Cruising, Uncategorized

Walking the Bridge

How is this I have to go back and read my own blog to figure out where I left off. It’s been that long since I’ve updated our “cruising” status.  A lot has happened since the first of September and my last “cruising” update.

Last time we were in St. Ignace, Michigan. Said it before and will probably tell you more times that I like St. Ignace. It just so happens that we are here and it’s Labor Day weekend. (For those of you outside the U.S. that follow, Labor Day is a holiday that honors the contributions to the growth and prosperity of the country by the workers. ) There is a giant craft show, music on the dock, and the annual bridge walk. We were able to find a treasure at the craft show, listened to some great music, relaxed, and I walked the Mackinac Bridge.

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 The Mackinac Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans between Michigan’s lower and upper peninsula. It is 26,371 feet long with the longest span 3799 feet, not the biggest but, it is still long, five miles across. Each year traffic is limited to one side and 2 lanes opened to let walkers cross from St. Ignace to Mackinac City. I’ve always been interested in the walk and this year had no reason not to do it.

 Walkers are only allowed to walk one way on the bridge, north to south, St. Ignace to Mackinac City. I was already in St. Ignace so that part was easy, I just needed a ride to the bridge and the starting area. At the craft fair the local Chamber of Commerce was represented and I asked where I could get a ride to the bridge from the marina. Always helpful, I was given a phone number to call the morning of the walk and was told that I could be picked up right across the street from the marina. The ride from St. Ignace to the staging area of the walk was free. However, to get back from Mackinac City was going to cost $5.00 American, No Canadian money accepted. Darn I had some “loony’s“ left that I could have used. I have to say I was excited about this new adventure and as the day came I kept my excitement in check. But was wondering if I’d be able to make this walk without trouble. The bridge is 5 miles long and uphill at least half way.

 Labor Day morning was windy and cool with a good chance of rain. I set out to the bus stop in my rain coat, hat and cloves, phone charged, and my cheap digital camera. Ready to document my journey. I felt like a kid on the first day of school, waiting for the bus. Dropped off in the parking area I followed the crowd to the start and not carrying any packs of bags was able to skip the inspection area and head right for the bridge. No restrooms on the bridge so had to make sure the bladder was empty before beginning the walk. There were long lines in front of “port-o-potty’s” and having gone before I left the marina did not feel the need to use one or get in another line.Image

Definitely not the first one in line. The official beginning of the walk was 7:00 AM. The Governor leads the walk. When Jennifer Granholm was governor, she ran or jogged from one side to the other. Not being of the same party as the current governor, how he got across was of no interest to me. I ran into a couple that “walk the bridge” every year. I didn’t ask how many years they have been crossing the bridge, not really a interviewer. They did tell me that they get up at 4:00 in the morning and start to the bridge to get in line. Right behind the governor. They even told me that they had broken through the fence last year to get a better starting spot. I’m not that competitive. I started about 9:00AM. people were laughing and joking and talking.

Lots of excitement and adrenalin flowing at the beginning.

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It was windy on the bridge and people who dressed warmer were better off. But there were people in shorts and Tee shirts, no coats, and others like myself that were layered up with two shirts a fleece jacket and a raincoat over top. I was comfortable. Humming to myself “put one foot in front of the other”, didn’t remember the rest of the song, but this worked.

The above pictures are looking back toward St. Ignace. The school buses were ferrying people either from Mackinac City to start the walk or walkers that had finished and were returning to the North side.

I’m looking for my half way point pictures and then downhill from there.

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That’s it! Thought it would have been better. Anyway being able to see that the other side was getting closer kept me trudging along. I used my phone to take pictures and send to Facebook and update Dearest on my travels and to relieve her that I hadn’t fallen and was on the side of the bridge trying to catch my breath or tripped and was hanging by one finger before falling in the freezing cold water.

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It’s a little blurry but I liked the picture. The water is a long way down.

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Closing in on the south shore and Mackinac City.

At about this time walkers were limited to only one lane while traffic was opened up to help the people that just wanted to get across and couldn’t figure out what all these people were doing on the bridge. It got quiet after the halfway point. I think most everyone was just ready to get off the bridge and warmer. It was raining just enough to make it damp. By this time I had worked up a pretty good sweat in my layers but was still comfortable. It did get a little tiresome taking my gloves on and off to operate the phones heat sensitive faceplate, but that was about all my problems.

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Almost there and ready to get the certificate that says I did it. Each certificate has a number printed on to give an idea of how many had walked in front of you. I went to a couple on the side that wasn’t busy and got mine. I’m in the 15 thousands but the people next to me had a number in the 17 thousands. They had estimated between 30 and 50 thousand people were walking on that day. I don’t know how many the actual numbers were, but I was one of the crowd.

Once past the finish line with my certificate in hand I started my search for the buses back to St. Ignace. Adrenalin spent and kind of tired, walked through town and to the Mackinac City marina.  Caught my ride back to the north side and the boat. Dearest had a sandwich ready for me and now warm and full of food settled for an afternoon nap.

I found people were, for the most part, friendly and ready to talk throughout the walk. It did get quieter on the downside of the walk. There were people of all ages some with wheelchairs, walkers, child strollers, stupid costumes, and myself. I would do it again but only if someone else wanted to go along with me. All along the way were military and police people there to help if needed. I did notice some pretty ladies getting pictures with some of the young military men. I asked if the guys got phone numbers and set up times to meet. No they didn’t. I told them that they had missed a golden opportunity and next time follow through – you can’t tell what could happen. “Yes Sir” one replied, “I’m a civilian. You don’t have to Sir me.” Yes Sir” he replied. I thanked him for being there today and trudged on. I tried to thank a lot of the helpers as much as I could. Talk about unsung heroes!

I knew I had taken pictures of the military and police but can only find one picture on my phone. Thought sure I got one of the GI and the ladies on either side of him. Guess it was another hallucination. Must have been from exhaustion. I haven’t figured out how to move photos to the computer from the phone, other than emailing them to myself. I did noticed many people thanking the people there, not for fun, but to watch out for us. It’s a well run event. Of course they’ve had 56 years to get it right.

That’s enough for this time. Next in the cruising updates, it’s heading back, toward  Beaver Island and then on south toward our home port.

Until then, smooth sailing.

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