Thursday, July 4, 2013

Island Life

What would it be like to live on an island that was only accessible by boat? And what if the only "transportation" on that island came in the form of horses, buggies, and bicycles? I had a chance to ponder these questions (among others) when my mom and I visited Michigan's Mackinac Island recently. 

The island is surrounded by beautiful lighthouses, trees, and lots and lots of water. ;) Visitors take the ferry across from Mackinaw City. After chatting with some of the locals, we came to find out that many of them take the ferry across daily to get to and from work. There are some people who live on the island year-round, but the majority of people and shops are only there for 3 seasons each year. I love referring to it as "Mack-in-ack" Island but have learned the correct pronunciation is "Mack-in-aw." According to people at the Visitor's Center, Mackinac gets its name from the Native name, Michilimackinac. Interesting, right?

What would it be like to travel daily by horse-drawn buggy, by bicycle, or by my own two feet? We opted to walk for most of our time on the island. Watching people stop at the small grocery store on the island proved to be quite interesting. They'd load up the basket on their bicycle to transport their items home, sometimes by way of the large hills found on the island. Most locals appeared to walk or use bicycles, while many of the tourists enjoyed traveling via the buggies. Listening to the horses as they clopped down the main street was music to my ears! And, my... there were some absolutely beautiful, big horses!

Although I sometimes complain about the 10 minutes I have to drive to get to "town," what would it be like to live on an island where I couldn't get everything I needed? Locals take the ferry across to Mackinaw City and stock up on supplies to help last them through the long winter. At some point during the winter, there may be an "ice bridge" across the Straits of Mackinac which assists people in getting to/from the island. When I think about how many times I have to run to the store because I've run out of something, I cannot imagine having to plan that far in advance!

Views like this one can be found around the perimeter of the 8-mile island. Staying on the island is a bit pricey (be prepared to spend $200 or more per night for a room,) but waking up to views like this make it worthwhile! I should also mention that there are some delicious restaurants and fabulous fudge shops on the island. (And all of the fudge shops give out free samples. Just sayin'!)

Taking the horse-drawn carriage tour was enjoyable and educational! It's worth it to be able to ride through the beautiful forests of the island, learn about different places on the island, see Fort Mackinac and visit the Arch Rock. Perhaps my favorite stop was Wings of Mackinac - the butterfly conservatory. I'm not a big fan of bugs, but I did surprisingly well as these amazing creatures flew about freely around us. I appreciated the soothing music being played as we wandered around, admiring the beautiful flowers and pausing to take it all in. I recently bought a new, fancier type of camera and had a fantastic time trying to capture great shots while we were there!

And, finally... the school. What would it be like to teach in a school on this island? I did sneak a peek in some of the windows and wasn't surprised to see tables, computers, and lots of books. I'm sure the population is much different than where I teach. I mean, they have 500-600 residents of the island. My K-2 school had almost 1,000 students! 

As we travel, my mom and I rely on the Trip Advisor site to help us decide where to stay, where to eat, and what to do. We've also signed up and reviewed many of the places we've visited recently to help other travelers. You can find us by clicking HERE!

Visiting new places and imagining life there always makes me stop and think. It also makes me appreciate what I have and where I live! Off to my next adventure...


  1. Laura, I loved reading about your trip to Mackinac Island. I've never been here but it is on my list of places to see. I also love pondering what life is like in the different places I visit. I can't wait to hear about your next adventure! Have fun!

  2. You will love Mackinac Island, Nicole! Let me know when you decide to make a trip and I'll help you plan! I hope you'll be writing about your adventures, too. I'd love to read more about the places you visit!