Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bicycling on Macknac Island 2013

Hello and Welcome,
Carolyn and I returned home Sat June 29th after a wonderful vacation week on Mackinac island. There was lots of good food, carriage rides and sightseeing. And of course lots of bicycle riding for me. Carolyn was able to do some horseback riding on the island as well.

Above: If you are staying on the island you will probably want to use the services of one of the many bicycle porters on the island. The porters are incredible cyclists maneuvering through pedestrians, horse and buggy traffic and visiting cyclists. (many of whom appear to be inexperienced and totally oblivious to anything going on around them) And they do this usually with heavy loads of luggage on their bikes. And they make it look easy, and I am sure it is anything but. In our experience the porters have all been very polite and extremely helpful.

Above: I brought along the 3 speed Kalkhoff folding bicycle that I restored this past winter. I have no real experience traveling with a folding bike, so I thought I would give it a try. And maybe learn a few things from the experience. The first thing that occurred to me was that folding pedals would have been an excellent idea. This would allow the bike to lay flatter on the floor of the trunk. I should also mention this is a subcompact Ford Fiesta with a very small trunk. I was impressed by how easily the bike fit into the trunk. I could have loosened the handlebar clamp and seat-post/seat-tube clamp and made the bike even more compact if necessary. We folded down the rear seats to make room for our luggage. The ferry company will haul your bike but there is a charge for it. Our two round trip ferry tickets were 25.00 each and an additional 8.00 for the bike. (also round trip)

Above: This fancy coach is from the world famous Grand Hotel. We stayed at the Lilac Tree Hotel. The Grand is a little "too grand" for me. But if you like luxury and dressing up for dinner it might be the place for you.

Above: The Lilac Tree has bike rack parking in the rear of the building. However you can also park your bike inside on the ground level if you like. (check with the front desk first)

Above: I forgot my bicycle lock again this year. But I did purchased a cable lock rom the Mackinac Bike Barn on Main Street. They are a bike rental outfit as well as a full service bike shop. And I thought $21.99 was a fair price for the lock "considering where we were". They have different types of bikes for rent including Single speed Beach cruisers, seven speed comfort bikes, 21 speed Mountain Bikes or comfort bikes. They also offer single and multi speed Tandem bikes and tag along bikes as well child or adult strollers. They also carry quite a few cycling accessories. These are very helpful and knowledgeable folks so stop in even if just to say hello.

Above: The early morning view from our suite's balcony. If this view looks familiar it is the same room we stayed in last year.

Above: I told myself I would not take pictures of the stone monuments built by visitors along the shoreline this year. But when I saw this arch built off shore while on one of my morning rides around the island... I could not resist.

Above: Folks on the island are for the most part pretty laid back. This is one of the few signs I have seen displaying any cycling rules on the island. Also I have never seen a bike parked or ridden on the sidewalk, so I assume those are unwritten rules as well. Also no bikes can be left out on the street at night. And although someone has removed the sign, there are still no bikes allowed in rooms at the Lilac Tree Hotel.

Above: This Seagull just happens to be perched upon one of those monuments I am not photographing this year. Technically this is just a photograph of a bird or "waterfowl" might be a better word choice. Just in case you didn't pick up on it, this part of the post is about my rides around the island :)

Above: This sign is posted on the wall at a roadside hotdog stand located about half way around the island. If you are not familiar with Seagulls, they are master hotdog thieves. Years ago (when we still ate garbage) a Seagull swooped down and took a hotdog right out of my wife's hand when she was looking the other way.

Above: On this particular morning the Loons were not very active and I was able to get a few good photographs.

Above: One of the drivers or "teamsters" told me, Many of the people who come to the island never make it off Main street. And that is truly a shame because the wilderness or natural parts of the island are absolutely beautiful. The locals call these folks Fudgies because the Island is known for it`s many fudge shops on Main Street. They also have a Saunders on main street (a Detroit original) with the best ice cream you will ever taste anywhere. I think they have fudge too.

Above: These two Loons seem to be posing for this picture. I don`t know if they are nesting or just relaxing. Either way they sure are nice to look at.

Above: I wanted to get a photograph of "yours truly" sitting in this natural chair. But there was no one around to take the pic. I will make it a point to try it out next time:)

Above: There are a few picturesque rock formations along the roadside as well. This one appears to have a tree growing out of it.

Above: Another rock formation along the side of the road. If you really want to see rock formations in Michigan you will want to visit Munising located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And while you are there take the Painted Rock Boat Tour. And spend a day or two checking out the half dozen or so local waterfalls. I am looking forward to our next visit to the Munising area.

Above: Arch Rock is also visible from the road. Or if you do not ride, it is also a stop on the "mega Coach" tour. I had to use a pic from last years picture file. Somehow I totally missed it this trip.

Above: If you click on this pic to enlarge you might be able to see the carriage approaching from the road ahead. If you have the nerve you can also rent a carriage and a team and drive it yourself. Being a city boy at heart I decided to pass on that experience (for now).

Above: While stopping for a drink of Gatorade and to check out the woods a hiker named Wayne offered to take a picture for me. Wayne and I chatted for a few minutes and he told be he rides bikes (motorcycles). I told him I too rode "chrome horses" for 30+ years, but health issues put an end to that. Today Wayne was hiking with his wife as no motor vehicles are allowed on the island. So I guess that would make Wayne a "biker hiker". Sorry...lol

Above: Some folks do live on the island year round. Which is impressive, as the winters this far north can be brutal. So they have a school and a clinic with a certified emergency room and a grocery store. I was told the most common visit to the emergency room is the result of head wounds suffered by tourists on bikes with no bicycle helmets. After what I have seen riding around the island that is no real surprise.

Above: If you click on this pic to enlarge, you might be able to make out the Mackinac Bridge in the fog. If not you will have to trust me on that one.

Above: A picture of the old Round Island lighthouse (built in 1895) taken that same foggy morning on one of my bike rides. The building was restored in 1978 for use in the movie "Somewhere in Time.

Above: There are some modest homes on the island. This is not one of them :) If you hire a carriage and driver you just might hear some interesting stories about the former owners of these beautiful homes. But you won`t hear any from me.
Above: On this particular morning ride as I was finishing my ride around the island I spotted my darling wife with my Fuji camera in hand and she took this photograph. Thanks Carolyn, Your the best!

Above: As for the Kalkhoff folding bike, once I raised the seat post and stem it was actually fairly comfortable. And loading and unloading the bike was fairly simple, although some tools are required. I would imagine a more modern folding bike would be even easier to break down and set up. As for performance, the Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub functioned perfectly. The front wheel has a slight wobble which causes the front brake to intermittently rub ever so slightly. That problem I will correct when I get a chance. Would I bring along the folding bike again? If space was an issue and I was not planning on riding any great distance, then yes. But if I really wanted to ride a lot and for longer distances? Then of course I would choose another bike. But for what it is, the little Kalkhoff performed really well. But as they say "It is what It is" Now here are some more pics from our trip.

Above: Sunrise on Haldimand Bay

Above: J.L. Beanery right on the harbor. They make the best B.L.T. on the planet!

Above: Period dressed rein-actors at Fort Mackinac.

Above: Great Lakes Maritime Academy vessel coming out of the fog.

Above: Fountain in the Garden at the Grand Hotel. (in the background)

Above: A sailboat going through maneuvers. Possibly practicing for the racing season that starts this week.

Above: Bell and Star, the team that pulled our buggy around the island and their driver Jeramey. It turned out I had family in the upper peninsula town Jeramey grew up in.

Above: Another working bicycle. This fellow cleans up after the horses. I did finally wake up early enough to hear the crew fire hosing down Main street just before sunrise.

Above: The flag raised at the Fort

Above: A freighter passing by the harbor.

Above: A view from the Tea Room at the fort.

Above: A porter hard at work

Above: Sunrise on Main Street

Above: Resident of the Butterfly House

Above: The Lilac Hotel Mackinac Island

Above:Relaxing on Friday the 28th of June our last full day on the island. At this point I was ready to go home and start planning our next holiday.

Above: A special Thank You to my sometimes photographer and full time partner in life Carolyn. That pretty much covers our week on Mackinac Island. Until Next Time Please RIDE SAFELY and Remember to Always....RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh


  1. Looks like fun Hugh glad you got away for a week and had a chance to put the folder through its paces.

    1. Hey Ryan,
      Yeah and the Kalkhoff did pretty good :) But more importantly
      Carolyn and I got away from here for a week. All the projects going on with the house have been a little stressful. It is good to be back though.

  2. Very nice, Hugh. Thanks for sharing your vacation with us. Nice to see your humorous side, too.

  3. Good photos, saw an ad for Mackinac Island here in NJ. The tourist industry maybe attempting to lure people away hoping to capitalize on the shore storms and stuff. I gotta say If I was a "shorebird" Mackinac Island would be very tempting. =)

    1. Thanks John,
      There was only negative about this visit to the island. This trip was the first time we have been to the island during the peak of the tourist season. I guess we should have expected it to be a little crowded on Main Street. But once we got off Main Street it wasn't too bad. But we will definitely schedule our next visit earlier or latter in the season.

  4. Interesting for me to see your pictures and hear of a tourist town, a bit like the one I live in. We have the same thing here, people that drive out from the mid-west or Texas and then never leave main street! With a whole National Park to explore!
    We are not progressive enough to ban cars. I always think of that as I can weave my bike through the snarled up downtown traffic jam.

    1. Hey Jim,
      Amen to that. There is more to life than plastic tomahawks and saltwater taffy! ltms
      Riding on paved roads where no motor vehicles are allowed is pure heaven. Everyone should get to experience it :)

  5. Hugh, Enjoyed your Mackinac Island trip photos! I visited there twice in my life. Our most memorable trip on the Island was the time we rented bicycles, and I towed our 2 kids in a bicycle trailer.

    It's a fun destination, and a speedy ferryboat ride. (I loved riding on the UPPER deck!)


    1. Thanks Pat,
      I am glad you enjoyed seeing the pics. The island is a special place for my wife and I. We visited the island the first time on our honeymoon, more than a few years ago. I was surprised when we timed the ferry ride this year at about 20 minutes. It always go buy too quickly for me.


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