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This photo of the hotel and its Esther Williams pool is unedited. Yes, it really looks like this.
If we told you that the temperature is low 80s, the sun is high and the clouds are absent and the water is Bermuda-blue and clear, you probably wouldn't think that we're speaking of somewhere way way up near Michigan's border with Canada, huh? Well, we are and we give Mother Nature a gold star on this one. It's Mackinac Island, a vacation destination since the railroads constructed the imposing Grand Hotel in 1887 and started funneling genteel city folk up here for the summer season.
This year the hotel celebrates its 125th Anniversarythis weekend, actuallybut what's being celebrated the most is the fact that it still exists, still is owned privately by a family and still made of wood. Consider that it was built in a remote location with basic handtools and underskilled laborers in only 93 days, with the intention of it not lasting nearly this long, and you can begin to understand the importance of it hitting the century-and-a-quarter mark.
Think you can get to Mackinac Island without our help? Maybe you can, but the journey is very Amazing Race-ish.
Air. Boat. Horse.
Pellston is that cool little rustic airport we told you about earlier this week. Free WiFi, good pub grub, and multiple fireplaces. C'mon, how many airports have even one fireplace, let alone more than one.
From Pellston you hop on the Mackinaw Shuttle to the ferry terminal. Roundtrip shuttle ride will run you $20.00.
Now you have to get from flat land to the rock, which means crossing the Straights of Mackinac. Arnold Transit Co. was our ferry of choice, though it looked like there was another option. The roundtrip ferry ride is an additional $20.00, oh and don't lose your little red ticket or the ferry wench will make you pay $12 to get off the rock--not that this happened to us or anything.
Once you arrive on Mackinac island your transportation trifecta is not complete until you take the horse cabby to your hotel. Yup, horse it or hoof it. That is the roadblock. We chose hoof it, because hoofing it up to the Grand Hotel was another $4.50.
While you might think we are a bit tight with a buck, think about this. From Downtown Manhattan to JFK cost us a flat $45.00 in a cab. From Pellston Michigan to Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island? $44.50. Think about it.
· Mackinac Island Coverage [Jaunted]
This is PLN baggage claim.
Before you dismiss this place as a backwoods hunting and trapping airport know that WiFi signal is strong and free throughout the airport and they recently installed cellular antennas to the building so our Cingular cell phone signal is stronger than it is on Pine St. in San Francisco.
More semi-live blogging to come from Mackinac Island (aka "The Rock") tomorrow.
· Pellston Airport [Official Site]