By Mary Bisciaio
Recently we returned from a trip to the Bridge. Anyone from Michigan knows exactly which bridge I am talking about. Connecting the two peninsulas of our state is the mighty Mackinac Bridge. We are well versed for this annual outing to the upper peninsula, rarely resorting to a map or a GPS. It’s easy and comforting like coming home. We do all the things we’ve done for thirty years—the ride to the island, the traditional chocolate and vanilla fudge, and the carriage ride, but I think we return year after year, because there is always, at least, one new surprise to make the trip special.
In recent years the city added an outdoor mall. I had my doubts on that one, but it seems to have blended well with the traditional, small souvenir shops. Our favorite campground has expanded to three times its original size, but still has the best views of the water and the bridge, has numerous bike trails, and a variety of camping experiences like tent camping, cabins, and room for recreational vehicles of all sizes. We dined at a newer restaurant, The Hook, with good food and great views of the harbor and a decommissioned icebreaker, the Mackinaw. After one such meal, we wandered down the dock and discovered the ship was open to exploration and a history lesson. This incredible ship served as the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes during WWII. She helped the war effort by keeping the shipping lanes open through the winter months to move iron ore, coal, and limestone to make steel. We climbed through the ship, examined the displays, talked to their knowledgeable staff, and, of course, brought home a souvenir mug.
And this year…
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By sheer luck while we relaxed in our favorite park under the bridge, we were treated to a demonstration by the Air Force Thunderbirds that flew their planes through the stanchions of the bridge. Apparently, they do this throughout the summer. Their next show was at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City then cereal country in Battle Creek.
For the first time we saw a cruise boat docked at Mackinac Island. I was captivated as a cruise is on my bucket list. As I took pictures, I walked down the dock closer and closer, and no one chased me off. In fact, one gentleman explained the ship traveled from Toronto to Chicago via the Great Lakes. It gave passengers a couple of days to enjoy the island before continuing its journey. That is something I’ll have to research.
But in the last two years our “something new” has been something else thoroughly unexpected. Last year as we crossed the bridge, the car ahead of us paid our toll. A random act of kindness, appreciated and restored a measure of faith in the good in people.
And this year I was taken by surprise at the shuttle service for the Shepler Ferry. Several miles away at an empty lot (across from the Marathon station), we parked our car and awaited the string of shuttle cars that carried eager passengers to the dock for the trip to the island. The short buses seat about twenty people with some standing room with overhead belts to hold like on the subway systems in major cities. We boarded with a crowd of people and then something happened that shouldn’t have surprised me, but in the world we live in today, this behavior is becoming more and more rare. I took the last available seat while my husband stood near me. Then I watched in awe at the game of musical chairs. Men rose quickly to give up their seats to the elderly. Young children, perhaps eight or ten years old, rose without being told and gave up their seats to a pregnant woman and her mother. Another mother directed her even younger child to sit on her lap to free up another seat. Why was I so moved? I held back the tears at something so pure, so generous, and so natural for these people I didn’t know. They joked about the weather, light rain. They laughed and exchanged pleasantries with strangers, and oddly they were all from Michigan. That is why I love this state. We are the heart of this nation—the mid-west. Our values are solid. We teach our children to be respectful, and we are damn friendly. It restored my battered faith that day. A simple act of kindness that warmed my heart and gave me hope. That’s why we go up North every year. It’s like coming home.
For more of Mary’s works, visit her Amazon page.
Mary has lived her entire in life in Michigan. She’s obsessed with the beauty of our state and spends a lot of time by the water. She’s a graduate of Marygrove College in Detroit and attended Saginaw Valley College for her post-graduate work. She enjoyed teaching middle school and high school for 27 years in East Detroit.
After she retired, she started a new career. With more time to read, she got hooked on romance novels and began writing her own. She currently has five novels in both e-book and print on Amazon and continues to find inspiration in her travels and in her imagination.
She lives with her husband of forty-five years, raised two great sons that have given her two great daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.
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