Crossing the Mackinac Bridge: Gateway to the Upper Peninsula

Hail and rain thundered on Appa’s roof as we drove down the highway. Daniel slowed to a crawl and we debated what to do. Even with the windshield wipers on high, it was getting increasingly difficult to see the road.

The shoulder was lined with cars who had pulled over to wait out the storm. I’ve never actually seen cars do that before. But then again, we don’t typically have sudden storms like this in the Seattle area.

Cars are pulled over on the shoulder during a storm

Gaylord, the Alpine Village

Ten minutes later, Daniel and I were safely parked at the Family Fare Supermarket in Gaylord, Michigan. We needed to pick up some groceries but weren’t in a particular hurry to go inside. It was still raining buckets and the parking lot resembled a small lake.

“Do you hear that sound?” I asked Daniel. It sounded like musical chimes or a ring tone.

We both pulled out our phones and confirmed that neither one was ringing. We looked at eachother and shrugged, mystified at where the sound was coming from.

Eventually the rain slowed and we made our way inside the grocery store. There, we found our answer. The Family Fare store features a glockenspiel on its storefront. Every 15 minutes, it plays a musical tune accompanied by two animatronic dancing children.

Apparently, Gaylord is known as “The Alpine Village” and the glockenspiel aligns with the town’s theme. The city even holds an annual “Alpenfest” festival.

Family Fare Supermarket during the rainstorm
The supermarket half and hour later after the rainstorm
Welcome to Gaylord, the Alpine Village

Mackinac Bridge

The highlight of the day was driving over the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced “MACK-in-awe”). Constructed in 1947, the Mackinac bridge connects Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with the rest of the state.

At 5 miles long, it is an impressively long bridge. In fact, it holds the distinction as the longest suspension bridge with two towers between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere.

Luckily, the weather cleared up by the time we drove across it.

Driving across the Mackinac Bridge with Mr. Awesome on the windshield
Mackinac Bridge
Close up view of the Mackinac Bridge

Rugged and Wild Upper Peninsula

Daniel and I continued driving across the Upper Peninsula until we reached the town of Munising. We planned to spend the next few days exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, weather permitting.

The scenery became more rugged and wild the further we went. It was very remote and lovely up here on the Upper Peninsula. I looked forward to seeing more of it.

Fall foliage in full form
Rugged coastline along the Upper Peninsula

Where are we now?

We are at the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan!

Date: September 26, 2020
Great American Road Trip Status: Day 83
Starting Location: Higgins Lake KOA, MI
Ending Location: Munising / Pictured Rocks KOA

Miles Traveled: 208.8
Total Trip Mileage: 5352.9

For more details on our Great America (Socially Distanced) Road Trip, see my previous posts:

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