Saturday, July 12, 2008

St. Ignace

The next location was St. Ignace, MI, still on the upper peninsula, but at the northern end of the Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Bridge. The Mackinac Bridge is the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world (at least they claim) and connects upper Michigan (yoopers) and lower Michigan (trolls). We found lots to do while in the area. Staying at the Moose Lodge outside of town was a great base for visiting the various historical sites such as forts and lighthouses, Mackinac Island, and of course kayaking.

Parked out behind the Moose Lodge.

St. Ignace was originally founded by Father Marquette, a Spanish Jesuit Monk, in 1671. It was later abandoned and moved, but Father Marquette is credited with mapping most of the Michigan and great lakes area, clear down to the Arkansas river.

One day was spent exploring Fort Michilimackinac, built in 1715.

And several times each day they fire the cannon at the end of the interpretive tour.

Of course there was the Lighthouse next door.

Another day we took a boat out to Mackinac Island. One the way we went over to the Mackinac Suspension Bridge which is 5 miles long.

Once at the island we had to see Fort Mackinac. This fort was moved from Fort Michilimackinac in about 1769, then Fort Michilimackinac was burned to the ground. The British had taken Ft. Michilimackinac from the Spanish and now that the Revolutionary War was going on the British didn't want the American revolutionaries to take the fort. And again, they fire the cannon at Ft. Mackinac throughout the day.

But by far the best part of the day was going to the Grand Hotel. It was built by John Jacob Astor who made his fortune in fur trading. Even in the early 1800s it was a posh place to go. Eventually the hotel became the resort play ground for the rich and famous of the late 1800s. Mackinac Island allows no motorized vehicles except for the Police Chief, Fire Chief and Doctor. Everyone else either rides a horse, a bike or walks. This carriage is how you would be picked up at the dock if you were staying at the Grand Hotel.

This is looking at the hotel from the road.

They don't allow tourists to walk in and around the grounds unless you pay $15. Somehow we walked in and was never asked to pay. So we went upstairs to the outdoor terrace and had a drink.

Even UPS doesn't get to drive their brown truck. Here is the UPS man collecting and delivering on the island.

Another fun place was Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park. The park has restored an old water powered saw mill from the late 1700s and early 1800s. But in addition they have added some fun things to do, such as zip lines, climbing walls and canopy bridges. Here is the group who tackled these challenges.

First for some of us was the climbing wall. Yes, that is me up there. I made it all the way.

Next was the canopy bridge. I turned around and took this picture of the rest of the group. We were 50 feet above the creek. There was only a small plank on the suspension bridge, but we were tethered to ropes suspended above us.

And finally, the zip line. It was 452 feet and took about 25 seconds to go down. Yes, everyone, I zipped down the line. It wasn't quite the thrill of jumping out of an airplane, but it was fun.

Our last day was a 9 mile kayak trip on the Carp River. The river ran into Lake Huron, but the wind was driving the waves such that we couldn't paddle out to the lake. The mosquitoes were quite bad. They've been bad anyway, but on the river they were terrible. With my hat and netting I wasn't having too much trouble, but that might have been because of the can of bug spray I also had on.

This was one of the most challenging and interesting paddles for me yet. We ran into many obstacles. This first obstacle most of us had to get out of the kayak and lift it over the logs blocking the river.

But we also had limbo logs to go under too.

And some were just maneuvering in and out of the trees.

Then we either had calm water where it felt like I was paddling in pea soup, or shallow rapids where you were busy dodging the rocks in the river.

But then it was the end of the gathering. The group went to the fish fry at the Moose Lodge, then dancing at the Kewadin Casino. But the dancing was short lived since the band didn't do much country, was way too loud and way too much rock and roll. Tomorrow is travel day to Sault Saint Marie, Ontario, Canada.


Barbara and Ron said...

Hey! I should have asked you to do the write-up. Good job!

AshleyKiya said...

The picture of the UPS wagon made me laugh :D