Cruising on Last Dance

This blog archives the adventures of Glen and Jill Moore and provides a means of communication for friends and family. Exploration and adventure have been synonymous with boats and water for centuries. The joy of adventures shared while exploring new places and meeting new people has built a strong bond for Glen and Jill. Last Dance is the platform for the exploration.

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page." St. Augustine, 354 - 430

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

"There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats." The Wind in the Willows, 1908, Kenneth Grahame, 1859 - 1932

"I've never believed speed and ease are conductive to living fully, becoming aware, or deepening memory, a tripod of urges to stabilize and lend meaning to life." River Horse: a log book of a boat across America, 1999, William Least Heat-Moon,1939 -

The Great Loop -- The current adventure is a circumnavigation of the Eastern United States, cruising north up the east coast through New York into Canada, across the Great Lakes to Chicago, navigating multiple river systems south to Mobile, along the Gulf coast to the Florida Keys and back to St. Augustine. This trip by boat is commonly referred to as the Great Loop. Progress and current location are indicated by the red line on the map to the right. It was titled the Traceless Path in recognition of a German sailor we met in St. Augustine who published booklets of his travels with hand-drawn, detailed maps describing his travels across the water as the Traceless Path.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Michigan -- Mackinac Island

Mackinac (mac-i-naw) Island is a large island located in Lake Huron where it meets Lake Michigan.  Mackinac Island is the only destination on the Loop Jill requested that a stop be made.  Her motivation to tour the island is a movie -- "Somewhere in Time."  More on that later.

The island is a large limestone mound in the middle of the lake.  There are tall cliffs right to the water's edge around the entire island, except on the southeast corner where a natural harbor is formed.  One famous point on the island is the arch which was formed as water wore away the limestone.  Native American lore holds that a great turtle came to the Great Lakes and decided to stay rather than migrate back south.  He turned into stone and formed the island.  Mackinac is short for Michilimackinac, which is based on the Native American phrase, "The Great Turtle."  In an aerial view, the island looks like a great turtle swimming in Lake Huron.  The turtle remains a symbol of the island.  Mackinac became a vacation spot in the late 1800's and still has many old Victorian homes and historic churches.  In 1895, Michigan made Mackinac Island a state park, preserving 80% of the island for public use.

One can reach Mackinac Island by private boat, ferry or airplane.  Seems appropriate that the boat harbor has a historic, wooden Chris Craft in residence since that grand boat line was built in Michigan.

One of the covenants of the state park is that no mechanical powered vehicles can be used on the island.  All transportation is by foot, bicycle, or horse.  There are over 700 draft and pleasure horses on the island during the summer season.  The bicycles, parked along the main street of downtown, are few since the photo below was taken in the morning before the ferries began arriving. Later in the day, the street is filled with bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. Three ferry lines operate from St. Ignace, on the northern peninsula of Michigan, and the same three ferry services operate out of Mackinaw City, on the southern peninsula of Michigan.  The ferries transport up to 15,000 tourists to the island every day.

Even UPS deliveries are made by horse-drawn cart

Mackinac Island is a tourist town, much more than the romantic view of the island would have indicated.  Most of the stores were fudge, T-shirt, or gift shops.  But, the quality is on a higher plane.  The seemingly required putt-putt golf course was beautifully manicured grass rather than tacky, worn carpet.

"Somewhere in Time" is a romantic movie set on Mackinac Island at the Grand Hotel.  And, it is a romantic spot.  You arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, to the large, old, architecturally beautiful hotel, then greeted by uniformed hotel staff.  Everything about the Grand Hotel is patterned after the level of service and manner of the time, when hotels served as summer residences for the wealthy.  The grounds are planted with colorful flowers and immaculately groomed.

Knowing that Jill had a reservation for the lunch buffet, the Grand Hotel rolled out the red carpet for her.  The buffet was unlike most.  All of the food was outstanding - fresh, well prepared, and beautifully presented.  Glen made many trips to the seafood table, feasting on smoked salmon and white fish, steamed shrimp, and very cold, raw oysters.

The large porch provides a relaxing spot with a view of the Straits of Mackinac and the engineering marvel bridge that connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan.  A young girl rides a bicycle with a cooler filled with CocaCola products so you don't even have to leave your rocker for refreshment.

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