So Long, Mackinac Island – Hello, U.P.!

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It was time to say goodbye to our friends at the Seabiscuit Café on Mackinac Island.

We purchased a bottle of their delicious private label wine (“Seabiscuit Ranch Superfecta Meritage”) and had John Nash sign it for us!

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Then we boarded the ferry and headed back to the mainland, where we picked up our car and drove it across the beautiful Mackinac Bridge toward the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Crossing the Mackinac Island Bridge

Crossing the Mackinac Island Bridge

The U.P. (or Upper Peninsula) is bordered on three sides by Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan and Huron.   It has gorgeous remote beaches and forests, along with quaint small towns.  The place has a flavor all its own — Although not as isolated as in the days before the great bridge linked the two pieces of Michigan and made travel between them easier, it still has an appealing remote northern feel to it and a strong regional identity.

Along the coast of Lake Michigan (Michigan - U.P.)

Along the coast of Lake Michigan (Michigan – U.P.)

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And once again, here is proof that you can find used books nearly everywhere you go…

 

 

Somewhere along Rte. 2 - Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Honest Injun’s Tourist Trap – Somewhere along Rte. 2 – Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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And here are a couple of the books that we purchased there!

 

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And here is another book shop we found on the upper peninsula near

Moran, Michigan called First Edition, Too

First Edition Too - a used and rare book shop in Moran, Michigan (U.P.)

First Edition, Too – a used and rare book shop in Moran, Michigan (U.P.)

It looked like the kind of place we just love.  Unfortunately, it was closed and we couldn’t get an answer at the adjoining house.   From information garnered on-line, the owner has been a bookseller for 35 years.  The shop specializes in Michigan and Great Lakes history but also carries a full line of general stock.

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Definitely our kind of place!  Sorry we missed out, but there will be another trip up this way in our future.

 

Our Visit to Fort Mackinac

                               A raven perched atop a stockade at old Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island…

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There is so much history on Mackinac Island, and for decades, much jockeying for position and control among the French, British, Native Americans and American colonists!  Construction on this fort was begun by the Brits in 1780.  It was built to replace Fort Michilimackinac, which had been constructed  down closer to the shore of the island by the French in 1714 as a means of controlling the fur trade and European development along the Great Lakes.  Fort Mackinac was built by the British during the American Revolutionary War so that they could control the Straits of Mackinac (water passage between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan).   The Fort was turned over to the United States in 1796, but recaptured by the British again in 1812.

Read a brief and interesting history of the fort HERE.

 

Fort Mackinac sits high on a bluff on Mackinac Island, 150 feet above the harbor

Fort Mackinac sits high on a bluff on Mackinac Island, 150 feet above the harbor

 

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Walkway from the street to Fort Mackinac

Walkway from the street to Fort Mackinac

If you want to read a first-hand account of what life was like here in the early days, read this exquisitely written biography by Juliette M. Kinzie, WAU-BUN – The Early Day in the Northwest.  It is the detailed life of an educated Eastern woman, when as a bride she came to unnamed Wisconsin (with an extended stop at Fort Michilmackinac on Mackinac Island), and shared the experiences of her husband, the Indian agent at Fort Winnebago.  Her description of the Indians, army officers, traders, modes of travel, and hardships are enlivened with a sense of humor, vivid feeling for nature, and a just sense of values.

 

Wau-Bun - The "Early Day" In the Northwest (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930) Newer edition of an old classic originally published in 1856

Wau-Bun – The “Early Day” In the Northwest (George Banta Publishing Co., 1930) Newer edition of an old classic originally published in 1856

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Below is a view toward the harbor from Fort Mackinac…

View toward the harbor from Fort Mackinac

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In the large stone building which was the “Officer’s Quarters” there is now a visitors’ tea room (Fort Mackinac Tea Room) with an outdoor dining patio.  It has good food and reasonable prices, and is operated by the Grand Hotel.

Dining patio off the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac

Dining patio off the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac

Some cheery geraniums along the wall of the Officers' Quarters

Some cheery geraniums along the wall of the Officers’ Quarters

Looking down toward the harbor and town from the patio…

 

20160715_104134Approach to the center area of the compound…

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Inside the compound of Fort Mackinac

Inside the compound of Fort Mackinac

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Here are some views from the interior of a house which is inside the compound of the Fort.  The rooms, doors, floors and staircase of this house was so similar to ours here at Old Scrolls that I felt I’d come home!  Also (like ours) constructed in the mid-1800’s.

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A Native American dwelling in the original style of the area at the edge of the grounds of Fort Mackinac

Another fascinating book to read about Mackinac Island is the historical novel titled The Loon Feather by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940).   Winner of the Hopwood Award, this novel is the story of Oneta, daughter of Tecumseh, and granddaughter of the chief of the loon tribe of the Ojibways.  It takes place during the fur trading days on Mackinac Island.

The Loon Feather, by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940 First Edition)

The Loon Feather, by Iola Fuller (Harcourt Brace, NY, 1940 First Edition)

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The Beauty of Mackinac Island

While on our summer 2016 Midwest book scouting trip, we hopped a ferry for historic Mackinac Island.

20160714_082505There are many ferries which transport goods and passengers to the island out of both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace (across the bridge).  We chose Shepler’s Ferry Service out of Mackinaw City, which runs about $26 per adult fare.  The ride to Mackinac Island is about 30 minutes.

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As Ron was about to park in the day visit lot, I said, “I think you should choose overnight parking.  Once you see the Island, you may be inclined to stay overnight.”   I had been to Mackinac Island several times as a young adult, and held wonderful memories of it.  But it had been a very long time since my last visit — I hadn’t been there in forty years — it might have changed.

We took no luggage, but parked in the overnight lot…just in case!

It was a gorgeous day.  The sky above and the waters of Lake Huron were so clear.  Here is our approach to the island harbor…

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Once we were on the shore and walking up the dock toward town, I teased Ron that I thought I remembered it being a “dry” island (no bars!!).   Hee-hee, sometimes I’m terrible.  He panicked until we rounded the corner and he spotted The Seabiscuit Café on Main Street.  Where you can always bet on a good time!

 

Seabiscuit Café, Main Street, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Seabiscuit Café, Main Street, Mackinac Island, Michigan

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Offering reassurance, our new friend behind the bar, John Nash, fixed Ron up with a splendid Bloody Mary and me with a beautiful glass of Seabiscuit Meritage wine.   All was well. There are many fun places to drink and dine on the island, but this turned out to be our favorite.  It was John Nash who later rang up the Harbour View Inn (where he once worked as a concierge) to help us access a room for an overnight stay on the island.

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After our drink and a little snack, we set out on foot to explore the Island.  Mackinac Island has always been automobile-free.  There is a small airport, and of course, a few emergency vehicles…but horses, boats, and bicycles are the main modes of transportation, and it makes for a pretty peaceful life.

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Group of horses being led down Main Street on Mackinac Island

Group of horses being led down Main Street on Mackinac Island

 

There are beautiful flowers EVERYWHERE on this island, and every home, inn and garden is beautifully maintained.

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We walked past lovely homes (the island is famous for its beautiful array of Victorian architecture) and Inns,  and the State Harbor.

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Look at this gorgeous old hedge!

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And here is the Inn at which we ended up getting a room for the night…because of course the island was even better than I remembered it…and Ron loved it too.

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The beautiful and historic Harbour View Inn on Mackinac Island

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And of course we still had to tour the great old Fort Mackinac, and the spectacular Grand Hotel, and to find old books if we could…so of course we needed at least another day on the island.   In my next post, you can join us on the longest hotel porch in the world!

On the Straits of Mackinac

Does this look like an ocean side hotel on the coast of Florida?

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Fairview Inn, Mackinaw City, Michigan

Would you believe it is on the sandy beach of Lake Huron in Mackinaw City, Michigan?

After driving north through central Michigan, our plan was to visit Mackinac Island by ferry the following day, so we chose a hotel in Mackinaw City on the shores of the  Straits of Mackinac where Great Lakes Huron and Michigan meet.

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge

Mackinaw City sits at the upper tip of the Michigan mitten — at the base of the great suspension bridge that connects lower Michigan to its upper peninsula, the Mackinac Bridge.   The bridge was designed by the great engineer David B. Steinman and opened on November 1, 1957.  It is still the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere with 7,400 feet of roadway suspended in the air over the straits of Mackinac.

Mackinaw City is the docking place for many ferries that take passengers and supplies to Mackinac Island, a national historic landmark and State Park reachable only by boat (or small plane).

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room in Mackinaw City

Rich in history and home of the glorious Grand Hotel and beautiful old Fort Mackinac, the island has never allowed cars and is pure heaven for horse lovers, pedestrians and bicyclists.  More about that later!

Within walking distance of our hotel we found a nice place for dinner called Blue Water Grill, and dined on their outdoor patio.

Blue Water Grill & Bar - Mackinaw City, Michigan

Blue Water Grill & Bar – Mackinaw City, Michigan

Later we enjoyed the beautiful summer evening on the beach.  Water was crystal clear and perfect temperature for swimming.  And NO SHARKS!!

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I did see an otter swim by me, though while I was wading in the lake during the evening.  Unfortunately I did not capture his photograph…

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Thanks for following along on our recap of our 2016 summer Midwest book scouting adventure.  The next post will take you with us to Mackinac Island!  Stay tuned…

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