Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nick, This One's For You!!

If you haven't heard of full-timers Nick and Terry Russell who publish the Gypsy Journal paper for RV people, check out their website.  They have been on the road for many years, and their site is the best you'll find for information on everything (and I mean everything) RV and travel related, whether you're a full-timer or a weekender!!  While you're at it, purchase a copy of Miss Terry's cookbook ... full of YUMMY recipes!!!  Anyway, I got off track ... Nick doesn't like to drive across long, tall bridges ... especially those that you can look over the side AND through the bottom.  This one I'm sure is his favorite, so I took these images just for him!!

We arrived in St. Ignace at the Tiki RV Park & Campground (Escapee price $15/night, 30 amp with water) just in time to catch the very last ferry boat that will take you under the bridge before continuing on to Mackinac Island in Lake Huron.  It was a beautiful sunny day ... perfect for photography.  Isn't she pretty, this bridge???
As we pulled underneath, they explained that this is one of the few bridges with open grating for the deck ... you know, the part you drive on??  The grating allows water and snow to fall through the deck so it doesn't get so heavy as to collapse it into the water.  I imagine that's Nick's favorite part about this beautiful structure.  
I haven't driven over it yet ... that will be in the next day or so, and I'll let you know how I fare.  You never know, Nick and Terry might hear me screaming all the way to Lebanon Ohio!!
As the boat came up to the island, there is a row of exquisite Victorian houses lining the cliff.  I think I'm going to like it here!!!
Talk about a quaint Victorian Village ... this is it.  The church is in the middle, with several small boat docks along the edge.  This little town has about 300 residents that live here full time.  In winter when the snow comes, basically the entire place closes up.
The best part of all ... there are NO vehicles allowed here.  You either walk, ride a bike or take a horse-drawn trolley or carriage.  THIS part is my favorite ever!!  We could see probably 20 or more horses on the street at any one time, pulling all sorts of carriages.  Some were provided by the hotels, but most are simply for transportation.  Maybe I can get a summer job here!!!!
It must be amazing to see the transformation from winter to summer in this small town.  As we walked down Main Street, there were huge flower baskets everywhere with the most brilliant colors. This building has been beautifully restored with white brick and green porcelain shutters.  When we walked off the docks at around 1:30 pm, the streets were full of bicycles, people and horses ... watch out for those bicycles being ridden by novice individuals ... they can run you over ... and watch out for granny on her hoveround who tried to jump an 8" curb, knocking over ten bikes like dominos!! The by-product of the horses in this picture was quickly swept up by what else ... a guy riding a bicycle with a trash can attached!!
The shopping here is nothing short of amazing!!  Yes, there are a couple of "cheap cheap" T-shirt stores, but for the most part, there are some great things to find here ... AND you can graze through all of the 20 fudge shops for tasting!!  We liked Joann's Fudge on the West end of Main Street the best!!  The hotels are spectacular too ... in the most unassuming way.  Wouldn't you like a room on the third floor in this yellow building ... the Main Street Inn??
Up towards the park on the East end are a line of carriages that will take you anywhere you want to go, like up to Fort Mackinac where the British originally fought the United States in the American Revolution (we won), but then in the War at Mackinac in 1812, the British took it back.  When the war was over in 1814, the United States got it again in the peace treaty.  From fur trading to commercial fishing to a resort when it became a National Park in 1875, this island has flourished!
Barbara, Tom and I helped it flourish a little more with our purchases ... I found these great Keens on sale ... along with some turquoise and silver jewelry, an unexpected surprise!!  
Doud's Market has been in business here since 1884.  Someone spent a lot of time planting these colorful flowers in boxes along the front.  How could you not love it here??  I suppose when it's 30 below it may not be much fun ... but just stock up on yarn!!!
So you were wondering how all the store's product gets here if there are no vehicles??  THIS is how ... the UPS truck is loaded up on a ferry and when it gets to the dock, all the boxes are dumped on the landing.  They are then loaded onto wagons pulled by two white horses ... and building by building, they hand deliver them down Main Street.  In case one or two boxes are too heavy, the hand truck is attached to the last trailer!!  THIS UPS guy deserves a raise!!
At the Indian Drum Store, owned by a native of the Chippewa tribe, I couldn't resist purchasing this hand drum, made by Red Hand Quick.  It's about 20 inches across and beautifully painted.  If you're in Indio this year and hearing some drums beating, don't worry ... the Indians aren't attacking ... it's just me!!!
Your next question I'm sure would be "if there are no vehicles, how do they dispose of the garbage"???  This is it, right here!!   Horse drawn wagons and manual labor!!  It appears the wagon, with horses still attached, rides the ferry to the mainland for dumping.  Tom saw the boatman kicking some "droppings" off into the water.  That's it folks ... back to the old days!!!
Around 5:30 we stopped in at one of the many restaurants for some sandwiches and ribs and watched the traffic go by ... a great place to people watch.   Lunch ran about $14 each and the food was excellent.
Not sure if these were for sale, but in the window there were four of the most amazing displays of paper art.  I'm definitely going to try this!!  Where's the nearest Hobby Lobby???
Since my puppies had been locked up most of the day, we headed back on the ferry at 7:00 pm having barely scratched the surface of Mackinac Island.  I re-parked my rig in another space where I wasn't draped with tree limbs.  The previous campers had lost their kitty in the woods ... a very wild kitty at that, and when Cooper discovered it camped out under my rig, we tried to lure it in with Pansy's food.  It didn't work, even though I stayed up late calling "kitty kitty" like a crazy woman ... but it definitely knew where to come back to, so today we'll notify the owners and hope they can recover it soon.  

I have no idea what's on the schedule today, but every day I say to myself "it just can't get any better", yet every day is better than the last!!!  


  1. Nancy, David & I used St. Ignace as a base when we were touring Mackinac Island, Mackinac City and the surrounding areas. If you are into fish, Lake Superior Whitefish is the best. I had many fish dinners in the area. If you return to Mackinac Island you need to check out The Grand Hotel and its longest porch in the world (or is it USA). What a view!!! I think there is a $10 charge pp for a hotel tour (we did not take the tour). The lobby itself and the bottom floor is wonderful to walk through. Talk about flowers...GERANIUMS seem to surround the entire Hotel campus. We did a carriage tour that took us past The Grand Hotel, to the Butterfly Bldg and to Fort Mackinac (stopped at the Fort walked the grounds). Because The Grand Hotel restaurants were so expensive, we were told to eat at Fort Mackinac overlooking the harbor and the food came from The Grand Hotel. We did and had a wonderful view and meal. While at the RV park in St. Ignace (not sure which one we stayed at 2007) I found a piece of paper/phamplet in the office of surrounding fruit stands and/or fruit fields. David & I were able to pick strawberries, blueberries and some other fruit (we were in the area around July 4th). We found it worthwhile checking out the local fruit stands. In the UP (and you probably passed it) Paul Bunyon and his cow is out front of a store and a long long walkway overlooking the area. Not sure where (think before you cross the bridge), but under the bridge is an area you can drive to and learn the building and history of the bridge with a video. We found it interesting. St. Ignace has some interesting shops and museums we stopped in to kill time. Mackinac City has lots of history and resturants as well where we had wonderful whitefish dinners. Not sure how it works, but there is a charge going over the bridge one direction, but free going the other direction. David & I bought fudge both no sugar added and regular fudge....lasting us for several weeks....and we, too, sampled the samples. The northern 'mit' of Michigan is just wonderful....enjoy....Lynn Cross

    1. We didn't get to stay long enough to check out everything Lynn. We are still skirting around storms and now hurricanes!!! We did see the Grand Hotel and it was HUGE!! It was a great place I'd like to come back to!!