"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” ~A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
For more than a year, Cam had been anticipating the 8th grade class trip. His teacher told Chris and Jane during his 7th grade conferences. We had decided then that the farewell to 8th grade event would become a Weatherford family vacation. The class was scheduled to spend a full day on Mackinac Island.
Thursday morning, Chris and Jane volunteered to be chaperones and drive Brody and Cam in their van so they could sleep a bit longer. The 220+ eighth graders were scheduled to be at school at 5:10am on Thursday, and our van departed with two of those students at 6:00am. We arrived in Mackinaw City at the same time and promptly entered the line for the 10am ferry ride to Mackinac Island. Mackinac Island sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas. For centuries, visitors have found this national landmark to be the ideal vacation spot. No cars. No chain hotels. Just world-famous Mackinac Island Fudge, historic Fort Mackinac, unique shopping and diverse dining.
Upon exiting our ferry ride, we made our way to the horse and carriage tour, which had been pre-planned. Our carriage had a ramp on the back for Cam and our tour guide was Cheyenne. The weather was cooler and cloudy, but the rain stayed away. During our hour+ long ride, we learned about the history of Mackinac Island and had a stop at the Arch Rock to take pictures. Around 12:30pm, we disembarked at the famous Grand Hotel, built in 1887 with the largest porch at 660 feet in length. We all dined at the lunch buffet in the five-star hotel, which was elegant and extravagant. Afterward, our small group with Cam's teacher and three classmates, browsed the hotel and made our way back into town exploring Main St.
At one of the fudge shops, a young man named Apollo noticed Cam watching him craft the fudge through the window. He offered Cam a huge chunk of warm fudge which was packaged up and given to him. A little after 4p, we made our way back to the ferry to ride to St. Ignace. Chris had gotten the van back in Mackinaw City and met us in St. Ignace.
We said goodbye to Cam's classmates and teacher and found our hotel, Breaker's Resort. Luckily for us, a restaurant was located on the resort grounds and we were thankful to be so close to our beds. Sleep came easily that evening.
Breakfast was included and after packing a lunch, we made our way to Tahquamenon Falls, roughly 90 minutes from St. Ignace. The Tahquamenon Falls are a series of waterfalls on the Tahquamenon River, shortly before it empties into Lake Superior, in the northeastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They are the largest waterfalls in Michigan, and one of the largest in the eastern half of North America. We were so excited that both the Lower and Upper Falls were completely accessible! Our packed lunch was eaten at a picnic table and then we were on the road again. Back by the hotel, we checked out the Mackinac Bridge viewing spot and had dinner at a local pizza place. At our resort, a big bonus was the pool lift that also reached over into the hot tub. It was a perfect ending to a great sightseeing Friday.
On Saturday, we planned to head back to Mackinac Island and we were greeted with plenty of sunshine in the morning. This time, we took a ferry ride that went under the bridge.
Mackinac Bridge, a long-span suspension bridge, spans the Mackinac Straits from the Upper to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. It is the third longest suspension bridge in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge; it is the 25th longest in the world. The Mackinac Bridge was not constructed until the 1950s because of World War II. It was opened to vehicle traffic in 1957.
The longer ferry ride over gave us an opportunity to chat with some crew members and hear recommendations for our day. Upon arrival, we promptly put our name in at The Pink Pony restaurant for lunch. It is one of the most famous places on the island and was established in 1948. We were able to eat outside among the pink table umbrellas. Cam and his mom split the beer battered whitefish and cauliflower crust margarita flatbread and Chris opted for the whitefish sandwich. The food did not disappoint and we were off to explore the view from the Grand Hotel once again. We made our back to Main St. to browse the stores, witness the fudge making craft and purchase some treats.
When we boarded the ferry for our return trip, the same crew members we had talked to were there once again. They were eager to hear about our day and happy that we followed their recommended spots. We dined at another local spot in St. Ignace that evening. After asking where we were from and where Cam attended school, our waitress shared that she used to be a substitute teacher for Cam's school district.
Sunday morning, we packed our belongings and enjoyed the continental breakfast one last time. We actually witnessed a seagull almost successfully lift a waffle from it's plate on the outdoor picnic table left by a parent in a big hurry.
The sliding door from our room at Breaker's Resort had a picture perfect view of Lake Huron.
On our drive back to Grand Rapids, we talked about the experiences we had. Cam's highlights were the ferry rides and the carriage tour on Mackinac Island. He also talked about the unexpected kindness we experienced. Shepler's Ferry service asked if we could please wait an extra 15 minutes for a larger ferry so that Cam would have more room. They went out of their way to be certain Cam had plenty of space to board and disembark.
Due to the nice man, Apollo, at Joann's Fudge Shop and the interaction with Cam, our son decided we should purchase all of our fudge from them. There are different options for both ferry rides and fudge, but these two businesses made an impact with their kind gestures and now we are loyal customers!
Oma and Opa stayed with us Monday and left Tuesday morning. We were having a family discussion about our upcoming trip on Tuesday evening. Jane told her husband and son that they needed to help her remember to pick up pasties for Oma and Opa. The following conversation then took place:
"Mom, Oma and Opa are not babies!"
"What do you think I am talking about?"
"They don't need "pacies" Mom!"
"Cam, I was talking about pasties, which are a meat or chicken or vegetable filled pastry, not a pacifier!" 😆