Well, we had to leave Canada and head back to Michigan so we decided to make the most of it. We stopped over for the evening in DeTour Village, MI and checked back in with US Customs and Border Patrol. The next morning we headed to St. Ignace, MI. We couldn’t get a reservation in Mackinac Island and Ben and I had a surprise up our sleeves for the girls. We hadn’t been to St. Ignace before and our good friend Kathy was driving home from Manistique to Detroit right through St. Ignace. We had made arrangements to meet her there but never told the girls. It saves a lot of nonstop questions and of course heartache if plans change. And provides so much joy when a surprise works out. These kids love each other like sisters. We are so lucky to have friends that will travel to where we are and make sure we stay connected. Every visit is so special. We pulled into St. Ignace in insane wind. Ben had to use full engine force to get us in our slip and safely secured. We had about an hour to wait and then SURPRISE! We had just helped the Herbons dock and I randomly asked if the girls wanted to walk up to the parking lot. Molly asked why but agreed and followed me. Maddy was trailing behind. When Molly caught sight of the Burnetts she turned to me and yelled “WHAT????!!!!” and took off running.
We spent the afternoon with the kids happily playing on the boat and the grown ups catching up and hanging out. We took a walk along the water front, bought some more fudge, cooked dinner and got everyone settled for the night. This was supposed to be a quick visit. Potentially just for the afternoon with Kathy driving the rest of the way that evening. We hoped we could convince her to stay over and drive home the next morning. This was the first time their dog Paolo had been on our boat and she was a little worried about how he’d do. He did just fine and Kathy agreed to stay.
Our plan for the next morning was to call Mackinac Island first thing and ask if they had a first come first served day of slip available. If so we had to go right away so we didn’t lose the slip so we knew it might be a fast goodbye. Sure enough Ben called about 8:45 AM and they did indeed have a slip for us but they won’t hold the slips. Whoever pulls in first gets them, so Ben said he was dropping lines as quickly as he could. He put Kathy on the spot and convinced her rapidly to stay on the boat and come with us. We said we’d run them back the 4 miles to St. Ignace later in the dinghy or they could take the ferry one way. A little crazy but off we went!
The Wilsons were already on the island and the Herbons were coming over later that afternoon. We quickly introduced Kathy and the girls to the Wilsons, sent the girls to run around at the park and then walked around town a bit.
Molly and Livia were super excited to head out biking. We have four bikes on board so we convinced them to take Maddy and Claudia with them. We decided when they got back that Ben, Kathy and I would go and we’d rent a small bike for Sabina.
Poor Molly and Livia. All they wanted to do was bike the island! Those pesky little sisters had other plans. Always off in their own world, they stopped to collect rocks, stack rocks, play on the rocks…. None of our kids have phones so we sent the girls off with my phone strapped to one of the bikes. Ben was able to track them by following my phone. He’d report where they were. And then he said they turned around. Then maybe not. Then standing still. At this point they should have been over halfway around and appeared not to be moving so we gave them a call. They explained that Maddy and Claudia were playing on the rocks and then tried to load all their rocks on their bikes, which promptly spilled and someone fell over and on and on and on. We told them to turn around and come back because we were all starving! After a fabulous lunch we let Molly and Livia go by themselves and bike the island. They took my phone again and were responsible with their checking in from time to time. I’ll say it again….the independence they’ve had this summer is amazing.
Once they returned Kathy, Ben and I headed out to rent a bike for Sabina. This tiny 6 year old biked the entire 8.2 miles! She was determined!
Now it was time to return Kathy, the girls and Paolo to the car. But, we convinced her to stay again. She had an appointment the next morning so no more delays. We spent the rest of the evening getting huge ice cream cones and shaved ice and walking around. We had some sliced veggies and snacks for dinner and called it a night.
Bright and early Thursday morning Ben dropped the dinghy and we loaded everyone in. The goodbyes are always so hard and this time our fall schedule is so up in the air that we weren’t sure when our next visit would be. Everyone fit in the dinghy and the girls and I watched as they took off and got smaller and smaller on the horizon. Ben said the 4 miles back to St. Ignace was pretty easy. While he was running them across we went and helped the Wilsons untie their lines. They were heading to Harbor Springs. So many goodbyes in one day!
When Ben got back to the boat it was time for one more jaunt exploring the island before we had to take off for Charlevoix. We headed out to bike the island one more time. I stopped with Maddy to take a picture of the rock tower she and Claudia made when they were supposed to be biking.
Next we stopped at the walk up to Arch Rock. We’ve previously just biked past and taken pictures from the ground. This time I wanted to walk up. Hmmmm…..that was a LOT of steps to climb when we’d biked over 8 miles the day before. But what a view. It was gorgeous. Arch Rock is a natural limestone arch formed during a post-glacial period. It’s beautiful to see it from up high.
We also discovered this is the route all of the horse and carriage tours take. We’d never strayed from the bike path before. Madelyn was so excited to see so many horses. She took some time to pet a few of them.
At the halfway point around the island we decided to turn off the path and go up. And UP we went! We went uphill for about 2 miles over the center of the island. It was a bit grueling. We passed the airport which Molly kept asking about. We passed a beautiful cemetery. We passed a LOT of horse and carriages. Madelyn was desperate to rent one but we kept telling her no. It’s just not a passion the rest of us have. One day we’ll give in. But, we did find the next best thing. Once we started to head downhill we ran smack into the Grand Hotel Stables. What an amazing structure. This was the Grand Hotel’s main stable and barn and it was spotless.
The building was both the stable and a sort of museum. The old carriages on display were immaculate and beautiful to look at. We also got to walk over and see all of the horses who were not out at the time. Maddy liked Jester the best. There was a short description of each horse’s lineage on the wall as well. Additionally we got to walk into the tack room. This was a special detour for Maddy.
Eventually we had to move along and finish our ride. We headed down the hill, past the Grand Hotel and back into town and onto the bike path. We got back to the marina and began the process of loading four bikes onto the boat. This is primarily done by Ben. He is a good sport and does this often but I know it’s a lot of work. Unfortunately my darn back won’t let me help as much as he and I would like.
Alas, we had to start our trek home. First we said goodbye to Canada. Now we had to say goodbye to Mackinac Island. We love it there. We left around 1 pm to head to Charlevoix.
Back to reality on the boat. It was time to clean. We spent some of the 6 hour ride scrubbing floors and cleaning bathrooms. The girls did all of it and I supervised. We pulled into the marina in Charlevoix just before dusk and let the girls take a quick swim before bed.
We had to head to Chicago the next morning via a rental car for my grandfather’s funeral. We are thankful to boating friends of ours for letting us use their slip in Charlevoix while we traveled home.