We arrived at the expansive Mackinac Bridge and surprisingly crossed it according to the driving directions to Shepler’s Ferry. There was a massive 45-minute long traffic jam to pay the toll once we crossed into the U.P. Before the backup started, the metal grates, designed to limit ice build-up, sang to us through the tires. There was no hassle once we got to the ferry terminal. They routed our luggage to the Grand Hotel and we conveniently parked the car for the night. With the windy conditions on the inlet, we selected an enclosed seat rather than on the open upper level.

The boat ride over was smooth and we were soon docked and in the downtown gift shops for another magnet. It was then a 20-minute uphill walk to the impressive porch with views of Lake Michigan. The registration desk was not busy, so we quickly got our room keys and instructions. I guess they call it the Grand Hotel because of the pricy nightly room rate, but it’s been known as that since it was built in 1887 when the cost was much lower. The five-course dinner for two was $256.52 excluding alcohol. Tipping is not required but we did anyways because the cost of living for employees is certainly exorbitant, let alone the commute time. While it may be an honor to work there, it’s probably a job unto itself to get there on time. 

There are 14 bars/restaurant and the main dining room seats hundreds on striped green chairs in front of coordinated English china. We started our afternoon in the Cupola Bar while waiting for our luggage to finally arrive in the room. The panoramic views of Lake Michigan are spectacular but at $22 for a Bloody Mary we had to find other things to do while the slow-moving, horse-drawn carriages take at least 3-hours to move bags from the ferries to the lobby to the room. My required suit and tie barely made the dress code deadline of 6:00p, despite arriving at noon.

We had to wait for my wife’s swimsuit to arrive before making our way to the Ester Williams Pool, where she made several movies, in the late afternoon sun. Once again, Lake Michigan provided a stunning backdrop for pool users. Those with sunburns must have packed a separate bag. My wife has been struggling with a spreading, itchy rash from the Virginia Creeper vines she pulled in our Florida backyard before we left on this journey. The cool water soothed her skin but the sunlight can aggravate the annoying red bumps that cover her body. She’s been utilizing Cortisone since we left Florida, while I’ve been popping Tylenol Severe Cold tablets. What a way to start a vacation or in our case, a change in routine.

After returning to the room, I was about to don a suit for the first time this year, and most of last. I was anxious to send my friend in Indy a picture of the new hand-painted, wooden bow tie he had gifted me. However, it had to be a shot from the waist up because the suit pants had apparently fallen off while hanging in the car. They were well across the Mackinac Bridge when I needed them most, and therefore had to  settle for a pair of blue jeans. There was nothing in the rules about pants, so even half-naked might have been acceptable!