Day 3: Washington Island

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The storms parted around us and we arrived late afternoon in paradise. The marina in Jackson Harbor on Washington Island was small, rustic, and quaint. I was taken back in time to the 1980’s without the big hair.

There wasn’t a big boater’s lounge here. In fact, there wasn’t a boater’s lounge at all. The weather channel was not blasting on a big screen TV. There wasn’t coffee and magazines set out to enjoy. There weren’t any showers or bathrooms besides the pit toilets down the road. There wasn’t a wifi password and most of our group didn’t even have a cell signal.We weren’t constantly bombarded with several forms of media. I didn’t even find out what my facebook friends ate for breakfast.

It gave a sense of seclusion. It took me back to the pleasures of simpler times like having an uninterrupted conversation and being content to watch the sunset.

Instead of modern conveniences, this marina offered amenities such as peace and tranquility. I thought it would be the perfect place for our vow renewal ceremony, except for the no shower part.

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The marina was also the home of old cars and boats. Next to the marina was an area where old cars were parked for a monthly charge. I saw many cars that reminded me of my childhood. I saw an old station wagon like the one my aunt drove. I saw more old cars than newer models which also gave the feeling of nostalgia for times past. I didn’t realize how much I missed the quiet.

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I also took some pictures of the old fishing boats. Shortly after, a man left on this boat to go fishing. He probably thought I was a bit crazy for taking pictures of his fishing boat with all of the beautiful sailboats around me.

City folks come up north to take pictures of trees and country folks go down to Chicago to take pictures of skyscrapers. How easily we tend to become immune to the beauty of our everyday environment…

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There was a feeling on the island of getting away from it all. Getting away from the noise. Getting away from the money, crowds, and big boats. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of tourists.

There was a small cafe and a concession stand on the island with limited hours. There was also a museum of some sort that we didn’t have the opportunity to walk through.

It was my favorite marina by far.

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From the marina we saw this small building. We had to walk across a bridge to get there. The door was unlocked so curiosity got the best of us and we opened it one night. Inside there was a small ice packaging display. Some of the tools looked like they belonged in the closet of some of our states serial killers. But we won’t talk about that today.

We stayed in this paradise for two nights until the wind pushed us in a different direction.

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From Jackson Harbor we were able to view Rock Island. There are no cars on Rock Island. It contains some historical buildings, hike in campsites, a lighthouse, and a sandy beach.

This was the place where I wanted the ceremony, but stormy weather was headed our way.

The travel diaries, Mackinac Island

At the point where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron collide lies the beautiful Mackinac Island. On the map, you will find it between Upper and Lower Michigan visible from the daunting Mackinac Bridge which connects Michigan. It was here that I remember a dream being born. It was on this island that Paul told me that he would like to try sailing for the first time. He said this as we watched sailboats enter the harbor finishing a sailing race from Chicago to Mackinac Island. He said that he could see himself on that sailboat race someday. It has been about 100 years since the first sailboat race from Chicago to Mackinac Island. Who knows? Maybe for the 100th anniversary you might see us there. It is one of the world’s longest sailboat races that takes place in freshwater and we wouldn’t even need a plane ticket to get there.

It took many years for the dream to take root and grow. It has been at least a decade since we have visited the island. This will be our third year of having a sailboat. Sorry for the lack of pictures. The last time I visited was before I even had a digital camera. Okay, maybe it has been more than ten years. I think we visited the island for our 5th anniversary, but so much water has passed under the bridge since then that I am even having a hard time recollecting that.

The first time that we visited the island, we stayed in St. Ignace. We loved the island so much that we decided to stay there on another trip. While we were in St. Ignace, we took the bridge over to Mackinaw City where at the time was a water park. We spent the warmest day at the water park. I remember it was in the upper 60’s in the middle of summer. A cold wind was blowing off the lake while we froze. I wonder if that water park is still there? It didn’t seem like an ideal location to me.

Our second trip to the island we stayed in a little B&B near the harbor downtown. The room itself was the size of a large closet. But it didn’t really matter that much to me. We were there to explore everything on the island. The island employees a lot of seasonal summer help from Jamaica. The woman that served breakfast in the morning was from there. She softly sang Annie’s Song while cooking and cleaning up. It was so soothing to hear her singing that I decided we would spend our 10th anniversary in Jamaica.  We liked the culture of the people. They seemed to be carefree and happy. I bet that woman never knew she had an impact on my travel choices.

When you step foot on the island, you are instantly transported back in time. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island. The main mode of transportation are bikes and horses. It is relaxing hearing the horses feet clop while falling asleep at night. Paul and I spent a lot of time biking. The island is 8 miles around with a paved bike trail surrounding the perimeter of the island. We witnessed a bike accident one time while we were there. A little boy ran out in front of a group of bicyclists. No one was seriously hurt, but the child was scraped up pretty badly. Paul took his canteen over to the child and cleaned his wounds.

The outside bike path can get pretty congested at times. The second trip we brought bikes instead of renting them. This allowed us to explore the inner parts of the island. Otherwise you need to rent bikes which can get pricey. The inner part of the island is rather hilly. We road by the airport, the governor of Michigan’s summer house, and explored several old cemetaries. The island is also home to a fort which we explored and ate supper at while overlooking the island.

As far as nightlife goes, we spent a couple evenings at The Pink Pony bar and grill. They featured live music which most of the time was a man playing classic rock songs on his acoustic guitar. It was a very popular place to go.

The last time that I visited the island, I stayed at the Grand Hotel. I went with a group of church ladies for a women’s retreat. We went during the week at the end of the season (which I believe is in October) when the last ferries go to the island with visitors. The hotel itself seems to be rather old but not unkept. It is fashioned in the Victorian style. We took our picture next to an antique carriage displayed inside. It really gives the flavor of staying at a classy late 1800’s resort for rich snobby people. I think it would be fun to go there dressed in era fashions or do some sort of Victorian period murder mystery party. Our meals were included in our stay which was in a large ornate hall. They had a 4 piece jazz band that played during the meal. The ambiance was remarkable and the food I remember was delectable too. I remember eating a very good lobster bisque and creme brulee there which says a lot since I haven’t been there in a decade.

There is also an 80’s movie called Somewhere in Time which was filmed at the Grand Hotel. I am sorry to say that never passed the sleep test for me. No matter what I did, I couldn’t stay awake while watching it. So I would pass on that unless you are into slow pace romance movies, then maybe.

Mackinac Island is also known for its fudge. The island has several fudge shops, candy stores, and ice cream parlors. Mackinac Island fudge ice cream is also available. Just stay away from the Mackinac Island horse apples. They aren’t good. 

Even though you are surrounded by water, you will not find many beaches or swimming pools on the island. You can leave the bike trails at any time and jump in the water. I wouldn’t suggest it because the water is very cold. Very few people live on the island year round.

If you visit the island, you will feel the peacefulness of stepping back in time while still enjoying modern conveniences such as running water and electricity. To get the full experience, leave your cell phone in your car. Or take it one step further and dress like characters from Little House on the Prairie. Now that would be fun!

 

The travel diaries, St. Lucia part 2

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If you ever plan a trip to St. Lucia, you absolutely have to spend the day at Pigeon Island. It is a park on a hill that used to be a fort at one time. You will find yourself surrounded by ancient relics in the most beautiful place in the world.

If you are staying at a Sandals resort do not buy the excursion there. Simply get yourself to the Sandals Grand St. Lucian resort. Then walk across the parking lot until you get to the enterance. You will see someone in what looks like a toll booth. If I remember right, we paid less than $10 per couple to get in.

I took the first picture from the top of the hill facing the Sandals resort. The resort itself is on the middle left hand side of the picture with the red roofs. This resort has a very impressive beach as well which we enjoyed. It also seems like a popular sailing destination.

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It was wonderful to travel with friends for many reasons. One of the best reasons was that we were able to get so many pictures together as a couple which we didn’t get in other locations. We both purchased expensive cameras to capture every minute of the best trip I have ever been on.

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This is a picture of Lisa and I sitting on top of a building within the fort.

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The view on top of the fort.

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The picture above is my favorite picture of Paul and I that was ever taken. We were able to explore the park at our leisure. It wasn’t crowded inside. The best part was that we could walk within the crumbling structures. It wasn’t cordoned off in any way. There weren’t any signs that cautioned danger. It was something that I know would be frowned upon if not downright illegal in the U.S.

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It was falling apart. It was dangerous. It was fun.

We were so in love with St. Lucia that we didn’t want to leave.