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Monday, October 17, 2016

#Michigan Mini-Vacay


map credit: Bruce Jones Design
If you noticed last Monday, I didn't post my usual "musings." Hubs and I took a mini-vacation. We started out by driving across the state to the western Detroit suburbs for our good friends' 50th wedding anniversary then to my sister's to celebrate my birthday. From there, we drove north past Bay City (between the Thumb and "fingers) then along the Lake Huron shoreline. For all the years we've lived in Michigan, I can't believe we'd never done that before. We were in no hurry. Our destination was Mackinaw City at the fingertip of the Lower Peninsula. Lovely drive, resort towns similar to those on the Lake Michigan side, fewer trees.

Speaking of trees, we hoped to see the color changes. Not so much. Not sure if there was/will be a peak this year. In fact the best color was outside our motel window in Cadillac on the way home-- two brilliant red maples between two evergreens.

At Mackinaw City, we took the ferry over to Mackinac Island. (Yes, the spellings are correct--Mackinac was the French spelling, while Mackinaw City kept the English spelling; both pronounced the same: Mack-i-naw.) For a special treat, the ferry took us under the Mackinac Bridge, which spans the Upper and Lower Peninsula..

Fudgies, as tourists are called because of all the fudge shops, overwhelm the island in the summer. Even in the fall, full ferries dropped off passengers then turned around to return for more. No cars are allowed on the island. Pedal power (feet, bikes) and carriages are the way to get around. We took a carriage tour. These Belgians pulled our carriage.


Hubs, who hadn't been to the island in over thirty years, kept remarking about the changes--more buildings, newer paved roads. I'd been there five years ago with my sisters and cousin. Usually oblivious, I noticed some changes, too. The carriage driver gave us history and little tidbits of info along the route, including the fact that the horses are raised and trained by the Amish.

Of course, we had to stop at a fudge shop (mint chocolate and dark chocolate macadamia nut) and some souvenir shops (for the grandkiddies) before heading for the ferry dock and back to Mackinac City. Usually, I like riding on the top deck. Not this time. With the strong wind and water spray, we stayed on the enclosd lower deck rather than get soaked.
photo credit: Sheplersferry.com
The next morning, we headed to Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula. That meant crossing the Mackinac Bridge. I love looking at it from a little park.


Driving across the bridge is another story. At the center between the two towers, the road bed is 200' above the water. Since heights are a bit of a problem for me, we usually don't drive next to the rail. But then we have to contend with the "hum" from tires on grating. Open grating, through which you can see the water. I can't get across fast enough. The no-passing, 35 mph speed limit (and road construction) slows traffic. Not complaining, mind you. When I was a kid, the bridge wasn't there. The only way to the Upper Peninsula (besides driving around Lake Michigan through Chicago and Wisconsin) was a car ferry. Often the wait for the ferry extended two to three hours. As we rode the ferry, we watched the bridge being built.

photo credit: saultstemarie.com
Another favorite place for both of us is Sault Ste. Marie, the Soo--the terminus of I-75 (and the "deer's" hip). It's claim to fame is the Soo Locks. Lake Superior connects with Lake Huron via the St. Mary's River, which falls 21 feet. The locks enable ships to travel between the lakes. From the observation platform, you can watch ships enter the locks and the water raise or lower them. You can also take a boat tour and go through the locks yourself. We've done that enough times that just watching from the platform is enough.


While we were there, two ships went through the locks.In the front of this picture is the empty MacArthur lock, behind is a freighter (distinctive red color with the white pilot house in back) entering the Poe, the longest/largest of the locks that's capable of handing the thousand-footers. As boats approach the locks, an announcement is made alerting visitors. This freighter was carrying iron ore for the steel mills near Chicago. What's the fascination of watching boars going up and down? Hubs used to work at a steel mill near Detroit. His company was the recipient of many loads of iron ore from Minnesota. Without the locks, the cost of transporting the iron by rail would have been much more expensive.

My fascination is a little different. Several years ago, during a visit to the locks, my writer brain went into that "what if" place. What if something happened to the locks? Either an accident or deliberate. That story is still percolating. But each trip Up North (as we Michiganders call it), that story is coming more to the fore. First, I need to finish The Case of the Meddling Mama (Alex O'Hara mystery #3) and one more Outer Rim novel.

I guess it's obvious I love traveling around our state. Besides just enjoying the scenery, I always find ideas for new stories.

*Note:unless otherwise noted, the credit for the pictures belongs to me.


33 comments:

  1. What a lovely road trip! I'd love to do that some day, but my hubby isn't interested. I'll have to find a travel buddy. So much history in our state! And yes, I've noticed the colors aren't as vivid this year. I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for that, but I do miss it.

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    1. This morning out little maple out front was a vivid red. This afternoon most of the leaves are gone. Too much wind. There is so much history here. So many little towns to visit. Big ones, too.

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  2. I like the different names people use for tourists – fudgies is one I've not come across before.

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    1. Only on the island, I think. You wouldn't believe the number of fudge shops in three blocks. At least 2, maybe 3 on each side of the street in one block.

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  3. Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. I used to work on The Island, but haven't been there for years. Stories do abound in our state, don't they? Best of luck with yours.

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    1. Thanks, Margo. It's because of our trip to Alpena last month that I wanted to go up along the Lake Huron side. That was so much fun. I show Hubs where the bookstore was.

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  4. sounds like a wonderful trip!
    Good luck and God's blessings
    PamT

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  5. Friends have commented on the beauty of Macinac Island and your blog surely supports that! I, too, fear heights, especially on bridges, so now I just shut my eyes as someone else drives over and ask them to tell me when we are OVER it. Lovely post!

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    1. Thanks, Susan. Several years ago, I took the Moms up past the Soo into Canada. Of course, I had to drive over the Mackinac Bridge. I couldn't close my eyes, either. LOL

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  6. Must put Michigan on the Bucket List. I'd make a great fudgie.

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    1. I hope you come. The fudge is sooo good.

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  7. To see the colors would be one of the reason I'd want to go to Michigan. I'd have to ask my dad, who lives in Michigan, around what month the colors start to change. Maybe it's November?

    I mentioned fudgies in my Michigan post I did a few months ago. The terms and slang from Michigan is so much fun!

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    1. The trees change color depending on the weather. Usually October. But this has been an unusual fall. There's some complicated formula of rain, cold snap, temperature. I have no idea. The middle of the state turns before the coasts. I hope you can come, too. We should have a party!

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  8. Aww, it's too bad I didn't k ow you were in the Soo. I live there!

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    1. Omigosh, I had no idea. We could have met for lunch or coffee. Next time, I'll remember.

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  9. Aww, it's too bad I didn't k ow you were in the Soo. I live there!

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  10. Sounds like a fun, spontaneous trip- and those are usually the best. :)

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    1. It was loosely planned. Hubs wanted to get away. Last fall, we went to Traverse City. I think going north is a lifelong habit beginning when we were kids.

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  11. What a great post Diane, seems as if you had a wonderful time! I'm adding it to my list of places to visit ��

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    1. I hope you do. As I mentioned above to Chrys. We could have a party!

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  12. Oh my gosh your trip sounds like it was wonderful. I'd love to visit Mackinac Island one day in particular.

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    1. Thanks, Lynda. I hope you can visit Mackinac Island. It is fun. Like a trip back in time. Did you know they filmed the movie "Somewhere in Time" (Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour) on the Island?

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  13. What a great trip and super pics. Thanks very much for sharing. 'Fudgies' is a new word for me :)

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  14. I love it! If you don't get a few ideas while traveling, you've grown up too much, eh? ;) Beautiful shots! I can't look too closely or my wanderlust will spark, and that's just dangerous.

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    1. LOL, Crystal. I know what you mean. I feel the same way when I see pics my friends post about their travels.

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  15. It looks like a beautiful area. I haven't been to Michigan before.

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  16. I hope you'll come sometime, Cherie. I love it here.

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  17. Oh my gosh, how awesome!! We don't have anything like that near me in Oklahoma. That would be an amazing road trip. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Come on up, Alicia. We can have a party!

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  18. Mackinac Island is my favorite place in the world. I love riding the bike around the island--9 miles I think--with a clear view of the waters. It's getting a lot more t-shirt and touristy since we first were there many years ago. I saw a lot of change when there in 2014. But the gorgeous skies and water never change. Sounds like a perfect trip. Too bad the colors are so late this year.

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    1. When we were younger, we rode bikes Now we ride the horse-drawn carriage. You're right about the gorgeous skies and water. We were lucky it was such a nice day.

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