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Mackinac Island

We spent a weekend on Mackinac Island. You can impress northern Michiganders with the correct local pronunciation, Maw - kin - nack.

Cars are banned from the island. This means you have to walk, cycle, or be moved along by a horse. There are a lot of horses on Mackinac Island.

Unfortunately, horses leave behind ample evidence of their movements. A common job on the island is sweeping the horse droppings off the road. How do you describe that on a resume? Animal product technician, roadway maintenance engineer, soil scientist, and dung sweeper (probably too honest) come to mind.

The whole island is steeped in history, which smells a lot like horse urine. The British built a fort to control the nearby strategic Mackinac Bridge. However, the Americans later took control, and as a result you can buy and eat huge quantities of fudge and ice cream almost round the clock. Visitors from Lower Michigan are called Fudge Suckers by the locals, because of the prices they pay for fudge.

Martin tried a local delicacy called a pasty, basically meat and potatoes in a pastry shell. This was quite a culturally broadening experience for someone from England, where potatoes are traditionally made into samosas.

We visited the Grand Hotel, which had a Victorian atmosphere best described by the phrase "No Riff-Raff". Martin wandered in, and sat through a few seminars. This was actually a serious work-related meeting, with talks starting at the crack of dawn (about 8:30 am) and continuing until just after the crack of afternoon (about 12:30 pm). Even after this gruelling schedule, work was not over for the day. There were still shrimp to be eaten and cocktails to be sipped at the evening receptions. The clear blue skies, warm breeze, and sun-dappled waters, as viewed from the porch of the Grand Hotel, brought to mind the days of working in a research laboratory, as in "Thank goodness I don't work in a research laboratory any more".

We also visited the Arch Rock. Even in England, you may have heard of Arches National Park, a collection of spectacular natural bridges in Utah. Looking at Arch Rock, you know that you are nowhere near Utah. Locals would argue that the Utah arches don't have the geologically interesting outcrops of concrete that Arch Rock has in abundance.

After leaving the island, we drove across Mackinac Bridge. The main span is 8,614 feet long, the longest in northern Michigan, and the entire world if you believe the very old postcards sold locally. (Isn't there a longer one in Japan?). If you include the approach roads (Interstate 75), the bridge is 900 miles long.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, except Laser, who was staying at a vet for kenneling and jabs.


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