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Mackinac Mayhem and the Fudge!

Mom’s Take / Daughter’s Take

Day Three

Last day of vacation, and it is a bit cold. But, the weatherman said that it would be sunny and warm later in the day. So, we headed to Mackinac Island with high hopes!

We took the Shepler's Ferry to the island early in the morning to make the most of our day on the island. The girls and I moved to the covered part of the boat, and it was much warmer. There is no need to brave the wind and cold and sit up top. You can see fine below. It is so nice to have the option of inside or outside for the ferry ride.

We got up in the morning, got all packed up and out to the van, and onto the Shepler’s Ferry to Mackinac Island. It was sort of chilly out, so the girls opted to sit in the bottom part of the ferry while the boys went up top and braved the wind. Not necessary -- you can sit up top on the way back when it is warmer.

Once on the island, we were bombarded with things to do -- have a plan before you get there! We knew we wanted to ride bikes, but it is a pay-by-the-hour thing. With five people, the price rises fast. So, we needed to be strategic about what we wanted to see and watch our time. Tip: The bike rental places try to get you on a bike right away. Don’t be pressured! There are plenty of bike rental places on the island, and people turn in bikes all the time. So, we decided to shop a bit downtown first.

We started by perusing all the little shops on the strip. My sister and I found these cute little matching rings that were only $3, and we each found a nice shirt that we got mom to purchase. The top I got I think I’ll wear a lot, actually. It has sleeves, and I’ve already worn it twice this summer.

We decided to shop a bit downtown and then rented our bikes. Of course, as soon as we rented bikes, someone in our party decided to take a bathroom break AND get a snack while the rest of us waited (on the clock, by the way!). Tip: Go to the bathroom and get your snacks BEFORE they start the clock for the bike rental -- the time goes by fast!

We decided not to get anything to eat until after our bike ride, so we put our shopping on pause to rent some bikes. (I will not talk about the bathroom and snack fiasco, other than to say that it wasn't me.) We biked around part of the outside of the island, out to Arch Rock and a little past. We would have gone the whole way, but it was blocked off for construction or something. Arch Rock was cool, and we went all the way to the top. It felt like a LOT of stairs, and we ended up getting a better picture from the road below (see third picture).

We made our way to Arch Rock first. The route takes you along the water and past Mission Pointe Resort, which has beautiful grounds. This is a pretty ride and makes for some beautiful picture stops. Once we got to Arch Rock, we climbed the stairs with everyone else to get a good view and picture. Don’t do that! You can get a much better picture from the road if you bike a little further, and you can avoid the crowds.

Along the bike route were lots of cute little flowers and butterflies flying around between them, all right in front of the water. It was a gorgeous area! I would say that the bike ride was my favorite part, but it wasn’t -- I’ll get to that in a little bit.

After about a 2-hour bike ride, we walked the opposite way out of the downtown area that led us behind the Grand Hotel’s pool area. From the map, it looks like you can get to the Grand Hotel going along the coast -- you can’t. So, we turned around and walked back and found a road that led to the front of the Grand Hotel (GH). Learn from us and find the right road or just enjoy the long walk.

You can’t go to Mackinac island without seeing the Grand Hotel, so we went out to see it. There was suddenly a TON of fog blowing in from the lake, and it was crazy! We couldn’t even see the hotel until we were right upon it. But it was super cool. The big yard area in the front was actually open to the public, which was a fun surprise. We went down there and walked around through the plants and around a fountain. We even got a glimpse of the giant pool area. The pool looks like a little lake on the Mackinac island map!

The property around the GH is beautiful! The garden area in front of the hotel is beautiful, and the porch is huge and fun to check out. On the way to the GH, we noticed that some people were riding horses and guiding their own horse-drawn carriage. We didn’t know about this option, and will definitely make use of this next time, maybe instead of the bikes.

After exploring the GH, we walked up the road past the hotel and enjoyed the best views of the trip! You can see the Mackinac Bridge, the lighthouse, and gawk at the beautiful lawns and gardens of the houses along the road there. They also have horse and buggy rides, but we enjoyed the walk this time. No matter how you get there, you have to see the views on this road. It was definitely a highlight of the trip.

Let’s be honest downtown Mackinac smells of manure and fudge. It is a weird combo and doesn’t make you hungry. It is the walking and biking that make you hungry. We decided to eat at the Winchester right downtown. It was not packed because it did not have the high ratings as some other places. But, a local told us that it had good food and was not as pricey. He was right! We all liked our food and got right in without waiting. Also, since they were not as busy, they were attentive to our food allergy questions and requests which is a huge plus for me!

After walking back, we got dinner at some restaurant that I totally can’t remember the name of, but the food was pretty good. However, the only food that was relevant to me on this trip was the fudge! I had never had fudge in my life up until this year! I’m allergic to peanuts. Nut allergies are not uncommon anymore, and so you would think that food places would think about that before making all of their stuff on the same table. At every fudge shop I have ever been to, all the fudge is made on the same table, and most of it contains nuts. BUT, we made an exciting discovery this year!

That discovery was (drumroll) -- Vegan fudge! Ryba’s fudge shop had a chocolate vegan fudge that was made in a completely separate location, far away from all nuts. I could have it! I was beyond excited! It was the best part of the whole trip for me. The fudge was soooo good too. I couldn’t tell that it was vegan. I finally got to eat the fudge I had always wanted to try, and I loved it. I didn’t feel bad eating it either because it was a little healthier than your average fudge.

Another highlight was the vegan fudge. Yes, I said vegan. It was creamy and delicious, and the best part was that it was peanut allergy safe! My daughter could try the famous Mackinac Island fudge! We found it at Ryba’s Fudge. They make their vegan fudge at a separate location and assured us that there were no nuts around that fudge. The chocolate no nut fudge is not allergy safe from cross contamination. If you are vegan, limit dairy, or avoid nuts, ask about the vegan fudge! (and their current baking process)

We explored much of the island and did all the shops twice in just one day. The coast has spectacular views which makes for great pictures. Before we left, we made sure to make a cairn along the rocky coast.

But, for my daughter, I think the trip ended well for her once we picked up the fudge. Isn't it all about the food for some people? (smirk)

I spent the rest of the day- the ferry ride and the car ride home- excited about the fudge. Let's popularize this fudge! I really want to get it again. it was awesome! Thank you, Ryba's!

Until next year, Mackinac!

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