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

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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

July Fourth as a Kid

July 4th was on Friday which for those of you who don’t know, is Independence Day in the USA.

There was a band, picnic, games, and fireworks at a park right near my house.

I went to that with my wife and had a lot of fun.

But I don’t want to write about that today. I want to write about how I used to celebrate July 4th with my mother.

When I was a kid my mom and I always went to a fireworks celebration on July 3rd at the Frost Amphitheater on Stanford campus.

The celebration at Frost Amphitheater happened on July 3rd so that all the people that worked at it could enjoy the real holiday with their own families.

It never mattered much to my mother and me which day we were celebrating July 4th on. One day for a celebration of Independence is as good as another.

The event starts with waiting in line.

There are a few seats that you can reserve, but they were quite expensive. Most people just got lawn tickets.

Lawn tickets don’t come with assigned seating, so the earlier you get there the better your seat is.

We would sit in line for an hour or two with all our picnic stuff, baskets and coolers of food, games, pillows, blankets, etc.

Once inside we’d set up on the lawn and wait for the music to start.

When we first started going the band was usually a giant orchestra that played lots of classical music.

Later on they switched to more popular bands that people could dance to like Cherry Popping Daddies.

I liked the classical music better, but listening to the Cherry Popping Daddies got me interested more and more in swing dancing.

The concert would go on until dark and then the band would announce the fireworks coming up.

The fireworks were set off behind the amphitheater and looked like every other fireworks show.

After the explosions were over everyone packed up their stuff and left, just like every other fireworks show.

They’ve stopped doing the July 3rd event, but I’ve started missing it more and more lately.

Maybe they’ll start it up again next year!

-Mister Ed