Mackinac Island

During our time at Hearthside Grove, we made two trips out to Mackinac Island. We had visited the island once before, many, many years ago.

Shepler’s Ferry took us back and forth both times. On the first leg to the island, we had a chance to get a closer look at the Mackinac Bridge. Big Mac, or Mighty Mac is the longest suspension bridge between anchorages in the Western Hemisphere. The span is almost 5 miles in length.

We visited Fort Mackinac and enjoyed lunch at the Tea Garden. The restaurant offers a wonderful view of the harbour.

Along the main street of the island are some impressive cottages. From where I stood, they appeared to be more like mansions.

Exploring the island by foot is possible. Just be prepared for a lot of walking.

There are no cars on the island, only horses and bicycles.

Some of the houses have a very unique entrance, like this one.

We walked all the way up to the Grand Hotel. We did not go in as they charge $10 USD per person to enter the hotel. They don’t charge you for taking photographs. I suspect this building is one of the most photographed on the island.

Mackinac Island is home to a number of other smaller hotels and inns. They all looked very nice.

Lots of heritage buildings like this old American Fur Company Store from the 1800s.

Walking into the island takes you through Michigan’s first State Park, the Mackinac Island State Park.

Some wonderful views of the pristine waters that surround the island.

Getting back to the main part of the island took us the better part of our second day. It seemed like we had stepped back in time to a simpler age. Quiet and peaceful.

Homeward Bound

Our last day at Hearthside Grove. The weather for the past two weeks has been incredible. Lots of sunshine and very warm temperatures.

The sense of community here has been far different than I imagined. Friendships formed quickly. Dinners, day trips, get togethers, and connecting with people as we walked around the resort.

Ken and Carol, Lou and Pam, Dave and Daphne, Moe and Cindy, Barry and Iris, Gary and Suzan, Rita. These were a few of the many people we connected with during our time here.

Most of the people we have met are retired. Not surprising given that we are vacationing in mid-September. And all have been very successful in their careers. Such amazing life stories.

It has given us a glimpse into what our retirement will look like and we are very excited about beginning that part of our journey.

When we said good-bye to one of our new friends, she described Hearthside Grove as a paradise. And she is right. This has been such an amazing experience for us. We would certainly buy a lot but for the location. As Canadians, we need to winter south.

That said, many of our friends here at Hearthside also have lots in California at Desert Shores and at Motorcoach Country Club. That is where they winter.

We are planning to spend a few months down there at one, or perhaps both, of those resorts in the early part of 2019. I hope we will see many of our new friends again.

Crossing Borders

A quick summary of our stay at the Swan Bay RV Resort in Alexandria Bay along with some comments about the return trip crossing the border back into Canada.

The dashcam that I use does not recall preferences once the battery runs out. Hence the out of date and time markers on the lower right of the video as I neglected to “reset” the dashcam before we broke camp. Something else to add to the checklist!

The Cleaver Rule

Here is a picture of our site at Swan Bay RV Resort, a nice park along the US side of the Thousand Islands near Alexandria Bay in New York State.

Site number 202. Arguably the best site in the park. Nice corner lot, right on the waterfront.

This was our view:

We paid about $150 Canadian per night at this sight. Definitely expensive however the Swan Bay RV Resort website makes the following claim:

Swan Bay Resort is the premier resort community designed with the discriminating traveler in mind. Residents and visitors of our luxury resort will enjoy: Resort-style pool; Exclusive marina access; Expansive river views seen from throughout the resort; Close proximity to the Canadian border and all that the 1000 Islands Region has to offer.

​Swan Bay Resort is your destination location for great times and luxurious living! Our gated community offers fantastic views of the St. Lawrence River, close proximity to all the attractions of the 1000 Islands Region, best-in-class amenities, and four-star service. This translates to some of the best guests and accommodations in the northeast.

So was it a premier resort? Almost.

Here is a shot of our site from the rear. To the right of our coach, in site number 201, was a travel trailer.

Looks okay though. Slideout on the service pedestal side and access door to the trailer on site 201’s patio side (outside the frame on the right).

It was a bit odd to see them pull in. Travel trailers are fine for back in sites and pull through sites. I was surprised that they were able to reserve this pull in site for their rig.

But pull in they did.

There wasn’t much room for their pickup truck to pull the trailer up onto the concrete pad and find a way to get the truck back out of the site. They managed. The grass was wet and soft. Lots of damage to the front of the site from the tires of their pickup truck.

The following evening at around 8pm there was quite the excitement on site number 201. A thunderstorm had entered the area and it was raining heavily. For roughly an hour or so, our neighbours proceeded to move their trailer out and reposition their rig as if they were now in a back in site. In the pouring rain. They seemed frantic.

Why did they decide to move their trailer at that moment?

And what did that mean to us?

For $150 Canadian a night, we were now sharing our patio with site number 201.

Apparently another travel trailer, also on a waterfront pull in site, had been told by management that they had to back in and use the patio opposite their entrance door side. They complained to management that the travel trailer in site number 201 had “pulled through” when they had been told that they could not do the same on their site.

Management then apparently told the folks in site number 201 that they had to reposition their trailer or leave the park.

Well, we were not all at happy about having to share our patio side. We asked management to request site number 201 use the patio opposite their entrance door so that we did not have to share our patio. They refused. We asked management to move us to another waterfront site alongside some other Class A vehicles. Management refused. We were told that all of the waterfront sites were booked (which was not the case).

Management did provide us credit for one night’s stay for the inconvenience. However, we were not looking for a discount. We had paid a premium price for a site with what we thought was a dedicated patio.

We spoke with the people in site number 201 about how we would go about sharing the patio and they assured us that they would be at another site for most of their stay. And sometimes they were.

As we checked out on the Friday, management told us that they had put in a new rule. They named it the Cleaver rule. Effective immediately, all of their pull in sites would be restricted to Class A, B and C motor coaches only.

I went on their site today and sure enough, the Cleaver rule is in effect. Their waterfront sites are now MOTOR COACH ONLY (their emphasis).

When we had booked the site, there was no mention that we might have to share a patio side with a neighbour. If that had been the case, we would have opted for a different site where we wouldn’t have to share the patio.

Other than this incident, our experience at Swan Bay was fine. Great waterfront views. Excellent Internet. Good services at the site. I would definitely go back and I would also book the same site assuming that we wouldn’t have to share the patio.

Swan Bay Resort

We are not too far from home right now. Literally just across the Canadian/US border. Wonderful to get out with our coach for a few days. We are staying at the Swan Bay Resort in Alexandria Bay, New York for the week.