Monday, July 30, 2012

#makesmesmilemondays Fancy Pants Weekend at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island

This summer, my kids have experienced the best of both worlds.

We've been camping twice already, and so they have spent many days a their muckiest and sweatiest, wearing their most well-worn clothes and flip-flops, dining fireside in the middle of a forest. I too have reveled in camping style: being make-up free, wearing an old t-shirt and shorts, my matted hair wrapped up 24/7 in a ponytail.

This weekend we traded in our camping and everyday duds for our finest dresses, suits and ties. hopped on a small plane to one of the prettiest and fanciest islands in the world: Mackinac Island, where we stayed at the historic and lovely Grand Hotel.

Catching the Wonderful Lakeshore Express Flight to Michigan's UP
We flew with Lakeshore Express. If you have ever endured the 8+ hour drive to the UP, you will understand how wonderful it was to pull right up to this private terminal on the grounds of Midway Airport, relax in the lounge, and then catch the quick 1 hour flight directly to the UP. Service was excellent and the flight was smooth (even though I warned the kids to expect bumps). We enjoyed the view of Lake Michigan from above, were served drinks and snacks, and before we knew it, we'd landed.

The Grand Hotel is one of those hotels that you simply can't miss in your lifetime. It always manages to sweep me back in time. There are no cars allowed on Mackinac Island, so the Grand Hotel shuttles its guests to and fro the same way it did when it opened way back in 1887 - by horse and buggy. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the Grand Hotel celebrated its 125th birthday this very July!
The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel has a requested dress code: suit and tie for men and no slacks for women. Though I also love mucking it up with my kids while camping, there is something oddly satisfying about dressing my kids (and myself) up to the nines and enjoying formal lunches and dinners. I adore seeing my son in his suit and tie and my daughter in sailor dresses. On this trip, my son and daughter practiced using their best manners. They enjoyed dressing up fancy just as much as they enjoy getting down and dirty while camping. 

Chiara casual dining  
Chiara fine dining 

We attended a beautiful and very hopeful family wedding, we ate fudge, we lounged around on the Grand Hotel's biggest front porch in the world and we swam in the Esther Williams swimming pool.

Brother and Sister on the porch of the Grand Hotel
We also biked around the island - 8 miles in all! I pulled Chiara in a burley attached to my bike. We stopped to dip our toes into Lake Huron and Daniel climbed a boulder.
Daniel on a boulder, overlooking the crystal clear Lake Huron waters

Daniel loved the freedom of biking around a car-free island and told me that he plans on living on Mackinac Island when he's older. I might surprise him next year and sign him up for the children's sailing school on Charlevoix.

View from my bike rear-view mirror. Can't really see her, but Chiara is in that Burley Trailer!
So yesterday, Chiara and I (Daniel is staying on a bit longer with his cousins) took a horse and buggy to the port, sailed by ferry from the island to the mainland, caught a shuttle to the airport, flew to Chicago, and then drove home. It was a planes, horse and buggies, bikes, shuttles, ferries and automobiles kind of day! And then Chiara woke up this morning, and asked me, "Are we going to "Macaroni" Island again today, mama?"

Soon, dear, soon - next summer, I promised.
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