Over the summer, Mike and I went to Northern Michigan, specifically the Upper Peninsula. He drove with a group from Heartland Scuba to go wreck diving in the Straits of Mackinac. I decided that I wanted to go along since the trip was over my birthday, even though I wasn’t planning on diving. I flew to Michigan and met up with the group, as I didn’t want to ride in a van for two days each way. Also, we had Delta Skymiles to burn, so my flights were essentially free. So, win-win! In Part 1 on my trip to Michigan, I’ll talk about Pellston, Mackinaw City, the Mackinac Bridge, St. Ignace, Mackinac Island, and the wreck diving in the Straits of Mackinac. In Part 2, I’ll talk about Castle Rock, Sault St. Marie, Soo Locks, Whitefish Point, and Tahquamenon Falls.
We stayed in St. Ignace, and the nearest airport was in Pellston. It was a really tiny airport, but growing up in South Dakota, and now living in rural Nebraska, small airports do not bother me. And the amenities and staff at the Pellston airport were quite nice. The airport has a couple of free lounge areas with comfortable sofas, which is especially nice since you wait until security and the gate area is opened up just before departure times. And the decor seemed appropriate to the region of the country.
When I arrived in Michigan, it was lunchtime, so I opted to eat in town. I chose the Small Town Grill. I had a grilled sandwich with freshly shaved deli turkey and fries. The food was tasty, fresh, and filling. And the prices were reasonable. Also, and judge me for this if you will, it was kind of fun to eavesdrop on the local folks that were having lunch at the counter. They were discussing the relatively short spring season that they’d experienced, and commenting on how hot the weather was. It surprised me, because I thought the temperatures (70s-low 80s for the week) were perfect.
After lunch in Pellston, I hit the road in my rental car, and stopped in Mackinaw City at the Visitor’s Center. The staff was incredibly helpful in selecting brochures for sites and activities in the area for my week. I then drove through the downtown district and stopped along the waterfront to walk along the beach and gaze at the Mackinac Bridge which is quite a dramatic view.
Mike and I went back to Mackinaw City on another afternoon/evening. We had dinner at a fun little Italian restaurant called Mama Mia’s where you order and pick up your food from the counter. The food was tasty and reasonably priced. The decor in there was so fun, but I neglected to get any pictures (blogger fail). We visited some of the shops, and sat and listened to a performing musician for a bit.
The Mackinac Bridge is the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. It’s gorgeous and impressive. If you’d like more information about the bridge, you can find more information here.
In St. Ignace, we stayed at the Driftwood Motel. The rooms were clean and comfortable. The lawn area with the Adirondack chairs was a great place to relax and read a book and to visit with the guys after they were done diving. There is also a restaurant and sports bar right on sight. And the Driftwood is located centrally in St. Ignace, so it’s easy to find and convenient to all of the shops and the Mackinac Island ferries.
I really loved staying in St. Ignace. The shops were cute (I even bought The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald at one of them). We ate at several of the local restaurants (including The Driftwood, BC Pizza, Mackinac Grille, MI Patio Bar and Grille), and enjoyed all of them. I especially liked the white fish. And the ice cream at Molly Moo’s was fantastic (and enormous!). I especially liked the Mackinac Island fudge flavored ice creams.
Mike and I took the ferry from St. Ignace over to Mackinac Island on my birthday. We wandered through the streets, which are devoid of automobile traffic, since cars aren’t allowed on the island. Well, except for the police car, the ambulance, and the fire truck. We bought way more fudge than the two of us could eat, and shared it with the rest of the divers. And we took a horse-drawn carriage ride around the island. The carriage ride was fun, and educational. The slow pace was relaxing. There are so many interesting things to learn about the island, and it stops at a really fantastic view.
The trip to the island was a great way to spend an afternoon, even though I don’t think that I’d personally want to stay on the island, as I like a little more freedom of movement than it would offer. And taking the ferry over from the mainland was great fun!
Scuba Diving the Straits of Mackinac
Mike and some of our other friends from Heartland Scuba were in Northern Michigan to dive shipwrecks in the Straits. They chartered the Blackdog with Captain Brian. They had extra space on the boat, so I went out with them one morning. The weather was beautiful! And it was so fun to cruise along under the Mackinac Bridge, especially after having driven over it a couple of times.
Mike didn’t shoot any photos during his dive, but he did a bit of video. You can see the video he shot while diving the break in the Cedarville below, and a bit of video he shot when a snake swam onto the boat here (which was terrifying!). Heartland Scuba also did a video compilation of their week of diving. You can check their video out here.