Mackinac …

As a child growing up in London I had a penpal from Detroit. Not long after the Mackinac Bridge was completed he sent me a photograph. It took a while but now I’ve seen it for myself. So Denis Cadaret, formerly of Hunt Club Drive, if you’re out there … Hi.

Mackinac Bridge

Along with the photo came instructions on pronunciation. It rhymes with awe which it generates as well. The first Europeans in the region wrote down the native name for the area. Since the Europeans in question were French they put a letter on the end that they had no intention of pronouncing.

The bridge is 26,372 feet long, almost precisely 5 miles (8 km). It is currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The span between the main towers is 26,372 feet (1,158 m). The total weight of the bridge is 1,024,500 tons (929,410,766 kg). Clearance for shipping in the centre is 155 feet (47 m). The bridge was opened in 1957, the 150 millionth vehicle crossed the bridge on September 6, 2009. These and many more fascinating facts can be found on the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s website and don’t forget the rivets all 4,851,700 of them.

The bridge crosses the Mackinac Straits, Lake Michigan is to the west, Lake Huron to the east. The City of St. Ignace is at the northern end, the Village of Mackinaw City at the southern end. Yes that’s right, it’s Mackinac everything except the city which is written as it’s spoken, and yes, the city is in fact a village as provided for by the General Law Village Act, Public Act No. 3, of 1895, as amended.

From Mackinaw City you can take a ferry to Mackinac Island, a very pleasant place to visit. There are no motor driven vehicles on the island (except for emergency vehicles that are kept out of sight except during emergencies). It is home to the greatest concentration of fudge outlets in the universe as well as a fair bit of history. And eminently photogenic.

This is the view that awaits as you pull into the dock …

Mackinac Island

Why not take a carriage?

Mackinac Island
Mackinac Island
The Grand Hotel

The Grand opened in 1887. It provided the location for the 1980 film Somewhere in Time.

There is an arch on the island that makes it into everything written about the place so for the sake of completeness here it is …

Arch Rock

As you leave you have the bridge out in front of you or you can look over your shoulder take a last look at the Grand Hotel.

farewell to the Grand Hotel

Michigan …

We bypassed Detroit and headed north up the peninsula. Population density fell away as we went, northern Michigan has some of the least populated areas in the eastern half of the US and some absolutely gorgeous forests.

Our destination was Boyne City where we would be staying with very generous friends for a few days. En route we stopped at Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. This is open to the public from June to October from an hour before sunrise until sunset. It’s a one way six and a half mile drive (10.4 km) mostly along an embankment giving good views over fields and wetlands. Views of the wildlife tend to be quite distant but it’s a good place to make the acquaintance of a few ducks, Sandhill Crane and Bald Eagle. Well worth putting on your travel plans next time you’re passing through Saginaw County.

Boyne City sits at the end of the north arm of Lake Charlevois an off shoot of Lake Michigan. We would get a cruise on both in our host’s very nice 40 footer. We also got to explore some nearby state forests and the Darnton Family Nature Preserve. Some of the highlights …

Green Heron
Common Merganser
Eastern Chipmunk
Red Squirrel

Eastern Grey Squirrels were also quite common, a good proportion of them were black in colour, the melanistic form.

The American Sparrows are nearly as much fun as the Warblers. I might have to revisit them. One to keep you going …

Savannah Sparrow