Day 222 – The Scenic Sunrise Shore, Tuesday, July 26, 2011
This morning Petey and I boarded the 8:30 ferry to Mackinac
(Mak-in-aw) Island. The double-decker
catamaran whisked us across Lake Huron in 18 minutes or less on a calm, clear
day. We disembarked into a land of
pedestrians, cyclists, and horse drawn carriages…no cars are allowed. Even the island’s garbage truck is a giant
wood cart pulled by horses. For a brief
moment I thought what a nice way to live…no noise, no exhaust fumes, and
naturally exercising to get around. Then
I thought of the snow, the rain, and running late…I wander what the islanders
do, especially in the winter. Perhaps
snow mobiles are allowed.
For this morning, however, the weather was perfect and I
enjoyed every minute of our walk around the island. The ferry docks unload us
tourists, known as fudgies, since most visitors can’t resist buying the
fudge. Given about every third store
sells fudge, it’s hard to skip it…there’s not much else to buy. I didn’t stop to inquire if horse drawn
carriages allow dogs or if the bike rentals shops rented bikes with a baby cart
to pull Petey around in, but instead headed up the hill toward Fort Mackinac.
Fort Mackinac, once part of the mainland in modern day
Mackinaw City, was moved to Mackinac Island in 1780 during the American
Revolution by British commander Patrick Sinclair. Sinclair chose the island due to the high
limestone bluff that would protect his soldiers from an American attack. The white fort, perched on the bluff,
overlooks a grassy park and harbor of sail boats.
Petey and I walked around the perimeter of the fort, past
the governor’s mansion, and toward the Girl Scout barracks where we found a
cache hidden beneath a tree nearby. I
think there are at least eleven caches on the island, but my phone was going
dead, I wanted to see some sights, so I settled for just one for the day. We turned the corner around the barracks and
followed the signs to Skull Cave.
It is said that English fur-trader Alexander Henry hid out
in Skull Cave during the Indian uprising in 1763. He claimed the cave was covered in human
bones, thus the name. Skull Cave is one
of Mackinac Island’s oldest geological formations. It is located at the base of a limestone
stack which was exposed 11,000 years ago as waves of ancient lakes eroded the
softer material surrounding it. The cave
was formed as waves washed into its side, wearing a narrow opening.
Not far from the cave were a variety of cemeteries including
St. Anne’s Cemetery, the US Post Cemetery – Fort Mackinac, and the Mackinac
Island Cemetery. The US Post Cemetery
was the most interesting. A white picket
fence enclosed at least 100 matching headstones, each marked with a US flag
like the ones a child would wave in a parade.
The original wooden crosses which marked graves of American and British
soldiers who fought in the War of 1812 have long since disappeared. The entry to the St. Anne’s Cemetery, however,
was quite beautiful. Trees shaded a
stone wall topped with a cross arched over wrought iron gates built in 1924.
We passed by the cemeteries and continued up the manure
tainted roads to Lookout Point. I use “tainted”
lovingly as after having lived horses my whole childhood, I find almost any
horse smell pleasing, though I suspect many others would disagree. Ok, well manure might be pushing it, but I am
used to trouncing through it, and it does bring back other horse aromas that I
was quite fond of though my mom used to say my car stinks!
Upon reaching Lookout Point, we turned east toward Fort
Holmes. In 1812, the British built a
blockhouse and stockade on the island’s highest point and named it Fort
George. The British were able to repulse
the American attack in 1814. After the
war, the Americans renamed the post in honor of Major Holmes who was killed in
While we had been walking the roads in the shade beneath
canopies of trees, Petey seemed to be tuckering out, so we made one last stop
at Arch Rock. I came so close to
skipping this natural attraction as it added one more mile to our return to the
ferry docks, and I wasn’t sure how long Petey would last. I am SO glad I didn’t, despite arriving simultaneously
with two horse drawn covered wagons with five rows of bench seats full of
tourists, the majority of whom weren’t capable (for one reason or another) of
making the mile walk from town to the attraction. Petey looked like the next Olympic star
compared to some of these folks as we squeezed up the stairs to get a look at
the sandy beach and aqua marine waters below.
On the way back into the main shopping district we took in a
few more sights: a church, beach clubs,
hotels, and the harbor; watched some tourists wreck on bicycles; and listened
to a guide tell some gullible wagon riders to lean to the right to help the
horses make a left-hand turn up the hill.
After they all leaned to the right, he said, “That was funny because
leaning doesn’t help!”
Petey and I boarded the 11:30 shuttle back to the
mainland. This time the ferry was a triple-decker
mono-hull. I felt so lucky for the ferry
times I chose. Mobs of people flooded
onto the island from the 11 a.m. ferry.
I don’t think there was an empty seat, yet both coming and going for me,
there couldn’t have been more than 15 travelers.
We arrived to Mackinaw City just in time for lunch. I found countless fudge, candy, ice cream and
popcorn stores, yet only one restaurant in a shopping center similar to Snider
Plaza (for those of you from Dallas).
The order at the counter eatery offered a handful of fried fish baskets…I
went with the one piece whitefish basket that comes with hush puppies, fries
AND coleslaw. It wasn’t as good as
yesterday’s fish tacos, but the hush puppies helped carry the weight.
After lunch in Mackinaw City, we headed back to Cheboygan,
re-provisioned at Wal-Mart, and turned down the eastern coast of Michigan. We stopped a few times to admire the Lake
Huron’s sea green shoreline and watched some teenagers (girls and boys) shriek
in a high pitch tone with each step as the icy water got closer to their waist.
On the south side of Rogers City, we visited one of the
world’s largest limestone quarries. The
pit is three miles long and two miles wide.
Just after I arrived at the overlook another car full of people arrived,
so I had to wait them out to find the cache hidden nearby. I didn’t think it would take that long given
there’s not much to see in a rock pit, but three out of the four of them smoked
and each of them seemed to light up at a different time. In addition, they needed to take Muffy for a
walk. That dog got the longest walk
around ten car parking lot I’ve ever seen.
I was beginning to feel sorry for Petey…parking lots call for a lift
your leg and let’s go routine with me. I
was running out of emails, texts, and posts to write…but they finally left…and
the fresh air returned too!
We moved further to the south and stopped in Alpena where
the choppy waters of Thunder Bay are home to 80 shipwrecks. We walked around the harbor where I met the
most polite three year old boy in the world.
He asked if he could please pet my dog as he held up two fingers and
claimed they had three dogs. When he was finished he promptly said, “thank you”
without any reminders from mom! Then he
got on his two wheel bike, no training wheels, and rode down the sidewalk. We continued along the sidewalk as well to
the breakwater where we found one more cache.
I passed a couple who clearly noticed my geocaching app on my iphone and
when I stopped at the light post, they hollered, “Keep Going”. I moved onto the bench and they waved, “Next
Bench”. Judging from the log, their pen
name was the “Trawlin’ Two”. Wow, my
second time in one week I have run into fellow geocachers when I never had
It was time to find a campground. I tried Negwegon State Park, but it was very
remote and required reserving backcountry permits in advance. That was a long three mile drive through the
woods on a sandy road for nothing! Well,
I did see a porcupine and managed to get a “butt shot”. We moved on to Harrisville State Park for the