As a Realtor, driving through the snow and showing homes in the winter can occasionally be a challenge in Grand Rapids. When one of my lifetime clients considered purchasing a summer home on Mackinac Island I was up for the task. What I discovered though, was that this trip would be one of the most memorable times of showing homes of my career. Northern MI Realtors have more fortitude and can have way more fun!
The adventure began with a 4 hour drive north, stopping at a favorite stop in Cadillac, Clam Lake Beer Company for lunch. I highly recommend them for their extensive menu, great food, and of course spirits and craft beer. Crossing the majestic Mackinac Bridge at night was a first for me. At 5 miles in length, it’s the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere! For the feint of heart, they have vehicle escort service across the bridge.
Then it’s rise and shine at 6:30 to catch the 8:00 Star Line Mackinac Ferry to the island. The usual 20 minute summer ride can take more than twice that long as the boat cuts through the ice. Meanwhile, we are toasty warm inside the boat with an occasional sneak outside to photograph and video.
Upon our arrival, the docks were busy with construction workers unloading lumber and supplies as this is the season for hotels and shop owners to get their projects done before tourist season. We saw windows being replaced, front porches partitioned off in plastic while buildings were undergoing a facelift. Our hotel was the only one open this weekend, and we were very happy with the accommodations at the Pontiac Lodge. There was one restaurant open, Cawthorne’s Village Inn (same ownership as the Grand Hotel) where Planked Whitefish is a favorite. I especially liked that they had the Grand Pecan Roll, a fudgy ice cream classic featured at the Grand Hotel.
The Mustang Lounge was our alternate choice that was open for food and drink. Our server/bartender Miranda made a great Cosmo, instantly adding her to my friend list. They also serve breakfast, lunch and appetizers. Except for historic Doud’s Market which has been servicing the island with groceries since 1884, all of the other stores and eateries were in hibernation and the street was filled with parked snowmobiles and the occasional horse drawn island taxi. Our host, and listing agent for our home tour was Billy Borst from Mackinac Island Realty. My client, Cindy, rode shotgun behind Billy and I scored the sled and off we sped through the snow covered streets, up and down hills to view available inventory and see some pretty exciting scenery. Showing homes by snowmobile was a first for me!
We also did a lot of on foot touring that day. From Mission Point Resort through Main Street to the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Hotel The sky was blue and even in the crisp afternoon the sight of the Grand Hotel closed for the season sparked memories of Jack Nicholson and the movie “The Shining” but there was no sign of the 2 little girls or boy in the hall or voices of “redrum”. Imagination run wild!!!
In the evening we joined my daughter, Alicia and her partner Thomas for a twilight cross country ski trail lined with lanterns. Beautiful groomed trails took us past the Arch Rock and Sugar Loaf rock formations and ended at a bonfire complete with hot chocolate.
Following a fabulous meal and a good nights rest, we were back out in the morning to take a taxi to the airport. The ferry doesn’t run on Sunday’s in the winter, so taking a small plane to the mainland was our only option. I don’t mind saying I was slightly terrified. William, the pilot, assured me that he had 15 years of flying experience so Cindy and I along with our 2 other flying companions hopped in the plane, me in the co pilots seat. It’s a 5 minute plane ride from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace and the views of the Mackinac Bridge were fabulous. I found myself disappointed that the ride was over so soon. As I left the island after our winter view, I am now anxiously awaiting my return trip for our closing on Cindy’s new condo at the end of April. Then, of course there is always the Lilac Festival, Fourth of July, the Labor Day walk across the bridge, etc. etc. ………..