Having only been on a bike once so far this summer, and with Cathie not having been on a bike since she was here last summer, she and I daringly climbed aboard to follow Ted on his much-planned “show Cathie Friendship Altar and Little Arch Rock” adventure. Friendship Altar is a hard-to- find spot in the woods Ted and I had discovered last fall, after detailed directions from an island resident. Ted had only discovered Little Arch Rock last week, again on a tip from a life-long island native, so I had never been there. “It’ll be fun!” he said. Those words from Ted usually mean I will end up either: 1) happy I tagged along to discover another island treasure, or 2) not speaking to my husband until the next time it snows at the equator.
We bought a used bicycle at the end of the season last year, so Cathie didn’t have to rent a bike for our little adventure into the great unknown. We started off in the Village and headed toward the airport.
Cathie stopped two blocks from the condo to get a pic of these beautiful poppies in front of a neighbor's house.
We rode a mile or so, passed the airport, then Ted took a sharp left into what looked like dense woods. Cathie, following close behind, tried to make the turn – and didn’t quite make it.
A perfect fall onto soft earth and grass. I gave her a 9.7 on grace.
We were soon into the forest primeval – seriously.
We stopped occasionally for a Kodak moment. Ted would wait impatiently in the background, muttering, "It's a log. Why are you taking a picture of a log?"
The further we got into the woods, the more narrow the path became.
We kept climbing up the trail, while Ted went on and on about Little Arch Rock and what a "find" it was.
Cathie and I kept whispering to each other, "This is fun! This is fun!"
Eventually we rounded a bend in the trail and came upon a little pond of water surrounded by wildflowers. We asked Ted, “Is this where Little Arch Rock is?”
“No”, he replied, “This is a little pond of water surrounded by wildflowers.”
Little pond of water, etc. etc. etc.
After nearly an hour of hiking, the path became so dense Ted would have to go ahead of us, park his bike, then come back to pick our bikes up over fallen logs and big rocks.
Ted - lifting Cathie's bike over some fallen trees.
Our "trail" at the most narrow point.
Somwhere about here in our “quest”, my cell phone rang. It seems, even in the middle of nowhere, the modern world can find you. It was a nice lady from the Mackinac Historic State Parks with a question about the flag they are flying over the fort on Monday for Cathie and Charlie’s grandson.
"No, we didn't know Monday was Flag Day. That's wonderful! Oh, by the way, could you see if the Coast Guard might be available for a deep woods search and rescue later today?"
Finally, Ted turned and said, “There it is! Little Arch Rock! Now, aren’t you glad you came!”
Cathie and I followed the direction his finger was pointing – up a steep hill. The only thing we saw was a rock.
“Where’s the arch?” we both said almost simultaneously.
“Well, you can’t exactly see it from here. I had to climb that hill, hang upside down from that tree branch, and swing way over to the left before I spotted it” (just kidding except for the part about climbing the hill).
BUT – neither Cathie nor I wanted to climb the hill to find the arch, so we just took a picture of the rock.
You can't see the arch either? Geez, where's your imagination!
I have to tell you that Ted was a little disgusted over our lack of enthusiasm over “little arch”, so instead of taking us the scenic route to see Friendship Altar, he took a short cut, and we were there in five minutes. Ted and I discovered this rock formation back in the fall of last year, and Cathie loved seeing it and climbing the platform tower for the view over the Straits.
This photo gives you some perspective of just how large this rock called The Friendship Altar really is.
From the Friendship Altar, you take a set of steps up, bringing you to this platform tower.
The view is worth all the climbing. Over the tops of the trees, looking past a little strip of the Straits of Mackinac, you can see St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.
From Friendship Altar, we bypassed British Landing and started back to town (three miles away) on the highway that runs around the island. While Ted rode on into town to the post office, Cathie and I took a shortcut that brought us out at the the Grand Hotel pool and gardens. Just before we turned off the highway, we stopped at Devil’s Kitchen for this photo.
Cathie and I - standing inside Devil's Kitchen.
The Grand pool is heated all summer. In 1947, the movie This Time for Keeps, starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams, was made at the Grand Hotel. This pool was where Williams, a famous swimmer of that era, did all of her water location shots.
Cathie - photographing the beautiful gardens around the pool.
We didn't have flowers like this last year until the middle of July. The weather has been perfect this Spring for early bloomers!
We walked into a part of the gardens at the Grand I had not explored before. I have often heard of the Grand Maze, and now I've seen it!
We also discovered this beautifully carved wooden bench, where you can sit in the shade and just enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Cathie and I arrived back at the condo, tired but very pleased with ourselves for having completed our journey without Coast Guard assistance. Ted was a little hurt we weren’t more impressed with Little Arch Rock, but he was happy we enjoyed our adventure and that he doesn’t have to wait until it snows in Ecuador before he hears me say “This is fun!” again. This morning he got up and asked us over coffee if we wanted to go with him to see the “Twin Rocks”. Cathie and I just poured ourselves another cup of coffee – and grinned.
Note: There will not be a blog post on Tuesday morning. We leave for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Monday morning, June 14, to visit Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, the legendary Pictured Rocks, and Tahquamenon Falls (the second largest falls east of the Mississippi – with Niagara Fall being the largest). It’s going to be a long, long day, so I’m going to skip blogging for one night. I’ll be back here, good Lord willing, on Wednesday morning with news from our trip. See you then!