Somewhere in Time – Mackinac Island Michigan
It’s raining softly and I quietly listen to each delicate drop find its way from the heavens onto the top of the ferry boat. I’m still in that mysterious place nestled between a dream and wakefulness. I slit one eye open by a centimeter; just enough to note that the dock is still a good distance away before letting myself drift back to that warm cross over place. Was I really just bicycling on an island where there were no cars? Why is the rain joining together into a percussive pattern that sounds like the trot of a horse? I inhale and drift off again trying to distinguish the fragrant aroma tickling my nostrils.
Somewhere in that dreamlike state, I find myself sitting at a breakfast table with a dozen or so people all sipping from chinaware. The clinking of silverware and the soft mummer of voices colliding with the sweet smell of blueberries, bread, pastries and coffee silently weaves us all together. It somehow feels as if I am merely a witness and not really there at all. I look across the tantalizing spread and see a lovely couple who shares their story with their table neighbors about why they are here on this enchanted island. “We’re photographers.”
“How wonderful.” Their neighbors exchange and then ask, “Are you here to capture the amazing sunrises and sunsets?”
“Actually, we are wedding photographers and with this being such a beautiful and romantic place, we get to work here a lot. ” They say with big grins. Suddenly I feel a twinge inside that I can’t put my finger on and reach my hand underneath the table and find my bride’s hand reaching for mine. Our eyes meet when the elderly couple directly across from us engages with, “So how long are you on the island for?” I look over at the two wrinkled faces and notice a glow that seems to be reflected around them and in their warm eyes. I am caught up in the moment but somehow spit out, “We are just here for the night.” I look over at my wife and see that she too is mesmerized at how this couple simply looks at each other. I get that weird feeling inside again just as the innkeeper walks out of the kitchen with a pot of coffee and a big smile and asks if anyone could use a refill.
“Please do not leave. You have no idea how far I’ve come to be with you.” I hear silently whispered in my ears. “Who was that?” I ask myself and let my eyes drift around the massive dining room, taking in the many black and white photographs of when a movie was filmed on this island. A slight tug on my sleeve from the small boy sitting next to me brings me back to the present. “Hi there.” I say glancing down into his wide brown eyes. He smiles and asks if I’m only going to eat fruit and why haven’t I tried the blueberry muffins yet? As I conjure up a witty reply to an eight year old, I find myself thinking that he looks like myself as a boy.
Like a bolt of lighting the morning sun quickly fills the corners of the room and suddenly I could see myself sitting across the table and I was once again the professional photographer that I had been for 15 years. I quickly turn to the older couple and see that it is us, only older and a little more wrinkled but still in love and still traveling together. There we were as B&B/Inn keepers caring for our guests in our beautiful home and I looked down to see myself as the young boy with wide curious eyes willing to engage in conversation with strangers at a breakfast table.
This awareness rocks me back and forth as the ferry rocks and sways through the waves. “So I must be in one of those dreams within a dream.” I convince myself as I hear, “Come back to me. You have no idea how far I’ve come to be with you,” whispering in the wind. The breakfast and conversations continue to flow and we eventually find ourselves out on our bicycles. We peddle around the island and our senses take in that there really are no cars. Everywhere we look there were families and children on bikes. Couples either walked hand-in-hand or rode tandem together on one bike. Horses pulled carriages filled with smiling faces down the narrow streets. We were simply in awe of the scenery of the brilliantly clear blue water that lapped to the shore on our right. The island opened up to reveal its cottages, forests, and natural springs bubbling to the left. We put our toes in the waters, skipped rocks out across the great lake and listened to the songs of the gulls as they danced in the sky. Hours pass by and mingle in with random brief conversations with fellow walkers and bikers and every hello would lead us back to the magic of the moment that enveloped us of which there were no words to accurately describe.
The road comes to a fork and my bride instinctively turns to the left. I have nowhere to go except to be with her and so I follow along. The road begins to incline and I wonder about her choice just as something incredible comes into view. A breathtaking masterpiece of human creation sits on a hill. A hotel, beyond measure, the grandest of grand, all in white, with American flags whipping in the wind and a covered porch longer than I had ever seen was in the distance. The traffic thickens with more horses and wagons, some filled with luggage and people and others overloaded with food, flowers and boxes. We reach the top of the hill and park our bikes with the others and follow the magnet that seems to be pulling all the travelers to the side doors of this wonder. As we get closer we overhear that you need to be a paying guest to enter the hotel and yet something was still pulling us in. We turn and walk back down the hill and find an inviting trail leading through the woods.
As we inch our way through the forest, I begin to feel like someone else was with me. The path widens, the trees open and there it was in front of us, the Grand Hotel… the wide open garden in front, the steps leading up to her beckoning porch. Our pace quickens and we almost break into a run across the lawn as I hear a voice screaming, “Richard… ” . We climb the white steps. Our hearts were beating fast as we slip up the final ten red carpeted planks and finally arrive onto the balcony of all balconies.
And then like a cool summer wind that shifts from west to the north, she looks at me and magically I’m all debonair and stretched out on a white wicker lounge chair wearing a brown top hat and a grin. I lift my brow and instantly become mesmerized by her stunning white dress, her green eyes and breathtaking beauty. We sip tea and squeeze each others hands and watch as a couple right next to us walks to the edge of the porch, looks out over the gardens and exchange “I do’s” with the massive Mackinac bridge and beautiful Lake Huron as their backdrop.
Each breath of the day was slow. Every warm breeze was soaked into our hair, but slowly the earth made its way around the sun and somehow we eventually found ourselves back on the 45 minute ferry ride back to the main land of Michigan. We laughed and recollected our impromptu trip, minute for minute while looking back at the island, watching it get smaller and smaller. Thirty minutes later she leans her sleepy head on my shoulder and I can only make out the faint outline of the Grand Hotel. I close my eyes with the sway of the ferry drifting gently across the blue waters, let my nose fall into her tangles and ever so slowly inhale the soundtrack to Somewhere in Time.
(Please press play…. this music will fill you, haunt you and take you to winding paths leading to enchanting places)
I apologize if some of this story doesn’t make sense. The text in italics is actually quotes from the movie, Somewhere in Time – which really is a classic to watch again and again.
Our trip to Mackinac Island was truly an impromptu 24 hour vacation (from our amazing RV traveling life). We thought we would just take a ferry across with our bikes and peddle around the island for part of a day, but an hour before we left I decided to just see what prices were like at the Grand and other hotels so we wouldn’t have to rush back. Well after the sticker shock of the Grand and discovering all the other inns were filled in, by chance I somehow stumbled upon a little B&B on the outskirts of town . They just happened to have a cancellation that day and within minutes we packed our day pack and had our first experience at a Bed and Breakfast since we sold our B&B and began our full time traveling adventure in 2014.
If you are planning a visit to the area and enjoy B&B experiences. We would highly recommend Small Point B&B. Not only is the breakfast Christina prepares amazing, but the location is perfect and the sunrise that you will wake up to will make your day spectacular. The hosts have years of hospitality experience and are as warm and friendly as they come.
There is only one real way to get to Mackinac island and that is by boat. The two high speed ferries (30 min) charge around $24 per person plus $10 per bike for a round trip and the oldest slower ferry (45 min) is $18 and $8 per bike. We enjoyed Arnold, the original ferry service and preferred the slower speed so we could snap pictures and soak in the fact that we were on a boat on Lake Huron.
They do charge $10 to visit the Grand Hotel if you are not a guest. Our first visit we did sneak in via the path and garden, but we went back the next day and paid the 10 bucks, but you can use it as a discount voucher if you stay for their lunch buffet, which was out of this world.
We camped at the Wilderness State Park, which is about 15 minutes from the ferry docks in Mackinaw City. The campground is right on the waters of lake Michigan. We stayed in their west lake shore which has a few spots suitable for larger campers with 30 amp service and electric. The park also has a new section with full hook ups and 50 amp service. We enjoyed their many miles of hiking and biking trails as well as dipping in the cool waters of lake Michigan.
We just missed crossing paths with fellow full-time travelers, Paul and Nina “Wheeling It” by a few days. Nina wrote a great review of the campground they were in as well as several other camping choices in the area.