To reach Paradise, we needed to cross the Mackinac Bridge. We had been eyeing its graceful spans for the past day and were anxious to see it up close.
But first, a little sustenance was in order and we had just the place. After all, when you see something called Wienerlicious, how can you resist?
And, I must say Wienerlicious was delicious. Jim opted for a foot-long Coney Dog replete with chili and I went with the eponymous dog of my birthplace, a Chicago Dog. With great virtue, I can say I skipped the waffle fries. Can’t imagine why we aren’t losing weight on this trip.
On to the bridge…Big Mac was completed in 1957 after years of discussion and planning. The bridge connects the towns of Mackinaw City and St. Ignace and the lower to the upper peninsula. The suspension bridge is one of the longest in the world clocking in at 4.995 miles. It soars high above the Mackinac Straits and is 200 feet above the water at mid-span. It was years in the making.
Back in the late 1800’s the conversation began. As industry and commerce grew in the region, the only way to move goods from the Mitten to the Up or back, was to ferry. Railroad service was a big part of the process and ferries carried freight cars across the Mackinac Straits at great cost of time and efficiency. But fate continually intervened, the Great Depression and WWII both put any real planning on hold. Finally, after WWII earnest planning began and construction of the bridge began in 1954.
What surprised us most about the bridge today is the incredibly inefficient tolling system. Considering the constant traffic over the span, tolls are still mostly coin-based, not electronic. They introduced credit card processing in 2017 and seem really proud of that, but look at the rest of the country! Why not have the electronic tolls? The first half of our crossing proceeded quickly and then all traffic came to a halt. We crossed mid-day on a Thursday and it took almost 30 minutes to get through the toll.
Well, it did give us ample time to savor the scenery. Off to the right was Mackinac Island and the shining white Grand Hotel. To the left, the open waters of Lake Michigan.
We finally crossed and we were in the UP! The beginning of two weeks of exploration that would take us from Sault Ste. Marie in the east to the wilds of the Porcupine Mountains. Bring it on!