Words are how I remember. Photos are beautiful reminders, but how did it smell? Taste? Feel? These are the impressions that really send me back. When I take a trip that is particularly meaningful, I like to take a small moment to jot down those memories. Maybe in a month or more, I’ll read back and suddenly feel myself return to the place… In this case, that place is a tiny car-less island in Northern Michigan, on a few stunningly blue August weekdays with my mom.
Of course, I have lots of more actionable advice for you all – particularly regarding our stay at the iconic Grand Hotel.* But for now, let’s rifle through my memories, sort them into sensory piles, and clear some way for more ‘travel blogger’ thinking next week. In the meantime, Mackinac Island?
Mackinac Island is…
The drive north, punctuated with neon poster boards, hand-printed, proclaiming: sweet black cherries, heirloom tomatoes, husk-your-own sweet corn!
The white painted ferry boat, lake splitting in its wake. A rainbow winks through the spray.
Mackinac Bridge, slung delicately across the straits, glimmering in the distance through air that’s foggy in its humidity.
Bikes. Red bikes. Rusted bikes. Tandem bikes. Bikes with wicker baskets, bikes with babies and puppies towed behind.
A pink awninged building and its sweet and heavy smell of fudge. Slice of the plastic knife through a dark chocolatey wedge, the first dense taste of sugar and cream and Mackinac Island.
Gleaming jars of pickled somethings, orange and purple jam jars, baskets of loose beets and shining dark cherries and knobbled string beans. The cool of the market aisles and its prices, scrawled on tabs of paper, pinned to the shelves.
The air everywhere here: a mix of sickly-sweet fudge and the hot dung of horses. Still, somehow, lovable.
Grand Hotel, perched on its hill, stately on the outside and outrageous on the inside. Green carpeted hallways slant and creak underfoot with the years of the building. Hot pink velvet armoires and yellow checked love seats nestle along walls plastered with faded 1950s houseplants. A harp plucks out Phantom of the Opera, gowns rustle, chandeliers tinkle, and in through the windows, the scent of geraniums and clop of horse hooves.
In the morning: heated maple syrup, black cherry juice, a window table at last.
In the evening: Demitasse, warm and drunk, easily, on the wide porch with Rumikub (one game won, one lost).
The clacking and ticks of the bike gears during shift.
White stones that line the beach, lapped smooth by Lake Huron. The plunk as we toss them in to new homes.
Turquoise, teal, navy, absolutely flattened and clear. Unsalted. My favorite coast.
A turkey sandwich, wrapped in grease paper, eaten on the Grand Hotel porch, as we gaze out at the lake.
Steps, 207 of them, to the limestone archway, framing an ombré shore, pocked only by a small white boat. Even from up here, we can see the boaters’ feet dangling off the stern into cool water.
And, of course, my mother. Her silver hair and red lipstick and smell of Oil of Olay. The best breakfast partner, photographer, who makes me cry tears of laughter. Happy birthday <3
This was my fourth visit to Mackinac Island. For each visit, I have completely different memories and I hold them all dear. Have you been to Mackinac Island? How do you remember your travels?
P.S. In the coming weeks, you can expect a review of our stay at the Grand Hotel, as well as a gluten free guide to the island. Any other requests or specific questions in the mean time? If so, shoot me an email at [email protected] or comment below.
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