I’ve known about it for a long time, and back in the day, I absolutely loved the Christopher Reeves movie ‘Somewhere in Time’ (such a chick flick), which was filmed on Macinac Island, mostly on the grounds of the Grand Hotel. After viewing the movie for the 5th or 10th time, I resolved to someday visit that wonderful, magical place, and this was that day. Kirk tolerated the movie for my sake once, but was also equally eager to explore its uniqueness.

Historic Summer Home

Historic Summer Home

Macinac Island State Harbor

Public Library

Our day started with rain, but by the time we boarded the ferry, it was clearing. Fifteen minutes later, we were on the island and the sun was out and the day was stellar! It never quite reached 80, the perfect temperature for a full day of outside play. Macinac Island doesn’t allow cars. They were outlawed in the 1880’s. The only transportation allowed on the island is via bicycle, horse, or horse drawn apparati. The trash trucks are horse drawn, the building materials are delivered via horse carts…even UPS pickups and deliveries and done via horse drawn cart (what a cool gig!). There is plenty of hustle and bustle in the quaint little town, where the ferries drop off tourists like us, but no cars or motorcycles…what a bonus. It’s a small island and easily navigated under human steam, and barely even an afterthought for a team of 1,800 pound Percherons. There is a nice blend of horses around the island used for different purposes, but the big draft horses…OH they are such a thing of strength and great beauty!

Working Team of Draft Horses Hauling Gravel

Private Tour Carriage Team of Standardbreds

Draft Horse Team Making Deliveries

We spent the morning on bicycles riding the entire coastline of the island. Mine was turquoise, which I liked a lot. I thought I read that it was a little over 4 miles of coastline (make that 4 miles long–my mistake), so I was going as fast as I could, making U Turns and repeating areas I particularly enjoyed. I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed good health and I was taking full advantage of it. The air had been washed by rain and had a slight nip to it in the shade. It was the perfect day for a 4 mile bicycle ride (uh…yeah, had it been 4 miles). At the mile 6 mileage marker, I became concerned. Kirk thought maybe I misread and it was 14 miles. Oh no!!! Could he be right? I was already a little shaky from a series of hills, so I stopped, drank half of my water and continued at a more reasonable pace for a woman my age remembering that just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. By mile 8, I felt that I had picked the right pace and settled in for the long haul. Then…wait…the elementary school, the library…the lighthouse and the channel markers. Hallelujah! I will make it with wind to spare! It ended up being eight and a half miles, which we finished easily, save for the scoop of ice cream required for apres fuel. We were tired, but in a good way.

Kirk Stopping at Arch Rock

View of Lake Huron on our Bicycle Ride

View at Mile 3 of our Bicycle Ride

Bicycles and Horses a Lovely Day

We opted for a private carriage tour for our afternoon. I would have loved to spend the afternoon on horseback, but common sense and fatigue reminded me that perhaps a full day of exercise was too large of a bite. I used-to-could…couple decades ago. We were lucky to get a 12-year veteran and local area resident, who knew her team, fully takes the responsibility of caring for her team, and knows the island and its history well. We spent a relaxing afternoon meandering through the lovely historic homes, thick forests and to the center of the island to its highest point (890 feet) and learning about its history and notable facts. Courtney was a great guide and “Billy” and “Duke” perfectly wonderful gentle giants! Billy is a 26 year old Percheron/Standardbred with a huge work ethic like most draft horses, and Duke a 6 year old Percheron “mutt” (our guide’s words). Billy does everything correctly and assumes the lead and often takes the load of the uneven yolk placed on him by Duke without complaint. Duke is a goofball and requires a lot of coaxing to keep him on track. A sweet and affectionate horse that loves people, but without nearly the work ethic or experience of his teammate. Regardless, she said they prefer to work together now, though Billy the wise has trained many other horses and has no intention of retiring soon. He is showing some grey, but he is strong and healthy. The horses work 6 days a week 7 hours a day for 5 months a year, much the same as the workers on the island. The horses get many breaks in between with shade, food, water and some ‘atta boy’ breaks. Twizzlers being her team’s favorite treat for a job well done. They eat half a bale of hay each every day in addition to grain a couple times a day and pellets with a hot mix containing molasses for energy. In a nutshell…they are very well fed and getting plenty of high energy foods. They are solid as a rock! Not everyone asks as many horse questions as I do. Private tours like ours are allowed to drive in the long drive and past the elegant Grand Hotel, gaze at its 660 foot porch, the world’s longest, and look down upon the Grand gardens that contain beds with over 125,000 annuals planted each year. We also took a self guided tour of the Grand stables and the museum of carts and carriages they have used since the hotel opened in 1887. Many have been meticulously maintained and are still in use today. The hotel is very long and difficult to photograph except from a great distance. You can Google it. It’s gorgeous!

Billy (right) Duke (left) a lovely way to Tour

Duke Hamming it up for a Snuggle, Billy Wanting to Work

Interior Neighborhood of Vacation Homes

Tack Room at the Grand Hotel Stables

Grand Hotel Stables

The Mackinaw Bridge is visible from much of the west part of the island. The bridge links northern Michigan to the upper peninsula of Michigan. It also seems to be a visual divider of two of the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan on its west side and Lake Huron on the east side. Macinac Island is in Lake Huron…just barely.

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