My July 2009 CAWLM Winter Ramblings column pays tribute to one of my fav destinations in the world- Mackinac Island. Enjoy your mini-escape and then plan one of your own.  


Island Fever

An upside to the state’s recent economic downturn has been a renewed interest in vacationing in our own great state. For me, that means heading to Northern Michigan and my all-time favorite destination— Mackinac Island.

I’ve been fortunate to travel extensively, and I admit to being tempted to relocate to sunny and less humid locales like Napa Valley and Santa Barbara. Writers can go anywhere, technology and spouses willing.

But there’s something about visiting God’s Country that gets into your blood. Once bitten, never cured.

I love navigating all those narrow curves on the ‘Tunnel of Trees’ on M-119, sheepishly dipping my toes in frigid Lake Michigan, viewing glorious sunsets that rival the finest gallery paintings, and frolicking in salt-free surf at Sturgeon Bay, before enjoying hot tea and the local newspaper at Petoskey’s popular ‘Roast and Toast.’

These are just a sampling of the wonderful moments that quickly fill an enthusiastic vacationer’s to-do list in the Great Lake State.

Mackinac Island holds special allure. Maybe it’s the writer in me who embraces the romance of stepping back in time at the exact moment that magnificent bridge comes into sight. Maybe it’s the refreshing lack of cars with all those distracted drivers on cell phones, or all the sacred family memories created there with both of my kids, including my son.

From the confines of a wheelchair, Eric was able to enjoy this stunning natural setting with relative ease and accessibility—granting our special-needs family the often elusive gift of leisure-time normalcy.

Regardless of what the calendar or thermometer says, until I’ve crossed the choppy Straights of Mackinac on Shepler’s charming ferries with those impressive rooster tails, smelled the intoxicating aroma of lilacs and fudge, or heard the soothing clip-clop cadence of spirited Island horses, summertime in Michigan hasn’t officially begun—there are worse things you could be called than a fudgie.

Mackinac Island is the bomb, a jewel in Michigan’s impressive tourism crown, and I stand forever ready to answer its magical call. The world may have discovered our gem of a state park, thanks to all those recent magazine covers and impressive features in the likes of Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and the New York and LA Times.

But this premier destination belongs to us lucky Michiganders, one of the few certainties in these uncertain times. 

Hear my thunderous applause?

When the calendar turns to July, there’s a nagging reminder that summer is quickly waning. Don’t let the season go by without enjoying all the vacation riches afforded us in Michigan, including those of enchanting Mackinac Island—travels guaranteed to see you through another nasty winter that’s hiding just around the corner.

Choose your sweet treats carefully, fudgie.

Photo of  ‘Mighty Mac’/Judy Winter 08