It’s the first week of school for many students in Michigan, which means field trips are on the horizon. Today, guest blogger Tom Byrum tells us what makes a class trip to Mackinac Island so special. Byrum has escorted or helped arrange for over 2,500 young people to visit Mackinac over the last 20 years.
For twenty years I have been leading elementary field trips “Up North” to the Straits Of Mackinac. Thousands of young people and their parents have enjoyed the unique magic of Mackinac and returned with special Mackinac memories.
The kids are in awe with their first sighting of the Mackinac Bridge. The anticipation of our Star Line ferry leaving the harbor bursts when Captain Chuck blasts the horn. Nobody fails to jump out of their seats. The first sighting of Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac – big and white on top of the Island’s bluff – signals we are almost there.
Checking in at the Inn on Mackinac or the Murray Hotel creates a buzz of excitement about this beautiful hotel being our home for the next two days. It finally sets in that we are on one of the most unique islands on Earth. No cars; just horses and bicycles. There is no traffic noise; just the gulls, boat horns, and horse’s hooves clomping on the pavement.
The best memories have been the bike rides around the Island. We stop for pictures at Arch Rock, British Landing (pose on the cannon) and Devil’s Kitchen.
The visits to the forts are full of wonderful stories and history. The cannons and guns are so loud!
Grand Hotel is aptly named. What a view from the Cupola and the world’s longest front porch. We get to eat lunch here too! Wow!
Everyone seems to sleep well each night as we listen to taxis going by. Before you know it, it’s time to pack up, say goodbye, take class pictures with goofy hats on and head to the ferry dock.
The tour buses are waiting after another smooth crossing of the Straits. Loaded up, we are on to Mill Creek. History, nature, and who gets to be the pit man during the pit saw demonstration?
Back in Mackinaw City we say good bye to Fort Michilimackinac to our right, Mackinac Island to our left and the Bridge behind us. On we go for a safe trip home full of Mackinac memories with deep anticipation of bringing our next group of elementary students to Mackinac Island.
Tom Byrum has escorted or helped arrange for over 2,500 young people and even more chaperon family members to come Up North to the Straits over the last 20 years. He is a retired educator and has started a small business called Mackinac, Here We Come so he can continue to help people enjoy and learn from a trip to the Straits Of Mackinac. You can contact Tom at MackinacMan22@gmail.com to arrange your Mackinac Island field trip.