Mackinaw City, MI
I decided to stay in Macinaw City instead of making my way back to Cheboygen. For one thing, I was starving. Two Dollar General candy bars weren’t going to cut it. By the time I found some place to eat, if I attempted to leave, I’d risk riding 23 in the dark. I have done that before, but it’s not comfortable for me. Or the drivers who encounter a bicyclist on a major US highway in the dark.
I backtracked just a little bit to the start of town. I stood across the street from the Quality Inn and called their reservation number.
I had a private moment of mirth with the guy on the phone trying to (1) pronounce Mackinaw (2) trying to “up-sell” me on one of their other motels in the area and (3) insisting I go ahead and reserve the room with a major credit card.
First off, I contrasted The Big Lodging Chain’s reservation process VS Fireside. (“Gimme yer name. We’ll have a room for ya.”) Then I mentioned to the guy, “I’m standing 100 feet from their front door. If I walk in their door, will they give me the same rate you’re — finally — quoting me?”
Maybe the phone guys work on commission. I don’t know. He didn’t seem happy that I wasn’t going to give him a credit card number.
After securing the room and loosely explaining to the manager on duty that I’d like to celebrate a little bit with a good steak, I stored my gear, changed my clothes and walked down the street.
Instead, a flashing “Dinner Buffet” sign at Anna’s caught my eye. The angels began to sing.
I was so hungry I told the waitress they better call in the Backup Cooks. I was going to eat everything.
I called my youngest from the restaurant. Told her that I’d never been to that part of Michigan and while I was there, why not do something I’d never done before on one of these bicycle rides: be a tourist? Since she was caring for the weasels, I needed to make sure it was ok that I didn’t start the trip back on Monday. She gave me her blessing to take a day off. Great kid.
The next morning got there way too early. Figured I’d get up and start doing tourist-y things. It was Memorial Day and while I expected the crowds to be diminished, I didn’t expect them to be non-existent. Granted, it was early, but there was no one on the streets. No cars. No pedestrians. No businesses open (for the most part.)
I trucked down the water to take a picture of the bridge that ended 23 North’s run, the Mackinaw Bridge:
On the side of the bridge closest to the camera it’s Lake Huron. On the other is Lake Michigan.
I spent a few minute taking pictures of the bridge . . . and dodging these damned swarms of swarming, flying insects. They were about the size of mosquitoes, but swarmed like gnats. Pesky bastards.
I rode through down town Mackinaw City. It was like someone had temporarily relocated Gatlinburg.
I had emerged half way down the street, not at the far end. As I started riding back to the hotel, I started to notice a trend:
What struck me odd was just about every one of those places had the same deal: Buy 2 Get 2 Free! (See the sign in the lower right corner of the last picture.) B2G2? Why not just halve your price? Works out the same. Go figure.
It was nearing 10AM. I was done tourist-ing. I had no desire to go over to Mackinac Island. It was all shopping and hotels. I didn’t need a hotel. I didn’t need to shop. And I didn’t need to spend $23 to ferry over to the island, either. While I’d have welcomed a chance to eat one (or a dozen) pastys or attack Anna’s buffet bar again, there wasn’t much else left to do. I was on a bicycle ride. I should, you know. go ride my bicycle.