19 November 2018

Mackinac Charm

What is it about an island and vacations? It’s a natural fit on Mackinac Island. You have an island where the automobile never replaced the horse and carriage. You have lodging properties where corporations never replaced family ownership. You have a Revolutionary Era fort where the British couldn’t permanently replace Americans. You have fudge stores where box recipes never replaced 19th Century recipes. You have a place to leave your routine, discover the rhythm of waves and horse-clops and a place that getting to is half the fun. -mackinacisland.org
Soon after arriving in Michigan, we left the little boys with grandma and headed to our favorite place on earth.

We joined my dad, my brother's family and lots of aunts, uncles and cousins for an epic three day adventure. The anticipation was so high after our unforgettable trip last summer. All year long, whenever the boys were asked what their favorite vacation spot was or assigned to write about their summer, there was only one place that came to mind; Mackinac Island.

Blake and Nash were brimming with excitement the entire four hour drive to the ferry dock. Knowing what was in store this time around, they could not wait to carry out all the same traditions. 

We boarded the ferry, passed the Mackinac bridge, and slowly, our cherished island came into view.
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We strapped our luggage to our bike trailers and checked in at a quaint Bed & Breakfast. One of our favorite stories to tell about the B&B was how my aunt gave the little old owner lady a bag of mushed blueberries to throw away when we arrived, after they had been sitting in the car for the long journey there. And what do you know, those blueberries ended up in the blueberry buckle she served us for breakfast the next morning. We still laugh about that one.
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After all of the inevitable flat tires were pumped and bike adjustments were made, we headed straight to the shoreline for a "loopy" (eight mile bike ride around the island's shore).
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There wasn't much time for exploring on day one, but we made it to our favorite buffet for dinner and then hit up the local church's square dance. Blake and Nash took turns as my partner in the festive hats they provided.
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We stayed up late playing cards and talking about all that was in store the following day.

Day two started with a tour of the Governor's Mansion where my aunt was volunteering as a docent. We biked over to one of our favorite views of the park and Main Street with the bridge way off in the distance.
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If you make it up the hill to the center of the island, you make the climb worth it. We have a list of the best lookouts, or "Prime Perchin' Spots" (PPS's for short) that we must hit each time we visit. What most of the tourists don't know is though the view down from the shoreline road is breathtaking, it gets even better the higher you go. 
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Everyone found a spot to perch and look out on the beauty below.
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My uncle gave his traditional pep talk about not getting too close to the edge of the cliff or "you will be very dead." The boys hung back and created structures with items from nature.
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There is always, always licorice to hand out while we are PPS'n.
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We covered lots of miles on bike each day we were on the island.
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Four of my dad's eight siblings were along for the adventure.
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The boys were always up for a dip in the crystal clear lake, regardless of temperature.
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We made a stop at the Grand Hotel front lawn before dinner. The weather didn't look as promising the next day and we wanted to make sure to get our fountain splashing in.
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I can never get over how breathtaking the flowers are.
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I can't make up my mind which I like more; the manicured flowers so carefully tended to by gardeners or the wildflowers that line the island.
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We ended our second day at the school playground and watched a beautiful sunset.
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As expected, day three brought cloudy skies and rain but it didn't slow us down one bit.
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We began the day on the shore building our traditional rock structures, or cairns.
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We spent some time at Brown's Brook, rearranging the flow of water by shuffling the rocks around.
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Daily Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream is a must.
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We made the climb up Grand Hotel hill for one last view from the center of the island. Even surrounded by dark gloomy skies, I had to stop to capture that grand structure and the beautiful grounds. I love all the tiny details, like how the porch ceiling is mint.
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We waited out a rainstorm with yard games on the front porch of The Inn at Stonecliffe.
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The rain didn't let up so we settled in early with warm showers and card games. The skies were clear the next morning so I made sure to capture as much Mackinac charm as I could before we caught the ferry.
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The boys were excited about the sweatshirts we picked up out of necessity.
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It's always a sad moment boarding the ferry, unsure when the next trip to the island will be.
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It's a good thing the boys have a mom and an uncle who capture it all via photos and video so they won't forget.
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Until next time, our beloved Mackinac.