Mackinac Bridge Walk, Wisconsin Badger Football and Xmas in September

September 1-7, 2019 — Hello again September. We’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the month. Love the fall colors and cooler temperatures but hate that soon winter would bear down on our home state of Wisconsin. 

Now that we are full-time RVers, we have a love/love relationship with September. Love the fall colors and cooler temperatures and love that the busy vacation season is over and areas we travel to are less congested. We no longer dread winters as we spend them in the south where we don’t deal with the frigid temperatures, snow and slippery roads. 

September is a bit sad, though, as our summer circle tour of Canada and New England is over. We highly enjoyed the trip that spanned 79 days and touched on eight US states and two Canadian provinces. We say touched as it would take years to see all the area has to offer! We’re already planning another trip in a year or two to the east coast to continue with our exploration of the area. 

We wrapped up our summer trip with a stop in St Ignace in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to check off a bucket list item. Follow along below to discover what this item was and also other fun things we discovered during this first week of September. 

All nights this week were free stays at casinos in Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Mile Driven - RV
Miles Driven - Car

The Keewadin Casino in St Ignace allows free overnight parking for RVers. The casino also has an RV park with electric and water sites for $15 a night. There is an RV dump site with potable water onsite as well. Many RVers stopped at the casino over the Labor Day weekend but there was still plenty of room for more. We were surprised that there were hookup sites available everyday during the busy holiday weekend. 

We didn’t do many of the typical touristy type activities in the Mackinac Bridge area as we have been there numerous times in the past. We did stop, though, to take a photo of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox and Castle Rock in St Ignace. Castle Rock is 195 feet above the water level and offers scenic views up to 20 miles away including Mackinac Island, St Ignace and Lake Huron. 

This is the Mackinac Bridge, aka “Mighty Mac” or “Big Mac” as seen from the north on the Upper Peninsula in St Ignace. The bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac and connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. The five mile long bridge opened November 1, 1957 and is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. 

We planned our entire summer trip to the east coast around being in Michigan for Labor Day to do the annual bridge walk. Every Labor Day the bridge is closed to traffic for the morning hours and pedestrians are allowed to walk the bridge. The bridge walk has been an annual event since the bridge opened. The first year it was held in late June of 1958 and 68 people participated. The walk was changed to being held on Labor Day in 1959 and now has thousands of walkers. The record number of walkers is estimated at 85,000 in 1992 when President George H. W. Bush crossed the Mighty Mac. 

We completed the walk in 2016 when participants started in St Ignace and then walked south to Mackinac City while shuttle buses provided transportation from the south side back to St Ignace. At that time one lane in each direction remained open to traffic and two lanes were reserved for walkers. Upon completing the trek across the bridge it took us four hours to return to the north side due to the huge crowds of people and endless lines waiting for shuttle buses. 

Starting in 2017, all vehicular traffic on the bridge is closed during the bridge walk. Participants now have the option of walking the five mile bridge from either the north or the south side. Walkers can walk one way across the bridge and ferry back (or ferry first then walk back), walk halfway then turn back or walk across the bridge and then back again. 

We chose the last option of walking both ways on bridge making it a ten mile trip and, hence, a bucket list check as we’ve now been able to walk the entire bridge from both directions. 

There was no rain in the forecast for Labor Day in St Ignace but we were greeted with showers to start the day. The rain did delay our bridge walk start by about 20 minutes but it didn’t deter us from the journey. Walking up to the toll booth and seeing all the “closed” lanes was a bit eery. 

The rains cleared up and the sun peeked out periodically during the day. Here is the sunrise over Lake Huron as seen from the Mackinac Bridge. 

The Mighty Mac hovers 200 feet over the Straits of Mackinac. The two center lanes of the bridge are an open-grid roadway designed to reduce wind resistance. The winds are always present on the bridge and we really felt them pushing us when walking north. The grid lanes were kept open for emergency vehicles as it is the only roadway that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. We didn’t care to walk on the gridded lanes anyway as is quite scary looking through the openings to the water below!

Walking the bridge offers one a much deeper appreciation of the great engineering that went into the development and construction than you may receive while crossing it in a motorized vehicle. The sheer massiveness of the 562 foot tall towers and cables are incredible. 

Certificates were given to everyone that completed the bridge walk. We hope the Mackinac Bridge Authority continues this great annual event and we would love to participate in it again. 

Mother nature blessed us with a nice sunset to finish out a spectacular Labor Day in St Ignace, Michigan. 

We played follow the leader with this group of 26 motorcycles for 200 miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline from St Ignace, MI to the MI/WI border. We both stopped along the route several times at different places so sometimes they would be in the lead and other times we were. We stopped for lunch at the border and shortly thereafter they pulled in next to us. The group was from Quebec and were doing a circle tour of the Great Lakes. How fun!

We made it back to Wisconsin after spending the summer doing a circle tour of the eastern US and Canada. We had a great time seeing the sights and hope to return in the next year or two. The rest of September plans are to visit family and friends in WI & MI, complete a few maintenance, repair, and upgrade projects, and prep for the journey south for the upcoming winter months. 

We feel right at home at Oneida Casino in Green Bay, WI as we have stayed here many times during the past four summers. The casino allows RVers to dry camp in their parking lot for free or park at an electric site for $15 a night. 

Christmas in September! Wonder what Santa brought us??

We ordered Lectric brand ebikes in June and had been anxiously awaiting their arrival. After unboxing and setting up the bikes we had to wait a few hours for the batteries to fully charge before taking them for a spin. During the wait we checked the bikes over, tightened up all the connections that may have come loose during transport and adjusted the seat and handlebar heights. We also practiced folding both bikes up and placed them in the back of the Kia Soul. They fit in there nicely with plenty of room to spare. 

We checked off another bucket list item by attending our first ever WI Badger football game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. We had a great time that was made even better with a 61-0 Badger win. On Wisconsin!

What a fabulous week and great start to September. Stay tuned for next week to see what fun projects and activities we have planned while in Wisconsin along with our first impressions of the Lectric XP ebikes. See you then!

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