Thursday, August 2, 2007

USCGC Mackinaw

Thursday, August 2, 2007 -- Mackinaw City, MI

We never made it over to Mackinac Island today. The threat of rain and storms was enough to keep us on this side of the straits, and out of the island based tourist traps. I was also put off by the Grand Hotel now restricting passers-by from wandering through this stately old place unless a fee is paid for the privilege. So, let's see, by the time we buy ferry passage, pay another fee for the bikes we wanted to take over in order to get around the island, paid the fee to see the old hotel... we'd be well over $100 before we ordered an over-priced lunch or bought a priceless bric-a-brac in one of the many gift shops that are bound be all over the island. And our sabbatical objective is to see more of the real America and real Americans, not the touristy thing it's so easy to fall into.

After the rains ended, we headed into town to find something to do. We found two things of interest: first, we had our first pasties. I'll write more about these later, but let's just say it's a local and Upper Peninsula food item. The word is pronounced with a short "a" -- like the "a" in candy. For some reason, every time I slip and say the word with the long "a", I get an elbow in the ribs from Dar.

Second, we visited the USCGC Mackinaw, the famous ice-breaker ship that was built in 1944 and was in service around the Great Lakes until last year when a new ship, also called the Mackinaw, entered service. We were led on a tour of the boat by a knowledgeable guide and had very interesting conversations from a small band of locals who keep watch over this treasure. The talk ranged from stories of some of the ships accomplishments to the advantages of retiring in low-pressure places like this. One couple, interested in our sabbatical adventure, even offered a parking place for our camper on property they own when we come through again. We thoroughly enjoyed the two or more hours we spent here.

Tomorrow, we're firing up the bus and heading across the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced "mac-in-aw") on our way to the Munising, MI area. So tune in later to follow the adventures of our intrepid duo as they head into the great northern woods in search of the real America.

T