Mackinac Island, Michigan
One of the sweetest benefits of retirement is that I am free to visit tourist destinations before the arrival of the actual tourist season and all of the accompanying hordes of vacationers. Taking advantage of this luxury, I set out on a sun-filled day to begin an adventure in one of my favorite Michigan areas, the Tip of the Mitt, home to the Mighty Mac, our Mackinac Bridge. Joining Michigan's Lower and Upper Peninsulas at the intersection of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, the "Bridge" as it's known to my Michigan friends, is a "must-see" summer destination. But in case you aren't from Michigan and are unfamiliar with our Bridge, suffice it to say that it is longer than the Golden Gate (five miles from end to end) and, in my less-than-humble opinion, more beautiful than San Francisco's bridge, no disrespect intended. You haven't fully experienced Michigan until you have crossed the spectacular Mackinac Bridge.
After a pleasant three-hour drive, I arrived in Mackinaw City, situated on the southern end of the Bridge and pronounced the same, but spelled differently. Don't ask me why. I secured a room for the night and proceeded directly to the docks to catch a ferry to my ultimate destination for the day, Mackinac Island. This charming island, a 20-minute ferry ride across the waters of Lake Huron, is another favorite spot with Michiganders, and during the summer is packed with swarms of tourists. But in early June before all the school children are on vacation, it's much more peaceful. No lines. No crowds. Just me and other retirees along with just a few fifth grade class trips.
Several ferry companies provide access to Mackinac Island, and they all arrive at a docking area just off the island's quaint Main Street, an environment rich with gift shops, restaurants, fudge shops, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages. Yes, there is a book store, but I'll get to that in another post. My immediate interest was the unique and lovely Mackinac Island Public Library. Just a short walk from the bustling commercial area, this inviting building is the aquamarine color of Lake Huron on a sunny day. Inside, the library is a deeper hue of the same marine blue.
Just inside the door, a circulation desk overlooks a stunning parlor area furnished with a long table leading to a cozy seating space and culminating in a beautiful fireplace featuring painted clay-tile depictions of the surrounding scenic area. Along one side of the parlor, patrons will find the stacks, on the other side, a friendly children's area as well as a room with computers available to rent for a small fee. Not far from the circulation desk is the Rosa Webb Room, named in honor of Rosa Truscott Webb, who established the first library on the Island. It houses a historic collection of information about the Mackinac area.
One of the best features of the library is, I'm told, a bit of an Island secret and easy to miss if you don't know about it. Step through one of the French doors on either side of the fireplace, and you will find yourself on a large back deck facing Lake Huron. The deck is outfitted with chairs for browsing or reading, that is, if you can take your eyes off the beautiful view. At the time of my visit, a happy collection of visitors was enjoying this special area.
Back out on the street side, several horse-drawn carriages were parked, awaiting riders, and I enjoyed a brief conversation with one friendly driver. Carriages and bicycles are the only way to get around on the island other than walking. Motorized vehicles are not allowed with few exceptions, one being the filming of the movie, Somewhere in Time, which utilized the Island's famous Grand Hotel.
Leaving the lovely Mackinac Island Public Library, I headed back down Main Street in search of the Island's bookstore, but that is another story. Coming Soon.
For more information on the Mackinac Island Public Library, visit:
For more about the beautiful Mackinac Bridge including history and stunning photos like the one at the top of this post, visit:
Did you know that Mike Rowe once did an episode of the TV show, Dirty Jobs, on the Mackinac Bridge? In case you missed it, here is a clip.