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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mackinaw City

We pulled out of Houghton Lake early Sunday morning (9AM is early, isn't it!) and had a good trip to Tee Pee Campground here in Mackinaw City. This campground is on the banks of Lake Huron and in direct view of the famous Mackinac Bridge. We're on site 17, which is a back in site with water and 50 amp power, but no sewer, so we're having to be prudent with our wastewater. We're leaving Friday and hoping we can make it that long without having to dump our holding tanks. One of the cool perks of this campground is they build a big bonfire on the beach every night (when possible) where one can sit around the fire enjoying the lights on the bridge and meet and talk to fellow RVer's. It's these kind of impromptu meetings where we pick up some of our best ideas for travel destinations.
           Mackinaw City is  at the northern tip of the lower peninsula and has a population of about a thousand residents. The population increases dramatically in the summer months due to the influx of thousands of tourists.  Mackinaw Point marks the junction of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan and is where the Mackinac Bridge connects the lower peninsula to the upper peninsula (commonly called U P) . The area has a colorful history with many lighthouses, forts and shipwrecks. The waters of the lakes are freshwater and are extremely clear and cold. The warmest the lake temperatures reach is about 70 degrees in the summer and freeze over in the winter. The bridge is home to the famous Mackinac Bridge Walk that is held every labor day and attracts as many as eighty thousand participants. This year will mark their 58th anniversary. Construction of the bridge started in 1954 and was completed in 1957. The total bridge length is over 5 miles with the suspension section being almost 13 thousand feet making it the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. It reminds me a lot of the Golden Gate Bridge we visited last summer.
           We wanted to visit  Mackinac Island on a sunny day, so we went downtown to Mackinaw City to visit several shops while waiting for the clouds to lift. About noon, things started looking better so we went to the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry ticket office. We decided to do the whole tour package, which included the ferry ride to and from the island, two carriage rides around the island, and a tour of Fort Mackinac. The total cost was $55.00 each.  The Star Line Ferry use hydro jet powered boats that  move along pretty quick for a boat that size, and cut the travel time to the island to about 18 minutes from the normal 30 minutes.
               There are no motorized vehicles allowed on Mackinac Island, with the only exception being police and fire vehicles. The only other mode of transportation is horse drawn carriages, horseback, bicycles, or by foot. That's the reason for the large horse population and there must be a zillion bicycles there. Really, cool place and would highly recommend it.

Tee Pee Campground. We're here until Friday.
Our Camp site, #17. Crickett is waving Hi!
Pretty cool shot of our satellite dish with Mackinac Bridge in background and aspen tree beside dish.
Bath House across from our site. It says "Wee Wee Tee Pee"!
Campground staff build a bonfire on beach every night. That's lake Huron in background.
Night shot of Mackinac Bridge taken from beach of campground.
Pier on waterfront in town. New Chevy is doing good (knock on wood!). we like her a lot.

Previous year's bridge walk held every Labor Day.   (photos courtesy of internet)

They close the south bound lane for the Bridge Walk and divert both directions of traffic onto the north bound side until the walk is finished. The highest part of the bridge is over two hundred feet above the water.  The two innermost lanes of the bridge are constructed of a steel grate so the water is visible under their feet.
They run a trolley in town. Part of their tour is to cross the bridge and back.

The Mackinac Bridge. These folks had to be cold because the water sure was.

Old Mackinaw Point Lighthouse.

Fort Michilimackinac under bridge.

Crickett with grandma in taffy store.

Our Ferry

Ferry that was docked in front of us.
Hot Rod Ferry
Here's what the wake looked like from inside the boat. How would you like to be water skiing behind this puppy?

Lighthouse guarding harbor at mackinac Island.

The Grand Hotel. Never did get a good view of it from the carriage ride.

UPS truck on ferry. I assume they off load the packages onto a horse drawn wagon for delivery.

Dock going to shore from ferry.

Main Street. They had beautiful flower arrangements all over town. Most of the stores were either fudge, T-shirt or souvenir shops. 

This was our horse drawn buggy. The horses were two large Belgium draft horse. Our guide was Jake (from State farm!) I couldn't get many pictures because of the low hanging canopy.

Part of horse stable complex. They told us they have the largest group of draft horses in the world. They seemed to be well cared for.

Here's a team of Belgium's getting a drink of water before pulling us on the state park part of the tour.  They use three horses for this part of the tour because the carriages are larger.

Can't remember our guides name, but he was informative and entertaining.

We stopped at the Arches overlook to check it out and for a potty break. The pictures I took there weren't too hot, so I didn't include them.

Upper entrance to Fort Mackinac.

This fellow was playing 17th century tunes on his flute and was very good. He and others had on period uniforms.

View of Mackinac Island harbor taken from the fort.

They do a canon firing every hour. This gentleman is explaining the procedures involved in getting the canon ready to fire. It was pretty loud.

Lower entrance to fort. They had girl scouts stationed throughout the area to assist with directions. I thought that was pretty cool.

Main Street

Stately Grand Hotel carriage. Check out how the horses are in step. 

There were so many bicycles parked alongside the street it was difficult finding a place clear enough to cross.

Windermere Hotel.


  1. You have done a wonderful job covering Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island.

  2. From Betty: We stayed at the same campground here too! I see that we missed a LOT on Macinac Island by getting there too late to take any of the tours. Then we left the next am & crossed that scary bridge on the way to the UP.

  3. I can't get over what a beautiful blue color the water is in this area of the world. And no, I would not like to be water skiing behind that boat! That would be a drowning!