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Mackinac Island - View from a "Resident"
View from a "Resident"
My family has been going to Mackinac Island since I was a young girl. Before we owned a house on this small island, we
After living in Massachusetts, I would compare Mackinac Island to many towns on the cape or North Shore, with one major exception: No cars are present on Mackinac Island. Instead, the taxis are horse drawn and the streets are filled with bicyclists.
Most of the visitors to the island come during the day. They see the crowds and noise of the small downtown strip, but don't always see the peace that there is to be had on this island.
In this lens, I hope to share with you a little information about this island, but also why this is a place my family has gone for peace and quiet for almost two decades.
Have you ever visited Mackinac Island, MI?
The Drive From Ann Arbor
I went to High School in Ann Arbor, MI, which was about a 3.5-4 hour drive away from Mackinac City (where we would catch the ferry to the island.) I loved the drive up, at least once I was old enough to start driving myself. Mostly, the highway is pretty empty and you are alone with your thoughts (and watching out for speed traps!)
Of course, when there was traffic, this made the drive pretty miserable. Especially when my dad was driving and we were racing to catch the last ferry of the evening!
Historic Cottages of Mackinac Island
I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of the residents of these historic cottages, and they all come with fun stories. This book was put together with the help of the summer residents, including my mother as she pulled information from our house, built in 1883. Out house is an architectural jumble, expansions to the main house absorbed ice and wood sheds, windows were placed in sideways... it's has been a lot of fun to explore!
Like many seaside towns, Mackinac is famous for its fudge. There are multiple fudge shops, and at least 4 of them have multiple branches on the tiny main street. It is easy to spot a tourist (or Fudgie) on Mackinac. They have a camera around their neck, and a bag of fudge in their hand!
Fun Facts About Mackinac
When you spend long periods of time in any touristy spot, you learn a lot of facts about a place... and things that are not facts. The horse large horse drawn tours go through parts of downtown, and smaller private carriage tours sometimes come by my house. It is really funny to hear the "true" stories the drivers tell about the private properties (very few of which are true!)
Here are some fun facts about Mackinac Island. These are facts that you can surprise a tour guide with!
- Mackinac Island has not always been carless. At the end of the 19th century, residents complained about the noise and disruption from the new automobiles, resulting in a ban of cars from the island. Today, there are only a few emergency vehicles.
- The 8 mile circumference of Mackinac Island is a state highway M-185. Now this is a highway that doesn't have a gridlock of cars, but a gridlock of bikes!
- Mackinac Island has been under control of Native Americans, French (first Europeans on the Island), British (captured in the war of 1982) and Americans (given back to the Americans after the war).
- The name Mackinac is derived from a word that means "Great Turtle." From the sky, the island looks like a turtle shell.
- Dr. William Beaumont conducted his famous experiments with digestion with gunshot victim Alexis St. Martin, a resident of Mackinac Island. (St. Martin ended up with a hole in his stomach that never healed, so Beaumont learned about digestion by sticking things into the stomach. There is a museum dedicated to this story on the Island.)
- In 1875, Mackinac Island was made the second national park, after Yellowstone. It has subsequently become a state park of Michigan.
- The word Mackinac contains a silent C at the end. The mainland city with the same pronunciation is spelled Mackinaw.
- Post Cemetary is one of four sites in the US to always have a flag flown at half-mast. (I am not really sure why this is the case, but this is certainly a fact that the tour guides tell a lot!
- The most abundant mammal on Mackinac Island are bats.
- Despite what people may say, the Mackinac Bridge (which connects the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan) does not land on the island or pass over the island. You can, however, see it clearly from the island.
Somewhere In Time - Filmed on Mackinac Island
I happen to dislike this movie, but it is hard to talk about the island without mentioning this movie, which is shown at least once a week during the summer. Staring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, the movie involves time travel on Mackinac Island. To avoid confusion of the years, they brought cars onto the island to film the "modern" times.
Quiet Island Time
When you are away from the bustle of down town, you are on the interior of the island. Around here, there are very few tourists, and you only hear the occasional clop and jingle of the horse drawn taxis. The island is mostly state park, filled with horse and bike trails that you can explore without fear of getting lost (the island IS only 8 miles around!)
As a teenager, I didn't understand why my parents liked coming to this place where there was nothing to do. As I grow older, I understand the benefits of being somewhere where you have no errands to run, no meetings, just a simple, quite time to spend with your family.