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When friends heard that I was going to Michigan, every single one of them told me that I must go to Mackinac Island.


To be honest, I was somewhat skeptical of whether or not I would like Mackinac Island.  I tend to not enjoy what some people would call ‘tourist traps’.


I was hopeful that Mackinac Island would be someplace that I would enjoy.  So far, our trip has been filled with fun adventures including a wine tasting and climbing a lighthouse yesterday.


So, we got up this morning, drove to the ferry and took it out to the island – about 20 minutes.



Along the way, our ferry passed underneath the Mackinac Bridge, which is the 3rd largest suspension bridge in the world and spans 5 miles.   It is designed to move up to 35 feet in windy conditions – kind of scary sounding to me.  

Later in the day, we would cross this bridge by bar, as it connects lower Michigan with the Upper Peninsula and our next destination.


On our way to the Mackinac Island, we passed a smaller island where the Round Island Lighthouse stood sentinel.
I am rapidly becoming a fan of lighthouses!


We started nearing the island and could see the buildings, including a picturesque church and its steeple.
*Pardon the photo quality – I had to take them through the window of the boat.

Our boat landed and we disembarked, anxious to explore the island.


The main street is flanked by Victorian-style buildings filled with shops, restaurants AND stores offering all types of fudge.


Fudge is a really big deal in Mackinac Island.  In fact, the people who live on this island refer to the tourists as “fudgies”.


There are over 17 different stores that sell fudge on the island.

*We stopped at one and I picked up 1 1/2 pounds of fudge.  I know that is an obscene amount of fudge, but it is easy to get carried away when you read all of the different varieties while the fragrance of fudge is wafting through the air.  To justify my large purchase, I bought a 1/2 pound of peanut butter fudge for my husband and a 1/2 pound of regular chocolate for my kids.  I’m reserving the toffee fudge for myself.


For those of you not familiar with Mackinac Island, there are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island.  So, everything is brought in by horse or bicycle, whether it is wine or…


Plants!

Just 3 weeks, there was still snow in parts of the island, so the planting season is just getting underway.


It was so interesting seeing plants being hauled in by horse and by…


Bicycle!


Other items we saw being brought in by horses included boxed groceries from the mainland, furniture, merchandise for the stores – basically anything that motorized vehicles deliver to us regular folks.


Even the police rely on getting around on bikes, but they do have a police car they can use in case of emergency.


Firetrucks and ambulances are also allowed to drive the streets of the island.

Having so many horses around, delivering goods and moving people about makes a certain dirty job a necessity…


The next time my son complains about having to scoop up the dog poop in our backyard, I will point that he has it easy compared to this guy.


We enjoyed browsing through the shops along the main street and I found some gifts for my kids.  


I didn’t see any store or restaurant chains except for Starbucks, much to my mother’s delight.



Summer has definitely arrived and I loved seeing all of the colorful plantings, including this one using a bicycle.  Geraniums (Pelargoniums) and ivy were planted in the front and back baskets.


I am a huge fan of hanging baskets lining a porch or street, but I don’t have any at home, because it can be a struggle because our dry climate makes it hard to keep the roots moist without constant watering more then once a day.

  I did love this particular hanging basket,  which was made up of pink ‘Wave’ petunias, white bacopa and purple verbena.


Have you ever seen a prettier post office?

I sat down on a little bench in front and wrote post cards to my kids and sent them off.


Even the courthouse and police station put on a floral show with bright-red tulips.


There are many old buildings on Mackinac Island and plaques in front of each describe their historical importance.


I love this old fence – it has so much character, don’t you think?


Fort Mackinac was founded in 1780 and still stands today.  It is up on the hill that overlooks the main street of the island.


Here is the back view of the fort.


This beautiful building is the Michigan’s governor’s summer residence.


 Like the fort, it too sits up on the hillside.  The governor spends a few weeks during the summer there – not a bad deal, I must say.


Probably the most famous place on the island is The Grand Hotel, a 5-star hotel, built in 1887.

It is very fancy, beautiful and expensive.  


We didn’t tour the hotel, because of time constraints.  But if you want to learn more about this iconic hotel, click here.

To get a real feel for the island, its people and its history – we decided to take a carriage tour.  The tour begins downtown, but soon goes up into the more uninhabited areas of the island.


Horses pull carriages full of tourists.  The horses resemble Clydesdale horses and are raised by the Amish.

Approximately 80% of Mackinac Island is a state park.



The carriage took us through the beautiful woods of the island and our tour guide was full of interesting information.



Dead trees aren’t removed, despite the fire danger they pose because the island does not have a lot of topsoil.  So the fallen trees are allowed to decay, adding organic matter to the soil.


Arch Rock was an interesting limestone formation that we saw along the tour.

I highly recommend going on a carriage tour after spending time on the main street or else you miss a large part of the island’s identity and beauty.


My mother and I had a fabulous time on the island and spent longer there then we had planned.

After returning on the ferry back to the mainland, we picked up our car, headed over the Mackinac Bridge toward the Upper Peninsula, which is not known for the large amount of people who live here.  In fact, in the 2 hours we drove from the bridge, we saw few buildings, homes and people.


This is where we are – in a small town in the middle of the Upper Peninsula.

Tomorrow, we will drive through the remainder of the Upper Peninsula to Green Bay, Wisconsin and more adventures!

Day 2 of our road trip was filled with quite a few firsts for me.


My mother and I are on our fourth annual road trip and this time we are exploring the upper midwest. You can read about day 1 here if you like.


Today, we woke up in beautiful Traverse City, with is located along the western side of Michigan.  It is a very popular location for visitors and it was easy to see why.


Our first stop was to visit the local farmers market in the historic downtown areas.



Whenever I travel, I like to to take time to talk to the local farmers about their produce and talk about the similarities and differences of growing the same types of vegetables.


Asparagus is really big in this part of Michigan.  There are signs for it everywhere along the roadways.  In the farmers market, just about everyone had some for sale.

Too bad, I don’t like asparagus 😉


A variety of herbs and vegetable transplants were available for sale.  I just love the color of purple basil – I have some growing in my herb container at home.


I love baked goods a lot!


Cherries are grown in the area and you can find cherries in just about everything including salsa.


There were quite a few planted containers filled with flowers ready for eager homeowners.


I really like herb planters like this one.

After the farmers market, we headed up toward the Old Mission Peninsula, which is a small finger of land that extends up from Traverse City.  Our destination was to see the Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

What we hadn’t prepared for was the beautiful scenery along the drive.  Orchards were filled with cherry trees, one type of fruit tree that does not grow in my desert climate.

Along the way, we spotted numerous vineyards.


The lilacs are in bloom everywhere and this vineyard was flanked by a huge lilac bush.




It’s hard to believe that this barren vine will soon be covered with leaves and sweet grapes.



Then we saw this sign, which led to one of my ‘firsts’.


The sign led us to Peninsula Cellars Winery, whose store is housed in an old, historic schoolhouse.


The inside of the old school was very charming.

I have never been much of a wine drinker.  The few times I have tried it, I didn’t really enjoy the taste.

But, I figured if I could do a bourbon taste test on our last trip, I would participate in a wine tasting for the first time.


I tasted four different wines and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked two of them very much.


Many of their wines had a school-themed name due to the old school building.  Their ‘Detention’ wine was a popular choice.
*Note: I have never gotten a detention at school.

I came away from my first wine tasting with a new appreciation for wine and a bottle of my favorite to share with my husband when I get home 🙂

As we got back on the road toward the Mission Point Lighthouse, we were told to stop by the old general store.


The Old Mission General Store is one of those places found out in the middle of the country.  You can see the lake behind it.


The store had a collection of the old and the new – but mostly old.


Barrels filled with salted peanuts and a variety of old-fashioned candies would make excite any child.

Old-fashioned sodas were offered alongside more current soda choices.  


A unique collection of foods were offered in the deli case.  I’m not sure what the reddish item was on the left and I’m still not sure what ‘blind robin’ is.  But, fishing is big here, so I’m assuming it is a type of fish?

The back was filled with an assortment of things including rabbit skins, wooden hand toys and coon hats.


After we left the general store, we continue our journey to the lighthouse.





The Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula.


The area has many trees and it is so green and beautiful.  We parked and started to walk toward the lighthouse and the shore, which we could barely see through the trees.


This lighthouse guided ships from 1870 to 1933.  We entered the lighthouse to see the exhibits and to embark on another ‘first’ for me.



I decided to climb up to the top of the lighthouse – something I have never done before.


There weren’t too many steps to the top, only 35 of them, but they were steep and the last part were ladder steps.




The 360 view was just beautiful!




Climbing back down, I decided to checkout the outside.




A cherry tree was in full bloom in the backyard with the lake in the background.




To be honest, there are a lot of lighthouses along the Michigan coast.  We don’t have time to see all of those along our route, so we had to choose a few to see.  It was the picture of the side of the Mission Point Lighthouse, which made me want to visit this one.  I am so glad we did.




We headed back down the peninsula and on the way, drove by this small painted shack where Michigan maple syrup was for sale.


Payment was done through the honor system where you inserted your money into a modified PVC pipe.  My mother bought a bottle.

Along this small peninsula, we passed an interesting marker…


I thought that we were pretty far north, but it turns out that we were only halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

See, you never know what you will learn on a road trip.


After our journey to Old Mission Peninsula, the rest of our day was spent touring the historic downtown area of Traverse City and later we drove up to the quaint town of Petoskey where we did some shopping.


All of the planters in the downtown areas were newly planted with colorful flowers.

While I saw some very creative containers filled with a variety of flowering plants, I was struck by the simplicity of this window box planted with a single row of orange marigolds.  The vibrant orange of this flower stands on its own.


One of my favorite shops we visited was called the “American Spoon”, which sells all types of preserves.

I love to make peach, plum and strawberry jam as well as applesauce from the fruit from both my garden and my mother’s – so I was anxious to go inside and taste the different types of jams and jellies they had.


While I did taste some delicious fruit preserves, there was also a large selection of salsas, including  pumpkin seed salsa and cherry salsa.
I must admit that I didn’t try any – I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my salsa.  But, I realize that I am probably missing out some new flavors that I may love.


Don’t these tomato preserves look delicious?


I came away from the store with cherry preserves, which I will use on my daily English muffin.  I also bought some tart dried cherries which I will sprinkle on my salads.
Did I mention that cherries are very popular here?  They are growing everywhere you see.




In addition to cherries and asparagus, fudge is also offered everywhere.


I haven’t had any yet, because I am waiting until tomorrow when we travel to Mackinac Island.


I can’t wait!