Big Mack


Most of today is about the Mackinac Bridge and environs. We start out from last night's campsite.

 Leaving Little Lake Brevort, we headed south to get our first glimpse of Lake Michigan. We were searching for a canyon on Hwy 2 where it crosses the Cut River. Unfortunately, the area was under construction, so we were routed around the scenic area.



We did find another campground down the hill from Highway 2, right on the shore of Lake Huron that we will note for another trip. Epoufette Bay Campground was completely empty on this Sunday morning. A county park, it is a large field right on the lake with picnic tables and fire rings. His and her outhouses are the only services, but the water view is great.

For information, or to pay, contact the Cut River Store up on Highway 2 in Naubinway.

While we were checking out the campground, a fishing boat emerged from the fog towing their dinghy. A boat basin and launch is just across the small bay.

Climbing back up the bluff, we headed west to a highway scenic turn-out at a point that was once the western  boundary of Michigan. Looking at the weather forecast, we turned around and headed east with a plan to explore around the Mackinac area and avoid heavy rain by crossing back over to the lower peninsula.




The big landmark in this area is the Mackinac Bridge.

Getting closer, we took the last right before I-75 for a great view from the hill. Parking on the street, we noticed signs for a powwow. The Father Marquette Memorial park was hosting a Native American gathering.  Following the sound of drums we watched the dancers for a bit before moving on. Out of respect for the ceremony, we didn't capture any photographs.

At the bottom of the hill lies Bridge View Park. This is well worth a stop as the free visitor center has the history of this engineering marvel.

Some of the facts and figures are amazing, at least to us. The five mile long bridge uses 42,000 miles of wire in the main cables to support the 6,600 tons of main roadway. A mere 4.8 million rivets and over a million bolts hold it all together. For more figures, follow the link to the Bridge History.

This photo from the Visitor's Center shows the cables and towers during construction in the 1950's before the bridge deck was suspended.

The park also has picnic tables and gardens that attract migrating butterflies like this monarch.

Before crossing back, we explored a little of St. Ignace. Between the fudge shops and ferry docks, the Museum of Ojibwa Culture provided an interesting glimpse into life before European influence.

Northern Michigan students only have to memorize the Ojibwa clan. This map recalled my northern New York schooling with eight competing groups dividing that state.

A creative way of illustrating the various clans and responsibilities within the Ojibway, trees with models of the clan animals and explanations like this for the Mahng line a walkway outside the museum.

A full-size longhouse was erected on the grounds. It is used for ceremonies, but visitors are welcome to enter.

Leaving the Ojibway Museum, we splurged on ice cream at a shop next door. Crossing the street to a Kiwanis Park, we enjoyed our treats while watching ferries head out to Mackinac Island. It was the first time we'd seen a free sunscreen dispenser.

After paying our $4 toll to cross the bridge, we crossed, then circled around and parked almost underneath it to explore the Mackinac City side of the straits.

There are lots of great places to view the bridge from this side. Mackinac City has lots of "pocket parks" all along the waterfront. Each one offered a little different perspective.

Some of the homes along the shoreline looked like small hotels.

The unique lighthouse is undergoing renovation.

Statues are placed in most of the small parks. This one is a tribute to all the iron workers that helped build the bridge.

The easternmost park on our walk surprised us with a Coast Guard Icebreaker. It is open for tours, but not at 4:45 on Sunday.

The Ugly Annie leaves from this park for tours that take you under the bridge so you can sail on two of the Great Lakes on one voyage. Paragliders were out behind the boat getting another perspective on the area.

I promise this will be the last photo of the bridge. You can spot Ugly Annie heading west toward the sunset.

The Coast Guard also had a bouy tender docked nearby. The big crane on the bow lifts navigation buoys onto the low deck for repair and refurbishment.

Cheboygan State Park welcomed us with a spot where we could see Lake Huron through the trees.

 

The beach was in a shallow bay that came close to the level of the campsite. Lake levels are some of the highest in recent history this summer.

A leopard frog blended in with the reeds washed up on the shoreline.

This is a full State Park Campground, so they have campground hosts, water, electricity, and a dump station. There are even two showers for each gender. This sign posted in the shower room made me chuckle.

We enjoyed hot showers and settled in for a quiet night.

Freighter House

Waking to a drizzly day, we decided to investigate going to Drummond Island. Looking for things to do on the way, people had mentioned something called the freighter house. Google maps showed the location, so we headed east.

Passing a gravel driveway, there did appear to be something boat like down there.

Walking down a path beside the property, we had surely found the freighter house.  It is the front end of a freighter placed on the shore.

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They have a great view of modern frieghters transiting from Lake Superior down to Lake Huron.

The house sits on a concrete slab, about two feet above the waterline.  Unfortunately, the place looked abandoned and was starting to fall into disrepair. This has the potential to be a terrific B&B or museum.

Heading back into town, we stopped at the State Harbor to see what facilities they had. There is good parking and a public restroom. Showers and washing machines are reserved for boaters, of which there were two.  In the off season, these harbors would be a great place to boondock if it was allowed.

A lone sailboat motored into the harbor during our visit.

Flags snapped in the harbor under breezy and damp conditions. All of the docks and facilities were nicely maintained.

Moving into town we found a little museum by the ferry dock. The docent was very pleasant, happy to talk about the town, and encouraged us to visit Drummond Island.

An old ship's radio, most recently licensed in 1940, illustrates what was required before solid state electronics. The output is listed as 50 watts.

The museum had models and photographs of the ships that served this village and Drummond Island.  The US Mail service once operate steamships like this one.

Leaving from the dock next to the museum, the Drummond Island Ferry prices and schedule are posted for all to see.

Beth checked the Michigan Vacation Guide and we decided to leave Drummond Island for another time when the weather might be more conducive to spending time outside.


Drummond Island Ferry Docking

Looking across the St Mary's River we could just make out the lighthouse on Drummond Island through the drizzle and haze.

On the way out of town we stopped at a roadside picnic area that had a great view of the channel.

De Tour Village had a bulletin board of things to do in the area. Here's a link to their tourism web site.

Red and green buoys mark a safe channel for pulling off the road.

Always looking for places to launch the kayak, Beth routed us to Caribou Lake for lunch. Another small roadside parking area allowed a nice view of the lake while we ate lunch inside, out of the rain.

Rain doesn't bother water birds much. A cormorant slowly swam by our window checking out what we were having for lunch.

Driving west for an hour brought us to Little Brevort Lake state forest campground. You can see the big orange pipe where we dropped our payment and form after picking a campsite. No credit cards are accepted, so remember to put old fashioned checks on your packing list to pay the $15/night fee.

Like De Tour State Forest, this campground was less than half full on an August Saturday night. Our site could have accommodated four camper vans.
Right across the road was the fresh water source.  I walked over to turn it off, since whoever used it last left it running. Learned that it is plumbed from a natural spring, so doesn't have a valve!

The state forest has some hiking trails from the campground, but we didn't explore in the rain.

Here's what Little Brevort Lake looks like from the picnic area across the road from our campsite. No motors are allowed on the lake, so it was peaceful and the only sounds were those of nature.