I was Instagram influenced to visit this one of a kind historical island in the middle of Lake Huron in Michigan. Horse drawn carriage or bikes are the main modes of transportation on the island. Only emergency vehicles, city service vehicles and snowmobiles are allowed. Macinac Island appears as if you are stepping back in time. The island was once inhabited by indigenous people before being colonized by Europeans in the late seventeenth century. It then became a central area for fur trade and the site of two battles of the Revolutionary War at Fort Macinac defended by the British in the War of 1812. In the late nineteenth century the island became a popular tourist attraction. The entire island is considered a national historical landmark. Many structures have undergone historical preservation and restoration. Every home is beautifully landscaped adding to the charm of this unique tourist attraction.
To be honest, I did not think we would make it to see the island, we already had a late start leaving in mid-September. Early October in Michigan starts to get chilly and parks and tourist attractions start to close with the approach of winter. We stayed at Lakeshore RV Campground in St. Ignace, Michigan. It was a small campground overlooking Lake Michigan at the tip of the upper peninsula. It was only a ten minute drive to the ferries that transported travelers to the island. We arrived late on a Friday and we picked up pizza at a local joint in town.
We decided to attend Mass on Saturday evening just in case we did not make it to the ferry early enough for Mass at St. Anne’s on the island on Sunday. The day was excessively windy and Ryan had been working most of the morning. Even though we have been saving for years for this trip and met our goal savings a few times over, we must be very prudent in our spending. I was not sure I would get a fancy meal for my anniversary the next day because we would be spending the day on the island which can be very expensive. I did not ask to go out to eat because I did not want to pressure my already frugal husband into spending money unnessarily. We packed up all the snacks we could carry that day.
The church we attended was a beautiful building and we were welcomed by an older lady standing as a greeter. I always like to sit right up front so the children can observe the mass celebration with as few distractions as possible. As we were leaving we were approached by many parishoners thanking us for bringing children to mass. The majority of the congregation is senior citizens and rarely see familes with small children attending church. On our way out my husband said he was speaking with a gentleman after mass. He told Ryan, “I bet ya’ll don’t go out to eat much. I grew up in a big family and we never went out to eat.” He then slipped money into Ryan’s hand and said farewell. When we got back to the car we ran because it was so windy that papers blew out of the car. After chasing them down I buckled up and saw Ryan staring at his hands in disbelief. He told me about his encounter with the the man in church and was surprised to find two hundred dollar bills in his hand. My husband was in disbelief that anyone would give money so freely no matter how much.
On the drive back we chatted about how our trip has not just been a chance to make memories with our family but a testament of our faith in God to provide over our journey. This was a challenge to not worry about what was ahead but just enjoy the moment. I do not like going to Sunday vigil (Saturday evening mass), I enjoy starting our Sunday morning in church as we start a new week. For God’s plans are so much better than our own and we usually do not understand the reason for a while. However a stranger’s gift of a meal for our family explained pretty quickly why we were to be present at that evening’s mass. Living such a radical lifestyle of traveling in a camper with plans changing, travel times being delayed and unexpected mishaps have been such a difficult challenge for all of us. Sometimes in our rush and focus to plan ahead, we lose sight of what is most important. Our focus had been tested so much during these first few months of travel. Were we being obedient and ensuring all our actions brought God glory? ….. maybe twenty percent of the time? Was I being truly present with my family and serving out of love and not duty? Was I being an obedient and supporting wife? My husband ended up being scammed out of a hundred dollars that very same week, story to come. He lost sight of what we prayed to accomplish and I failed to help navigate his path. When we took this trip to Macinac Island, we had only been on the road a month. As I write this, it has been about three and a half months. I’m sure there is more to learn in the future. But a journey such as full-time traveling with children in a camper allows for many opportunities to grow everyday.
It was such a cold ride on the ferry and I told the kids not to bring their big jackets because I didn’t think we needed them, worst decision ever. My oldest daughter had insisted we take our jackets but was over rules by her dominate mother. Another lesson, be humble and learn to listen to your child’s point of view. I can be so quick to dismiss my child sometimes. We rented a stroller mainly for our backpack full of water, snacks and clothes. Our first stop was to see the church, I was already frustrated at the thought of missing mass and to top it off I was very hungry and feeling nauseous. The church was smaller but just as majestic as the island. We walked into the church and found it empty except for one lady praying. The kiddos were restless and I was working on changing my bad mood. Our visit was short due to the growling in our stomachs and maybe my poor attitude. It appears that my expectations can be high and when things do not go as planned, I can reel out of control and take it out of my dear husband. Perhaps it was just the excitement of getting to go to a restaurant that exaggerated my appetites, but I was more than ready to eat.
My husband stayed true to his word and spent every bit of the cash on dining out with his family. It was lunchtime the choices of places to eat were plentiful. The girls chose ‘The Pink Pony’ to dine and we were saved since we arrived on the island with low battery life on our phones. The empty bar in the restaurant had USB chargers which was a miracle since I did not have a charging block with me. The view of the water was icing on the cake and we were seated comfortably at a nice, large, velvet booth. I gave myself only a few seconds to worry about the mess that would occur on velvet with a toddler. Our waiter was so kind and had four children himself. My older daughters have informed me that their tastes and appetites have outgrown the children’s menu. We all ordered our fill and spent all of the money gifted to us. As my stomach filled my anger emptied and I am pretty sure I apologized for my poor mood. Married twelve years and together for almost twenty, I am still working on that.
After feasting and celebrating our anniversary we walked along the main thoroughfare. Everywhere you turned it looked like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. We carefully avoided horse poop as we strolled the streets and enjoyed the views of the island. Every yard had beautiful floral landscape. We were lucky enough to get to see the gorgeous flowers before the winter took them over. Hanging out on the lawns was the best way to take in the sights and sounds of Macinac Island and enjoy the water. If it had been warmer my children would have been soaked.
We stopped for fudge to bring back and made the trek to the biggest hotel we have ever seen. The Grand Hotel has a cute little ice cream parlor that is frequented by tourists. The girls were getting tired but the promise of a sweet reward kept them going. The hotel boasts the largest porch in the world opened in 1887, it is now a national landmark that attract guests for its old-fashioned hospitality and charm. You can experience traditional tea, formal dinners and dancing to the music of the Grand Hotel orchestra. Tours to view the hotel are ten dollars. After a certain time in the evening, formal wear must be worn on the property. Having walked the streets and played on the lawns, we just had enough time to enjoy a cold treat and make our way back before the last ferry departed.
Many people view this little island by renting bikes or taking a horse drawn taxi or carriage tour. We decided walking was more our speed and in our budget so we were limited on staying on the Main Street.
The beauty of the island and the many historic homes are so enchanting. I begged Ryan to bring me back to one of the adorable bed and breakfasts for a future anniversary. I could sit on one of these porches and wave as the world strolls by. There are many options to stay on island and they are pricey. They have ferry passes for multiple days so you could stay on the mainland and enjoy your visit over a few days. Obviously an RV park was the best and most affordable option for us.
We decided it was wise to sit below deck for the ride home. It was freezing and I didn’t want to be miserable for twenty minutes. I even broke down and bought a sweater at one of those shops conveniently located at the entrance of the ferry boarding dock.
From the ferry our drive to the campground was less than ten minutes. I put together some dinner, fed the kids and easily put them to bed. They were worn out from a day of walking the island. I believe I mentioned earlier that I was moody, hungry and nauseous all at the same time. Ryan gave me a look at the comment earlier in the day and I was prompted to take a pregnancy test. We found out we were expecting baby number five on our anniversary. Discovering my little stowaway was a bit shocking and all I could think of was our plans. My plan, my expectation and my human need for control has been tested so much. Then I remembered our conversation we had after mass in the car, God’s plans a better than our own. Forgive me God for offending you, thank you for Your provision over me and my family, may I bring you glory in all that I do and Your will be done. Amen.