Mackinac or Mackinaw

We woke up early on a Sunday morning having not heard a single vehicle all night.  Country roads teeming with wild turkeys were our preferred route that morning.  The first vehicle we actually encountered was an abandoned car about three-quarters of the way still on the road slightly tipped at an angle with one front tire in the air suspended over the ditch.  We imagined a teenager walking home in the dark and having to confess his indiscretions to his parents.  About 100 yards beyond the stranded vehicle we met a tow truck on the way to extract it.  We drove on.


Still early in the morning, we pulled in to a Welcome Center in Mackinaw City.  The woman behind the counter was super friendly.  She loaded us down with all sorts of brochures which made me wonder if they get a commission based on how many pounds of tourist brochures they push out the door.  When she learned we were interested in lighthouses, she stepped into the back room and returned with a rolled-up poster.  She said they thought they were ordering something the size of an 8x10 but ended up with a box of full-sized posters showing all the lighthouses in Michigan.  It seemed too extravagant to refuse so I graciously accepted it, found a place to protect it under the bed, and later gave it to a friend back home who had given us lots of pointers on what to see in the Upper Peninsula.   While we were thumbing through brochures we were also filling several water jugs with filtered water available inside the center.


Almost as soon as we left the Welcome Center we were crossing the Mackinac Bridge, an engineering marvel.  It is a five-mile-long suspension bridge that connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of Michigan. It spans the Straits of Mackinac, a body of water connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Of course I was doing the driving.  That meant Jenni had to take pictures and video which I always think will distract her from her fears, but I’m always wrong about that.  We made it to the other side without any claw marks in the dashboard and I sought out a state park that I read had a great view of the bridge.  It’s much more calming to look at it from a distance than to drive it.   


So if you noticed, the town we stopped in was Mackinaw City—with a ‘w’—but the bridge was Mackinac—with a ‘c’.  Yet, they are pronounced the same with the “aw” sound.  I don’t know why and I didn’t have enough cellular bars to look it up.  Once we returned home it was no longer important to me so, if it bothers you, please research it and get back to me.


One of our reasons for being up and out so early on a Sunday was to attend church in the town of St. Ignace, located at the base of the bridge on the Upper Peninsula side. As part of our travel experience, we like to fit in a worship experience in different churches if it suits our travel schedule.  If it doesn't, we can always watch a recorded service from our home church.

St. Ignace is a port city for reaching the famous Mackinac Island.  At that point, we had not yet decided if we were going to attempt the annual bridge walk on Labor Day and then go over to Mackinac Island but the latter was looking more doubtful.  The church we selected to attend was St. Ignace United Methodist Church.  It was an A-framed sanctuary with pretty stained glass and crank-out windows to get a cool breeze.  (Imagine having only THAT in the South!)  It was a great service.  The new pastor gave us permission to stay in the parking lot overnight if we wanted and actually thanked us for seeking permission!  We tended to Annie and then walked a few blocks to a craft show taking place near the ferry docks.  Our only purchase was brats (sausage in a bun) for lunch to support the local animal shelter.


We took a few minutes to discuss our options at that point.  Jenni was sure she was not going to do the bridge walk on Labor Day.  To me, the appeal of the ‘novelty’ and a possible T-shirt far exceeded the desire to walk five miles with thousands of strangers so I decided I would skip it as well.  That left whether to take a ferry to Mackinac Island as the next decision.  Ultimately, we passed due to the Labor Day crowds, having to take Annie with us and keep up with her on the island, and the logistics of the ferry ride.  We also assumed that riding horse-drawn carriages wouldn’t be that unique of an experience from doing so back in Charleston, SC. 

Instead, we opted to drive north to Sault Ste. Marie, MI and visit the Soo Locks which proved to be very entertaining.  More on that next week!


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