Arriving to and Leaving from the Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: Bois Blanc Island Dinners

Coming on the ferry to Bois Blanc Island has an unofficial ceremony to it.

A member of the Plaunt family that runs the ferry backs my rented car onboard and I walk on.

As the ferry pulls away from the dock I watch the bridge opening in front of us over the Cheboygan River.

The ferry pulls out past the icebreaker that keeps the Straits of Mackinac open during the winter.

This boat is named the USCGC Mackinaw.
This boat is named the USCGC Mackinaw.

I watch the approach of Bois Blanc Island in the distance for a bit before returning to the car to read, chat, or sleep.

Once the ferry gets closer everyone becomes antsy and crowds to the front.

The ferry was pretty busy because people were coming for a tour of all the neat cottages on the Island.
The ferry was pretty busy because people were coming for a tour of all the neat cottages on the Island.

My relatives wave from the sea wall protecting the ferry dock on Bois Blanc.

When we dock we shout, “Hello!” before driving the car off.

We park the car and exchange hugs and greetings with the relatives. Then we drive to the cottages to take out our groceries and luggage.

Leaving is pretty much the same thing.

The relatives come to wave goodbye. They hug, say what a good time they had, and promise to see us again.

The ferry pulls out and I walk down to the end of the sea wall to wave goodbye one more time.

Bye bye, Ferry!
Bye bye, Ferry!

Until next year!

-Mister Ed

This is the last of my posts about my trip to Bois Blanc Island this year. Hope you enjoyed them!

Mackinac Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: Round Island

My uncle's piloting the family motor boat into Mackinac.
My uncle’s piloting the family motor boat into Mackinac.

Mackinac is another weirdly pronounced island name like Bois Blanc (Bob-lo). Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw.

Mackinac Island was the original tourist location in Northern Michigan before Bois Blanc Island and it still attracts thousands of people per day.

Initially, Mackinac Island was a trading post for the local Ojibwa Native Americans. They brought furs to trade with European settlers. The Europeans then took the furs east and sold them.

The traders chose Mackinac to conduct business because it is well situated at the junction between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. People could easily reach Mackinac by boat from all over the Northwest Territory.

Twice a year there is a big sailing contest that fills the port up with colorful sails. Didn't catch the contest this year though.
Twice a year there is a big sailing contest that fills the port up with colorful sails. Didn’t catch the contest this year though.

Since Mackinac was the center of this trade it was important for the British to defend it.

The British built Fort Mackinac on the south side of the island to protect and control the fur trade.

As the fur trade died out it became replaced by tourism in the late 1800s.

Millions of people visit Mackinac Island every year, but what do they all do there?

There are gift shops, arcades, toy stores, fudge shops (Mackinac Island fudge is the best in the world), and tons of state park space to explore.

Fort Mackinac is now a historical site where costumed employees will tell you what life on the frontier was like in the 1800s.

There's a soldier down on the parade grounds giving a history lesson to some other tourists.
There’s a soldier down on the parade grounds giving a history lesson to some other tourists.

There are a few other historical buildings sprinkled around the island including an old doctor’s house and a beautiful church.

My favorite attraction on Mackinac is the Butterfly House.

It’s a little house on the hill behind the beautiful church.

The house connects to a greenhouse filled with hundreds of butterflies from all over the world.

The butterflies flap around and land on flowers and people who are sitting still while instrumental music plays through overhead speakers.

A picture doesn’t really capture the whole experience, but here’s one of my better ones when a butterfly landed on a flower.

So pretty! These two were chasing each other around the house before landing here.
So pretty! These two were chasing each other around the house before landing here.

It’s like stepping into a greenhouse full of flowers, only the flowers are flying around over your head, dancing.

My wife and I got some delicious Mackinac Island fudge before being picked up by my uncle in the family motor boat for the return trip to Bois Blanc Island.

-Mister Ed

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: A Typical Day on the Island

Round Island

Previous Post About Bois Blanc Island: The Three Cottages

Round Island as seen from the West End beach on Bois Blanc.
Round Island as seen from the West End beach on Bois Blanc.

Round Island is just offshore of the West End on Bois Blanc Island.

From my family’s cottages, the national park is only 0.6 miles away.

My wife and I like kayaking over there when we come to Bois Blanc.

Paddle left! Paddle right! Stormy weather starts tonight!
Paddle left! Paddle right! Stormy weather starts tonight!

There is a current towards the west that will sweep you away if you don’t constantly correct your course on the kayak.

My wife and I capsized our kayak halfway to Round Island once and almost got taken away by the current.

We couldn’t right the kayak, so we ended up kicking with our feet to push the kayak the rest of the way to Round Island.

My grandpa is always in an overwatch position with a telescope on the porch of the New Cottage.

When we capsized my grandpa was ready to call the Coast Guard to rescue us if we went past Round Island into the open part of Lake Huron.

We landed on the westernmost tip of Round Island and saved ourselves a lot of trouble.

Round Island itself is empty and there isn’t much to do there. You can’t go inland because the forest is too deep. There’s an old lighthouse, but it closed when radar became the standard method for preventing ships from running aground.

My family spends our time on Round Island looking for cool rocks, beach glass, or the occasional piece of coal that fell off a freighter and washed ashore.

We do all that stuff, but mostly my wife and I go to Round Island because there is no one else on it.

Bois Blanc is isolated, but there are still happy relatives all around you.

On Round Island there is literally no other person within half a mile of you.

And sometimes solitude is all you want.

-Mister Ed

We made it! No capsizing this time.
We made it! No capsizing this time.

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: Mackinac Island

Leaving for a Week

A Google Earth view of Bois Blanc Island (Pronounced Bob-Lo Island).
A Google Earth view of Bois Blanc Island (Pronounced Bob-Lo Island).

I left this morning for a week long vacation in Michigan.

I’ve set up the site to update while I’m gone. When I get back I will undoubtedly be posting about what my trip was like.

Consider this a heads-up that if anything strange develops on the site I won’t be able to fix it until I return.

Picture above are three islands in Lake Huron, north of Michigan.

Michigan is split into two distinct parts, the Upper Peninsula and the Lower Peninsula.

When you look at a map, the Lower Peninsula is the section that looks like a left handed oven mitt.

The Upper Peninsula looks like a broken branch or something.

Anyways, those three islands are almost right between the closest points of the peninsulas. You can see the bridge to the left of the islands in the picture.

I’m going to Bois Blanc Island (Bob-Lo), the lower right one, for my vacation.

The top left island is called Mackinac Island (Mac-in-aw). The middle island is called Round Island.

Historically, Mackinac Island is the most important. It contains a fort built by the British to trade for furs with the local Native Americans.

The fort was given to the USA after the Revolutionary War, but many British stuck around.

In the War of 1812, the British retook the fort, but they had to give it back at the end of the war once again.

The other two islands can’t compete with the “staggering historical importance” of Mackinac Island.

Today, Mackinac is a tourist location reached by ferry, boat, or private airplane. It has tons of candy shops, toy shops, and fudge shops.

Fudge is the biggest export from Mackinac. The island also boasts the hotel with the largest porch in the world.

You can also visit the old fort and a butterfly zoo while you’re on Mackinac.

No cars are allowed on Mackinac, so you have to get around by walking, biking, or horses.

Round Island is a national park with nothing on it except trees, rocks, animals, and a lighthouse. It has never had any historical importance whatsoever and it is not strictly round.

Bois Blanc Island is pronounced Bob-Lo Island. REMEMBER HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT!

Bois Blanc was a timber resource for the US navy back when ships were still primarily built out of wood.

The navy started selling plots of land on Bois Blanc after they realized they didn’t need the wood anymore.

The plots were bought by people to construct beachfront summer homes in the 1880s. My dad’s mom’s mom’s dad (I think I got that right) was one of the people who bought a plot of land.

My great-great-grandpa built a cottage on the island and now all of his descendants go there for vacations.

For the next week I will be on Bois Blanc Island with my extended relatives, far away from the rest of the world.

-Mister Ed

Next Post About Bois Blanc Island: Getting to the Island