Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Vacation Day 2: Lighthouses and Lakes

So we woke up this morning, enjoyed a nice continental breakfast at our hotel, and headed over to Mackinaw City.  We goofed around in the touristy shops and boutiques and joked about how much Mackinac Island fudge we should buy (answer: none, although I did buy two "proud to be from Michigan" shirts that I might not be able to wear once I get back to Wisconsin).

The first thing we ran into was a bus from my alma mater!!! I was so excited. Go Falcons!

Side note: Mackinaw City ends in a "w," but Mackinac Island, the Mackinac Bridge, and the Straits of Mackinac all end in "c." However, you pronounce them all the same way - with an "awe" sound at the end.  So all you people out there, particularly Sydnee on Sawbones, STOP using the hard "ck" ending when talking about Fort Mackinac.  The area between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan was once a trading area that drew American Indians, the British, and the French. Mackinac Island was called Michilimackinac, the place of the "Great Turtle," by American Indians and it was eventually bastardized to Mackinac. The French spelled it one way, the English spelled it another, and now we have all kinds of people mispronouncing and misspelling it all over the place.    End soapbox.

We then went on a lighthouse cruise that Shepler's Ferry does in conjunction with the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association. Last summer, we went on the westbound cruise, but this year we went on the extended eastbound cruise. I think we're officially done with the cruises at this point, but I do highly recommend them!

First up, it was cold and rainy for a good portion of the cruise.

We went passed a bunch of lighthouses, but I honestly can't give you the complete blow by blow because we went out of order of the schedule TO AVOID THE LIGHTNING.  Okay, it's possible I was a bit of a drama queen.
 We started out with the Mighty Mac and I love it so I took dozens of pictures. It was great.

Then we spun around to the Round Island Light, which helps guide ships between Mackinac Island and Round Island. It actually looked more like some weird hermit's house on the edge of a scary peninsula than a lighthouse, but there you go. It's maintained by a Boy Scout troop and the light flips on every night, although it's not actually a "working," governmental lighthouse.

Then we saw the Round Island Passage Light which is actually RED, but it looks  black because STORMS. This light has the bizarre property of bronze Indian heads in relief surrounding it. They aren't actually representative of any actual real people, they just represent the fact that Native Americans actually have right to this land and I found it all weird and vaguely racist. Moving on.

We then saw Bois Blanc Light, but it was pouring and we weren't allowed above deck because of the lightning. We stayed put for about twenty minutes as a crazy squall hit us. When we returned to Mackinaw City at dock, we were informed that it never rained on land. Crazy midwestern weather. There are no photos of this light, sorry.  

We went to Spectacle Reef Light next, which is pretty cool. It sits on a shoal that goes up and down in the shape of eyeglasses, so that's where the name came from. We were able to take photos from down below, but we couldn't get very close because of the shoal.

We still weren't allowed above board when we got to Poe Reef Light, which is the lighthouse we had seen from shore yesterday at Cheboygan State Park, but my mom managed to get this from the window. There are some raindrops, but pretend it wasn't craziness out there!

So then we saw the Fourteen Foot Shoal Light, which is so named because there's a shoal in the lake at this point and the water is only fourteen feet, which was wreaking some serious havoc with ships crashing, so there you have it. A light was needed.

And I want to talk a bit about these birds you see at the Fourteen Foot Shoal and Poe Reef Lights. They are double-breasted cormorants and they used to be super plentiful in the Great Lakes, but, you know, people came and they were pretty rare. But they've come back with a vengeance and are nesting on some of the lighthouses and they are also doing a lot of damage. It's a good news, bad news sort of thing.

We next saw the Cheboygan Crib Light, which isn't actually a working light anymore. It was going to be destroyed, but the city of Cheboygan saved it and put it in a park. Mom and I went to see it after the tour and while you can't go inside, you can TOUCH IT. That's awesome
So I'm really tired and want to go to bed, so what we did next was drive to the park with the Cheboygan Crib Light where we touched the lighthouse AND pet a dog, got something to eat, and went back to the hotel. I then read an article about a guy who basically went undercover as a prison guard for four months, we plotted out our strategy for tomorrow, and we played some Super Big Boggle.

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