While I first arrived
State Park, I went in to St. Ignace to explore my new "home
town." My main reason for choosing Straits as my home base
was because of its proximity to St. Ignace and Mackinaw City,
both places where you can hop on a ferry to get to Mackinac Island,
the main attraction in my mind.
When I was researching
ferry options, I found there were basically three services, all
with the same prices with no discernable differences I could see
at first glance.
I always find it interesting
to learn a little about the people behind the scenes, so I read
the page of Shepler's website, "Our
Story." I was impressed with their stated commitment: "First
Class Service. Every Guest. Every Day." So I decided to see
how true they were to their mission statement.
was my first view of a Shepler's ferry coming in from the island (in
the background) into St. Ignace. Quite a promising sight, huh?
when I got to the dock in St. Ignace for my first trip to the island,
I was so glad that I could take my own bike over because I'd heard
about how you can bike all around the perimeter of the island. I loved
how the crew takes care of everything for you, including boarding
and unloading your bike.
we're approaching the reason I'd been dreaming of the island - the
Grand Hotel! Ever since I had seen the movie Somewhere in Time I was
determined that someday I would visit here and see it all for myself!
And I thought it was funny that another Shepler's Ferry was passing
us as we were almost to the island, so I had to share this shot.
it was cool when I found out one of the owners, Chris Shepler, was
our captain that day. Here I am getting ready to disembark with
my copy of Historic Mackinac Island Visitor's Guide, already dog-eared
with things marked to see. I'm so ready to start my exploration
of the island I had been dreaming of seeing for about 31 years!
| I wrote
about my first trip to Mackinac Island on
my blog here. It was really a magical day and one day was definitely
not enough. So I went back to take the Mackinac
Island Carriage Tour, walked around Wings
of Mackinac with butterflies on my hat, and toured fascinating
Mackinac. The Grand
Hotel was the crown jewel of the island and I'll be devoting
a few pages to it when I have more time to write about that grand
experience. For now, I posted some pictures on Facebook of hotel
scenes and wrote about the Grand
Luncheon I enjoyed so much!
mornings during the time I was here, they offered a "mini"
cruise that was part of their regularly scheduled departures. At
no extra charge, they take you under the Mackinac Bridge and, share
a little history of this amazing structure. The trip to the island
normally takes about 16 minutes and this extra bridge tour adds
about 25 minutes to the entire trip.
had enjoyed the drive over it on my way to St. Ignace, even though
I had a few fears about that trip in the motorhome. But I had no problem
whatsoever on the day I crossed, and every view I had of it since
then was thrilling to me. I just have a fascination with suspension
bridges and I was excited to be able to get so close and actually
go underneath it!
| I took
a short video of it available on YouTube.
You can see a car going across the bridge through the grated part
of the bridge road. I sure enjoyed this extra little bonus "cruise!"
taking four separate trips to/from the island, I later told
Chris how impressed I was with every member of his crew that
I had interacted with.
For example, I met
Mollie when she offered to take a picture of me and my friend,
Sandy, together. Sandy told me she had taken another ferry service
to Mackinac Island before but they didn't have this "aft
deck" where you could be inside but still look out this big
open "picture window" and she really liked this and
the little bonus cruise under the bridge.
Mollie told me how
she's going to school to learn more about the hospitality industry
and just loves her job with the Shepler family. She says Chris'
dad is a big Disney fan and has the same standards for guest service
that Walt insisted on and and how they keep their equipment meticulously
maintained and clean. I always consider it a good sign when employees
are happy in their jobs!
I was sorry I ran out
of time and couldn't take one of their Lighthouse
Cruises. I've seen a few MI lighthouses from the land and
would have loved to see some from the lake - that looks like so
much fun! If any readers go, let me know how you liked it!
So I definitely recommend
Shepler's as your "Gateway to Mackinac Island" - when
you go, please give Chris and the crew my best regards!