August 5, 2016


“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”  Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

Carol writes:  It was only a few years ago that Al and I stumbled upon a cable movie channel that was showing the 1980 cult classic movie titled “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

We were awestruck by the beauty of the majestic hotel where much of the film was shot.  When 'special thanks' to the 'Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island' rolled by on the credits, a new bucket list item was born.

The choice of our campground in Cheboygan, Michigan, at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula, was made so that we could be as close as possible to the Straits of Mackinac for an easy day trip to Mackinac Island.

Since no cars are allowed on the island (with the exception of emergency vehicles and snowmobiles in winter), Mackinac Island was the perfect location for a movie about time travel to the past.  In addition to walking, bicycles and horse-drawn carriages are the only modes of travel.

… and that includes community services such as trash collection.

The architectural style of many of the homes and businesses dates back to the latter half of the 1800s, decades before the invention of the automobile.

Tourists who want to spend time on Mackinac Island must arrive by boat.  We brought our own bikes and elected to use Shepler’s Ferry service.

We picked a ‘Mighty Mac’ time slot because that trip included a brief detour under the majestic Mackinac Bridge, high above the Straits of Mackinac, the dividing line between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  

The stately Mackinac suspension bridge is the connection point between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula.

Our ferry delivered us into the crowded center of the tourist shop area—and it really was congested on this perfect Michigan day.

Our island bucket list included a bike ride along the 8-mile paved trail that circles the island.  Riding a bike on streets without cars was delightful, as long as you remembered that horses always have the right-of-way… and were careful to dodge occasional piles of horse manure.

It was quickly apparent to us that this bike ride was one that we would want to savor, so when we spotted an uncrowded coffee shop looking out on a magnificent view of the water, a second round of morning coffee summoned both of us.

As the bike trail left the tiny city behind, the incredible natural beauty of the forested island was all around us…

a giant natural stone arch

miles of rocky beaches with crystal clear waters of Lake Huron.

One of the most pleasurable 8 miles of bike riding we have ever done…

After our bike ride, we headed uphill for lunch on the grounds of the Grand Hotel.  We had a great viewpoint for watching horse-drawn carriages and bicyclists ascend the pathway to the Grand Hotel.

It felt like we were experiencing events from a time long ago as we watched guests of the Grand Hotel arrive by a shiny wooden horse-drawn carriage.

Now for a peek at that elegant hotel that had opened in 1887 and had brought us to Mackinac Island…

The colonial porch of the Grand Hotel was a whopping 660 feet long, making it the world’s longest porch.  I couldn’t resist a few minutes in one of those timeless white rockers.

The view of the Mackinac Straits and that iconic bridge between the columns of that grand porch was amazing!

Inside, the décor was comfortable, colorful, and cozy.

There was a small display on the making of the movie “Somewhere in Time,” one of the most rented films of all time.  Without a doubt, this film's brilliant selection of locale on Mackinac Island was in a big way responsible for creating the mood that was so essential to the story.  Every October fans of this cult film, along with returning cast members, return to Mackinac for a weekend of celebration.

I am not certain when, or if, the human race will ever overcome the obstacles of the physics associated with time travel.  However, at the Grand Hotel at this point in time, we certainly were dazzled by the ambience of gracious living from bygone days.  The intriguing offer of a trip back in time on magical Mackinac Island created for us a day like no other.

“The bottom line is that time travel is allowed by the laws of physics.”  Brian Greene

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