"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
On Day 2 of our trip, we headed to Mackinaw City to catch the Arnold ferry to Mackinac Island. Our first view of the Mackinac Bridge really built up our excitement! Residents and visitors alike LOVE their bridge and are not shy about showing it. The Mackinac Bridge Authority, located in both Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, takes care of the bridge and the many people crossing it every day. There is a $4.00 toll payable on the St. Ignace side, which helps pay for maintenance and professional drivers. They drive people across the bridge in bad conditions or if you have a fear of bridges. Tune your radio to 530 or 1610 AM to hear a broadcast on bridge conditions. If there are good conditions, you hear a welcoming message to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).
The next day dawned with a beautiful sunrise outside of our hotel, the Super 8 Beachfront. After breakfast there we began our day of fun!
Our first attraction was the Mackinaw Bridge Museum downtown, they opened at 8 AM. This museum is quite large, you need at least an hour to explore it. Two videos are playing, showing the building of the bridge. You can buy them both together for $30 for a great souvenir. Having a meal at Mama Mia’s Pizza sounds like a good pairing with a visit here too!
This museum is located in Mackinaw City’s main shopping district. To us it resembled Broadway Street in the Wisconsin Dells. In the center of it all is Mackinaw Crossings. There you will also find their historic train depot, now a restaurant.
Mackinaw City has a great many historical markers, more than we had time to see. Some of them are interactive, there are audio clips to go with each marker. It is part of the Mackinaw City Historical Pathway. This is what the signs look like.
We walked on the trail to the shore, from here you could see the new telescope building going up. It should be done by next summer! This is where you look at the blackest sky possible. If you wish to do some stargazing in your area, use this light pollution map as a guide.
It was lunch time, we headed to one of the city’s favorite places, Darrow’s Family Restaurant. The Darrow family also were the Mackinac Bridge builders as well. It was pretty busy!
We also paid a visit to Wawatam Park, named after a brave Indian Chief who lived in this area. You can see Mackinac Island in the background behind the wood carving of the Chief. There is also a historical pathways sign here.
We also went to the Gary R. Williams Memorial Park, where we got day and night pictures of the Mackinac Bridge. A freighter passed under the bridge at night while we were there.
We also enjoyed visiting the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, a retired Coast Guard Ship. What a great tour and view from the deck! This was the last attraction we visited that day.
Two freighters passing in front of Mackinac Island!
We finished our day with dinner at the Dixie Saloon, located at the endpoint of the famous Dixie Highway. It follows most of the outline of Michigan. I have been near the beginning of this highway when I lived in Illinois. It passes through Chicago Heights. The restaurant does not have free wi-fi, but you can pick up a signal from the nearby Shepler’s Ferry.
This rounds out our only full day in Mackinaw City. We had views of other attractions we may get to on a future visit.
For those of you who don’t know, this is not my first time going to Mackinac Island, it was Al’s though. My first time was with my family and grand parents back in 1971, just before I turned 5. The only reason why I know we took Arnold Transit Co. ferry over to the island was the pictures my grandfather Norman Braton took of us. He and Grandma Barbara came with us on the trip too. It was a trip down memory lane to go back using the same ferry company. Here are the old pictures of back then. Since my family couldn’t join us, I made a picture where we are all together, this is the island dock. That is no longer an empty patch of grass, Mackinac Cycle is now in this spot.
Here I am just before dis-embarking. The seats are still green too!
There are three ferry services to take people to the island, the others are Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry and Star Line Hydro-Jet® Ferry. The other companies focus on the fastest speed to the island, we wanted to take our time and enjoy the sights along the way, and be able to take pictures too. We did see the other two on the way to the island as well at the same time. You can also get all three across the bridge in St. Ignace too.
Forty five years later, I was looking forward to taking Arnold back to Mackinac Island. It would have been great to have the rest of my family there too with us but that was impossible at this time.
View from the bow looking toward the pilot house. Our ship is the Chippewa, the fleet are named after American Indian tribes predominant in the area. You can move about while the ship is in transit to get the best views. The stairway leads to the enclosed area and restroom. Arnold is the only ferry service with a restroom, another plus!
Al and I arrived at just past 11:00 AM on June 21. The staff are very helpful and explained how things worked in a friendly way to us newbies. They marked our extra bags to be sent to the Murray Hotel where we were spending the night. Our bikes were stowed below and we went to the upper deck to enjoy the view. It is chilly on the lake, even in June so be sure to dress warmly. We were ready for the 12:00 departure. Join us on our exciting 40-minute trip, thanks Al for your work filming our ride!
We also saw our first freighter pass under the Mighty Mack, or Mackinac Bridge. The bridge is just short of 5 miles across, longer even than the Golden Gate. It’s called the Federal Biscay from the Marshall Islands.
It was especially fun seeing the same views my grandfather had when we enjoyed our first trip to the island, I tried to duplicate them.
You could see the Grand Hotel all the way from Mackinaw City it is so big, this is my Grandpa’s view 45 years ago. The slide is no longer sharp. The houses to the left are on the West Bluff.
And the view now, there is no longer a water tower overlooking the Grand Hotel, or it is no longer visible due to tree growth.
The Ottawa passed us by as it headed back to Mackinaw City. Not many people going back. If you think about it, who really wants to?
As we rounded the island, more landmarks came into view, areas we would be familiar with only a few hours later. This is a view just past the end of Main Street, the blue building is the Public Library, we are just past Windmere Point. The Governor’s Residence is overlooking the scene. We didn’t get time to do a close-up.
This is the approximately same view from shore.
We came around the Round Island Lighthouse and it was time to get closeups! Also got in a sail boater and a couple kayaks too!
Now we approach the harbor with great excitement and downtown came into view. My Grandfather’s view of Fort Mackinac at the top of the hill from the water, and then my view. I didn’t quite get the same angle but it still is good.
We are here! Thanks Captain for the safe trip to this isle of adventure. The view then and now from the dock.
Goodbye Chippewa for now, you are a fine ship. Our adventure here begins!
November 4, 2016
Star Line is in the process of purchasing Arnold. Read more about it here.
The time has arrived for our Michigan vacation to begin! We decided to take the S.S. Badger Carferry from Manitowoc to Ludington since we never had before and it looked like fun! Since we were only sailing one-way, it cost us $201, including our two bikes. There is a two-sided historical marker here, as the Badger is a national historic landmark too.
We arrived early to see the ferry’s arrival from Ludington and put our vehicle in the loading zone. There was an air of excitement among the passengers while we waited to board, as many of us were sailing for the first time.
Upon boarding, we got our picture taken by a ship wheel as a memento of our experience.
After leaving port, we set about exploring the passenger areas of the ship. See map and amenities here. Our view from the port, or left side of the ship. You can see the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and the Cobia sub from here. We even saw a tour going on there, like we did a few years ago.
Also, enjoy the video of our 4-hour journey across the lake. There is something for everyone here.
Lets explore the ship, there are many areas to see on board. Upon boarding lunch was being served at the Upper Deck Café, lots of dining space just beyond the stairway in the Cabana Room. If you want to eat, be sure to get your food before 4 PM Michigan time as they have to get things put away before reaching port.
Adjacent to a TV lounge is a rack of Michigan and Wisconsin publications to help you plan activities on the other side. Also the latest issue of Crossings, the official annual magazine of the S.S. Badger.
Just up ahead is the main lounge where a rousing game of Badger Bingo was taking place. It’s free to participate and there are prizes. We opted out to explore the ship instead. We also met Issac, an expert juggler who also assisted with the bingo game. Great job Issac!
In the lounge the man is looking at a screen showing where the Badger is located on Lake Michigan. Other ship locations are visible too. Remember to change your watch after crossing the state line.
Here you can also get some food a la carte at the Badger Galley.
The ship also has two bars where you can get a drink, this is the Port Side Bar in the galley dining room.
Topside near the bow (front) of the ship is a large sun deck plus plenty of room to sit on either side of the ship if you want to be outside. You can see the bridge (Pilot House) right above you here.
Inside the ship there is much more to see and do.
A video arcade for the game players.
A movie theater, it was playing a kid’s movie at the time.
You can get a souvenir at the Badger Boatique, from apparel to knick knacks and toys. You can order some items online too if you don’t get anything during the trip.
Explore the ship museum/quiet room to learn about the ferry and other great lakes history.
After exploring the ship we went back out to the upper deck. At 5:20 Ludington was becoming visible! You can see sand dunes and a distant light station. We could see another light house from here distantly, another passenger informed us it was the Big Sable Point Light in Ludington. It is 8 miles from downtown.
At 6:17 PM we went by Ludington’s North Breakwater Light at Stearns Park. Plenty of people waved at us as went by.
Plenty of people at the opposite light station too warmly greeting the ship’s arrival.
People even waved from the yards of their homes, sitting in lawn chairs.
The ship turned as it prepared to dock. Most people were in the aft of the ship watching the process, it was fascinating! We docked by 6:30.
The big trucks came out first, we saw one full of red apples! Another truck had green apples.
At the same time, the Badger food supplies were being re-stocked by a truck from below, very creative!
We saw a two-sided historical marker at the ticket office.
It was time to go to Manistee where we were spending the night. We recommend this ride for anyone wishing to cross Lake Michigan. It’s true, “Big Ship, More Fun!”™ Welcome to Michigan!
Port Washington is a charming harbor community of 11,500 on the shores of Lake Michigan, about 30 miles north of Milwaukee. Al was here when he was a teen, but I had never been there before. Port Washington also is part of the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, something we hope to do someday. We had already been to several cities on the tour: Chicago, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and Sturgeon Bay. It was time for lunch, and we saw a Brat(wurst) Fry in a parking lot. We stopped and got a couple.
This Brat Fry was put on by the Port Gridiron Club. They were delicious! Thanks guys for a great lunch 🙂
Lunch done, we headed to the 1860 Light Station and Museum on St. Mary’s Hill. The view offered a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, looking blue as the ocean.
We also took a look at St. Mary’s Church, a beautiful church that overlooks the city’s historic downtown.
We went down the hill to see downtown and the Breakwater Light House. You can see the church overlooking downtown.
As we walked toward the Marina, we saw this historic marker.
A view of the Marina, with the control building in view. There are many Fishing Charters for hire. In fact, we saw a boat full of fishermen heading out into the lake.
Afternoon or a cloudy day is the best time to see the light house so the sun hits the west side of it. It contrasted with the blue sky perfectly!
Our last stop was Bernie’s Fine Meats, great meats made on site. Brats and sausages for the grill! Friendly staff there, they will happy slice meat to order 🙂 Also a selection of wine and beer. We got a pound of summer sausage to bring home, yum!
We enjoyed our visit to Port Washington and the quaint Marine atmosphere made us feel right at home.