A Grand Distraction–Part One

MI Mit

In an effort to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and because in the six years we’ve lived in Michigan neither Todd nor Jake had been to Mackinaw Island, we left home Wednesday morning for Jake’s, now rescheduled, Thursday Pre-op and Friday’s surgery appointment bound for that wonderful place where no motorized vehicles are allowed and all transportation is either on foot, by bicycle or horse-drawn.

Bird #1:

Todd needed to check out the logistics of getting the horses over to the island for a an event that we hopefully will be doing there next August and visit a guy at the Grand Hotel’s horse barn.

Bird #2:

He thought it would be a grand distraction from the looming surgery that was to take place Friday.  I whole heartedly agreed.


First of all, we had to take two rigs on this round about journey because Todd needed to leave right after Jake got out of surgery so he could get back to the farm.  He is pulling out Saturday morning (tomorrow) for the Indiana State Fair with the horses.

This is me in my rig, Todd and Jake behind me, crossing the Mackinaw Bridge because we wanted to catch the ferry boat at the St. Ignace port.  That port is located in the Upper Peninsula just on the other side of the bridge.

FYI:  I held my camera up and just clicked, like 20 times…this is the one and only shot that turned out and if you look real close you can see the Grand Hotel.  It’s the bigger white spot in the green on the island to the left.  Just above my side mirror.


We took the Shepler’s ferry over.  (That wasn’t the passenger ferry in the background it was behind me.)


It was ultra cool when I realized where our ferry-boat was sitting!

This is Moran Bay where the U.P. Pond Hockey Championships are held.  We walked all over this bay when it was solid ice a couple of years ago.



I made a discovery…not only is it blue-green in the winter, it is blue-green in the summer too!


What a blast that was!!  And that’s Mackinaw Island in the background.

*Click any one of those ice pictures if you want to see the post I did on that event.


Leaving St. Ignace bound for the island.  Nothing better than seeing our flag whipping in the wind!

We wanted to leave out of Ignace because it’s where all the horses for the island depart from or embark to for that matter at the end of the summer season.  And that port, providing next year works out, is where we would load the semi onto a barge.  We kinda wanted to check all that out.


This the view from the ferry-boat of the famous Grand Hotel .  You’ll have to Google it but it may still hold the title of World’s longest front porch in the Guinness Book of World’s Records.


Once we de-boated, de-planed…uh..disembarked?  Whatever.  We had a much-needed lunch in one of the quaint restaurants then we had one destination in mind – the Grand Hotel’s horse barn.

Funny how men don’t give a “rats behind” for shops and such.  And that was totally A-OK with me.


This is “Cousin Ben”.  He’s the Grand Hotel’s head horseman but he’s not really my cousin.  The cousin part was his idea few years ago, I think my second time on the island with out-of-town guests.  It made it easier to name drop so I could get places I wasn’t supposed to be.  Ben is “good people” and great story-teller.  Oh and he doesn’t drive half bad either!  :)

It was Ben that we needed to visit with about the event next summer…once he finished giving a couple private tours.

This is a pair of lovely Hackney horses put to a natural wood Vis-à-vis with Ben looking very sharp as coachman.


Speaking of “coachman”, this is his hat, driving gloves, whip and much-needed modern accessory:  the all important walkie-talkie sitting on the driver’s seat.  He uses that walkie-talkie to keep in contact with his people in the stable and the other drivers picking up and delivering Grand Hotel guests to and from the pier in two Omnibuses pictured below.


The Grand uses dapple grey Percheron Draft horses on these two vehicles.


The harness room is open to the public and I took full advantage of that, so much so that I may in the future do a post on all the cool little touches I found here and throughout the inside of the stable.


In the meantime, I {heart} coaching harness.


Do you know I have a pairs set of my own?  Yup and it’s very old, made with nickel hardware (pre-chrome days) and thank you God, not brass…though this is gorgeous isn’t it?


We stayed so long talking that we got in the way of feed time.  So we said our good bye’s…


Grabbed some of this…


And proceeded to feed ourselves sample it all the way back to St. Ignace where we stayed the night.

It truly was a Grand distraction.

**Part Two is on deck – Stand by!**


20 thoughts on “A Grand Distraction–Part One

  1. What a great tale! That hotel is really something…..don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of it but wow – sure would love to stay there some time. Wonderful photos of the whole “Part One” distraction trip Dee…….can’t wait to see “Part Two” !!

    Pam (and Sam)


  2. We have been to Mackinac Island twice and enjoyed everything about it. Love the idea of no cars, your mode of transportation boat, carriage, bikes and walking around the island is just plain fun. In Martha Stewart August Magazine, she shows a full page picture of that porch. It’s 660 feet long with 100 rocking chairs, I think I need to make a reservation next August and try one of those rockers out.


  3. I am sorry to hear of the surgery being post poned….I know how hard it is to wait once you know you need to do it. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your family. I am happy to see that you made lemonade out of some crummy lemons:):) Excited that you all are together and hoping you have a wonderful relaxing trip and vacation:)


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