A Mackinac Island Family Reunion

Sometimes life gets so busy that it’s tough to take a timeout and just enjoy your surroundings. John Truscott knows that feeling well, but was able to take a break last summer and enjoy what Pure Michigan has to offer during a Mackinac Island weekend getaway with his family. Today he shares his experience with us.

When I get to Mackinac Island these days, it’s typically for work. A conference, a meeting, or something that keeps me from truly appreciating the beauty and tranquility of this jewel. While the ferry ride is always nice, once I hit the Island, it’s time to go to work. No time to ride around the island, stop for fudge, or just relax and enjoy.

Except for last summer. My family went to Mackinac Island like we used to – as a family. It was my parents’ 50th Anniversary; and I was a tourist!  What an incredible weekend. With my brother and sister and nieces and nephew, we enjoyed the Island like it’s supposed to be enjoyed.

The weather was absolutely perfect – warm sun and cool breezes. It was heavenly. One of the evenings, we just grabbed some pizzas and hung out in the park below the fort. Lying in the grass, appreciating the family time and letting the young kids run. This incredible memory will last a lifetime.

And I was able to ride bikes with my teenage nieces around the Island. When you don’t have time for that ride, it’s easy to forget how beautiful it is. The blue water was like a mirror and warm enough to wade in. It had been a while since I had skipped rocks in the big lake. I felt like a kid again.

But we surely didn’t miss out on some adult time at the Pink Pony bar, located on the water at the Chippewa Hotel. The Caribbean has nothing on this spot.  Better yet, we didn’t have to worry about driving home. The automobile was banned on Mackinac Island in the later 1890s.

That long weekend brought out the kid in me again. We used to take our yearly family vacation to the Island, and it was always magical. Unfortunately, the work of the real world these days had dulled a little bit of the magic. Until that one summer weekend. It was like the younger days as a family, but yet more fun because we had even more family to share this incredible experience. It just might have been the best family trip ever.And on the last day – I ran to the ferry, jumped in the car, drove straight to the airport in Detroit – to jet out for another conference. But I did it with a big smile on my face and great memories to cherish.

Go to mackinacisland.org to plan your next family reunion.

John Truscott is a President and Principal of Truscott Rossman, a bipartisan public relations firm, and a huge fan of Mackinac Island.

A Grand Romantic Getaway to Pure Michigan

Earlier this year, we launched a contest titled Pin to Win: Michigan in Love where we asked fans to create a Pinterest board that represented what an ideal romantic getaway looked like to them. We were blown away by the response and truly enjoyed looking through the submitted boards.

In early March, Megan Battaglia of Buffalo, NY was randomly selected as the winner and began planning a romantic getaway for her and her husband to take to Mackinac Island this month. Today, she tells us what they’re most looking forward to doing during their visit to Pure Michigan.

Photo taken during Megan's trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2012

I have always loved road trips! From the moment I got my driver’s license I would get in my car and drive aimlessly for hours discovering new places and areas I hadn’t seen before. Living in Buffalo, NY, I explored all I could in New York State and Ontario, Canada and eventually New England and the northeast coast.

Back in 2012, an article caught my eye. It said that ABC Good Morning America’s viewers had chosen Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Michigan as the most beautiful place in America. Why had I never heard of this place? Now I was intrigued! After all, Michigan is an easy road trip from my home (in my definition, an easy road trip is anything 8 hours or less).

As luck would have it, in fall 2012, I was scheduled to go to a conference in Ann Arbor. This was my chance to take a side trip and see these Sleeping Bear Dunes. I found the Pure Michigan website which provided me with all the information I needed to plan my trip. As soon as I arrived at the National Lakeshore Park, I was enthralled! The dunes were everything I hoped they would be. I took dozens of pictures, climbed the dunes, and discovered as much of Northern Michigan as I could in a day.  

There was so much more in Michigan I wanted to see. So I followed Pure Michigan on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to learn more and see what other places there were to discover. Then this past winter, I saw a contest on Pinterest for “Pin to Win: Michigan in Love”. The prize was described as a Pure Michigan Romantic Getaway – two days on Mackinac Island at Grand Hotel, dinner at the Woods restaurant, round trip air, and a Buick rental car. Since my husband and I had just celebrated our 25th anniversary, I couldn’t have imagined a better trip for us! Mackinac Island was definitely on my list of must see places – seemingly untouched by time, no cars allowed, surrounded by the deepest of the great lakes, beautiful homes and deep history.

So – here I am – the grand prize winner of the Pin to Win: Michigan in Love contest! My husband and I are scheduled to leave for our anniversary trip on Friday, June 7. But I couldn’t help but think that 2 days was not enough. So, we have decided to extend the trip and see as much as we can of Western and Northern Michigan.

Here’s our itinerary so far.

Friday: Head up the coast of Lake Michigan from Chicago stopping along the way at places such as Holland, Grand Haven, the Tunnel of Trees, Mackinaw City.

Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island - where Megan and her husband will spend two nights as part of their prize package

Saturday: Catch the first ferry to Mackinac Island, spend two nights at Grand Hotel, enjoy the Lilac Festival and see as much as we can of the island.

Monday: Take The Mackinac Bridge over to the Upper Peninsula and see where our Buick leads us (maybe St. Ignace, Sault St. Marie, Pictured Rocks, DeTour Village – I would love to see Lake Superior!).

Tuesday and Wednesday: Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes, Traverse City, the wineries and anywhere else along Leelanau Peninsula our Buick may lead us!

Stay tuned – Michigan here we come!

Are there any other must-sees that you’d recommend to Megan while she’s in town? Share your suggestions below!

Sharing History: Summer at Fort Mackinac

By working as a soldier at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island, Niall Farley’s summer job in Michigan is anything but ordinary. Today he shares a little bit about what this role entails.

I wake up a little before 8am, get ready and grab my bicycle for the short ride to work. Not uncommon for college-aged folks working summer jobs in Michigan, but my summer job is anything but common.

I am a soldier at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.

Now in my fourth season, I’m responsible for overseeing the daily interpretative programs as lead interpreter. Dressed as a sergeant in the U.S. Army in the 1880s, I lead tours through the fort, clean, prime, load and fire a model 1841 cannon and an original Springfield 45/70 rifle.

This is the 55th year of historical interpretive programming at Mackinac State Historic Parks. Each year, May through mid-October, we open our gates to visitors from every state and more than 50 countries. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job, seeing how much not just people from Michigan, but people from all over the world enjoy the view, the history and taking part in our interpretive programs

I was drawn to this job for a number of reasons–the chance to spend my summers on beautiful Mackinac Island, the opportunity to tell stories about this fascinating place, and of course, the hats.

During the winter, I study as an English major at Oakland University in Rochester Hills and live in my small hometown of Almont. While history has not been my area of study, I’ve become fascinated by the important events that have taken place throughout the Straits of Mackinac, and sharing them with visitors makes my every day at Fort Mackinac an enjoyable experience, it hardly seems like work.

Are you planning to explore the history at Fort Mackinac this summer? Share with us below!