Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mackinac Island - Pure Michigan

Travel is my passion. Daily I consider myself lucky to be part of this excitnig industry and I know I have personally become a more well rounded person because of it. However, as much as I enjoy being a citizen of the world, in my heart I will always be a Midwesterner - soecifically my home state of Michigan.

As David and wound ourselves along the Lake Huron shore line through Alpena, Tawas, Cheboygan and Oscoda the 1800s home of my great great grandparents the combination of water and nature were a reminder that while Detroit may be the official face of our state, it is its backroads and small towns that are its heart. Mackinaw City was our destination for the evening. It my be bias, but I am happy to report that while I have visited towns the world over, I don't think I have come across an agragrate group of people who wanted to welcome me to their town. From the ladies in the Hush Puppy shoe store who recommended the best pizza in town (Mama Mias) to the the busy owner of the Lamplighter Hotel who took a moment to show us a room for my mom's upcoming visit to the nice lady in the liquor store who gave me some helpful tips to retreiving my lost sunglasses(which unfortunately remain lost) I remembered why I love this state.

Continuing s long tradition, since 1896 on the Island, we embarked on a "Carriage Tour". I captalize the words Carriage Tour as this is a specific company that in the 1940s was instrumental in changing and preserving the Island through the ban on motorized vehicles. Our first stop a real treat a tour of the Governor's summer residence. The house was originally built for the Young family from Chicago for $15k and then years later sold to the state of MI for the same money - amazing - is only open for tour for two hours and only on Wednesday. Lovely wood interior and touches from past Governors and the original family made this a treat for the senses. In addition, possibly to boost his new image or favor in the polls, Governor Synder came around to greet each person in line and thank them for coming. A classy move nevertheless and according to the lead historian something that has not happened at least in the last 20 years. The rest of the day was spent working through downtown and the surrounding area including a wonderful insight and carraige ride through the expansive State park and its rich history both militailary and culturally.

Like many Michiganders a stay at the world famous Grand Hotel has always been on my 'bucket list' (I'm going to have to live a little bit longer to make that dream a reality. Alternately, we chose the Island House Hotel which overlooks the Mackinac Marina.) We'd have to 'settle' for dinner and dancing at the Grand Hotel instead. Even though our luggage got its own private tour of the Island House when it was delivered to room 320 rather than our 226, at 7:30pm dressed in our best, our horse taxi wound through the much quieter downtown streets to the Grand Hotel. Stepping into the Grand after 6:30pm is a return to a more genteel time, the Grand Hotel diningroom decorated in white and green with its fine china and waiters in teal colored tails serving ladies and gentlemen in thier Sunday best. Our five course dinner was topped off by the Grand's signature dessert the decadant Pecan Ball. The evening ended with exploration of the world famous porches, dancing in the hotel ballroom and our horse taxi ride back to the Island House. Looling forward to tomorrow.