Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Grand Hotel on Mackinac - Grand Theft!

Alright, so we didn't stay at the Grand. I doubt if I will - it seems to be one of these things in life that separates the rich (or those who pretend to be) from the rest of us.

The $15 charge to even enter the lobby (or, i guess, walk down the street in front). What is that all about? To keep out the riff-raff'???? I wonder how much they actually make on people going ion there just to look?

Proper dress????? Coat and tie? No slacks on chicks? Dang!

Nice garden. But it would want to be.

You know, I don't have much of a problem with The Grand being an expensive hotel, nor indeed with the dress code. It really is the stupid $15 charge to even get into the lobby that gets me. The place has historical relevance, but it's not the White House!!!! Part of the reason it's in business is because there are so many people come to the Island and maintain the Main Street & ferry businesses - without them I doubt the hotel would exist - or maybe it would and have to be much more expensive. So what does the Grand do? Charge 'ordinary' people an arm and a leg to see how grand it is?? It would have cost us $60 to even get in!

In fairness, I might be able to afford to stay there. But out of principle, I won't ever. I will stay on the Isalnd, but not there.

Anyway, here's a sign showing where William Backhouse Astor. I've not managed to find out who he is yet. Probably because I didn't try.

Horn's Gaslight Bar - Mackinac Island - Magical Nachos & Top Service

After coming down from Fort Mackinac, hunger was raising its dizzy head. We checked a few menus, and were almost tempted to go into the "Irish" bar, but the Horn's Gaslight Bar & Restaurant seemed the most appealing. Especially with two kids in tow.

It kinda reminded me of pubs in England with high finished ceilings and a long bar with mirrors behind it. Except, unlike the English pubs I used to go to, it was very unsmokey (Granted, all pubs in England have to be smoke free these days.) No, nice, big, and airy.
I can't remember the name of our server, but she was smiley, happy, and dang efficient. Beer was served - Sam Adams Cherry Wheat - complete with a cherry - the beer didn't stay in the glass too long - it was thirsty work doing all that walking. So I had another.

From the menu, I ordered the Super Nachos with chicken - which turned out to be some kinda delicious spicy chicken. JalapeƱos, olives, salsa, and all the works were piled on - with loads of fresh cheeses. Good thing I only ordered a half order!

Now usually nachos are not to the spice level I like, and here was no different. Not a criticism, as not many like spice to my lavel, but when I usually ask for hot sauce, I'm given either Frank's Hot, or Tabasco. In here, our wonderful server took me a choice - whihc included Cholula - my absolute favorite daytime chili sauce. One more good mark for this place.

Our daughter had grilled cheese & fries - we believe it was good - because she ate it all - I guess it may be possible to mess up a grilled cheese sandwich, but not here.

Wife had a chicken Fajita wrap - also no complaints - came with chips, and a spicy dip, as ya can see below. It was large - I had some of the other half.

The boy had a cheeseburger, which he ate at such speed we feared for the safety of his fingers. And as such, gave me no chance to take a pic. But use yer imagination, it was a burger in a bun with fries in a basket. There!

The price is something I can't recall exactly, except it was real reasonable. Horn's Gaslight Bar certainly got the thumbs up from the Motorfamily. It's like the Pad Thai on the menu of the local Thai place, which I always order - I'm sure there are other great bars and restaurants on the Island, but like the Pad Thai, it's going to be pretty hard to deviate from Horns on our next trip.

And they have music in the evening. Next time..

UPDATE: For those of us with Mackinac withdrawal symptoms, Horn's has a webcam!!! Click here for it, and enjoy the island from afar!

Fort Mackinac - A trip back (further) in time.....

Not long after setting foot back on solid ground, and walking around a bit (bark chapel etc) we decided to visit Fort Mackinac.

This fort was built by the British in 1780 - and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, and the odd fight ended up occupied by the Americans. In the 1800's it didn't do much as from a military standpoint - being a place for reserves, and acting as a prison for a while.
It became a National Park towards the end of the 1800's and, as such, housed US Army soldiers. It has since became part of the Mackinac State Park.

The fort now houses not soldiers, but State employees dressed in period garb - as seen above. They eagerly fire off their 45-70 Springfields - and frightened the kids.

Above - a pic of a pic of the main building in the fort in 1890, and below, a pic of it now. You can see they try to do a good job in keeping it as it was.

Above, the well dug out by the british, which bore through 150 feet of rock!!!

We got to watch the cannon demo, and our little girl got to help cleaning it out. Quite a bang!

Above is a view of the front of the fort. Weather-wise, it was dreary and foggy early in the morning.

A kitchen in one of the residences inside the walls of the fort

The soldiers who called this place home were often bored, and what better thing to do when bored than drink beer. Now, with a town so close and plenty bars, they often wandered down there, drank heavily, got into fights and caused all sorts of problems. So, fair play to the Army - they came up with a genius solution. Instead of banning drinking, they opened a bar inside the fort. Below is what it looked like.
The beer was the 'best', 'Shlitz, Milwaukee'. Hey, at least it wasn'y Budweiser.
And you could even have a game of pool.

Just to the left of the entrance was the guard house. Which also had a cell. What had been covered up sometime during the American period was the Black Hole you see below.
Looking at the state of it, it was a bit more of a crime deterrent than the cell. Particularity if the ball and chain in the pic below was used.

Of course, you can't beat a good flogging.

Above and below - the Post Bathhouse, where the soldiers were expected to take a bath once a week.

We were treated to some Military music, singing, dancing, and a court martial while there. It's a very cool place to visit - there is the hospital (with information on Dr. Beaumont), a school, the old corner sentry posts, stores and much more.

Even with two kids, we spent about 3 hours there. Very much worth the $32 total admission price.

Mackinac Island - A small step back in time. Marker after Historical Marker!

So, we got there. Still dreary, but the day had promise.
Mackinac has no (barring emergency) motorized vehicles. It's all horses and bikes. I wonder if skateboards are allowed?? Now, Mackinac Island is the Island Time Forgot. If you look carefully at the picture above, you'll see it's not the Island Starbucks Forgot. Nope, Starbucks is here and trying to inflict it's little bit of Generica on the Island. But that's ok. Just don't open a Wal-Mart.

There are rather a lot of Michigan Historic Markers on the Island. the one below is the Executive Summary, I guess.
After walking down the street towards the fort, we happened upon the little building pictured below - the Missionary Bark Chapel

Below is a poorly taken photo of the inside. This re-constuction marks the time Fr. Claude Dablon spent the winter on the Island, doing missionary work.
On the other side of the street form the bark chapel is the Trinity Church - a tiny little construction. Which was closed when we were there.
The Historical Marker below gives the Church's history in better word than I can. I would have liked to get in there and see the hand-carved walnut altar.
And onto the State Park, which as far as I know is most of the Island, and does include the Fort
On the way up to the fort, we encountered a squadron of scouts marching down the hill. I've since learned that there is a scout camp up behind the Fort. Perhaps that could be something for another time with the boy.

Then it was onto Fort Mackinac. Below are some photos of the Island on the way up to, and in the fort. There's lots more stuff about the fort here on it's separate entry.

See how the weather cleared up over the day.

Below is the Grand, with the Mackinac Bridge in the background.

After traipsing around the fort for a handful of hours, we developed a decent hunger, and eventually ended up in Horn's Gaslight Bar - more on that here.

Then is was gift shops, Fudge Shops, and biking. We hire 4 bikes from one of the many bike vendors - two little ones for the kids, a 'mens' 18 speed for me, and a 'womens' 18 speed for her.

We done the round the island circuit - didn't attempt any hill as we had an 'inexperienced biker' with us. I was happy with the bike company too - we got back a bit in more than an hour and a quarter, but they rounded it down. I'm between two minds about whether to take our own next time.

Anyway, I didn't take too many pics from the bike and there really was nothing worth publishing so it's onwards from there.

We took a walk down Market Street

Below is the McGulpin House, believed to be one of the oldest on the Island. We didn't go in there as it was closed.
We also stopped by The American Fur Co. Store, which also houses the Dr. Beaumont Museum
The store was cool - and the kids asked the Guide, who was dressed in period costume all sorts of questions, and she answered most of them. She showed how cloth and material was sold there, allowed them to try on a beaver skin top hat, and displayed how stores from that era operated.

In the room next to the store was the Beaumont museum. In a nutshell, some dude got shot in the stomach, and some doctor dude used the hole in the dude's stomach to investigate how us human dudes handle food we swallow. Or, for the story written in a better way, see below:

We went to The Biddle house........
....where the Girl helped the demonstrator there to tease sheeps wool, to take in wood for the fire (we try to get her to do that at home..), sweep the floor (again..), and help with cooking. We also got to smell some garden herbs. all really nice.

Inside the kitchen in The Biddle House

As the sign below indicates, the building is old.
From the Biddle house, we went into the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop, right next door. Lots of sparks and no photos.

Somewhere along the way, we seen the city buildings. As with everything on the island, they are in old style.

I wonder how many get arrested on the island and for what? Drunkenness or shoplifting maybe? Fudge theft?
I liked the Police Bike Parking Lot.Outside the courthouse is a marker, about a legal milestone that was reached in that very courthouse. Apparently one fisherman dude was in his house, and two other dudes started to tear it down. On sleeping good dude got hurt by the bad dudes, and the fisherman duded hollered "yo! quit or I'll pop a cap in yo behinee". The bad dude didn't stop, so fisherman dude fired off, killing the Bad Dude. The Police and Judge put the Fisherman dude in jail for manslaughter, doing hard labor. The Michigan Supreme Court dudes didn't like this, and said "yo, come on, the dude was just defendin his property. Let him loose". And they did.
Click on the picture below (to expand it) for the official story, but, I'm tellin ya, that's how it happened:

We walked on. The small memorial area was nice... pics below

There were some horses on Market Street. In fact there were some horses everywhere.
And on we walked, up the hill that would crescent at the Grand Hotel. On the way was Union Congregational Church
Small with Nice Windows. It's a popular wedding venue.
Outside a restaurant, we seen this tortoise (or is that turtle?) bronze statue. What is it and what's so French about it?
There was also the plaque above, about a former owner of the Grand Hotel

And above, The Grand Hotel. I have issues with it, more here....

Two more Markers
A nice picturesque alley, below.

And below, a native Lake Huron Colored Flying Shark, taking a leap to the sky.

And then it was back to the mainland!