Lake Superior Splendor -- Mackinac Island

36 guests tour Mackinac Island on the horse drawn carriage ride, posing at the Surry House.
36 guests tour Mackinac Island on the horse drawn carriage ride, posing at the Surry House.(Nancy Flur)
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:36 PM EDT
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MACKINAC ISLAND, MI. (WTAP) - This is Kirk’s personal blog about the Holiday Vacations “Lake Superior Splendor”. As a result, it is only his opinions and does not reflect either the station nor Holiday Vacations opinions.

Our day on Mackinac Island got off on the wrong foot. When I woke up, I immediately felt a twinge in my right shoulder, and by the time I got in the shower, it was a full muscle spasm. This began to overshadow my day on the island, threatening to spoil the crown jewel of this trip.

After a light breakfast, we gathered for a “taxi ride” in a horse drawn trailer from the city up to a staging location behind the Grand Hotel. There, we not only saw historical displays but also changed from a two horse drawn wagon to a 3 horse team. The driver from Romania keeps us entertained as she describes various sites and history of the island.

We view the Mackinac Fort, Fort Huron, Arc Rock, Skull Cave, St. Anne’s cemetery and more, but did not stop for Sugarloaf Rock. After an hour tour, we are returned to the staging point, the Surrey House, and transfer back to our two horse wagon, carrying 24 of us at a time. We are told the Draft Horses enjoy pulling the wagons, but each have personalities of their own. We also learn more about the program that has been bringing college students and Romanian exchange students to the Island for 3 1/2 month at a time. They make minimum wage, but the more engaging ones can make more in tips.

We dismount at the Grand Hotel for our luncheon and walk the lower hall. Along the way is a room dedicated to the two movies shot on Mackinac Island….”This Time For Keeps” (1940s) and “Somewhere in Time (1979). There are production stills and memorabilia from one of our favorite movies featuring Christopher Reeves, Jayne Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. It’s a high point for me.

We enter the main dining room and are seated for a buffet luncheon with many varied salads, treats, vegetables, meats, cold cuts, hot meats and more. It’s spectacular view of the Straits from our window, including a glimpse of the Big Mac Bridge off to one side.

After posing for a group photo on the front porch with the bridge behind us, we separate to explore the hotel and visit the various bars, sitting rooms and public spaces. A few of us walk down the front steps to the front lawn were several key scene of ‘Somewhere in Time” were shot. We walk down around the hotel pool down to the island shore highway where we find the “Is it You” memorial marker, marking another key spot where two characters meet for the first time. It’s another high point for me.

We walk along the boardwalk for the half mile back into town, past fudge shops, bicycle rentals, bars, gift shops and more to the Murray Hotel. There, we separate, shower off and don our swimsuits for an hour’s soak in the hotel hot tub pool. This helps to relax the knot in my neck and allows me to go out exploring once again.

We decided to rent bicycles for an hour to go find Sugarloaf Rock. Bad idea, as we’re both over 60 and haven’t ridden a bike in years, let alone the geared down mountain bikes that we attempt to ride. After walking the bikes up the steep hill behind the Fort, we eventually find a semi flat stretch and adjust the seats and gears to ride briskly through the old growth forest on roads and trails. After a half an hour, we find the rock feature, snap a few photos and return back, mostly by the same routes. We emerge behind the Grand Hotel and roll swiftly down the hill, but still under control. As we return to the bike rent, our hour is up and they don’t charge us for the two extra minutes it takes to check in. That’s fair.

We walk to Mighty Mac Hamburgers and order two for our dinner, enjoying the A/C in the store. We return to our room, where the spasms in my neck prevent me from being able to type or post any stories. I am concerned that I may have to visit a doctor for a muscle relaxer, but decide to give it one more day as I take Motrin and Ibuprofen to relax. Sometime in here, an ambulance comes to hotel and removes/transports an older gentleman to the island hospital. It’s one of the three motor vehicles on the island. All the rest are bicycles, horse carts, wagons, or porter wagons.

Finally, we sit in front of our hotel in rockers chatting with other NY tourists about our group and our trip. My wife walks across the street to get some ice cream, and I discover that I can’t rise from the rocker without triggering a spasm. Now I’m really concerned but decide to sleep on it. I lay on the bed until sleep comes, and spend some 8 hours trying to beat the tension. I rack my brain, trying to remember what I did that might have caused this spasm to start. I cannot narrow it to any one thing.

Tomorrow we leave the island.

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