Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spud's Day on Mackinac Island

The weather for the flight in could not have been better--high cirrus clouds and no wind to speak of. Much better than the 600-foot ceiling and wind gusting to 35mph that kept us grounded in Sault Ste. Marie the previous day.
I told Spud to go watch for the taxi as I tied down the plane and settled up with Dennis, the State of Michigan airport worker who made it clear that his priority in life was getting that $10.50 landing fee from each of us pilots who'd just come in. (Welcome to Mackinac Island!) I did not tell Spud that the "taxi" was a horse-drawn carriage as no cars are allowed on Mackinac Island.
Spud loved this, having never been on a horse-drawn carriage ride before. It was neat and a time-saver, but $14.00 for the two of us to go a mile and a half? Welcome to Mackinac Island!

The carriage dropped us off at the Grand Hotel, pictured here.
I've stayed here in earlier times when I had a job that required my presence here and someone else was footing that bill. The hotel boasts the world's longest front porch, but if non-guests wish to sit on it and buy $7.00 iced teas to sip, you have to pay $10.00 each just to walk out on it. Welcome to Mackinac Island!

We walked from the hotel over to Fort Mackinac, the stone fort overlooking the harbor and Straits of Mackinac that the British obligingly built before we kicked them out after the war of Independence. (Sneaky rat bastards took it back in 1812, though...)
The fort was chock-full of re-enactors demonstrating early army life from both the British and American perspectives.

Here, the American soldiers demonstrate tactics with authentic Trapdoor Springfields.

They let him hold one and Spud was in awe of that rifle, pronouncing it to be "SO cool!"
I guess theirs are "cooler" than mine since he wasn't at all interested in shooting mine when he was here last year. Kids...

He got to check out an India-pattern .75 musket too, courtesy of his "British" friend.
And there was a cannon demonstration of the six-pounder variety.
I offered the gun crew a case of beer if they could het one of the ferries coming into the harbor, and I upped it to two cases if they could even come close to a low-flying airplane that was overflying the waterfront, but they didn't take me up on it.
As the fort was originally designed to protect the straits, it had lots of cannon.
Sadly all of the original guns that used to be here were hauled in during World War Two and melted down for the iron.

Here's Spud in the guardhouse stockade. Since he was gullible enough to walk into the open cell, I decided to make him part of the exhibit for a bit.
He wasn't amused, but several other tourists were. And I did let him out after a while.

Next, we hiked over to Arch Rock, a natural stone formation on the east side of the island.
Then it was a hike up to Skull Cave.
The Spudster was a little put out by this one. He was expecting something big and deep that he could explore. Sorry, fella!
Then it was back into town.

I took him to the office of Dr. William Beaumont, one-time army surgeon for the fort. Spud got to see and learn how he studied human digestion by treating a patient who was shot through the abdomen yet lived. The hole in the man's stomach never really sealed up, so Beaumont spent a couple of years looking into his stomach and putting various items in on pieces of string to see what the digestive process did. Spud was thoroughly grossed out, but he sure remembered it when asked about it later.

Then it was off to the blacksmith shop. Spud had been looking forward to this.
We stayed here for quite some time and Spud thought it was the greatest thing. Now he wants to be a blacksmith when he grows up. Hated to tell him that there's not much call for it these days. Maybe he should look into the buggy whip manufacturing business instead.

After dinner, we took one more walk about town.
Then it was time to fly out and head home.

Gratuitous Mackinac Bridge photos follow.


  1. I think I read a book that involved a fictionalized account of the stomach experiments once...

  2. Did you buy him some fudge?

  3. Sounds like a fantastic day! I'm jealous.

  4. My wife and I are going there in 2 weeks, thanks for some great spots to see.

  5. Great pics, and a truly fun experience sounds like!!!

  6. You can still make a living as a blacksmith, although typically a modern 'smith will do specialty work instead of the general blacksmithing of yesteryear. I have a friend who was a custom jeweler and is now a blacksmith, he makes knives now for Scottish Highland Games:


    He and his wife also make good-looking sporrans, also, and his wife also has a day job.

  7. I live on the island year-round and I'm glad to hear that you had a great day. Dennis is a great guy! Don't be too hard on him - he's just doing his job.

  8. James: you'll have a good time.

    LiZ: no worries. He was really nice about it and seemed likeable enough

    Bob: we'll keep that in mind if his planned Navy career doesn't come off.

    Keads: You would like it.

    NFO: No complaints other than I could not drink beer due to flying that evening.