Mackinac Island — “Beauty Weekend”


Michelle and I have this tender way of adding the prefix of Beauty to things we like to do. Call it gay, but I think it’s tender, and it fertilizes our love and happiness. Okay, enough of that. I’m drafting for a Fantasy Football League tonight and having beer and pizza…alright?

Anyway, we had an amazing weekend up at Mackinac Island! Michelle took the day off on Friday to help us get prepared for our 4 1/2 hour journey up north. I got into work really early, about 6:45 A.M. It was well worth it. It was practically empty in here, except for a few NOC folks and my buddy, Gord. At 7:00 A.M., we went to the cafeteria for my 2nd coffee of the day. My first one was a Venti White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks at 16 and John R. It’s nice when you don’t go to the gym and you leave from home really early! Anyway…work was “slow”, so to speak, being that there was nobody there to interrupt my work on some logical forms! I scooted out of work at about 10:45 A.M. I stopped at REI to get us some “Goo” for the next few weeks’ long runs! We have 18, 14, 20, and 12 scheduled the next four weeks. The mid-week runs are never long enough to require “goo”. So, after this little pit-stop, I got home, and we quickly packed “Victor” the Vector up and headed out!

We had a very uneventful drive up. We hit a little bit of traffic near Flint and then a little bit near West Branch (construction). Victor drove most beautifully. Sixth gear was a dream…the car was getting anywhere from 28 to 30.3 miles per gallon. Also, the 16 gallon tank made the trip even better We didn’t have to refuel until we were on our way home, and that was about 100 miles south of Mackinac City!

On the way up, Pepe called us and told us that his mom and dad had the Vette up in Mackinac City for a weekend Big Mac bridge crossing they were doing on either Friday or Saturday night, as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Corvette. We were hoping we’d run into them while we bs’d around Mackinac City…no such luck! It was worth a try though. I wanted to show Dr. Pappas our newest member of the family, Victor!

We did the usual stroll into the Traverse Bay Woollen Co. and the little “mall” they have with all those silly little shops. We probably spent about 1.5 hours in Mackinac City, at the most. Just enough to wet our appetites, but we were really excited about getting on the ferry and hitting the island!

So, we got our luggage and supplies together, paid the $15.50 each for the ferry ticket…a whopping $1.00 off per ticket. Thanks Bay View Bed and Breakfast for the awesome discount! Hee hee. We loaded up a paper bag with some water and Red Bulls, and just as we were making our way to the loading area, the bag ripped, and our waters and Red Bulls (Diet) went all over the place! It was funny, actually, and kind of dumb on our part! We shoved the liquids into our luggage, and were on our way. We sat inside of the ferry boat for the most part, but as we got closer, I decided it’d be a good idea to go to the front of the vessel (outside) and take pictures of our approach to the island and of The Grand Hotel! It was awesome! The boat goes along at a very nice clip, actually, and I managed to get a few good pictures! You know, it seemed odd, as the last time I was on a ferry boat, I was approaching the island of Keffalonia, in Greece. And coming up to Mackinac Island reminded me a lot of approaching those Ionian Sea islands on the West of Greece.

We were SO excited when we finally the island! We grabbed our bags and headed onto Main St. We turned left, as we figured out from the map that Bay View B&B was to the left. It had been 18 years since I’ve been to Mackinac Island, and it was 100% brand new to me! The weather was beautiful! We quickly made it to Bay View and checked it. The building was beautiful! Cheryl helped us check in after about :30 of confusion on what room we’d have, and we were up to the 3rd floor before we could blink our eye. Cheryl did give us the low-down on breakfast each morning, as well as the tea, coffee, and desserts later in the day!

When we got up to our room, we were blown away. It was such a nice room, overlooking the street to the East. It was as tender as it gets. It had a “full” bed, and a smaller bed, where we put our stuff. We didn’t stay in the room long. We regrouped, and headed out, to explore the island, for as long as we had energy to do so!

We headed back towards the center of town, on Main St., taking in all the other inns, hotels, and B&Bs on our way. We slowly walked past the front of Fort Michilimackinac, which was like a park, paid attention to how many people were there, resting, reading, sitting, laughing, enjoying themselves and the day! We walked into the “thick” of things “downtown”, and slowly made our way to the end of the strip, and started heading north on the island, along the boardwalk and looking at the beautiful private houses! We took some pictures of the beautiful houses, the library, and some other “keepers”. We walked through the park that is attached to the school and headed up the street. To our surprise, we came to the bottom of the Grand Hotel! Impressive it was!!! We quickly saw the sign that said after 6 P.M., proper attire was required. We knew that we wouldn’t be able to get into the hotel this day, but we looked in awe, and took it all in! We spotted a fun red phone booth, like the kind you see in the U. K. We took a few fun pictures, and headed down the road. The Stone Church caught our eye..took a picture or two of that! All this time, mind you, we’re also taking in the horse-drawn carriages, and people on horseback. It’s quite a site to see NO motor vehicles on this island! Even the street-sweepers are machines that are drawn by horses, and there are also the random shit scooper people that walk around with wheel barrows and other buggies, scooping up horse shit with shovels. That is a job I’d NEVER want to have! I’m glad I went to college!

By this time, we were pretty hungry and pretty thirsty! We decided that having a beer or three would be okay, as long as we drank water. We didn’t want our Saturday morning run to be influenced (negatively) by dehydration from alcohol! We ran into a fun bar/restaurant called the French Outpost! There was a wedding in progress on the patio when we got there, actually, a reception. The whole island was weddings all weekend, actually. We sat at the bar and had some drinks. I had some Bell’s Oberon, while Michelle sucked down some Pina Coladas, and froze herself, like usual! She’s so cute! We decided that we’d eat in the restaurant and headed in. I had a wild mushroom salad w/ chicken and Michelle had a Michigan Cherry Cobb salad. I also had another beer. Michelle stuck with water! She was too cold! Dinner and drinks were perfect!

After dinner, we headed towards town, but this time, we took Market St., which is one block up from Main St. Market St. is kind of cool, as it’s much quieter than Main St. It consists mainly of smaller boutiques, art galleries, a medical center, post office, smaller hotels, and a horse stable, for renting your own horse! We found some people on Market St. who asked me to take their picture! They returned the favor, which made me happy, since we aren’t in too many of our own pictures! The people were from Shelby Township…a small world, ain’t it?

Anyway, we enjoyed Market St., and headed down to Main St. We really wanted to eat some ice cream of some sort to top off the night, before we headed in to “rest” for our 12 mile Saturday morning run! We went to the Waffle House where we saw all sorts of options. I chose to get Mackinac Island Fudge flavor, stuffed between two warm waffles. Michelle chose to get a cup of ice cream. She didn’t think my option looked very appealing. I begged to differ! After this scrumptious treat, we headed back to our room, where I quickly crashed. Michelle stayed up until about 10:45 P.M., reading and watching TV. I got plenty of rest.

Saturday morning, we got out of bed at 8:00 A.M. and headed down for breakfast! We had coffee and a few muffins, orange and cranberry flavored. We also ate these throughout the day, whenever we stopped into the Bay View B&B! They had a fruit dish for an appetizer, then we had some sort of quiche looking thing but it was mainly potatoes with cheese on top. Very good! We also had this very nice and warm cinammon stick thing! TASTY! After breakfast, we sat on the porch for nearly an hour, talking to John, one of the staff members, possibly the manager of the Bay View. He told us all about running around the island, the Jamaicans who work at all the inns and hotels, and also about the local people, the local government, and the rules about motor vehicles on the island. They don’t even allow Segways on the island! Jeez!

At about 10:00 A.M., we headed upstairs to pack up our water, goo, money, etc. for our run. We strapped on our running shoes, lathered up with Body Glide (to prevent chaffage), and hydrated before our run. We got out onto Main St. and started our run, westward, at about 10:15 A.M. We had to maneuver through foot and horse traffic for the first 1/4 mile or so though town, but after that, it was smooth sailing, all the way around the island, for 8 miles. We saw many private homes along the way. All I can say is Daaaaaammmmnnnnnnn! Some really nice houses. It’s gotta be so damn quiet to live there or vacation there, but freight/transit is a bitch. Everything has to go through the local transit company who uses nothing but horses! The weather during the run couldn’t have been better. It probably started off about 65 degrees, with little humidity. This was probably our best and most consistent run yet, in terms of pace. We only stopped to run at about the 7 mile mark for 1 minute and then one more time at around the 10 mile mark! Michelle was a bit stiff, and I felt great. It may have been the first run in my life of this distance that I could have possibly NOT stopped. Although stopping helps the joints stretch and recover a bit! All in all, I think this was our best run, ever! I want to thank my wife, Michelle, for getting me into this lifestyle! THANK YOU, MICHELLE!

After the run, we had planned on grabbing a beer, before we even got back to our room to change, but we decided against it. Instead, we grabbed some water and juice, looked around the nearby dock, coffee house, and Mackinac Island Outfitter store. After this little break, we got to our room, showered, got dressed, and headed out for the Butterfly House! I’ll tell ya, I thought it was going to be gay, but it was pretty damn cool! I’ve never seen so many butterflies and so many different kinds of butterflies!!! It was actually quite amazing. The place had an aquarium sort of setup with butterflies in the pupa stage, which is just before they “hatch” into butterflies. The curator there was telling us how they get them from commercial butterfly farms. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I haven’t. Anyway, the butterfly house was awesome. Nice and warm, with butterflies of all kinds flying all over the place. It was amazing to see how they had two sides to their wings. On many of them one side was like camouflage and the other side was bright and brilliant! We stayed in the house for about 20 minutes!

After the Butterfly House, we walked around some more down Main St. and then headed up towards The Grand Hotel. On our way to Market St., we stopped into this Bark Missionary thingamabob right near the bottom of the fort! Afterwards, we stopped into some of the galleries and small shops on Market St. Some of the art galleries were awesome, especially Ivey Blitz’s fine art photo gallery! I love photos more than paintings for some reason.

After our stroll down Market St., we decided that it would be a good idea to stop at our favorite bar, The French Outpost, and have another drink. Michelle got another Pina Colada, and I got another Oberon…make that two drinks each!

After our drinks, served by the same bartender, we headed up to The Grand Hotel and paid our $10 fee to get in and walk around. Before we got in, we saw a bride and groom, whispering “sweet nothings” into their ears. It was super tender! We were BLOWN AWAY when we got into the hotel! It was huge! It had a salon, a jeweler, and all sorts of shops and stores on the first floor. The 2nd floor had a very nice lobby, where a wedding reception was forming, and there was also an afternoon tea/dessert party going on. We walked out onto the porch, which is the longest wooden porch in the world. On one half of it was a wedding reception for the couple we saw earlier. It looked like an awesome place to have a wedding, and the weather couldn’t have been better. On the grounds below, it looked like dinner was being set up, as there were cooks and staff all over the place getting things prepared! We were quickly asked by some wait staff if we wanted a drink, we said no. After the porch visit, we went up to the 6th floor, where we stopped into this strange bar. Cool looking, nice view of the pool, below, but it wasn’t for us. It didn’t grab our attention. I think we have ADD!

After our visit to the hotel, we walked up the hill and took the “back roads” back towards town. We walked by the Governor’s Mansion (or house — I forgot). By this time, it was time for us to do our “Sunset Special” for our bike rental. It was about $50/day to rent a bike, or $16 if you rented after 6 P.M. and brought it back before 9 A.M. We got “cruiser” style bikes and headed east! How comfortable… these bikes were WAY more comfortable than our mountain bikes at home! Our main goal was to see the Cemetery that was in the middle of the island, somewhere! We had SO MUCH FUN riding these bikes! It was a nice relief from walking and running, actually, although our legs were a bit tired and sore! We got halfway around the island when we found our road to the cemetery and Skull Cave. We had to turn in (left) on British Landing Road! We had an uphill ride all the way to the cemetery, it seemed, but when we got there, we got off the bikes and had a nice stroll through two of the 3 parts of the cemetery! There were some pretty old tombstones in there, some over 150 years old! One of the parts of the cemetery was one with soldiers that died on the island, most of them unknown! After the cemetery visit, we stopped in front of Skull Cave to take a picture, then we headed to town for dinner. On the way, we drove by the Governor’s Mansion again, and then went behind the Fort, which was quite cool, actually. In the end, we decided on the Pilot House for beer, nachos, and bbq chicken pizza. We also got to watch a good portion of the Lions vs. Browns (preseason). It was quite cool. After our drinks there, we went to Horn’s Bar, the local Irish Pub, where we enjoyed another Oberon each, watched more of the Lions, and watched an obnoxious bride-to-be in her bachelorette party! At this point, we were tired, and headed home. It was kind of nice to ride your bike to eat and go to bars! Kind of simple. We thought we’d want ice cream, but we were bushwhacked!

We pretty much dropped off the bikes at the bike shop (next door to our place). We had a chance to hear the tail-end of these two guitarists that were playing in the veranda (where they have breakfast). There were about 10 spectators watching with beer and wine. It looked relaxing, actually. After that, we headed up to our room, where we brushed our teeph, washed our faces, and crashed! I think we read for about 45 minutes before sleeping…it was VERY relaxing! I actually started reading Kevin Mitnick’s book, The Art of Deception. It’s starting to be an awesome book!

Sunday morning, we got up early again, around 7:45 A.M., and headed down for breakfast. They had some sort of french toast with some sort of peach marmalade glaze, fairly large sausages, and pieces of fruit! After eating, we decided it was time to go. We headed to the room, packed up real quick, and headed out. At check-out, we talked to John about our run. He told us a story about a cool run he did in New Zealand, when he was there helping run a B&B. This guy seems to lead a pretty cool retirement! Glad we met him!

Our drive home was slightly traffic-filled. Last big weekend before the holiday (Labor Day), lots of people up north, add in the construction, and you get some shitty spots. But it was alright. A few heroes on the way, but no incidents! We pretty much got into town in 4 1/2 hours. Stopped at Great Lakes Crossing to get a few things for Afeena, plus I got a pair of pants for work, since many of pants are 36 inch waist, and are pretty big on me now. I grabbed 34 inch, which fit nicely (wearing them now!). After the mall, we ran to Nino Salvaggio’s to do some grocery shopping, then we headed home, where we unpacked, started laundry, packed for the next day at work and the gym, and worked on websites and watched TV. It was a VERY relaxing evening at home!

All in all, Beauty Weekend was a complete success!!!