Not your average travel blog
The towns on the forehead of the Exogorth outline (well done if you worked out that obscure reference), are quite picturesque in the sunshine. Much of the monster’s brow, with roots steeped in French exploration and the American-Indian wars, built on the industries of mining, logging, and shipping, the towns today express a certain pride and postcard image as I travel through them. All of which rely heavily of summer trade and tourism to keep them alive. This part of America is amongst some of the coldest in the congruent states and Charlevoix is a very fine example.
In the video, I’m pretty sure I mean Lake Huron (Not Lake Michigan – but it’s just the other side of the bridge)!
The ferry to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) is a tourist funnel. I feel like one of many huddled sheep in a large jar of jam. It’s wonderfully sweet, but no one likes a mouth full of sticky, moist wool.
Admittedly, I may have driven straight past Mackinaw City if I was on my own, but I’m glad KP had a moment of determination to overcome his extreme dislike of large crowds.
Beautifully nostalgic, visually quaint, sensationally sweet and economically commercialised, Mackinac Island is now solely, a hospitality-riddled, holiday spot; with nothing but small museums, bike hire outlets, t-shirt stores, restaurants and dozens of fudge selling establishments lining the Main Street (and there is only one street). Like so many other unique places worth visiting, its history is now coated with quirk, commercial romance and sugar. It is yet another oddity on the American map, and although the extent of tourism always rubs against me like a rusty cheese grater, the eccentricity I find in places around the U.S.A. never fails to entertain me. Completely void of automobiles, the island is a hive of bustling tourists, parted regularly by bikes, and the rustic horse and carts – used as both taxis and delivery trucks. There are a few people that live here year round and although life on the island in winter maybe romanticised, it is no doubt remote, isolated and so very, very cold. Today however, we’re up in the mid 70’s (Fahrenheit), and my fivehead is burning as I left my hat on the mainland. There are a few attractions to keep the holiday makers and day trippers entertained and their wallets a little lighter – a golf course, an English-built, two hundred year old fort and plenty of small museums. The main attraction, and somewhere KP hopes to stay for an indulgent hotel experience at some point in life, is The Grand. The gigantic hotel was featured in the film, Back in Time, and boasts (it wouldn’t be American if it didn’t) the worlds longest porch; proving again that everywhere you go here, size matters. It does however, live up to its name, and is very much the island’s spectacle and main draw.
Leaving the Straits of Mackinac behind us and the glorious clear, fresh water seas of both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, we headed south west around the Michigan’s Upper Peninsular. Finding a dirt track in the forest, I made dinner. Camping may generate intimate reminisces of romance and nostalgia, but we have set off on the road again at six am and I sit in the passenger seat with an ankle that looks like I’ve sprained it. Some buzzing bastard has feasted just as much as we did last night, and I’m beginning to (as usual) collect quite the collection of insect bites. Sometimes, even though I take multiple precautions, the great outdoors, aren’t so great.
We cover some mileage into Wisconsin while KP gets on his high horse over American economics, we debate equality and financial incentives in public health. Ticking off another two beautiful States on the list in the last two days is a fabulous start to the road trip – a lot of blue sky, clean waters in the Great Lakes, some welcoming sleepy towns before the serious summer crowds and some fantastic forests to get lost in was what I hoped for.
The ferry trip to Mackinac Island provided a welcome rest from the mileage we’ve been determined to cover and I’m a rather happy chap. Tomorrow, I plan on getting us into Canada…where the land will be relentlessly flat for the long drive west.