant.

The servers are all people of color from the Islands (Jamaica?) in uniform. Many are second and third generation returning to Mackinac Island each summer. The buffet was a series of tables, over 70 foot long, with dishes on each side. Many fruits, cheeses, Hors d'oeuvres, salads, pastas, breads, oysters & mussels in the shell, two kinds of smoked salmon. My favorite items were two seafood dishes and the turkey.

The first dish was a cold blend of octopus, shrimp, mussels and other seafood. The second was a wonderful hot dish of shrimp (small & very large), scallops and chopped sweet peppers in a sauce. The turkey breast had been basted with mustard and honey, then rolled in finely chopped nuts and bread crumbs before roasting.

There were 20 items on the desert table, but I limited myself to blueberry cheesecake.

During lunch, the fog finally lifted. Although is was quiet windy, it was mostly sunny for the rest of the day. I followed lunch with some people watching from one of the rocking chairs on the 660' long porch. The young families seemed to be having particular fun.

Then I walked down the hill leading to the Grand, stopping to visit the little stone church. 100 years old this year, the Congregational church has stained glass windows depicting the early Christian mission to the island.

Then over to the walk leading out of the west end end of the downtown.

A woman on the shore was feeding seagulls and they would hang in the wind, barely moving. I experimented with getting the soaring gulls and lighthouses into the same photos. As I was about to move on, I overhead one of her friends complaining that they should have had pictures, and gave them my card, to email for a photo of her.

Then along the shore to the Island's library. The library is another of the great secret spots on the island. The back of the library has a sheltered deck with rocking chairs looking out at the channel and Round Island. Less than 100 feet from a bustling street it is a wonderful quiet spot.

Finally back along the west end of main street to the Shepler's dock, arriving just in time to get a choice spot on the 3:00 boat. Actually with a 20 mph head wind and pretty good size waves, the front upper deck wasn't quite as choice as it sometimes is...

Keith is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 12:29 PM
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Thanks for your report Keith. I try to get up to Mackinac for at least a weekend every summer, but last summer it didn't happen. This year we're going up for Labor Day weekend and I'm really looking forward to it.
Pat_in_Mich is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:06 PM
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Breathtaking photos, Keith. Thanks for sharing.
I was just telling a friend of mine last night about our vacation and how beautiful it was.
Gonna email this thread and let them take a look for themselves if you don't mind.
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:12 PM
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BTW, was lunch $45 after your $10 admission fee to The Grand?
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 01:35 PM
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Coming from the west side of the Grand, I never paid the $10. Someone coming from the east (where 99% of the people come) would pay the $10, then take it off the meal or other purchases.

It really wasn't good weather for photography. The Island shines when the sun is out and the sky is blue.

Keith is offline  
Old Aug 3rd, 2004, 02:42 PM
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Oh yay! I'm getting ready to leave my office but I will surely read your report and look at your photos in detail. I have searched this site and printed all the threads about NW Michigan, which of course include your posts. Thank you!

We have a cabin in Petosky for a week--leaving this Saturday a.m. This is going to be a very different vacation for us--we typically go to OBX--but we are really looking forward to the trip.
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Old Aug 13th, 2004, 03:03 PM
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Keith, I really enjoyed your report and photos. We leave in 3 days for Michigan!
krisz is offline  
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