The tale of three cities on the Straits
By Emma Palova
EW Emma’s Writings
Note: The Straits tales continue from Nov. 19 under the title of the Tale of Three Cities. Come and explore the magic of the Straits of Mackinac, its history and lore.
Mackinaw City, MI – I usually make my base camp in this town south of the “Mighty Mac,” which is the longest suspension bridge in the USA. Maybe it’s because of the fear of crossing the bridge that sways in the wind over the Straits of Mackinac. This is where Lake Huron joins Lake Michigan.
Not long ago, the bridge authority designated some employees to transport the fearful drivers across the bridge for additional $5. Even truck drivers take advantage of the service.
I have visited the Straits area in all seasons and I’ve done everything from swimming, hiking, skiing, shopping, studying history, bird watching, smelling lilacs to bar hopping.
What keeps me coming back is the unique combination of nature and human achievement, much like the NASA area. The Mackinaw Crossings village was added to the human achievement side recently.
In spite of the hotels, souvenir and fudge shops, as well as high speed ferries to the Mackinac Island, the three communities are not the usual tourist traps.
The Mackinac Island is one of few inhabited islands in the North with 200 year-round residents, a school and the Town Crier. There are no motor vehicles allowed on the island, only horses, bicycles, feet, skis and snowmobiles. Even old ladies ride their snowmobiles to the Saint Anne Church.
Saint Ignace on the north side of the bridge is a gateway community to the Upper Peninsula and further to Canada. It’s already a charming “Yooper,” a new word that made it into the dictionary designating anyone who lives in the UP (Upper Peninsula.)
The orientation in Saint Ignace is easy, either you continue on Highway I 75 to Sault Ste. Marie and Canada or you hang a left onto Highway 2 along the lakeshore to inland UP and to the amazing Tahquamenon Waterfalls. Soo with the locks for the tankers is only 40 miles away.
What binds these communities together is the rough weather. Sometimes they still have snow in May.
But, it’s a paradise born to be loved with its lighthouses, shipwrecks, maritime Icebreaker and bridge museums, endless snowmobiling trails, hand-crafted breweries, pasties and smoked whitefish.
Here, the nature at its best leaves you in awe and keeps you coming back.
For more information go to michigan.org
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