Archive for August, 2011

Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 17

by Bingle on Aug.29, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Alyssa had asked that we not “drive in the van all day” on her birthday so the plan was to spend the day somewhere we couldn’t drive a motor vehicle at all – Mackinac Island.

After Alyssa finished opening her presents, we took the the Star Line Ferry over to the island first thing in the morning. Unbeknownst to the girls, Karen and I had thought that instead of simply touring the island by foot, we would do something we’d never done before – take a self-guided ride in a horse-drawn carriage!

So, naturally we started out on foot, making our way a few blocks from the ferry landing to Jack’s Livery. After filling out a short form, paying for the first hour up-front, getting directions (on both the route and how to drive), and being introduced to Donna, we were off on our ride.

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The route we’d chosen took us along the very western edge of the island, giving us a great view of the lake. With (virtually) no motor vehicles allowed on the island the only traffic we had to worry about was pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and other horse drawn conveyances (buggies, carriages, and wagons), all of which were present in abundance!

After reaching the northern most part of our route, we turned south along the center of the island to head back to the livery. This took us up hill (which Donna really didn’t like) and through the woods. At one point Donna had decided she needed a break and we had a hard time convincing her to start moving again. As we made our way back towards the livery we passed by the island’s airport where a private jet was taking off. Donna really didn’t like that and we enjoyed a short fast trot as she got out of the area.

Too soon (although almost a full hour longer than the hour we’d already paid for) we were back at the livery where we got a quick picture of us with Donna. Then it was off to lunch of some burgers and fries from Fred’s Burger Joint, a small little place right by the ferry docks.

Our ride had only shown us part of the island, so we decided to make the 1.5 mile walk (each way) to view Arch Rock. Our walk took us along the eastern edge of the island this time. It was kind of odd to be walking down basically the middle of the road and only having to worry about passing bicycles (I don’t remember seeing a single horse on that road once we left “town”) running us down. There was a bit of a climb up some stairs to the viewing platform. There was a road about 4/5ths of the way up which is where the horse-drawn wagons of tourists would stop for about ten minutes on their island tour to make the short walk up to Arch Rock.

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After taking some pictures from the top we made our way back down and then a little further along the road so that we could get some pictures from below as well before walking back to town.

We had a bit of shopping to do before we left the island – fudge! Mackinac Island is known for its fudge. There are over a dozen fudge shops within a four block section of Main Street, including several stores from the same company, some of those literally across the street from each other! In addition to these fudge shops (most of which featured candy makers mixing and/or cooling fudge on large marble tables) many of the other souvenir shops sold fudge as well. Of course, every shop claimed that their fudge was tastier than the others or that their multi-pound deal was somehow better. Some of the shops even offered small samples of their fudge and we sampled many, but the clerks and candy makers at the JoAnne’s Fudge were the most helpful and generous in their samples, their fudge tasted the best (at least to us), and they had a huge assortment of flavors so we ended up getting a 1.5 pounds of fudge (.3 pound slices in 5 different flavors). One of the clerks overheard one of the girls say something to Alyssa about her birthday and was kind enough to give Alyssa a truffle as a special birthday treat.

With our fudge in hand it was time to head back to the mainland. Alyssa relented in her “no driving” wish and we made the four hour or so drive to Grand Rapids where we would be spending the next several days. We did make a very important stop before getting to Karen’s parents house – the Krispy Kreme shop near Calvin to pick up the “best dinner ever”, a dozen donuts, to help celebrate Alyssa’s birthday.

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 16

by Bingle on Aug.28, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

On the road again… again.

Day 16 found us driving again. A lot.

Our GPS, KareKare, had told us as we left the Bristol Renaissance Faire the night before that the shorter route to our next stop, Mackinaw City, MI was actually quicker if we went south around Lake Michigan, but we had promptly dismissed that notion to instead drive up along the western edge of the lake through Wisconsin and through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I think it was a good decision!

The landscape in the UP is beautiful, with lush green forests. Our route also took us right along the edge of Lake Michigan at times and we stopped a couple of times for pictures. Especially once we got within sight of Mighty Mac, the Mackinac Bridge that connects the two peninsulas of Michigan. The bridge had been featured on an episode of Dirty Jobs so it was familiar even though we’d never been there before. We of course took a bunch of pictures.

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After checking into our room (which had a view of the bridge and our destination for the next day, Mackinac Island), we went out for pizza and did some fudge shopping (but no buying yet).

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Orlando Bingles’ 2011 Summer Road Trip – Day 15

by Bingle on Aug.27, 2011, under Richard Bingle Family

Bristol, baby! But not Bristol Motor Speedway like last last time, this time it was the Bristol Renaissance Faire near the Illinois/Wisconsin border.

We’ve been to the Bristol Ren Faire several times over the years and as one of the largest Ren Faires in the country, it has always been fun. As we always do when we go to a Ren Faire, we wore matching tie-dye t-shirts (since none of us have any period correct garb) which always gets us a mixture of compliments and comments from attendees and performers alike.

We saw several acts that we’d seen and enjoyed in the past including Dirk and Guido and MooNie the Magnif’Cent and the joust. Sure, their acts haven’t really changed that much over the years, but it’s still fun. Add to that the elaborate period and fantasy costumes, the music, the fake accents, the food, people calling you “m’Lord”, and the beautiful weather – how can you go wrong? They even take Master Card and Lady Visa!

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