OK, so I'm almost a week late on this, but Catherine and I went back to Mackinac Island last weekend and hung out at McNally Cottage. It's closed for the season, unless of course you're dating someone in the family who owns it.
The island is a lot less crowded, that's for sure. It was nice to have our run of the house (along with a couple of Cath's friends and one of her cousins). The American college kids have really disappeared, and most of the seasonal workers left are from Europe or Jamaica.
We started on Friday night by going to The Woods, a restaurant owned by the Grand Hotel that's way back in the woods (it's not just a clever name). It was chilly to say the least, so they had both giant fire places burning away. It's a neat old lodge with lots of dead stuff on the walls, which is a little weird since there are almost no native mammals living on the island. The bar side of the lodge has an old manual bowling alley. The whole thing is very charming, and the food is pretty good.
I should interject that I'm anti-Grand. I don't like the way they run their business, and I don't like the pretentious assholes who stay there. On our way up in the shuttle carriage, this guy we picked up at the Grand asked if he could smoke. Um, no? They also do not allow tipping at their properties, which is absolutely absurd to me. It caters the cheapness of people who can afford it the most. This is a place that wants your money just to sit on their porch, which has nasty plastic furniture all over the place.
There is actually a lot of inbreeding and monopolistic tendencies on the island. The people who own those businesses suffer from severe big fish-little pond syndrome. To give you an idea of how people will get around it, we saw a wedding party bring their own flowers from the mainland, and the bride didn't take part in the silly $500 per hour carriage and took the common taxi. I'm sure it was still an awesome wedding.
Anyway, on the shuttle back, our driver was from Bulgaria, and her friend and trainer was Romanian. The drunk idiots in the shuttle kept asking her a lot of stupid questions. She was a med student going into her second year (they do nine straight years there, without what we'd call the "undergrad" program first). She was really quite beautiful, blonde, blue eyes. One of the tourists asked her if everyone generally got along, and she said the American college kids were real assholes to her and her friends. Catherine spoke up at that point to tell it like it is, and indicate that the scope of the local seasonals life experience has everything to do with their jobs, and they hate seeing people come in from overseas, work their asses off, and threaten their livelihood (and worse, from an attractive girl). It kind of annoyed me that this is the impression the girl has to have of people in our country.
Anyway, I was apparently allergic to one of the horses, because I became super miserable by the time we got back to Main Street. I was sneezing, weezing and snotty, and it just absolutely sucked. All I could do was sleep it off.
Saturday was a little warmer, and thank God it was really sunny. Cath and I rented a tandem (well, it was free because the girl working the bike rental also worked at the house over the summer), and her friends took their bikes for a ride around the island. It's about eight miles around Michigan 185, the only state route that has never had a car accident. Fortunately it's all at the lake elevation, because these gearless bikes would suck otherwise. There are a lot of beautiful houses as you ride around, and one that looks abandoned that would be a great location for a horror film.
After our ride, we stopped in the butterfly house. All of the species there were fairly common to other similar facilities, but it was a neat little place to visit for sure.
We had lunch at a place on the Star Line dock where they had some seriously potent drinks (and mediocre food). The rest of the day, we just hung out and didn't do much. We ordered pizza, watched a little TV. Cath and her friend Sarah went out to one of the bars for about an hour, but I stayed home because I just didn't have it in me. I can't party like I used to!
Sunday we (well, mostly the girls) cleaned up the cottage, and we scored breakfast. The drive back to Cleveland wasn't horrible. We had a lot of deep conversations, stopped for food, gas and urination, and made it back around 9 p.m.
As much as I dislike some of the snobbery on the island, I also love it for its peacefulness. It's a very unique place, and if you stay at one of these little bed-and-breakfasts like McNally, I think you'll have a good time.