Visitor Information, News, Guide, Videos, Photos, History
While I normally don't write trip reports, I thought I'd share a few highlights from my visit last weekend. The highlight was hopping a boat for the ride to the Round Island Lighthouse Open House. The Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society (www.roundislandlightmichigan.com) did a great job of organizing the event. Freeland Boy Scout Troop 323 played host to the visitors with scouts located throughout the lighthouse explaining the spaces and their former uses.
Once inside, I met two of the sisters who lived as young girls in the lighthouse. Their father was the last keeper prior to the closing of the lighthouse and had not returned since. Naturally they were shocked at the condition of the interior some 60 years later, but no doubt comforted by the fact the future of the lighthouse is now secure and under the care of a group dedicated to it's preservation.
As I made my way to the top of the lighthouse, I discovered that the society was flying American Flags atop the lighthouse and selling them as a fundraiser. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I accompanied 'my' flag to the flagpole and watched it fly proudly atop the iconic lighthouse.
After waving in the breeze high above the Straits, it was lowered and I helped fold it into the familiar triangle shape. Back downstairs, I was presented with a certificate that the flag had flown above Round Island and amazingly, the certificate included a picture that I took in 2010 of the lighthouse!
As I was about to leave the lighthouse, one more surprise awaited. The son of the builder was visiting and telling stories of his father and the adventure of building the lighthouse! Wondering about the fact that the lighthouse was built in 1895 and this was the builder's son, I later confirmed that he was born when his father was 70 years old!
After the quick ride back to town, I ventured out to the new Mackinac Community Equestrian Center, operated by the Mackinac Horsemen's Association (www.mackinachorses.org). For the first time in recent history, there is a community stable that has room to house not only the 4-H horses, but horses belonging to island residents that may not have a stable in their backyard.
While there is still a good bit of work to complete on the interior, there are already about 20 stalls available. Riding classes are forming and island residents, young and old, are provided an opportunity to learn more about the horse power that moves Mackinac Island. Below is Blaze, a pony that lives year-round on the island.
Located across from the Wawashkamo Golf Course on British Landing Road, the site is large, features turnouts and a multi-purpose arena. The land is owned by Mackinac Island State Park Commission and is leased to the Mackinac Horsemen's Association. Naturally this is an expensive undertaking, so donations are accepted to help pay for this wonderful addition to the island.
On Sunday morning, I hiked up the West Bluff and Pontiac Trail before walking back to town on Algonquin Street. You can see many of the West Bluff home stables along Algonquin.
Later in the day, I made a visit to the Tower Museum at Mission Point Resort. It costs $5 to visit and is worth the admission. I spent about 60 minutes reviewing the history of the resort (and it's quite a history), learning about the commercial boats that sail the Great Lakes, shipwrecks and lighthouses. Best of all, by the time you're done, you are 8 stories above the ground and have a fantastic view to the east, south and west. While a bit foggy during my visit, it was still a new perspective of the surrounding area. The camera is pointed west in the photo below.
As usual, a visit to Anne's Tablet was on the agenda. It's one of my favorite spots on the island. In all my visits, I've only encountered other people there once and yet it's just above and east of Marquette Park and accessed by the stairs behind the Mackinac Art Museum. In the spring, Anne's Tablet Trail is lined with yellow ladyslippers.
If I had turned 180 degrees after taking the picture above, you would see the actual 'Somewhere In Time' gazebo which was moved to it's current location years ago and is now used frequently for weddings.
On Monday morning, I paid a visit to the Forest King (a spectacular Michigan White Pine) on Rock Trail. It was described in Edwin O. Wood's 'Historic Mackinac' as magnificent back in 1918! I can only wonder how old the Forest King must be! I then continued to Arch Rock, then returned to town via Manitou Trail and the East Bluff. The view from Robinson's Folly along Mantou Trail is somewhat similar to that from the Tower Museum, but it's free and a few inches higher!
A few other additions to my 'What's new in 2011' post include a Christmas shop that has opened downtown near Mary's Bistro. A new coffee shop, Lucky Bean Coffeehouse has opened on Market Street across from the Police Station and is operated by members of the May family. The Pink Pony extended it's waterfront deck seating area so now you can dine right next to the water.
One last item. If you've never stayed overnight on the island, I highly suggest you try it. Saturday night had a forecast of rain, but in reality it was one of the most memorable evenings I've spent there recently. I had visited Stu Stuart and while returning to town, traveled down the West Bluff. The skies were clear, moon and stars bright and the Mackinac Bridge was twinkling in the distance. Do yourself a favor on your next visit (and if you already do this, you know what I mean), get out of town, hike up one of the bluffs in the morning or after sunset and enjoy the beauty of Mackinac.