Today we will make several stops as we leave Mackinac Island in the Straits of Mackinac in Lake Huron between the upper and lower peninsulas of the state. After a ferry ride, we will collect the car in St. Ignace and cross the Mackinac Bridge before heading south from Mackinac City. After a stop at the Indian River Shrine, we will wind our way along the shore of Lake Michigan.
We didn’t have any special plans for our second morning on Mackinac Island. We enjoyed the hot breakfast at the Inn. I really liked the daily special of peach French toast, but the rest left a lot to be desired. The eggs looked like pellets and didn’t taste like much either. Afterwards, Mom wanted to sit on the porch and I headed out to take pictures before the day got too hot. I wanted to snap a few things on and near our street, check out the boardwalk and take a look inside St. Ann’s before we caught the noon ferry back to St. Ignace. We have a couple of other stops to make today before we spend the night just north of Luddington on the shore of Lake Michigan.
We saw a few things on our carriage tour that I wanted a better picture of than I could snap in the moving carriage. We went back to Bluff Trail Lane and I saw the parsonage and the Little Stone Church. I am still considering that online clergy certification. This is the route up to the Grand Hotel and the way the hotel’s guests walk into town.
Jack and I also walked down to the boardwalk and a chance to walk along the lakeshore. On the way, I spotted a primitive fence and gate made from twigs. Along the shoreline, there were more colorful houses. These homes are smaller than those up on the bluffs.
Some of the houses had unobstructed views across a road to the water. A few people had space right on the water. Must have been some trespassing though; I saw an interesting sign designating some of the rocks as private. The island strives to prevent overdevelopment. You won’t see any major chains on the island and new construction is very limited. If a house burns on Mackinac Island, the home cannot be rebuilt unless there is at least one wall left standing. If there is not, the land is divided among the neighbors on either side.
This walk was the first time I saw homes made with cedar shakes on the island. Some had left them natural allowing them to turn gray, while on another home they were treated to retain the brown coloring. The detail work on the houses is really amazing. The residents also put a lot of effort into their beautiful landscaping. Another thing I thought particularly attractive was the beautiful fencing (often white) and gates (often with arbors).
Coming back around to the main street, I saw the Iroquois Hotel and the Carriage House patio where we had dinner last night. Jack headed back to the hotel to sit with Mom and I texted Emma to meet her in town where she was shopping. While I waited to catch up with her, I walked down Main Street and was reminded of the main ingredient in fudge and why it wasn’t a good idea to take some home. I did not hear from Emma, so I walked down to St. Ann’s in hopes of seeing the inside of the church.
I made it down to St. Ann’s. No Mass today; the ladies of the church were cleaning, including scraping wax off the candle stands. I loved the stained glass windows. Some of the lower panels were even operable. Outside, the stations of the cross were displayed in individual covered boxes in a side garden. Ste. Anne de Michilimackinac Catholic Church was established as a mission in 1695. The church maintains baptismal records back to that date.
From St. Ann’s, I took one more look at the beautiful homes and gardens across from the marina. I walked around Marquette Park and went back to the inn via Market Street to take one more look at the historic buildings there. Just before turning on Market, I saw one of the oldest wooden structures on the island and a reproduction of the housing favored by the native people when the colonists came here. I was reminded that some of the infamous Astor family made their fortune through fur trading headquartered here.
On Market Street, I passed the first traders building right on the corner. The hair salon was a cross the street in a beautiful purple home. I spotted the Post Office. Jack was planning on making several stops here today to pick up stamps and then return the completed and stamped postcards. Emma is buying the postcards in town for Mom to send. Mom has always loved postcards, a dying form of communication. Outside I spotted another one of those unique signs that is so Mackinac Island-“Private rocks, no saddled horses in cemetery”, etc. The parking sign at the Post Office referred not to cars, but the bicycle racks it sat behind.
Once back at the hotel, I checked out of the room and made arrangements to have our luggage transferred to the dock. He will have an easier time of it on the way back; its downhill. We are going to enjoy the porch and garden until it is time to make our way back down to the docks. The Metivier Inn back gardens are accessed off the third floor due to the slope of the yard as the house sits on a hillside. Ground level varies from the first to the third floor as you move back on the property.
Emma and I went up to the back gardens. It was already too hot to sit out for long, but it was a lovely spot that I am sure many of the guests enjoy in better weather. From the back fence you can see the Grand Hotel. Looking back toward the house, you can see the water just to the side of the house from this higher vantage point.
Mom and Emma decided to take their time and walk down to the dock early. Jack and I stayed behind to make sure the luggage got picked up. Emma texted us later to say the noon departure had been cancelled because two of the Star Line boats had problems. The next departure was at 12:30 pm. Jack and I stayed around a little longer, enjoying the front porch and watching the horseback riders come and go from the stables across the street. Once the porter came for the luggage, we walked down to the dock.
While waiting for the boat, I noticed there were two lines. One was for commuters and residents and the other line was for visitors. Courtney had let us know on the tour that the city/island government subsidizes annual passes for the residents. There contract is with the Star Line ferries. Commuters like Courtney who work on the island can buy a seasonal pass. The residents and commuters were allowed to board first. This departure was too full; I was not surprised. If we hadn’t had other destinations on today’s agenda we might have stayed longer. The last ferry is at 9:00 pm.
For the return trip, they did scan our tickets and collect them. The ride back to St. Ignace was direct and pleasant. As we left the dock, we saw the umbrellas and flowers of the Carriage House patio where we had cocktails the other night. Emma saw a weasel in the bushes there while we waited for our table, although none of the rest of us saw it so who knows. I told her it was probably a wolverine. This is Michigan after all.
From the ferry, I got another look at the shoreline road. We did not make it down there on this trip. Would have been fun with a bicycle. I did see one of the handicap tour carriages (or maybe it was a taxi) making its way down this road. As we approached St. Ignace, I saw the hotel we stayed at the other night and “s’mores beach”.
Jack got the car. No special help from the porters this time. We all just had to pull our own bags off the cart. At least I saved the tip money. We loaded up and were off. Emma has decided to conquer her fears and will be driving us back across the Mackinac Bridge. She probably wouldn’t have done that if she had known ahead of time that portions of the bridge were under construction. She did a great job. Just as we got to the end, I saw Colonial Michilimackinac off to the side.
Our next stop will be the Indian River Shrine that we visited as children. The Cross in the Woods National Shrine (the official name) features Calvary Hill and the world’s largest crucifix. The figure of Jesus is made of bronze; the cross is made of redwood. The Cross in the Woods is celebrating its 75th birthday this year. I was last here over 40 years ago as a child. It is a place of great peace and beauty.
For the 50th anniversary, a church was also built on the site and it is the parish church for the Catholics who live in Indian River. Originally only outdoor services were held which meant usage was seasonal. The church has a lovely setting looking out on the cross. If you look back at the church from outside, the cross is reflected in the glass.
We entered the shrine through the church entrance so that Mom could use the elevator. In spite of being there during the heat of the day, in the shade of the trees it was a comfortable and comforting setting. We spent some time outside sitting, looking at the cross, and reflecting. While I sat with Mom, Emma toured the stations of the Cross that you follow from a path through the woods. The appropriate station has you stop at the foot of the large crucifix.
The shrine also features additional monuments, most notably that of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha. Her image at the shrine was placed in direct line with the crucifix and within the congregational seating. Saint Kateri’s mother was a member of the Algonquin tribe; her father was the Chief of the Mohawk Tribe. As the nearby marker noted, she converted to Christianity at age 18 and suffered many hardships “because of her wish to live a celibate and Christian lifestyle.” Saint Kateri was known as the “Lily of the Mohawks” and her image is often shown with turtles as her father was Chief of the Turtle Clan. She died at age 24 and was declared a Saint by Pope Benedict XVI in October of 2012. Saint Kateri is the fourth Native American to be venerated in the Catholic Church and the first to be canonized.
There was one more stop to make at the shrine before our departure, well besides the gift shop. The shrine has a doll museum. My sister remembers it from our earlier visit. Orders of Sisters from around the world have sent in a doll with the (traditional and/or modern) clothing of their Order. While there are some with the dress of male religious orders, the majority of the representations are of nuns. It is “the largest collection of dolls dressed in traditional habits of men and women religious communities in the United States.” The Cross in the Woods.com.
I located the doll with the clothing of the order which taught at the Catholic School I attended in Victoria, Texas. The representation was exactly as I remember the clothing that the older sisters wore when I was growing up. Most of the dolls were of a normal size, but the Hall of Sisters contained life-size dolls which made Emma uncomfortable.
Leaving Indian River and the shrine, we headed toward the coast. Mom wanted to drive through Petosky and Charlevoix. In an older section of Charlevoix along the water, we decided to drive in a little and were charmed by some unique houses we found. They were shaped like mushrooms and looked like little hobbit houses. It was only later that we saw the historical marker for this special district of the city with a collection of houses by designer Earl Young.
Earl Young was a master builder who worked without blueprints. His goal was to design a structure that would fit the site, rather than designing a home and working the land to accommodate a design. Over a 50-year career, he designed 26 residential properties and 4 commercial ones. Most of the privately owned structures are composed of limestone, fieldstone, and boulders from northern Michigan. “Earl Young’s houses feature his signature designs, along with wide, wavy eaves, exposed rafter tails; cedar-shake roofs; and a horizontal emphasis in design. These buildings are creatively known as Gnome Homes, Mushroom Houses, or Hobbit Houses.” VisitCharlevoix.com
What a fun find. Most of the houses were not large. One looked like it may be a rental for vacationers. They also sit near the water, so a perfect setting. Driving out of the park on the edge of the neighborhood, Emma spotted a bronze dragon statue on top of one of the houses in the neighborhood. It totally fit right in. That picture immediately got texted to Rocky.
We hadn’t had much for lunch, just a quick bite before the shrine, so we stopped at a local ice cream stand for a treat. Dairy Grill looked like a much-loved neighborhood hangout. My go-to for evaluating an ice cream shop is to test the pineapple malts. This was a good one. After her excellent dragon spot, Emma out-ordered us all with a “to die for” strawberry sundae.
Leaving Charlevoix, we headed to Manistee, Michigan where we are spending the night. Tomorrow is our last day on the road; we will be back in Grand Rapids by the evening. Still more to come on our rebooted family trip.