So here’s what you might want to do someday.
Get in your car and head north to I-75. Continue until you come to the Big Mac Bridge, which connects the mainland of Michigan with the Upper Peninsula. I know. It’s a long drive. You will stop for a few nights on the way. Lexington, Ky., Is nice, especially when the ponies are running around Keeneland. In addition, they have beautiful women and fast horses. Or are they beautiful horses and fast women? I do not remember. If you drink enough of their bourbon candy, it won’t matter.
But we were talking about what to do when you get to this bridge.
Don’t cross it. At least not right away. Instead, turn right and buy a ticket to cross the Straits of Mackinac on the Shepler Ferry. Get off the ferry and go back a hundred years in time. Mackinac Island. It’s wonderful – unless it’s winter, and then you can’t visit anyway.
As you exit the ferry dock, you will be greeted by a strange aroma of fresh fudge and horse manure. There are no motorized vehicles on the island. There are horses. Lots and lots of horses – pulling taxis, carriages and baggage cars. If it is to be moved from point A to point B on Mackinac Island, it is moved on a horse-drawn vehicle.
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There are all kinds of things to do on the island. You can stroll the streets of downtown and visit quaint shops and sample fudge and other sweets. You can have lunch at any number of places, like the Pink Pony – this one overlooks the waterfront and everyone keeps their clothes on – or the Yankee Rebel, which looks like an oxymoron, but isn’t. truly not.
You can hire a bicycle and tour the ancient island, where you will find cemeteries dating back to the 1600s and a fort that served during the War of Independence and the War of 1812. You can play golf on either of the two journey. At Wawashkamo Golf Club, you can go the old fashioned way and rent a set of clubs with wooden shafts. The set includes a mashie and a spoon, but no objectionable wedges. It is said that many greens are built on Indian graves. At Jewel, you get a 20-minute carriage ride between the first nine and the last.
But the crown jewel of Mackinac Island, and the only place I would consider staying, is the Grand Hotel, a huge wooden structure built in 1887. It was completed in 93 days and has the longest porch. of the world, a covered edifice supported by giant colonnades that would have been the pride of Tara or Twelve Oaks, with large American flags floating on each.
There is no better way to spend a warm spring or fall afternoon than to sit on one of the hundreds of rocking chairs on the porch of the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel, taking in the sunshine. a libation and gazing at Lake Huron.
The Grand’s Pool is named after Hollywood’s Ester Williams because she made a movie there once, but it received a $ 10 million facelift last year and has giant hot tubs and a adults-only area as well as a slide.
The dinner is elegant. Everyone gets dressed. The coats and ties for the gentlemen and the four course meals are delicious, although honesty forces me to admit that I usually need an interpreter to understand the menu. On my last visit, I ate a pork cutlet with boar bone and an appetizer consisting of smoked trout and caviar and a few things that I couldn’t identify. It was all good, though. For dessert, be sure to get the chocolate coated pecan ice cream scoop. It is the specialty of the house. Get this the first night. Serve with creme brulee or Michigan cherry pie on the second night. Take the flourless chocolate pie or return to the pecan ball on the third night.
The breakfast is even better. You can eat at the buffet or order from the menu or both. They have baked walleye on the breakfast menu, as well as grilled flank steak and the fluffiest omelets you’ve ever tasted. And they know how to cook porridge.
The only thing more magnificent than the structure itself and the quality of the food is the service. Impeccable from start to finish. There is no tip either.
The owner explained to me once that he realized that some people are wealthy enough to visit The Grand every year, or several times a year. Others, however, count their pennies and save a long time to splurge with a night at the Grand. He didn’t want his staff to know which customers were which. He wanted them all to be treated the same.
The first time I visited the Grand I was with my lovely wife, Lisa, and our three children. We were camping on the mainland and took the ferry to the island for the day. We were kicked out of the hotel porch and asked to leave the property.
Next time I came I brought 50 of my closest friends with me and spent $ 60,000. Now they welcome me with open arms.
But I had to say goodbye to Mackinac Island on Tuesday and begin the journey back to the sunny south. It’s football season and I can’t stay in any foreign place, however stylish, during football season.
And those friends yesterday!