Julie had gone out early for another 6-mile run Monday morning, and at 7:30 GDaddy, Jordan and Matthew hopped on their bikes and went to find her. Then they rode with her, as she finished up her run. We sat around and drank coffee, had a very light breakfast, then started to get ready to catch a ferry.
We were heading for the Mill Creek Discovery Park, half-way between Mackinaw City and Cheboygan. The five of us and two dogs boarded the 11 o’clock ferry for the ride across the Straits. Julie and Matthew grabbed a window seat, and Jordan joined Ted, Maddie, Bear and I in the center section of seats where the dogs were out of other’s people’s way. We had called for Julie’s SUV and were going to try to get all of us in it. That was a challenge with Bear because he is used to having the whole folded-down back seat of Ted’s truck to spread out in. At first, he took over the seat I was supposed to sit in, but eventually we persuaded him to get down on the floor.
Since we were all hungry, we drove almost to Cheboygan to eat at a little drive-in that a friend of ours introduced us to last year – Yeck’s. They still have car-hops at Yeck’s, and you can eat in your vehicle or get out and sit at tables set up on their property. Since it was cool, we chose a sunny table and parked Bear under the shade of a tree. He wasn’t amused.
A sawmill was constructed by Robert Campbell on the site of Mill Creek Discovery Park in 1790 to provide lumber for Mackinac Island. Campbell also operated a farm with hay fields, cattle and an extensive orchard at the same location. The operation continued through the 1830s. Abandoned and eventually forgotten, Mill Creek was rediscovered in 1972. After extensive archaeological work, the site opened in 1982 and features reconstructions of the sawmill and other structures.
I wish I could tell you that Jordan and Matthew were eager to investigate all the historical exhibits that are available on this property, but that would be a lie. What they were interested in was the Forest Canopy Bridge, the Treetop Discovery Tower & Climbing Wall, and the Eagle’s Flight Zip Line. Watching a chainsaw cut boards in half sounded a lot safer than any of those to me, but since Matthew has given me the nickname of “slowpoke” (because I arrive last on every bike ride), I kept my mouth shut so I wouldn’t become “scaredy-cat slowpoke”.
What you do is pay to go into the park, then if you are going to do the “adventure” (the dangerous stuff), you pay some more. We only signed Jordan and Matthew up to be daredevils because we thought they would be fine on their own (with us supervising, of course). But when we realized what all was involved, Julie decided she might better go with them.
There are three components for the thrillseekers in the crowd. 1) After donning a harness that looks similar to what I tried to put on a taxi horse, you follow a path to the canopy bridge. You are connected to an overhead cable and, following your guide, you are led out onto a swinging bridge with a footpath that is approximately an inch wide (I’m exaggerating of course, but that’s what it looked like to me). Halfway across, the guide stops everyone to give a little lecture on forest facts while you are balancing like a high-wire artist above this “river”. GDaddy and I were watching all this from far below, and I kept saying this little prayer, “Thank you Lord that they didn’t ask their BeeBe to go with them.” From left to right, that’s Julie, Jordan, and Matthew in the middle of the bridge.
After surviving the bridge adventure, you come to part 2. They connect your harness to a zip line, and throw you off into thin air (I’m just telling it like I saw it). First Matthew, then Jordan, then Julie. If I had not had my hair colored last week, I promise you it would have turned completely white watching this.
Everyone made it across, and we moved on to part 3 – the rock climbing wall. By this time, Bear was bored silly with the whole thing (having found out no food was being served). Maddie, on the other hand, watched intently in case anything exciting happened and she needed to spring into action.
Both Matthew and Jordan had rock climbed before at birthday parties they had attended (what ever happened to Pin the Tail on the Donkey?). They scrambled up that tower like they were spiderboy and spidergirl.
After all this heart-stopping action, no one was the least bit interested in sawmills and excavation sites (Ted and I decided we would return before the end of October to see everything we had missed), so we headed back into Mackinac City to the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was completed in 1892. For over 60 years, four generations of lighthouse keepers and their families lived at this station and helped ensure the safety of vessels crossing the Straits of Mackinac. In 1957, when the lights of the newly constructed Mackinac Bridge made the lighthouse unnecessary, it was closed. It is now part of the Michilimackinac State Park, and has been under restoration since 2000. If you look closely, you can see Julie’s head at the top of the tower in the second picture.
The first span of the Mackinac Bridge lies practically in the front yard of the lighthouse. This close, you can really get a feel for the magnificence of this structure. We took pictures of Matthew and Jordan as they walked down to the beach below the bridge.
Ted, Bear, and Maddie were waiting for us on a bench when we came back from the beach. Bear is so funny – he really keeps his eye on me when I walk away. Ted says he never lets me get out of his sight.
We caught the 4:30 ferry back to the island, and had a rough crossing. Water was being thrown up onto the windows, and the wake behind us was rolling and wild.
Tuesday is a very important day for two reasons. First, it is Matthew’s 7th birthday. And second, for the first time since the end of last July, I will see my youngest son Blake. He will arrive in Pellston on a 6:30 p.m. flight, and I will be there to greet him. He will stay with us on the island for two weeks before he returns to China for another year. I can’t wait to hug him and fill him up with good food. 6:30 can’t get here fast enough!
But first, we have a very excited little boy who right now is having a hard time falling asleep. His GDaddy and I can’t wait to give him his big surprise tomorrow morning. Tune in on Wednesday for pictures!