Friday, June 14, 2013

Michigan 2013 Trip - Day 2

We woke up bright and early.  Or rather those of us who slept did, the rest of us were just praying for daylight.  Not the motel's fault though, just the result of being too keyed up to sleep properly and excited for the next day.  And we did so much today that it would have been good to get a good night's sleep.

Our main goal for the day was to cross the bridge and head into the Upper Peninsula where we would take the first exit at Saint Ignace to take a ferry to Mackinac Island.  But first, we had to get some food in us.  And on the recommendation of the motel owner, we went to the Westside Diner in Grayling.

It was a typical diner, filled with locals, and boasting about homemade bread (with a little room when you first came in filled with baked goods for sale).  We took a seat and our waitress came over.  I don't know who peed in her cheerios, or if she was just having a bad day, or if she was trying to go for the gruff diner waitress personality, but she went beyond surly straight into downright rude.  I can't say that I've ever experienced a server quite like her.  She may have been able to pull off the gruff diner waitress attitude if she had fit the type, but she was younger even than me and it just came off as being incredibly disrespectful, especially when interacting with my Grandma and really the table as a whole.  It kind of soured the whole experience even though the food was decent.  Among the gems we heard from this server were "I didn't ask you about your coffee I asked you about your breakfast" and in response to telling her the motel recommended the place to us, "ok," with a roll of the eyes.

Grandma at a scenic Rest Area.
The food itself was typical breakfast fare.  I went for the Corn Beef Hash and while it looked like it probably came out of a can it was tasty and cooked just right with enough crisp from the flat top.  Grandma got "Just An Egg" which was a tiny portion of eggs, one piece of bacon, toast and some potatoes and it was just right for her and really pleased her that she was able to get such a small portion size.  Mom had the same thing with only two eggs and we all had some of their homemade Raisin Bread Toast which was delicious and slathered with a little bit of butter (margarine?).  The pieces were nice and thick and liberally sprinkled with raisins throughout and a good crumb texture.  Jan opted for the pancake and thought she was getting the short stack, which still came out to two humongous pancakes.  And that was breakfast, so we took off which much to talk about thanks to the server's antics.

Jan's friend
We were an hour away from the Mackinac Bridge but decided to turn this tour into the Rest Stop Revival and probably stopped at every one between Grayling and Mackinac.  So we didn't cross the bridge until almost one in the afternoon.  But hey, that's what a road trip is all about, and Jan got to make friends with a chipmunk at one of the stops.

The view from the Scenic Lookout.  It's hard to tell, but there's a large lake in the distance.

A walkway for a scenic lookout at a Rest Area.

Mom and Jan battling it out on the "Sedentary" rock.
The Mackinac Bridge.
Mackinac Bridge is expansive and the city itself does  have ferries that go out from it so people don't have to cross the bridge.  Gephyrophobia; this is the fear of bridges and more motorists seem to find this fear when presented with the Mackinac Bridge.  Maybe this is because it is the largest suspension bridge in the world, even beating out the Golden Gate Bridge.  There's good news for people with this fear though.  You don't have to stay on the south side of the Bridge.  As a free service, Mackinac Bridge Authority offers a Driver's Assistance Program, where they will drive the car across the bridge while you are curled up in the backseat shaking.  We didn't need the assistance, but we did decide to stop at the park on the south side of the bridge before crossing over.  There are sights to see there too.

Jan & Grandma in front of the Lighthouse.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Aside from the Fort (which offers tours and re-enactments) on the South side of the bridge, there's a lighthouse in a grand beachfront park and a shopper's paradise of knick-knack and t-shirt filled stores.  Mom and Jan went crazy at the T-Shirt shop that was guarded by a ferocious bear and we all went for a little walk on the beach.
Don't make mom's mistake.  Always bring bear spray with you on a trip to Michigan.

The T-Shirt gift shop and Jan, also an unwary victim of the bears.

Shepler's Ferry
We knew we wanted to get to Saint Ignace so we crossed the spectacular bridge (the trip made even longer by ongoing construction) and took the immediate exit.  St. Ignace is a cute little town and three ferry lines operate out of it.  We opted for Shepler's Ferry (another recommendation from the motel owner) and they had reasonable rates.  For $45.00 a piece we were able to get a round trip ticket on the ferry and a Carriage Ride (hour and a half ride) on the island.  The ferry ride was beautiful, although cold from the breezes off the Huron waters.  It took roughly twenty minutes to get to the island and as you pulled in to the bay you could see the large Grand Hotel and all the buildings along the main street.  Motorized vehicles (with emergency personnel exceptions) are not allowed on the island, so everyone is either going by foot, by horse or horse carriage, or by bicycle.  And even being the off-season it was crowded.

Ready for our Ferry Ride.

The lakes are so large you could almost believe they were the ocean.

Mackinac Island.

On Main Street, every other shop is a Fudge shop and it's quite popular.  People were buying it by the pound and schlepping around huge bags full of the sweet treat.  We immediately went to the Carriage Ride though and pulled by two large draft horses (Homer & Mutt) and a knowledgeable driver who took the covered wagon through the streets and up to almost the top of the hill where a three horse wagon was waiting for the second leg of the journey (Ebony, Jenny & Bubba).  This leg took you through the State Park where there were several wildflowers to be seen (don't pick them, it isn't worth the fine!), a few rock formations, and of course tons of historical sites, including the fort on the island and the graveyards.  It was such an expansive trip that when we got back we only poked into a few shops before taking the ferry back to the mainland.
One of the fine establishments where fudge is made.

Mutt, Homer and the driver (yes we only remembered the horses' names).

Arch Rock.

A view from the top of the island.

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac

A Bark church.

Looking out over the island.

The best French Onion Soup.
St. Ignace wasn't our last stop though.  We wanted to make it to Paradise for lodging and arrived in the late evening.  There were a few restaurants open still though and we chose the Red Flannel Saloon / Little Falls Inn.  In comparison to this morning the server here could't be any friendlier and we all got soup and salad.  The salad bar was a little all you can eat type of thing and while it wasn't huge, it had everything you needed.  There was a good pasta salad, a deliciously sweet bean salad, and a few other prepared salads.  Then there were your usual salad fixings for a tossed salad, including canned mushrooms, which I had never tried on a salad before but ended up liking.  For soup, mom got the Tomato Basil which she enjoyed, but the rest of us went for the French Onion.  Maybe it was all the fresh air, but I thought it was probably the best French Onion Soup I've ever had.  It was a rich meat broth with tender onions, a lovely soaked crouton and great cheese.  Especially great cheese.  Usually in a French Onion you can have trouble with the cheese as it all comes off in one blob.  Not this stuff, it melted nicely and the spoon cut through it like butter.  Just a perfect way to end the day before turning it in at our motel.

On the end is where we had dinner, Paradise is just a cute small town.

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