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Old 06-15-2013, 11:51 PM   #46
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Looked like a great hike on the Ledges trail!!
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Old 06-16-2013, 03:41 AM   #47
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Wow, you have been busy - what a beautiful park that was.
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Old 06-16-2013, 03:03 PM   #48
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Another great update!! Loved the pictures from the park, especially the waterfalls! We seem to be having cooler than normal summer weather here in the north. Someday, summer will show up!
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:29 PM   #49
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More great days Brandi! Looks like a great park and that you are having a great time!
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:42 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by shazza View Post
Awesome update! Sounds like you all had such a good time. Especially since the weather was so scary when you started out.

Your griddle meals do sound delicious. That's a good idea to take the griddle. Also, thanks for the report on Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I've put it on our list.
The griddle has been great; we've put it to good use! Last summer we camped and we were able to grill a lot of meals... This summer, staying in hotels and such I needed an alternate way to make some easy meals so we weren't eating out too much and the griddle has been great!

You would love Cuyahoga Valley NP; it's a great park!!

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Another great day! These trails sound wonderful! I'm actually wondering why my parents never took us here as kids as we traveled annually when I was growing up to visit my mom's family in Ohio. We usually used national parks as additional vacation points.
Given that it's the tenth most visited park, seems like they would've heard of it.... It definately would have been a great place to visit!

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That park looks wonderful! The falls are beautiful and the ledges trail looks challenging and fun. I love the moss-covered ledges.
I loved the moss-covered ledges as well!

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Looked like a great hike on the Ledges trail!!
It was!!

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Wow, you have been busy - what a beautiful park that was.
It was a beautiful park!!

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Originally Posted by KMB733 View Post
Another great update!! Loved the pictures from the park, especially the waterfalls! We seem to be having cooler than normal summer weather here in the north. Someday, summer will show up!
The weather is definately different here.... In Georgia, we were getting into the 90's when I left and now here we are doing good to hit 60.... In general it feels really nice though, just cold mornings... Although I'm a little concerned as to how cold Isle Royale be may...

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More great days Brandi! Looks like a great park and that you are having a great time!
We are having a great time!

Thanks for following along, everyone!
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:46 PM   #51
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Saturday June 15th- Sunday June 16th
We had a long drive ahead of us, so we were set to get going as soon as we got up. Today we were driving to Saint Ignace, Michigan/ MacKinac Island.

We got up around 6am, ate the hotel뭩 breakfast, packed up, and got going.

Other than a few potty stops and a lunch stop at McDonalds we were making pretty good time.
With every stop, I was noticing the outside temps dropping and I was increasingly concerned about our lack of warm clothing. Last summer, I made this same mistake and we got so cold we ended up stopping off for sweat suits at Wal-Mart. I just couldn뭪 believe I had set us up for failure once againL. I did pack long pants for everyone this time which was an improvement, but I didn뭪 pack jackets. Madilyn brought along a jacket/vest that is sleeves, so she was better off than the rest of us; but none of us were prepared. I have plenty of things I could have brought for home. But didn뭪.

So, about an hour from the hotel, I spotted a Wal-Mart off the exit and made a pit stop for batteries, bottled waters, and jackets. They didn뭪 have a single jacket or sweat shirt for men, boys, or girls. They did have some jackets for women, but I didn뭪 get them as they were way overpriced and it would have only worked for me, and everyone else would have still been without.
We got back on the road, and when we were literally about two miles from our hotel, I spotted a Family Dollar. Unfortunately, they didn뭪 have a single sweatshirt or jacket.

We finally made it to the hotel- Holiday Inn Express. It was very nice, we had two connecting lower level rooms that had balconies that walked right out to the lake front (Lake Huron). There were a TON of pigeons between the balcony door and the lake at any given time. They were fun to watch!

The hotel also had an indoor pool, that the little kids enjoyed swimming in- especially Winston as he practices his new swimming skills.

For dinner, we made hotdogs on the griddle.
The front desk let me know that the earliest ferry to MacKinac Island in the morning would be at 7:30am. So, we went to bed with the alarm set for 6am.

The next morning, I woke up initially at 5am but managed to go back to sleep until the alarm went off at 6am. Once the alarm went up, we were all moving about and getting ready quickly. We headed down to the hotel뭩 breakfast which was really good and included items such as eggs, sausage, and biscuits. We really enjoyed it.
My plan was to drive to the ferry at 7am. The ferry is technically in walking distance, at less than a mile but I figured we뭗 be walking enough on the island and decided to just drive to it. The lady at the front desk informed me that the ferry service offers a free hotel shuttle to and from the hotel. So, we decided to use that service instead.
The van shuttle picked us up at 7:15am. We had purchased an island experience package that included a round trip ride on the ferry, a carriage ride, admission to the butterfly conservatory, admission to Fort MacKinac, and admission to the Grand Hotel.

Once at Arnold뭩 Ferry dock, we traded in our package voucher for ferry tickets. We had good timing and the ferry was ready to board right as we walked over.

It was pretty chilly outside and we opted to sit inside the ferry rather than up top.

Once on the island we were very disappointed to see that the Carriage Tour place was closed and wouldn뭪 open until 9am. It was only 8am. We tried going in some of the shops, but most of those were closed as wellL. We did find a few that were open early though.

At one shop, we found a nice jacket for Austin that he was excited about. But didn뭪 find anything for anyone else

A fudge shop was open as well, we all tried some samples and decided on a few we뭗 like to have for later. So, I purchased a total of a pound of fudge for the 6 of us, but put it in my bag to save for later. I also purchased a pound of fudge for my dad and a pound of fudge for the kids to give to their dad/my ex-husband for Father뭩 Day. The fudge shop mailed it for you for a $5 fee. I thought that was reasonable and I know it will be enjoyed even though both my dad and their dad will be receiving it a few days *after* Father뭩 Day.

Next we headed to check out a bike rental shop. They had reasonable rates and the kids were so excited to ride bikes on the island! The island doesn뭪 allow any motorized vehicles; everyone gets around by horse, horse carriage, bikes, and during the winter- snow mobiles. I told the kids we would see about getting the bikes after our carriage tour.

We still had about a half an hour before the carriage tour place opened. We found one more open shop where I purchased a post card to mail ourselves from Michigan.

When we exited that shop, we realized a line was now forming for the carriage tours so we joined the masses. The carriage center opened promptly at 9am and we were quickly able to exchange our package vouchers in for tickets. We were able to board the first carriage of the day that started at 9:10am.

The kids were really excited to ride the horse carriage as was I. Wesley and Dillon insisted they weren뭪 the least bit cold; but Madilyn, Winston, and I wished we had been able to find a jacket like Austin now had.

The carriage ride is informational as well. We learned that about 500 residents live on the island year round. They have one single school that houses grades K-12. This school year, they just had 7 graduates. A few years ago, they just had two graduates and they were twins. I thought it was pretty neat to learn about. They also said cops give out speeding tickets to bicyclist that not only cost money, but also take points of your license. Again, interesting

The carriages first stop is a shop type area where you transfer to a different, larger carriage. At this stop point, we went in another shop where we were able to find a cute sweatshirt for Winston- so he was now warm as well.

In addition to the shops, the Butterfly Conservatory is at this stop as well. We were the only ones to enter the conservatory so we literally had it to ourselves. The kids really enjoyed this place and I did too- but it wasn뭪 as cool as I뭗 hoped/expected I thought there would be thousands of butterflies flying all around you and it simply wasn뭪 like that. It was informative though, I learned that moths have no tongues and literally cannot eat. They only live 3-10 days and they live off of the nutrients that they got before they hatched their entire lives they receive no other nutrients.

We boarded the 35 passenger, 3 horse drawn carriage and headed onto more sights around the island.

We stopped at 밫he Arch which was similar to arches you뭗 see in Arches National Park. It was beautiful with the big lake in the background of it!

Turns out 80% of MacKinac Island is a state park that use to be a national park. I found that interesting, as I didn뭪 know this. It hasn뭪 been a national park since the late 1800뭩 when the soldiers left and the fort closed up.

The next official stop was at Fort MacKinac; we were the only ones on the carriage stopping off to see the Fort. They have no idea what they were missing! The Fort was wonderful and I could have spent most of the day there! They offer several re-enactments; we only got to see two. I would have liked to have seen them all. The have preserved the fort very well and it was just so cool to see. It was very informative as well, for example in the fort hospital they had a film where the fort뭩 doctor talked about three illnesses that had went on in the fort and then a current doctor tells you what the illnesses really were and how they뭗 be treated today. These were three actual cases that had really happened at the fort. They had so many cool things to see, that I could just go on and on It was just a ton of fun!

After the fort, we re-boarded the carriage and it took us to the Grand Hotel. The hotel was definitely grand! It was a beautiful place! We explored it for a little bit before heading to their lunch buffet. It was expensive and probably not worth the price; but we enjoyed it all the same. It had a very large selection and I thought it was delish. They had no 뱆id friendly options, but I had warned the kids of that in advance and they agreed to be adventurous. And they were- they all ate very very well. And the cashier ended up not charging me for Winston- she said he was free, I told her he was seven- I뭢 not sure what age is supposed to be free I think they don뭪 get a ton of children in there, so maybe that is why he was free.

After lunch, we took some pictures out on the big hotel porch, which I was told is literally the largest porch in the country! I can뭪 remember how big they said it was though

We then walked back to town. We walked to the bike rental shop. I rented 5 bikes, Winston can뭪 ride without training wheels yet and Dillon offered to pull him behind his bike in a carrier. I haven뭪 ridden a bike in so long, I was worried I would have a hard time driving myself, let alone pulling a child behind me.

Dillon said it was actually really easy to pull Winston behind him and that it was a very smooth ride. I really wasn뭪 sure how well I뭗 make out on a bike, but thankfully I was able to re-learn really quickly and it was a TON of FUN! Winston ended up falling asleep in the carrier behind Dillon. We all just had the best time riding around the island on those bikes! Our hour was up way too quickly

We returned our bikes and headed back onto the ferry, and then were shuttled back to our hotel.
We had the best time on the island! The kids all want to come back! Next time they want to stay *on* the island and rent bikes for the entire stay! I really hope to return here, it was just an absolute blast and beautiful as well!!

Back at the hotel, we swam for a bit in the pool. For dinner, we had grilled cheese on the griddle. I had bought canned tomato soup to have with it, but we had no way to heat it- so we just ate the grilled cheese alone. We still had our fudge that we had bought this morning, so we had that for dessert.

It뭩 8:35pm as I type this and I plan for us to all go to bed before too much longer as we have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow. Tomorrow we are off to Isle Royale National Park- the least visited park in the U.S.

Here are the pictures from this leg of the trip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSn_YuFPrp4
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Old 06-16-2013, 11:11 PM   #52
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I love the video! Such a beautiful place. It's been many years since I was there, but it looks just the same! You really did things right, too, stopping at the fort, buying fudge, having lunch at the hotel (gotta do it once, right?) and then exploring on your own on the bikes. Love the shot of Winston curled up in the carrier.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:59 AM   #53
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What a great day on MacKinac Island. I love the way you had parts of it to yourself. What were those people thinking, not getting off the carriage ride and seeing what it has to offer?
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:51 AM   #54
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What a great day on Mackinac Island! Love the pictures/video!
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:03 PM   #55
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Looks like a great day on Mackinac Island! It is someplace that I have always wanted to visit!
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Old 06-17-2013, 05:19 PM   #56
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What an awesome day at Mackinac Island! I had heard this was really interesting and from your TR I would say that was right!
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:57 PM   #57
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Just too good - a great tour of the Island, Swimming, Grilled Cheese, & Fudge (two of my favorites).

Reading your TR is expanding my Bucket List with each update.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:18 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by lauriep View Post
I love the video! Such a beautiful place. It's been many years since I was there, but it looks just the same! You really did things right, too, stopping at the fort, buying fudge, having lunch at the hotel (gotta do it once, right?) and then exploring on your own on the bikes. Love the shot of Winston curled up in the carrier.
MacKinac was just wonderful! And I feel lunch at the Grand Hotel is like Cindy's Castle at Disney- gotta do it once, but once is enough

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What a great day on MacKinac Island. I love the way you had parts of it to yourself. What were those people thinking, not getting off the carriage ride and seeing what it has to offer?
I know, I couldn't believe how many people were choosing to miss out on such great parts of the island!

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What a great day on Mackinac Island! Love the pictures/video!
Thanks!

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Looks like a great day on Mackinac Island! It is someplace that I have always wanted to visit!
Thanks! I hope you get to visit someday; it's wonderful! And I hope we get to go back someday...

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What an awesome day at Mackinac Island! I had heard this was really interesting and from your TR I would say that was right!
Yes, MacKinac Island was truly wonderful!

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Originally Posted by shazza View Post
Just too good - a great tour of the Island, Swimming, Grilled Cheese, & Fudge (two of my favorites).

Reading your TR is expanding my Bucket List with each update.
Thanks for following along! It was really a great time at MacKinac!
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:20 PM   #59
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Monday June 17th:
I am writing up this portion of the report several days after the fact, so my memory may be a bit foggy

We had a long drive ahead of us today including multiple pit stops, so my goal was to leave at 7am.
We ended up leaving at 7:30am- so only a little late.

We had just an hour and a half drive to our first pit stop: Tahqamenon Falls State Park. I didn뭪 know about this park until shortly before we left, so it wasn뭪 in our original itinerary, but since it was only a few minutes out of the way I figured we could spare an hour or so to see the falls. They had very short trails- about a half mile- to the Upper Falls and then another half mile to the lower falls. At this point the weather was getting really cold. We enjoyed the Falls. I뭢 glad we took the time to see them. I wish we뭗 had a little more time to spare here so that we wouldn뭪 have been rushed, but I think this place worked best as a pit stop and didn뭪 leave feeling like we needed much more time.

Our next pit stop was an hour and a half away also to the National Lake Shore. This place was simply unbelievable! The lake shore with the pictured rocks was simply breathtaking; pictures don뭪 do it justice! I was so bummed that we had to leave here so quickly. We only got to go to one look out: Miners Castle. I really wish we had known of this place in advance- we needed to have stayed here overnight for sure! They offered boat rides around the lake shore that I really, really wish we would have had time for. The kids were able to get Junior Ranger badges here as well. I뭢 so glad we took the time to stop here, but I left wanting more and really hope to return someday

We stopped for lunch at SubWay.

Our third pit stop was to be the Quincy Mine. Unfortunately their last tour of the day is at 5pm and we were officially running behind schedule and couldn뭪 get there in time. This was a huge disappointment. It turns out this place is part of the National Park Service and I didn뭪 know that beforehand. Once finding that out, I doubly wished we had been able to make it. I guess, it just makes for a reason to visit that area again in the future

We were now officially making our way to Copper Harbor where we would board the Queen for a three hour ferry ride to Isle Royale National Park.
On the remainder of our drive, we spotted a walmart where we stopped for groceries and found some sweat shirts which were much needed with the cold weather.

In Copper Harbor, we were set to stay in the Minnetonka Resort that had a cabin with a kitchen. Wesley cooked dinner- fried chicken, French fries, and mac n cheese. The cabin was cozy.

The next morning we were set to board the ferry to Isle Royale

Here are the pics from this day:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJa3mJxkw6s
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:50 PM   #60
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Sounds like another great day.
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