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Mackinac Island, MI 

Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

The first day is always spent riding for eight or ten hours to get part way to our destination. Our first night destination was Columbus, OH. We had a good dinner at Dalts restaurant and back to the hotel for some sleep.

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Sunday we had a short ride up to Dearborn, MI. to tour Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum. We had a beautiful day with sunny and mild temperatures.

The Village  and Museum was founded by Henry Ford in 1929 as The Edison Institute. The complex is designed to provide a unique educational experience based on authentic objects and historical buildings. Reconstructed homes include famous inventors Ford, Firestone, the Wright brothers, Edison, and McGuffy. 

Craft and occupation demonstrations are performed in their authentic settings.

The park offers rides on a steam boat, an antique merry-go-round and has a  train that goes around the park. Visitors can see a variety of inventions and ways of life from the 1600's to today including Edison's Menlo Park Laboratory.   

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Special annual events are scheduled in addition to the permanent exhibits on the grounds. We happen to be there during the Antique Car and Bicycle Festival. 

The Henry Ford Museum is located in a building next to the Village. Here one can view a history of life since the horse drawn carriage. Visitors can see the development of everything from transportation to household appliances.

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Exhibits include artifacts from history such as the first McDonald's arch, presidential vehicles, and old aircraft such as the one used for the Byrd Antarctic Expedition.

We spent the afternoon enjoying the Village and the Museum. After a quick dinner it was back to the hotel to rest and get ready for tomorrow.

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Monday was another quick bus ride to our next destination which was Mackinac Island. We drove through Mackinaw City, over the Straits of Mackinac to the small town of St. Ignace. The Straights of the upper Great Lakes, connects Lakes Huron and Michigan. The "Mighty Mac" expansion bridge was built to provide quicker vehicular traffic across the Straight                                      .

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Three ferry companies operate out of St. Ignace for mainlanders to commute or tourist to visit the island.  We took the Star Line. 

Tourist can stay in St. Ignace and take the fifteen minute boat ride over to visit the island. During the winter months once the lakes are frozen residents and visitors must rely on cross country skiing and snow mobiles for transportation. There is also a small airport on the Island.

We were staying on the Island for two nights. Ferry staff loaded our luggage from the bus and off we headed for Mackinac Island. No cars are allowed on the Island. Each ferry has their own dock at the Island. We were ushered across the street to our hotel, the Lake View, which is located right on the main street. The strong smell of horses greet newcomers as soon as they emerge from the dock area. All taxies, tourist carriages, etc are horse drawn. Touring the Island is done by foot, bicycle, or carriage. Supplies for restaurants, stores, etc are delivered by boat or plane and delivered by horse drawn wagon. 

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The Lake View is a beautiful hotel. It is one of the oldest on the Island. Each room  has Victorian style furnishings. All the rooms have a door which opens to an inside courtyard and pool.  

  

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      Here I am standing on the balcony.   

 

After getting settled in our rooms, we took off for a walk along the main street to view the shops, restaurants and the Victorian houses. The weather was sunny but very windy with the breeze coming of the lake. 

The entire Island is owned by the State Parks Service. The permanent population is roughly 500 people and 300 horses. They have a school and a public library. It is not surprising that they have one doctor and three veterinarians living on the island. Horses and bicycles have the right of way.

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 Of course, I had to make a stop in the public library to look at their collection and see what type of services a small island library would offer. The librarian was very nice and chatted with me about budgets, services, etc. They have several computers for the public to use that included internet access.

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Tuesday morning dawned cool, windy and rainy. We had a carriage tour scheduled for 9 am to take us through the State Park and other parts of the Island. 

We had squally rain showers off and on for most of the day which produced some beautiful  rainbows each time the sun decided to come out. 

The State Park offers hiking, biking, and horse riding trails.

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One of the features of the park is this prehistoric geological rock formation The Arch 

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Located on the bluff overlooking the Island is Fort Mackinac, an 18th -19th century British and American military outpost. 

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We had the afternoon free to sight see, shop, etc. Lunch at the Yankee Tavern was a delight. Afterwards, we walked down to tour St. Anne's Church and see the Butterfly House. 

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The Butterfly House features over 500 live butterflies native to the United States, Asia, Central and South America. The house has an attached sun room full of plants native to all the species. The air is full of flying butterflies landing on bushes, rocks, hats, arms, etc.

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This one landed on my dad's cap and stayed even as he walked around.

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Each year in October after all the butterflies have died, the entire greenhouse vegetation is burned and replanted for a new crop of butterflies for the next year.

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We then walked back along the shops and houses on the street directly behind main street  They have a small post office but Islanders must pick up their own mail.

The fire truck is the only vehicle allowed on the island.  We did some shopping and returned to the hotel where we decided we would have our dinner. The food was excellent.

We spent the evening doing last minute site seeing. The next morning we would be taking the ferry back to St. Ignace to board our bus and head for Sault Ste Marie.

It is only an hour drive through upper Michigan to Sault Ste Marie, MI. Then across another bridge over the Ste Marie river into Canda and Sault Ste. Maria, Ontario. Our hotel was on the river front. 

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Our evening was a dinner cruise and tour of the Soo Locks and Ste. Marie river.

 

Again we had squally rain showers, but as we started our dinner cruise the sun came out and we had a nice view of the city. Going through locks was a new experience for me. We entered the locks at the river level and rose to the level of Lake Superior.

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After touring the upper end of the river front, passing under the bridge we drove over, we were lowered back to the other end of the river. We were treated to a beautiful sunset and as night settled and the rain returned we were taken back to the dock which was right next door to our hotel.

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 The next morning we boarded the Agawa Canyon Train Tours for a scenic tour into Agawa Canyon. The train trip into the canyon is three hours up, a two hour stopover to tour the canyon and three hours back.  The canyon offers scenic trails to waterfalls and scenic overlooks. A boxed lunch or snacks can be purchased on the train and enjoyed at picnic tables. I hiked the 300 steps up the mountain to a wonderful view of the canyon walls and Agawa River to take that picture.

I then made a short hike to one of the closer waterfalls due to lack of time. My family decided to wait and eat on the dinning care during our return trip rather than eat the box lunch in the park. The trees had already turned and were almost at their peak

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Clear rivers and lakes dominated the landscape along with the beautiful mountain foliage to make for a great train ride. We had nice sunny weather and the temperatures in the canyon were pleasant.

Upon returning to the hotel we ordered pizza delivered to the room that was a true delicacy. Sault Ste Marie is well known for its Italian food and pizza. I then went down to the hotel gym and worked out for about an hour and a half.

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Friday was ride day again. We were heading to Frankenmuth, MI for an afternoon of shopping in the Bavarian Village. Located on the Village Inn is a clock tower. At the top of the hour the bells chime and the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin is narrated through loud speakers. As the story is narrated the doors above the clock open to reveal the characters of story as it progresses.

Off to the hotel for a nights rest and the final leg of the journey home. Saturday was another ride day to get us closer to home. We spent the night in Lexington, KY and returned home on Sunday around 5:00pm.

I hope your enjoyed the trip. Visit my other trip pages to Nova Scotia and Ontario/Montreal. Comments and suggestions welcome. 

 

Updated Friday, May 10, 2002

 

 

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 by Barbara Fritchman Thompson. All Rights Reserved.