Another year gone by and as we’ve all heard a million times, it was year like no other. I never make New Year’s Resolutions and the date reading 2020 or 2021 doesn’t really change anything for me. I do however, love Christmas. Christmas time is my favorite time and since my boyfriend Glenn and I have been safely quarantined and working from home for the past 9 months, we were able to head to my home state of Michigan and spend Christmas with my immediate family.
We loaded up the dog and cat and drove 10 hours from Minneapolis to my parents’ house. I talk to my mom on the phone almost every day but nothing beats waking up in the same house and working on puzzles or newspaper word scrambles together. Although we weren’t able to have a large family gathering this year, it was still a great Christmas filled with lots of cheer and appreciation for what we have.
Alright, enough of the mushy stuff. Let’s talk about the cool sh*t we did. On the way back to Minnesota, we decided to break up the drive by spending New Year’s Eve in Cheboygan with a day trip to Mackinac Island. Unless you’re into snowmobiling or ice fishing, these are not traditional winter destinations but we found some really great hikes and had so much fun exploring.
I had never been to Cheboygan before, so our first mission was to scope out what restaurants were open. We swung into Cheboygan Brewing Company to get beers to keep in our hotel room. Then we swung into Rusty Dogz and had some amazing chili dogs that really hit the spot in the winter weather.
Once we filled our bellies, we drove a few minutes outside of town to Duncan Bay Nature Preserve. It’s a short 0.9-mile, loop trail is very easy and accessible. It was a magical in the winter and felt like being in a snow globe.
After the hike we stopped at the movie theatre for some buttery popcorn to snack on in the room. Just doing our part to stimulate the local economy ;) and I’ve really missed movie theater popcorn this year.
I mentioned earlier that we brought our pets on this trip. Our cat Mojave, or Javi for short, is great in the car but we learned on our first night that she is not so great in hotel rooms. The new environment stressed her out and we had a terrible sleep while she meowed all night long. Silver lining: it wasn’t a problem waking up to catch the early ferry boat over to Mackinac Island because we were already awake.
Mackinac Island is a popular tourist destination in the summer months. Families pile onto the ferry boat to ride in horse-drawn carraiges and visit fudge shops which is why locals refer to tourists as “Fudgies”. There were no fudgies around in the winter, or rather, WE were the only fudgies. Instead we were surrounded by the winter workers of the island known as the “Carhartt Army”. Needless to say, our dog Audi was very popular on the ferry boat.
Lake Huron wasn’t frozen yet but once it does there is usually an “ice bridge” that acts as a highway between St. Ignace and the island. It doesn’t last very long but the locals look forward to the freedom of traveling back and forth without relying on the ferries.
There are no cars on Mackinac Island, only bikes and horse-drawn buggies. In the winter most people get around on snowmobiles, which was so cool to see. The island is bustling in the summer but it was a ghost town we when stepped off the ferry and none of the businesses were open. That wasn’t an issue for us because we were mainly there to visit the State Park. It was a hiking-junkie’s dream. Before it became Michigan’s First State Park it was a National Park and the landscape is extremely well preserved.
It was a short walk from the dock to Fort Mackinac and the hiking/biking trails. Our first stop was Arch Rock and then we went on to Sugar Loaf and Fort Holmes. The snow was deep but fluffy and we saw no other hikers just one other human who was cross country skiing. It was a winter wonderland. We hadn’t packed our best winter gear because we didn’t know we would be stopping at Mackinac Island when we went to Michigan but I made it through with my $12 Ugg-boot knockoffs.
We made it back to the dock an hour before the 12:30 p.m. ferry was heading back to the main land. We rewarded ourselves with delicious beers and fried walleye at the only open establishment Mustang Lounge. They had a heated patio and let us bring the dog. It was such a nice end to our visit.
We spent New Years Eve in our hotel room watching New Years Rockin’ Eve and eating steak and lobster from Pier M33 on the Cheboygan. Thanks to Javi ruining my previous night’s sleep, I was out before midnight. I usually get super emotional with Auld Lang Syne starts playing and it was such a tough year that it’s probably for the best that I be peacefully asleep for its conclusion.
I hope you all are doing well and staying safe! I’ll leave you with this photo of my pets enjoying a cozy hotel bed: