Sunday, August 21, 2011

Back from St. Ignace and Mackianc Island, Michigan

I've been wanting to make it up to my Grandparent's place in St. Ignace, and to get some Michigan driving on my car*. I also wanted to show my girlfriend Upper Michigan. This was the first weekend where (a) Rachel didn't have to work for the full weekend, and (b) my grandparents -- popular as ever -- had an open weekend. Finally (c) of this summer's Cleveland Orchestra/Blossom Festival program, this weekend seemed to be the least compelling (I wasn't terribly impressed by last season's performance and Joffery Ballet's labor issues earlier in the season had cast some doubt as well)

I picked Rachel up after she finished work early Friday Afternoon, and we stopped by her apartment to grab her bag, then my place to pick up the razor I forgot to throw in my bag the first time I left the house. With that we were on the road just after 3:45, and had an uneventful drive "Up North," crossing the Mackinac Bridge right about 11, and arriving at our St. Ignace destination just after 11:15. We were surprised to find one of my uncles and two cousins wrapping up a much longer vacation.

Introductions out of the way and quickly falling asleep, the first day of the trip was down. I think everyone sleeps a bit longer "up north" and we were certainly no exception, getting a leisurely start to Saturday morning. Being Rachel's first trip to Northern Michigan, we played tourists on Mackinac Island for most of the day Saturday: Starting with a light lunch at Fred's on the island, then a carriage tour for a general overview, and from there a bit of wandering.

The island's art museum is a relatively new addition to the tourist scene on the island, and was my first time visiting: All of the art on display (some of it for sale) depicts the island in some way giving the collection an appreciably narrow focus, and there were interesting surprises: The artist behind one of the more eye-catching works studied with the artist who created one of Rachel's favorite paintings Rest

While we decided to forgo the Fort on this visit, we found that the Art Museum ticket also grants access to the Market Street buildings we visited while working our way to the Grand Hotel -- my first time in those, I think, since my fist visit to the Island nearly 15 years ago. Popping into establishments along the way, we did our bit to support the local economy. Legs wearing thin, we hit the ferry back to the mainland and walked up the hill to my grandparents.

After a bit of socializing -- and a rather addictive game -- we adjourned to St. Ignace's boardwalk to enjoy the evening fireworks, before once again returning and retiring to another good "Up North" sleep.

This morning we woke up, once again, late in the morning and socialized a bit. I had originally thought about taking Rachel up to the Soo (Sault Ste. Marie) or Taquemenon (I'm virtually positive I've misspelled that) Falls... but I didn't consider the travel distances for either of those and after brief discussion both of those were saved for a later trip. Instead, we walked the St. Ignace Boardwalk to the end of downtown (and then a bit further), walked back window shopping and stopping for a late brunch (me) and lunch (her) before returning to say goodbyes and hitting the road south in between rain showers.

The drive back went a bit slower than the drive up because it seems like we hit a few chunks of blockage or clumps of slow moving cars that seemed to last forever. We plan to return sooner rather than later, and my grandparents' hospitality is second to none.

Some of the photos taken by Rachel can be found on my Flickr Photostream at

*- Michiganders tend to drive like Californians: Fast, and with an average speed 10-15 MPH above the (70 MPH) posted speed limit. They're also typically more courteous than California drivers. Ohio drivers, on the other hand, generally give great deference to to the unreasonably low speed limits...and also linger in the left lane long after any passing has been completed. In other words, driving is just more fun in Michigan.

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