ST IGNACE – A step back in time

We travelled up through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan through the trees as they seemed to be changing colours as we passed them and crossing the Mackinac Bridge (55 stories high and 5 miles long), that crosses where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. When this bridge was opened in 1957 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Now it sits at about number 5. But even though its not number one any longer, it is certainly an impressive structure separating Mackinaw City and the lakeside township of St Ignace, where we were heading to.

I have to keep reminding myself that we are on the shores of lakes not oceans, as this large mass of water appears more like an ocean than a lake. I am sure this has something to do with their incredible size. To put this in perspective, Lake Taupo at home in New Zealand would fit 93.7 times in Lake Michigan (and Lake Michigan is only ranked 3rd in size of the Great Lakes).

We arrived and checked in at St Ignace and headed along the waterfront to check out this quaint lakeside town.

In the centre of the town, to my delight we found the Museum of the local Ojibwa (pronounced O-ja-boy) Culture. I was excited to visit as we had found so little on our trip about the Native American Indian. It was hard reading the recent history of these people, but it made me understand a little more as to why we have seen so little of the Native American Indian history on our travels. In the early 1900’s the children were taken from their families and put in institutions, supposedly for schooling, but to me it was more brain-washing them into being Europeanised. There language was nearly lost, but with the help of a few it is starting to be spoken again. So important as they had no written language and with the loss of their spoken language, they would have been all but wiped out. So so Sad.

We were up early the next day to catch the ferry across to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw like the city) Island. 80% of this beautiful Island is a state park where no cars are allowed. Even electric bikes are banned. But there are 500 working horses on the Island so it was no surprise my first impression of the Island as we left the ferry was an over powering smell of horse manure and urine from the line of horse drawn carriages lining the main street.

We spent a lovely day wandering the hills and streets of the islands. We walked around the island shore to the 362 steps up to Arch Rock which rises 146 feet in the air and is a natural bridge then up through the trees to Fort Mackinac which was built in 1700’s and around past the Governors Summer Mansion, the golf course and to the stately Grand Hotel which opened in 1887 and boasts the longest front porch in the world, 660 feet (201 metres) long, a wonderful place to watch the world pass by and so easy to feel the thousands who have strolled the same porch over the hundreds of years this magnificent hotel has catered for the visitors seeking the quiet and calm of the Island. Then we headed back down through the gardens to the lake shore again and past the Victorian style houses to the picturesque main street.

As we headed home on the ferry back to St Ignace, I was a little sad to leave such a lovely place but excited to be think we would be in Canada the next day.

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