Mackinac Island, MI

Well, we made it back to the US.  Bittersweet for sure.  We’ve been to three countries on this journey but it’s time to start heading towards home.  We left Meldrum Bay and crossed over to Drummond Island, MI.  The water outside Drummond Island is the border between the US and Canada.  We checked into Customs at Drummond Island and just hung out on the boat for the night.  Saturday morning, bright and early we dropped lines and headed for Mackinac Island!  We were all excited about this stop.  We’ve been before and loved it.  And this time Maddy is riding a two wheeler by herself so she’d been looking forward to biking the island.  Last time we were there we got a “I Biked it and I liked it” shot glass so I kept saying “we’re going to bike it and we’re going to like it!”  She just looked at me like I was crazy.  I finally showed her the phrase on so many items in gift shops and she said “oh that’s why you keep saying that??”

I’m getting ahead of myself.  We came down through the Straits of Mackinac on a beautiful morning.  As is typical for us, just as we were going to pull in the harbor the wind kicked up big time.  We know that the ferries come and go all day long so Ben requested a slip on the inside.  We would still rock, but have a little more protection.  However with the kicked up wind, that made docking harder.  Ben of course managed to back right into the slip with no issues and as usual got lots of compliments from passersby on the dock who watched him.  I have no idea how he does it.  Pulling into the harbor marked the first time in 13 months that we had been in familiar waters.  Ever since we passed Marine Services in Dolton, IL last August we have been in new to us waters.  So for Ben this was definitely a bit of a feeling of relief.  Even if Lake Michigan is bad (and it will be!), at least the weather maps and patterns are ones we know and are used to.

We got checked in and Ben got all the bikes down right away.  We started out on the 8 mile trek around the island.  The girls did great.  It was a hot day and I’m pretty sure Madelyn hadn’t ridden that far all at once before.  She kept going and we made our way around.  As we were nearing the last 3 miles we stopped to look at the water.  I hadn’t seen water those colors since the Bahamas.  It was all shades of blue and turquoise and crystal clear.

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Right after we hopped back on our bikes Madelyn wiped out!  Oh no!  I don’t think she has fallen since she first learned how to ride.  There was nothing in the road, she just slipped and raked up her knee.  Thankfully I’d packed bandaids and we fixed her up the best we could.  She was brave and hopped right back on and rode the last three miles.

Next up it was definitely time for ice cream and fudge!  We all got an ice cream treat and then the girls and I picked out fudge flavors to take back to the boat.

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Since we were there late in the season, all of the rental bike shops were having big sales on their fleet bikes.  Both of our girls’ bikes got completely rusted in the salt water.  In Orillia we had new chains put on and Ben had changed tires but they were still pretty rusty.  Additionally, Molly has gotten taller and was still riding her 20″ bike.  She’s very short for her age but is now a good height for a 24″ bike.  She was so excited to look because these were also all gear bikes!  They were pretty expensive bikes with a  little wear and tear, but the bike shop tuned it up, replaced one of her worn down tires, washed it and made it look almost new for a great price.  AND….it was purple!  She was thrilled.

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We went and grabbed some dinner while they were getting it all shined up for her.  After we picked it up she and Maddy zoomed up and down the road in front of the marina for ages at dusk.

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Sunday was another beautiful day.  The girls went for an early morning bike ride up and down the road again.  No cars in the street is a beautiful thing.  Then the girls and I got cleaned up and headed to church in a charming, very old church on the island.  Ben took an 8 mile spin around and met us after.  Beyond biking, another love of Madelyn’s is horses!  She spotted them as soon as we pulled into the harbor and begged to take a horse and carriage.  We took a taxi horse and carriage up to the Grand Hotel  We had two large dark horses that were quite pretty.

 

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These were actually different horses, equally pretty!

 

We got up the Grand Hotel in search of lunch.  We originally thought we’d eat in the Tea Store but after walking through the grandiose lobby we decided to walk back out on the grounds and have lunch at The Gate House.  As we were sitting outside eating, groups of people riding horses kept going past.  Madelyn was in awe….and very jealous.  We had come right past the barn that rents horses out by the hour.  I am fairly terrified of horses.  Molly didn’t really care.  Nor did Ben.  So, despite her begging, the $45 an hour per person for horseback riding wasn’t going to happen.  We had a long talk about how that would be a very special birthday outing or present at some point or something she can work on saving her money towards.

After lunch we told her we could walk past the barn.  We got there and found a little toddler aged boy and his dad looking at the horses.  The lady in the barn said we could go around to the side and they’d bring one of the horses out.  These girls have some good luck!  We got to meet a very sweet horse named Dusty.  Then the barn worker asked if the toddler wanted to ride him!  Maddy looked up at us pleading….I told her she had to ask the guy working.  She was so shy and I think Ben may have ended up asking for her, but he let our girls ride the horse too.  Granted it was just around the parking lot and he was holding on to the reins leading Dusty but they were thrilled.

They got to pet Dusty and hang out with him for a bit.  Maddy proceeded to beg and cry the rest of the day about riding a horse.  No good deed….

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After our lunch settled we decided it was time for another trip around the island on bikes.  Molly was so excited to “bike it and like it” on her new gear bike!  And then we started talking….maybe we should get Maddy one too?  We aren’t going to buy her another 20″ bike that isn’t rusted when we get home.  That would be silly since she’s almost the same height as Molly.  We had her hop on Molly’s and give it a try.  Hand brakes.  Enough said.  She and a fence collided and she fell again.  Poor thing.  In her haste to stop she hit the coaster brakes (which weren’t there) and forgot about the hand brakes and then swerved and boom.  She was fine, just shaken up.  Two falls in two days for a kid who has never really fallen and has been riding a two wheeler since she was 5!  So, back to the bike shop we went and got another purple bike.  It was nice for Molly to have something of her own for a quick minute.

Before they tuned it up we asked if we could take it and bike the island to make sure it was indeed a good fit.  It’s a little big for her but she did great.  Maddy talked nonstop about gears and what gear she was in and how it felt and how she could change her gear etc. etc. etc.  It was hilarious.  Ben rode with her for a bit and then would catch up to me and report we were still talking about gears.  Then we’d both ride behind her (because she swerves a lot) and she would rattle on nonstop about gears.  It was pretty cute.  After our 8 miles we had to drop it off to be tuned up.  Seemed like a good time to get more ice cream and find some magnets to take home.

We had dinner on the boat and then the girls went back up for more bike riding until bedtime.  We really enjoyed our time on Mackinac Island again.  I look forward to returning next summer!

Monday morning we felt we better get moving towards mainland MI.  We knew these 80 degree sunny days weren’t going to last and figured we should make some progress into Lake Michigan.  We loaded up the bikes and waved goodbye to the horses and set off to go under the Mighty Mac Bridge.  The Michigan lighthouses are some of my favorites.

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We went past the Mackinac light house and then under the incredible bridge.  This was the third time we’d passed under this bridge and it never disappoints.  Time to wave goodbye to Canada, and the UP and make our turn into our home waters of Lake Michigan.

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