Island Lessons

During our all-too-short week in Newberry, we took a day trip to Mackinac Island.
Wow.
We hadn’t been on the island since our tenth anniversary (I think – might have been longer), and since we’re coming up on number twenty-nine, we’re overdue. Last time, we took a carriage tour, wandered and shopped a bit, but that was about all I could manage at that weight and condition.
Not so this time, my friends.
This time, I went as a Stone Cold Trike Rider – Death from Beside (and Slightly Below…), to use our adapted motto from Avatar. And, to our delight, we discovered after emailing the folks at the island ferry that recumbent trikes are not only allowed, they cost the same as any bike to take over.
Well, hot dang.
We also discovered that by purchasing our tickets online, we not only saved a few bucks, but the tickets are good for one round trip ride, any date the ferry sails. So, buy the tickets before we leave, pick the best day for weather while we’re up north, and off to the island we go.
And we did.
There are some interesting things one can learn seeing Mackinac Island from thirteen inches off the ground. Allow me to lay a few of them on you:
1) Horse exhaust is really, really big.
1a) Especially when seated thirteen inches off the ground…
2) When seated on a tadpole trike, a horse’s knee is just about level with your head. His sphincter is above your head. You really don’t want to verify this – take my word for it.
3) If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to be noticed, doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd, or doesn’t want to spend time answering questions like “where did you get that COOL bike?”, then you may not have what it takes to be one of the few, the proud, a Stone Cold Trike Rider – Death from Beside (and Slightly Below…).
Excuse me… a few Marines want to have a word with me outside after that last bit.
Seriously, the things we overheard were all variations on “what is that thing?” Lots of “COOL!” thrown in for good measure, and not a few “where can I rent one of those?” Sadly, you can’t. No trike rentals on the island. Maybe someday, although I’d probably still take my own.
4) The highway that circles Mackinac Island is in fact a state highway: M-185. It’s 8 miles long, and is the only state highway in the country that is car-free. It is magnificent, and I’d move there in a heartbeat just to have it become my morning commute.
5) Seagulls are pretty big and bold on the island. I wouldn’t be surprised that there are a lot of seagull muggings that we never hear of – it’s all hushed up by the folks at the tourist office. Be warned – if you have what the seagulls want, just hand it over. Trust me.
6) Being able to not only look at souvenir t-shirts and sweatshirts and hoodies, but finding an abundance in your size and being able to actually think about buying the aforementioned garments is a joy that most people don’t understand.
6a) Finding a couple of t-shirts on CLEARANCE is a joy that we all can relate to.
7) Once you get out of “downtown,” the island becomes a lot less “touristy” and much more beautiful.
7a) I grew up near the Lake Huron shoreline. This was like being home again.
8) Vicki hasn’t said this right out loud, but I think traveling with me has become so much a) easier; b) simpler; c) funner than it ever was before. We go, we ride, we walk, without her having to be on the lookout for someplace I can sit down. She doesn’t have to walk through stores by herself, while I sit and wheeze on a bench outside. She can take the time to shoot a few hundred pictures without being concerned that my legs will give out shortly.
She can enjoy things WITH me, instead of having to take care OF me. That rocks!
9) In either time we’ve been to the Island, we haven’t been to the Grand Hotel. I admire and appreciate it – I just don’t feel like paying to see it.
9a) We do love the movie “Somewhere In Time,” but not enough to go during the Somewhere In Time festival thingie they have on the island.
9b) “RIIIIICCCHHHHHAAARRRRRDDD!!!” is my favorite quote from the movie. I have issues.
10) Letting your kids get out their excess energy by taking off around the island? Great and groovy. Letting them do so under the impression that M-185 is their personal extreme bike stunt track? Not so much.
10a) I always wear my helmet, but not because of how I ride…
10b) I also wear my helmet because when my hair grew out, it decided to turn curly. I look like a Chia Pet. Helmet head is much better than fluffy head.
11) The horse always wins. ALWAYS. He has weapons you can’t imagine and don’t want to experience. “You don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger, and you don’t mess around with” HORSE.
11a) Neither do you “spit into the wind” or “tug on Superman’s cape,” just to be clear.
12) The Mackinac Bridge is one of my favorite sights. I never ever get tired of looking at it.
12a) If someone from an institution of higher learning in the U.P. is looking for a database developer, and the drive from there to St. Ignace wouldn’t be too far for someone else to get some summer gigs or jobs on the island, boy do I have a deal for you…
13) I hope that I never become so jaded that I lose the wonder of how easy it is to move around these days. I sometimes laugh out loud at the ease I find in just doing simple things, and I don’t want to ever take that for granted. It was never a question if I could make it all the way around the island, just if we were going to do it once or twice.
14) Horses have a lot of “output.” They are regular and carefree creatures, and leave evidence of that where’er they roam.
14a) I don’t ever EVER want to be a farrier. I’ve seen where those horseshoes have been.
15) It is possible to visit the Island and not once set foot into a fudge shop. Those in the know wait until they get back to St. Ignace, where the lines aren’t so long.
15a) There are fudge shops in Mackinaw City also, just for the record.
16) Smoked fish is delicious.
(Yes, this is a pretty random list. Why do you ask?)
16a) The store at the Cut River Bridge on US-2 has amazing fish.
17) My mother-in-law noted that you have to be pretty “obsessed” to travel with trikes, having seen the stuff we bring along to be able to ride. I guess I am obsessed. I can live with that.
18) Did you know there’s a B.C. Pizza in St. Ignace? And it’s right next to the parking lot where one can park for the ferry? And that a thin crust pizza after a day of riding around an island is a beautiful thing?
18a) I don’t believe there’s a B.C. Pizza in Mackinaw City. Makes it worth paying the bridge toll, eh?
18b) There is one in Lake City, so you could always grab it on the way home. If you can wait that long, that is.
19) I get just as queasy sitting in the main cabin of the ferry as I do sitting on the open top deck, huddling in the wind as my wife shoots pictures. Motion uneasiness is no respecter of person or position.
20) We aren’t going to wait another ten or fifteen years to go back to the island. Or even five. In fact, I wonder what the plans are for this weekend…
The best lesson? That God has brought me to such a wonderful new place, and I need to spend my days reminding myself and others how amazing His grace is. No snitty days, no pity parties, no getting irritated at traffic. When God has put so much grace in your life, you need to be gracious.
Thanks Lord for our time away. Thanks for the island lessons. Thanks for the strength and joy to move around that amazing place. Thanks for Vicki, and giving me the chance to share life with her.
And thanks for keeping me from losing an axle in a big ol’ pile of…
horse exhaust.
Amen. And amen.
(If you’re a Facebook peep, you’ll find a few pictures from our Island trip in my photos. If you’re a FB peep, but aren’t my friend, hit me with a request. If you’re not into the Facebook, I’ll try and put something photogenic together and post it on the blog. Sometime. Maybe.)

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