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Last fall when we got married, Darwin and I couldn't go on a honeymoon trip. It was the middle of the school year, and I can't take a week away.  Later, when I had vacation, Darwin couldn't get away from work.  So we made plans to go this summer.

We love Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island, and that's where we wanted to go.  I surfed around on AirBnB and found a little cottage to rent for the week, and we were all set.

The drive up was pleasant. We were heading up on a Saturday, after everyone in Michigan who wanted to go north had already done so.  Traffic was light, and halfway up, I woke a dozing Darwin to show him the Blue Angels, which were swooping diving near the highway.  He managed to get some photos.

The cottage sat in the middle of a great green lawn, about a hundred yards from a nice beach on the Straits of Mackinac.  (It's Mackinaw if you're on the mainland and Mackinac if you're on the water, except for Fort Michilimackinac, which is on land, or--oh, never mind.  Even Michiganders get it wrong half the time.)  The view was stunning!  We could see the Mackinaw Bridge, Mackinac Island, and Bois Blanc island all from our cottage.  The little beach was delightful, but the water was way too cold for swimming yet.  Darwin and I didn't mind--we aren't big swimmers.

Sunday we went straight to Mackinac Island. We love it there. Mackinac is a tourist zone, and nothing else, but it's a tourist zone because it's beautiful.  Cars are not allowed on the island, so all transport is horses, bikes, and feet.  This gives the island a sedate, quiet feel, even if it's crowded.  Most of the island is taken up by the state park, but the city sits down at the harbor, and the old fort, which has been refurbished into an interactive museum, sit at the south end.

If you want to visit Mackinac Island, do it in late June.  The weather is lovely (though you can't swim yet) and NO ONE IS THERE.  Darwin and I were shocked at how light the crowds were, in fact.  When we visited in July or August in previous years, the place was always packed.  We were here on a Sunday, and it was dead quiet.  There were empty seats on the ferry, and no lines anywhere for anything.  An absolute delight!

A yearly tradition for us to ride out bikes all the way around the island, which Darwin and I did first.

The weather was perfect--sunny, 70s, breezy.  This is why Mackinac has been a vacation destination ever since the fort stopped being a military necessity.  Mackinac is lovely and cool during the hot, muggy Michigan summers.  And the views of the lake are stunning in all directions.

We also visited the graveyards, because we like graveyards.  We found one grave that was particularly poignant--a father and son (age 6) who died on the same day in 1823.  A little research on our phones turned up the fact that a steamer was returning from Chicago to Charlevoix when one of the egineers knocked over an oil lamp.  The ensuing fire rushed over the wooden ship in moments.  The captain decided to make a run for shore, which meant they couldn't put the lifeboats down--and the wind fanned the flames.  Very few people escaped with their lives.  The father and son were heading home from a trip to Chicago, and they died.

We traced another family in the cemetery as it transformed from one name to another, thanks to a generation of all daughters who then married.  This took several minutes of detective work and logic, but Darwin and I love this kind of thing.

At one point, I climbed over the (low) graveyard wall to avoid walking all the way down to the gate, and the back of my shorts tore open.  (!)  Darwin was very amused by this.  I remedied the problem by either wrapping my sweat shirt around my waist, or by hanging my shoulder bag behind me.  I threatened to do neither while I walked down the street if Darwin didn't stop laughing, and he finally subsided.


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