Tag Archives: Mackinac Island

Discoveries at Mackinac Island & Straits

Up North Straits of Mackinac Area attracts crowds,  inspires a creative mind

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Mackinac Island, MI- It was a steady stream of cars heading Up North for the weekend last Friday. The traffic was a mix of hunters, fishermen, tourists, golfers and  other adventurers.

Some braved the chill both in the air and in the waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron hauling  kayaks, canoes, bicycles , seadoos and  ATVs.

The ferries to  Mackinac Island were packed full with people bringing their bikes with them.  The waters in the straits were so wild  that the catamaran rocked from side to side as the waves splashed over the panoramic windows.

In spite of the Friday rain, the Main Street  on the island was lined with bikes.  Some porters on bicycles carried the luggage in the baskets in front of them. I wondered how they could see.

Where horse is King

I discovered that on this island, where no motorized traffic is allowed except for snowmobiles, the horse has the right of way. And in peak season, there are 600 horses on the island. They are a way of life.

We did the one-hour buggy ride with horse Shorty inside the island.

“He was on a team, so he has a tendency to veer off to the left, just pull on the right reign,” said the friendly guy at Jack’s Livery & Stable located  on Mahoney Ave.

After a while we found out, that Shorty was quite a character. Not only  did he veer to the left, but he slowed downhill and went faster uphill. All the other carriage drivers knew him.

“Hi, Shorty,” they greeted him all around the route.

En route as we tried to make Shorty  go left to the Arch Rock, Shorty wouldn’t do it and he showed it by whinnying.  Having taken the long loop around the lake last year, it dawned on me that certain horses are trained to do certain routes. They won’t go any other way.

The horse handler back at the livery confirmed  my insight.

“Yes, they are trained to go at walking speed and they will go only on their  route.

Where lilacs take over

The staple event of the Mackinac Island is the annual Lilac Festival  that takes place  during the first two Sundays in June.

In search for the annual Lilac Festival poster, we stopped  at the Island Bookstore inside the Lilac Tree Inn on Main Street.

“Some of our lilacs are 300 hundred years old,” said the clerk. “They come from Eastern Europe.”

“Yes, we had them in Czech Republic,” I said. “Now, we have them in our garden.”

Where projects abound

As a true newspaper woman, I buy local papers wherever I go.  So, we bought the Town Crier and  The St. Ignace News at the Doud’s Market. The oldest family owned  grocery store in America, founded in 1884, serves as a lifeline for the 200-some permanent island residents.

Other than regular groceries, it has everything from kombuchas to a seafood case with octopus. This is where I rediscovered kombucha,  a fermented tea made with cane sugar and yeast.  The first time I heard of a kombucha was at the Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing in April.

When we got back to Murray Hotel, two buildings down the street,  a headline  in the advertising section of  The Mackinac  Island Town Crier struck me:

“Mackinac Island Harbor Beach Boardwalk Project.”

A full back page  screamed: “Save our Island.”

Apparently,  one of the freight operation owners, is proposing a boardwalk  with access to  the beach for all. The project would  consolidate the freight operations into the two most historic docks, including the coal dock.

Mission Point Resort on the sunrise side

A short stroll from downtown took us through the alley to the beautifully restored Mission Point Resort. The last time I saw it, it was a dull greyish structure built in the early 1820s by a Protestant missionary Rev. William Ferry.

A couple from Texas bought the sprawling historic property and poured millions into it.  Standing in the middle of the main lobby, I stared into the 51-foot tall teepee. Attached to it was a big library.

We watched weddings on the front lawn from the panoramic windows of the Round Island Bar & Grill. I took in the breathtaking views of Lake Huron with  Bois Blanc Island.

Back in Mackinaw City, mainland

As the  ferry  smoothly navigated the waters of Lake Huron, I watched the  Big Mac Bridge swing in the wind. The night before, we watched a documentary on the history channel about the building of the Mackinac Bridge, dubbed as a swinging water masterpiece.

The pretty “candy city” with fudge and candy shops was busy on a Sunday morning.  My last goal was to buy fresh fish caught locally.  Other than fudge and candy, there were a few shops with smoked fish.

A clerk at a smoked fish shop recommended Big Stone Bay Fishery. located on US 23.  I’ve never heard of it even though we’ve been coming up to the Straits area for the last 25 years.

As we entered the fishery, I could smell smoked fish. But, the fishery  dealt mainly in fresh fish: whitefish, walleye, coho salmon and trout. It was a fish lover’s paradise.

The paradise Up North always brings new discoveries and inspires a creative mind. The Mackinac Island attracted Hollywood twice. In 1947 Hollywood filmed “This Time For Keeps” and in 1979 “Somewhere in Time.”

The “Somewhere in Time” weekend is always on the last weekend in October, and it officially closes down the island for the season. A few properties, shops and restaurants stay open for the winter.

Winter is a magic time on the island.

Go to my  E Travel and Food blog:


Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.


Happiness comes from creating new things

“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Lowell, MI- I love this quote because it is so true. Yesterday, I completed a brand new mobile app on Swiftic for a client. It took me a long time as the app development companies kept changing.

Once I figured out the last feature, I was ecstatic. It’s a top notch app with eye-catching push notifications and more than 20 features such as loyalty and scratch cards, and catalogs.

I had that same feeling of joy when I uploaded my book “Shifting Sands Short Stories ” to the publisher last year.

I feel happiness today as Ludek and I are about to head out to Mackinac Island to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

Yes, it’s the same place where Universal Pictures filmed “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.

It was also the home for the famous fur trade entrepreneur Madame Framboise.

The island will be all dressed up for Halloween. We plan on going to the Haunted Theatre and take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Cars are not allowed on the island, only bicycles and horses.

Even this late into the season, the hotels were sold out. We will take the ferry Star Line across the Straits of Mackinac.

It is also my writer’s retreat, because Mackinac Island inspires me with its history and character. I will include in my new book three historical fiction short stories; one from the island and two from Fallasburg.

Stay tuned for more posts from the island.


Copyright (c) 2018. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Top view

Google trekker captures fascinating vistas of the Mighty Mac in Michigan

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

I crossed the Mackinac Bridge many times over the last two decades. I never walked it during the annual Labor Day walk, and I haven’t been to the top of the masts or below the bridge. I am afraid of open heights, and I don’t know if the Mackinac Bridge Authority would let me climb up there.

But, other than  the top or below the bridge, I’ve taken photos of it from just about any angle including from a ferry to Mackinac Island, from both shores of Upper and Lower peninsulas. The bridge is so magnificent that you get a clear view of it from the island.

And here is what Google did.

Google trekker provides fascinating vistas on the featured photo above from one of the Mackinac Bridge’s masts. Volunteers climbed through the trunk in the mast much like in a submarine to the top with the 40-pound Google trekker device. They walked around with the device on their backs, while 15 lenses in the globe of the device took fascinating shots of the Mackinac Bridge and the area, as presented in a video “Pure Michigan.”

Below are traditional photos of the five-mile long Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan by Emma Palova.

Mackinac Bridge
Driving on the Mighty Mac in Michigan.
Pure Michigan
Mackinaw Bridge from the Lower Peninsula view.


Mackinaw Bridge
View of the Mackinaw Bridge from the Upper Peninsula.

The last time I crossed the bridge was in November of 2014 as the first snow fell on the bridge deck. The ride across the five-mile long bridge is creepy, and many drivers take the service offered by the bridge authority, even truck drivers. Bridge drivers will take you across.

If there are high winds, the bridge gets closed.

Here are some bridge facts from mackinac.com

Mackinac Bridge

The bridge was designed by the great engineer David B. Steinman and opened on November 1, 1957. The structure took 48 months to complete with over 3, 500 workers and $99,800,000 dollars. Also know as the “Big Mac” or the “Mighty Mac”, the bridge stretches 8,614 feet making it the fourth longest suspension bridge in the world. With a total span of about 5 miles, the Mackinac Bridge connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan uniting the communities of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan. The main bridge cables are made from 42,000 miles of wire and the towers stand 554 feet above the water and 210 feet below to the bedrock. The engineering of the Mackinac Bridge was designed to accommodate the high winds, temperature changes and constant changes of weight. In severe conditions the deck at center span could move up to 35 feet. Under more subtle conditions, the deck could move slowly in one direction based on the force and direction of the winds.

Fun bridge construction facts

* 89,000 blueprints and structural drawings were made
* 71,300 tons of structural steel
* 931,000 tons of concrete
* 42,000 miles of cable wire
* 4,851,700 steel rivets
* 1,016,600 steel bolts
* 350 engineers
* 522 feet tall
* 1,024,500 tons in total weight
* 7,500 men and women that worked in quarries, shops, mills
* 1951 Chevrolet Styleine Deluxe owned by Albert Carter was the first car to cross the Mackinac Bridge

The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk is held every year on Labor Day. Two lanes of traffic are closed and 50-80,000 people, all led by the Governor of Michigan walk together over the bridge. Bicycles are prohibited on the Mackinac Bridge, however the Big Mac Shoreline tour is held in June and September, which takes its participants for a trip over the bridge. During the summer months, the Mackinac Bridge has become a major diverse tourist destination for bridge enthusiasts, bird-watchers and photographers.

Bridge fares begin at $2 per axle and increase from there. Fares are subject to change without notice.

V isit Mackinac Bridge Walk and Big Mac Shoreline Tour for more information.



Mackinac Straits tales

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.

Mackinac Bridge in Michigan
Mackinac Bridge in Michigan

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.

Mackinaw Crossings
Mackinaw Crossings

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.

For a full story on Mackinac Island go to http://etravelandfood.wordpress.com or the travel page on http://emmapalova.com

Marshall's Fudge made fresh daily.
Marshall’s Fudge made fresh daily.

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


Copyright © 2014 All rights reserved Emma Blogs LLC

Straits of Mackinac

Tale of three cities on the Straits of Mackinac

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Mackinaw City, MI -This is a story about three communities located on the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan. The Straits are a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas.

But the Straits connect two of the Great Lakes, and that is Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

The Mackinac Bridge swings over the Straits.
The Mackinac Bridge swings over the Straits.

The USA’s longest suspension bridge the “Mighty Mac” spans the five miles over the Straits. The steel construction swings in the wind. It connects the communities of Mackinaw City on the south side and Saint Ignace on the north side.

The area is magnificent as it combines human skill with nature’s beauty. It is rich in history and folklore. It is the most visited tourist location, and a nature lover’s paradise.

There are forts on both the Mackinac Island and the Mackinaw City, and an abundance of romantic lighthouses.

Local specialties include pasties, smoked whitefish and fudge.

Mackinaw City downtown fudge and souvenir shops.
Mackinaw City downtown fudge and souvenir shops.

One day is not enough for the entire area. So, you have to make a decision about your base camp. Saint Ignace is cheaper, but you pay the $4 fee to cross the bridge.

The most expensive is the Mackinac Island, some seven miles from the peninsulas. Three ferries will whisk you to the island in season for $18. My preferred time to go is off-season, because of the availability and the price of hotels. And the crowds are smaller.

Off season is somewhere around mid October until April. The colors are still beautiful in October, and the weather is nice around 60s Fahrenheit.

For a story on the Mackinac Island in winter go to the travel page on EW Emma’s Writings.

The stay in the new Bridge Vista Beach hotel in Mackinaw City at the beginning of November cost $69. The hotel has magnificent vistas of the bridge, the Straits and the island.

However, many establishments do close for the winter. So, check ahead of time who is open.

A great restaurant open year round other than the mainstay Keyhole Bar in Mackinaw City is the Pancake Chef. The local specialty the northern pasty beef or chicken is tasty and hearty. They also have local brews.

Many souvenir and fudge shops stay open. Marshall’s Fudge offered some 60 flavors.

To be continued….

Copyright (c) 2014 All rights reserved Emma Blogs LLC