St Ignace to Gladstone, MI

Straits State Park, St Ignace, MI

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cool morning, Beautiful, Bright & Sunny Afternoon

It seemed like an excellent day to visit Mackinac Island. So, we bought tickets to ride the Star Line Ferry to the island. In case you’re not familiar with the island, it does not permit motorized vehicles except for emergencies and a few construction vehicles. All transportation is by foot, bicycle or horse-drawn wagon or carriage. A tourist destination to be sure but it still has plenty of charm.

Getting off the ferry, our first thing was to rent bicycles for a couple of hours and do the lovely, eight-mile ride around the island. It’s simply eight miles of beach of varying types from pebble to rocky. There are lots of houses and cabins, as much as a four-mile bicycle ride to the nearest source of groceries. Cairn building is popular with many hundreds scattered along the beaches. A nice time. Returning to town we had enough time to ride to the Grand Hotel up on the hill. This huge, old hotel is the centerpiece of the town and is so popular that they now charge not just to enter the lobby but to enter the grounds. We declined that offer, though and turned to touring of the town on foot.

Down Town Mackinac
Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
A Couple of Mackinac Island Houses

We rode the ferry with a “Class of 2020” school group decked out in purple tee shirts. About 45 kids and nearly the same number of adult supervisors. We were impressed how well the group was handled. Just imagine managing the rental of 90 bicycles! It all seemed to come off without a hitch. Impressive!

Eagle Scout, Gerald Ford

Fudge seems to be a Michigan passion and Mackinac must be the center for fudge with seemingly a fudge shop in every other building downtown. We stopped at Goodfellows for a gluten-free pizza and drinks. There we noted just how busy the downtown was and wondered what it must be like in season!

Returning to camp, we made a dinner of grilled teriyaki chicken with steamed asparagus and homemade applesauce.

St Ignace to Gladstone, MI

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bright & sunny, low 50s to high 70s

We hit the road about 8:45 heading north on I-75 toward Sault Ste Marie. We had breakfast at Penny’s Kitchen, a gourmet deli & coffee house. The omelets were delicious and Sandy raved about the home fries.

The guide said the town is pretty industrial. And it is. The attraction was the “Soo Locks” on the St Mary’s Falls Canal linking Lake Michigan with Lake Huron. These two locks are said to be among the busiest in the world and handle more tonnage than the Suez and Panama combined. We arrived just as an 800 ft ore carrier was entering the smaller of the two locks, up-bound, a 21 ft lift. We stood in the observation platform along the lock, close enough to talk to the crew. You could tell they’d done all this many times. In short order they were tied up, lifted to the Lake Superior height and on their way. A second, larger ship was entering the other lock to go down as we left.

Locking Through “Soo Locks” – Not Much Room for Error

Heading south and west through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, we followed M-28 and Hwy-117 to the Lake Michigan shore. Straight and flat off the horizon is about all we can say. Picking up the lake shore we explored the little town of Gladstone and dumbed into camping at Gladstone Bay Campground. The location seemed unlikely, at first, like who would want to camp in this part of town. But it turned out to be pretty, right on the water with a few miles of walking trails, part of which was beachfront boardwalk!

Chicken, again, this time as apple-maple sausage with stir-fried veggies. We are getting close to the western edge of the time zone and it is still a bit light at 10:15.