The Long Weekend Road Trip: The Mighty Mac

“Well, in the Straits of Mackinac,

There’s about as much water as you ever saw.

Folks that lived there tried and tried,

But they couldn’t get across to the other side.”


“Couldn’t get across without a boat or a plane.

Couldn’t take a bus or a trolley or a train.

Couldn’t swim across, it was cold as a fridge!

So they thought they better build themselves a bridge.”


“Oh, the Mackinac Bridge,

She’s a mighty fine bridge.

Five hundred feet high,

And five miles long…” 
(lyrics by K. Donahue)

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I’m sitting on a beach in St. Ignace, MI, enjoying the beautiful Straits of Mackinac (pronounced Mack-i-naw). We decided to enjoy a quiet weekend in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Even though we are amid one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year, the U.P. rarely feels crowded.

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We attended Mass at St. Ignatius Loyola, founded in the late 1600’s, read about the life’s work of Father Marquette, and visited his grave site. Later, we climbed Castle Rock (less than 200 stairs, one of the best views in the U.P.). Also, we enjoyed a northern treat, fresh whitefish! Diners had many choices: fish tacos, dip, smoked, fried, broiled…

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However, the main purpose of this adventure was to join the annual Labor Day walk across The Mackinac Bridge, The Mighty Mac. The walk began at 7:00 am on the St. Ignace side. The bridge closed to public vehicles from 6:30-noon, but shuttle service was available, beginning at 4:30 am. The yearly walk attracted around 80,000 participants, including visitors from around the globe!

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At five miles long, this free event offered the perfect nudge to stay in shape and enjoy a rare view of the Straits. Catering to most activity levels, runners won a lucky spot through a lottery, power walkers weaved through the crowds, retirees enjoyed a leisure stroll, and beginners celebrated a major milestone in their fitness journey. Think about adding this adventure to your bucket list!

Fun Facts about the Mackinac Bridge (mackinacbridge.org):

  • Construction began in 1954
  • Opened in 1957
  • 5 miles long
  • 552 ft high
  • Maximum water depth: 295 ft
  • Currently, the third largest suspension bridge in the world

Thanks for reading!

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Lessons from my Lithuanian Grandpa: How I Learned to Cuss

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Mike Murphy, my father-in-law, loves to share humorous stories about the family. He declares himself half-Irish and half-Lithuanian. Here is a memorable tale from the Lithuanian side:

I have lots of memories of vacations at Grandma and Grandpa Ruzgis’s farm. Most involve cousin Jerry and I. We used to get into a lot of trouble with Grandpa. I will share one fun story.

One day Jerry and I got Grandpa really pissed at us (if you can imagine him getting mad at us two little innocent boys). Anyway, we were outside doing something that really made him mad, and he started cussing at us in Lithuanian, and we just laughed at him. He went over to the granary and picked up this big stick and started to chase us, cussing Lithuanian all the way (and he could run faster than we thought). Jerry was in front of me, and I was right behind and Grandpa was right on my tail. We ran toward the barn and across the barnyard, and I tripped and fell. Fortunately, Grandpa fell right behind me, but the big stick hit me right across the rear end.

I was up before Gramps and ran toward the barn where Jerry had the front door open for me. We went into the barn with Grandpa still in hot pursuit. We headed to the side door, opened it and locked it from the outside while Grandpa was still inside. We then went around to the front door, and saw him heading toward us again, slammed the door shut and locked him inside the barn. By this time he was furious and his cussing was at a screaming feverous pitch. There was no way we were going to let him out. So, what to do?? Well, we went to the house and did the only sensible thing we could do. We got Grandma and told her. Jerry and I hid upstairs while Grandma let him out of the barn. I don’t know what she said to him, but they had a heated conversation in Lithuanian, and Grandpa never said any more to us.

Commentary from Aunt Carol: That old barn was just that…..an old barn with one large room for the cattle stalls for milking, hay/straw strewn around for the cow. Had to be cleaned every day, but none the less, it was smelly! The other half of the barn was a stall for the work horses and piles of hay. Certainly not a pleasant place to be locked in!