Friday, July 15, 2016

Day 7 - St Ignace

Waking up in a real house after a week of hotels was nice and welcome change of pace. My cousin Bruce made a pot of some of the best coffee I've had on the road on so far. We left his house and headed to the brand new M1 Concourse in Pontiac, going past the last place Jimmy Hoffa was seen alive on Telegraph Road.

When I say the new M1 Concourse, it's so new that the Google imagery still shows it as graded dirt and pulling in, some of the buildings are under construction. The facilities look amazing and the track was so smooth. The breakfast provided was some of the best yet - red velvet donuts with real cream cheese frosting, anyone! - as well as more excellent coffee. We found our Canadian friend Nicole and said goodbye as she was heading home today. We also spotted Lacey from Houston and made some new friends waiting in line for the bathroom (nice facilities, by the way!).

The parade lap was fun and the route to the Surprise & Delight was easy to navigate. The people of Midland were so friendly and helpful, pointing to the correct lane to turn in to the shopping center for the Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe. We met a nice young father and with his very excited three year old daughter while waiting in line for cupcakes. He is a Michigan native and told us about how on his trips to the UP, he and his family would make small bets on who would see the bridge first on the drive. Mom & I decided to take up that tradition and loser had to buy the eagle-eyed one dinner. We made it into the shop and it was obvious the staff had worked very hard to accommodate us. They had water & iced tea at the door the cases were filled with all kinds of sweet treats.

They had sold out of the MINI shortbread cookies before we arrived (I'm sure they went fast!) but we still bought a couple of different flavored cupcakes and some adorable flower shortbread cookies. We ate at Lil Chef, in the shopping center and were on our way to St Ignace. Along the way, I picked about 3 MINI ducklings that followed me for several miles. They passed when I passed, they avoided new cars merging from on-ramps when I did and they must have been comfortable with me in the lead with the cruise control on. A few of them exited before we could see the bridge but I hope to find them at the Rise & Shine and ask how I did.

We were hoping to make it to St ignace early enough in the day to take some time on Mackinac Island, but as we got further north, the weather got windier and it started to rain. Mom spotted the bridge before I did so I treated her to dinner after we settled in to our hotel. Crossing the bridge was exciting and made me very nervous. They had one lane closed and the speeds were reduced because of the high winds. We were on the metal grate side and the sound it made as we drove over it sounded like a whale with indigestion, according to Mom. The toll taker on the other side wished us a safe journey (they must be used to us MINIacs because of the MINIs on the Mack events) and we rolled through the harbor of St Ignace.

We found our hotel - the Kewadin Hotel & Casino and got settled in. This was the only hotel I booked using a non-brand website and it turned out fairly well. I forgot to consider that casinos usually allow smoking so we couldn't use the casino too long (at all) or eat at the buffet. We made our way back to the harbor to check out the shops and find some dinner. Every hotel & restaurant had MINIs in the parking lots and we even spotted the bus parked for the night. We found a shop with shirts and wind-breakers on sale - I didn't bring any long sleeved shirts or jackets - where we ran into our friends from Kansas that we met at the track in Atlanta. We had to stop for fudge and then we realized how hungry we were, so we stopped at the Driftwood for dinner, my treat per our wager. Mom was thrilled to see perch on the menu, I had some cider with my burger and we were done for the day.

Today's Route:

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