Search This Blog

Monday, August 16, 2010

Trying Anything Once

They say that nothing is perfect. But imagine, for a moment, that the second that a particular activity was imperfect, it would be banned forever.

This no tolerance policy would change our world forever.

Sushi restaurants would close, of course. Most hair stylists would be out of business (at the very least, they would never give a perm or try to dye anyone's hair red again). And...let's be honest here, would almost certainly be a thing of the past.

But apparently, one bad experience is all it took on Mackinac Island in the Michigan Straits. According to local legend, in 1898 one of the residents drove his nice new horseless carriage into someone's lilac bush or something, and the town big wigs said That's Enough. No more cars in Mackinac.

And they've stuck to it. For 112 years now.

If you want to get around, you have to take a horse (they rent them for $38/hr at Cindy's) or you can bike, walk, or whistle for a horse and carriage.

It changes the environment considerably, and I'm not just talking about the smell of equine waste, either.

When horses are the only means of transportation, you have to slow down. Whether you want to or not.

Case in point: the hub and I were in Mackinac (said Mackinaw, just fyi) a couple of years ago.

One day, around 12:15, we decided we wanted to go to a restaurant a couple of miles away. We went up to the bell captain, and asked him to call us a horse. "Where are you going?" he asked amicably. (Everyone in Mackinac, for the record, is persistently amicable.)

"Woods," we said, referring to a restaurant owned by the Grand Hotel in the middle of the woods.

The bell captain looked at his watch. "I don't know," he said dubiously (yet amicably). "They close at two."

Confused, and slightly less than amicable, I said, "And???"

He amicably explained that it was over 80 degrees that day (it was about 81), so the horses were on "walking orders." It would take a horse at least 25 minutes to get us, then 30 minutes to get us to the restaurant. That would be approximately 1:10, assuming everything went perfectly. And the restaurant closed at 1:30.

Now, had we been in Baltimore, that little vein in my forehead would have been throbbing at full mast. I would have said something that questioned the bell captain's intelligence, or his ability to read a digital watch, or mentioned that his mother smelled like horse butt.

As it was, I said, "Okay. We'll walk into town." I may have even sounded amicable myself.

All of this is simply more evidence that a stay on Mackinac is truly life changing. Not to mention personality shifting.

Two weeks ago we decided to spend another couple of days on the island. It was a chance to get out of the cellar, and perhaps our last chance to relax before taking over the hotel. (Speaking of hotels, we stayed in the beloved Grand for the first few days of our stay. I'm new to the whole hotel ownership thing, but I think we can write our stay off as research. Or something like that).

Mackinac was as beautiful, and serene, and soul washing as I remembered. (This is rush hour in Mackinac's downtown. These are the carriages that are used to move people--but there are plenty of flatbed wagons, too, carrying boxes of vegetables and cases of wine to the hotels around  town. It looks just like the wild wild west).

There have been one or two cars on Mackinac since 1898. Like the one that Christopher Reeve drove in the 1980 movie "Somewhere in Time." (See more about this in my upcoming blog on the Grand Hotel).

But other than that, and an ambulance or two since then, the town elders have stuck to their guns and kept their resolve to keep horseless carriages off the island.

Thanks, guys. I needed that.