Posted by: bree1972 | June 8, 2011

Random Mackinac Beauty 6/9/2011

No matter where I turn this week, something beautiful catches my eye.  Spring and summer have merged into an explosion of color on the island, and if I could sustain the pace, I would be pressing the shutter of my camera almost constantly.  You would think by now my senses would be almost numb to it all.  Instead I find my senses sharpened.  Every sight, every smell, every sound is amplified, and Mackinac is alive with magic.

Looking across Marquette Park through the cross atop the replica of a Jesuit missionary bark chapel.


A crabapple tree celebrates summer on Fort Hill.


The sun scatters its warmth through the glass walls of the Grand Hotel's greenhouse.


In any other place, this would be a nursery. On Mackinac, it is simply an array of flowers waiting to take their place in the gardens of the Grand.


Purple on blue, with green in between.


And between two of Mackinac's most famous pups . . . a little lovin'.

See you tomorrow with all the week’s news AND a new “mystery spot”!  This one is going to be SO EASY you will know it instantly!
Posted by: bree1972 | June 7, 2011

Persistence 6/8/211

Sometimes . . .


you have to climb a lot of stairs,


push yourself beyond what you think are your limits,


and wait patiently for those who are a little slower . . . . to get to the good stuff.


But it's always worth it.

Posted by: bree1972 | June 6, 2011

We’ve got . . . . LILACS! 6/7/2011

Now . . . all you folks who are heading to Mackinac Island for the Lilac Festival June 10-19, do not get worried! The lilacs are just beginning to bloom – and that’s only in a few places on the island. Others will open later. In fact . . . if I was a betting lady, I would bet that this is going to be the absolute BEST Lilac Festival in the last few years! In fact . . . I think the lilacs are going to be so gorgeous during those 10 days that the festival is just going to be spectacularly spectacular!  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a little preview . . .

These lilacs bloom on the hill leading up to the fort. Here they frame what was the Post Hospital in the 1800’s and is now the Mackinac State Historic Parks Office.


The Marquette Park lilacs are just beginning to bloom. You can see that first hint of purple across the tops of the large bushes.
The same is true looking down Market Street. In another few days, every lilac bush will be covered in blooms – top to bottom, and the air will be as sweet as perfume – with a little fudge and horse poop mixed in, of course.

Walking up Fort Hill - barely paying attention. I glance over my shoulder and look out to the Straits. What can I say - spectacularly spectacular!

 Seriously now, if you have a few days off – or can call in sick (just kidding) – the Lilac Festival will be one of the greatest times to be on the island during the early summer. You won’t be sorry you came . . . I promise!
Posted by: bree1972 | June 5, 2011

It’s Plantin’ Time on Mackinac 6/6/2011

The holiday weekend has come and gone, and everywhere you look folks are planting flowers.  It’s kind of a tradition up here to wait until after Memorial Day to put tender young plants into the ground because there always seems to be one last “almost freeze” a few days ahead of the last weekend in May.

Of course, the one flower that goes into the ground way before June is the tulip bulb. And that's why, even before the cold weather is over, we can enjoy stunning flowers on Mackinac. The red tulips lining the Avenue of the Flags at the back entrance to Fort Mackinac have been nothing short of spectacular this spring.


These trays of geraniums and impatiens are already in the ground at Hart's.


When I ran into the post office for the mail, flowers were being planted inside and outside the fence . . .


. . . and as I started home, I passed the Cloghaun B & B, where Marti was adding the finishing touches to their beautiful front yard garden.


The Grand has already put out the notice that the tulips are being pulled up in the next few days. Soon the flowerbeds along the road leading into the Grand will be replanted, but this shade garden of impatiens is already going into the ground . . .


. . . . and in a few weeks, it will look like this (taken last summer)!


Other shade garden plants and flowers are already flourishing.


Can you believe how green these ferns are!


Where is the Grand Hotel shade garden? Ok - I'm about to let you in on a little insider info. You don't have to be a guest of the hotel to walk through the shade garden. What you do is this. Walk up Cadotte Avenue like you're going to the Grand. After you pass the Gate House and the school yard (the big, wide open space where you can look across to the Straits), you will come to the set of steps you see in the above pic (they are on your left). Simply walk down those steps and curve to the right. You'll see the tennis pro shop and the tennis courts on your left - but stay right. Then you can leisurely stroll through this huge, cool wonderland of greenery (they even have benches to sit on) and then just turn back around and go out the way you came in. As long as you don't venture into the Pool House, no one will question you. Shhhhh . . . don't tell I told.

This weekend we’ve seen the first signs of summer on the island.  The sun was shining every day, and the temps are in the 70’s.  It was glorious!  Unfortunately what I had planned for the rest of today’s blog didn’t exactly work out.  The icebreaker Mackinac in Mackinac City was open all day Sunday with free admission.  Ted and I were going over after church for the tour, and I was going to have some great photos to show you.  Instead . . . Ted and I had date-night Saturday evening, and in the middle of the night we both woke up with a simultaneous stomach bug,  which knocked both of us for a loop.  Even though Ted was able to make it to church this morning, I couldn’t get out of my chair until late Sunday afternoon.  Yuck, yuck, and more yuck!  The worse part was missing a fabulous day on the island.  Oh my gosh, it was beautiful outside. 
So, no icebreaker pics, but here are a few random shots from the week . . .

Have I told you the main barn for the Carriage Tour horses has a new roof? Wow - it looks so good!


Lots of children on the island this weekend. This group zoomed past us as we walked behind the fort. That's the Governor's Summer Residence at the bottom of the hill.


Ted and the "kids" on the trail (Maddie's in there somewhere) that runs behind the cooking shelter at Great Turtle Park. This particular trail ends in the Trillium Heights neighborhood.


Whether the tulips are ending their blooming season or not, there's just nothing like seeing a Grand omnibus across a sea of pink, silhouetted again a blue Michigan sky and bluer Lake Huron waters.

And so the weekend is over, and a new week begins.  And with the new week, I’ll begin volunteering once again at the Stuart House Museum downtown on Market Street.  This year they’ve changed my day to Tuesday, so if you’re on the island, please drop by and say “hi”!  I’d love to see you!  
Have a great week, and God bless.
Posted by: bree1972 | June 4, 2011

Pics from Jillski 6/5/2011

Thanks to Jill for all three photos tonight!

Nothing says "Mackinac" like horses in the street . . .


. . . carriages on Cadotte . . . .


. . . and the Grand Hotel.

See you on Monday morning with all the weekend happenings! 
Posted by: bree1972 | June 3, 2011

The Cow and I 6/4/2011


So. Jill and I are walking down the sidewalk on Main Street, and we spot this cow standing outside Joann's Fudge. Kaia, who works at Joann's, is also on the sidewalk, giving out free samples of yummy chocolate. Somehow, it just seemed like a good photo op!

Two little extras . . . Tom Daldin, host of Under the Radar Michigan, has been on the island this week during the Detroit Policy Conference.  He filmed these two short but very entertaining videos at the Grand Hotel.    The first takes you into the Jackie Kennedy and Laura Bush Suites at the hotel, and the other explores just how long that Grand porch is.  Enjoy!

Posted by: bree1972 | June 2, 2011

Weekly Wonders! 6/3/2011

WE HAVE A WINNER for the “Mystery Spot” contest at the end of this post.  The winner is Susan, who lives in Colorado now, but is a Michigan native.  Her correct response was “the Post Cemetery”.  Scroll to the bottom for the full photo of the Mystery Spot.

What a busy week it’s been so far! 

It’s taken me a while to get into the swing of the slight change in formats this summer.  As you know, I haven’t been posting only one photo each day, but I promise that some days I will.  But, as I always find on the island, there is just so much going on it’s hard to stop with one pic.  When I find a spare moment at the condo, I sit down at the laptop and start “sketching out” what happened that day.  By doing that, when Thursday and Sunday evenings roll around, I’ve practically gotten these in-depth posts written, AND I haven’t forgotten half of what we did!  It’s working out well for me, and I hope it is for you as well.

Ted and I were up early on Monday to take the short walk through the back trails to the Post Cemetery for the Memorial Day service there.  We somehow timed it a little wrong and arrived just as the service was ending, so I stood to the side of the road and watched as the fort interpreters left the cemetery and started back to Fort Mackinac. 

I hate that we missed the ceremony, which is always so moving. There was a really good crowd gathered for so early in the morning - it seems to grow a little each year.


As we approached the Post Cemetery, we heard Taps being played by one of the soldiers and then the rifles firing in salute. The interpreters represent the U.S. Army's 23rd Regiment of Infantry, who served at Fort Mackinac in the 1880's.


As in years past, one of the lady interpreters laid a wreath at the grave of a soldier buried there.


A fun surprise! Attending the service were Elaine and Paul, blog readers from Yale, Michigan, whom I met last summer for the first time. They come to the island often, and it was good to see them again.


We had intended to go straight back home, but started walking and talking to someone (we seem to do a lot of that) and ended up going on into town. Fog hung over the Straits Monday morning, but even in the fog, Mackinac is beautiful.

We picked up a newspaper while in town, then went back to the condo.  A couple of hours later we walked back down for the 11:30 Memorial Day service at Veterans Park.

This official city service is so impressive - hosted by local veterans. Here, Mayor Margaret Doud is speaking.


Talk about a crowd! All the seating was filled, and the crowd overflowed into the streets. By the way, the gentleman in the Naval uniform is Dr. Vincent Carroll, the minister at Little Stone Church. He offered one of the prayers that morning.


One of the special parts of the ceremony is the presentation of a wreath to a Mackinac Island mother whose son or daughter has served in the military.


Mackinac Island veterans are members of the Chapman St. Onge Dankowski American Legion Post 299.


As the service was drawing to a close, the first group of Boy Scouts for the season arrived on the island. Having reached the location of the service, they stood in silent attention as the final prayer was offered by Ste. Anne's priest Fr. Jim Williams.


At the end of the service, all the flags on the island were simultaneously raised once again to full-staff. At the Veterans Park, the U.S. flag flies with the POW/MIA flag, and flags for all six branches of service are displayed.


Before we left town, we checked out the bike auction behind the Stuart House Museum. There were some really nice bikes up for auction, and they all seemed to be surrounded by some serious looking bidders. All of these bikes were collected throughout the previous summer (lost bikes that were found by someone else and turned in, but never claimed by their owners, bikes bought by island summer workers and then abandoned when they returned home, etc.). It's a great place to pick up a nice second-hand bike.

We ended the day with another walk late Monday afternoon – this time with Maddie and Bear – to the West Bluff.

We passed this horse corral filled with wildflowers on the way down Cadotte. There have always been a couple of horses kept here in years past, but maybe they just haven't made it back from their winter R & R.


We reached the West Bluff just as a newly married couple was riding off into the sunset - followed closely by their wedding photographer. Awwwww . . . .


Of course we walked Pontiac Trail while we were up on the bluff. New owners have been renovating this beautiful cottage for a couple of summers, and it looks as though they are just about finished - another grand lady restored to her original beauty. Are you wondering what the view is like from up there . . . .


. . . . here it is from Pontiac Trail directly below the house. From higher up on that porch, you could see even further. Wow! Talk about a place to drink coffee! Full views of the ferry traffic back and forth from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, full views of the freighters coming through the cut . . . awesome!

On Tuesday we rested, and watched the weather all day.  Reports of severe thunderstorms, high winds, and hail were forecast to move in around 5 p.m., and we were supposed to go over to Mackinaw City for a party on the 6 p.m. ferry.  Shepler’s hosts a cast and crew party for their employees once a month during the season, and as “honorary cast members” Chris Ann and I and our hubbies were invited – and you know we never turn down free food!  We were seriously afraid we wouldn’t make it because of the weather, but when we started down to catch the ferry, the weather still looked ok except for the wind, which was blowing like crazy. 
The party was set up under the big white luggage tent on the Shepler dock, with grills going strong cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs and all the trimmings.  I dove into my handbag for my camera, and guess what . . . . no, I didn’t forget the camera . . .  I forgot the camera CARD . .  which was still in my laptop at home.  Do you see me kicking myself?  So – no pics of the party – but let me just say that it was so much fun!  We met a bunch of Shepler folks – both immediate family and their huge extended family of friends and workers.  The food was great, and the fellowship was wonderful.   We crossed back to the island on the 7:30 ferry – again in strong winds, but no rain or hail.  I think the big storm went north and south of us – seeming to split into halves, with the Straits and Mackinac Island in the relatively calm center.
We had nothing planned for Wednesday.  Ted was scheduled to start working his volunteer job at the Mackinac State Historic Parks Visitors Center on Thursday, so we just hung around the condo, except for the required doggie breaks outside.  In fact, I was at my laptop working on this post when my cell phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, and almost didn’t answer – but thank goodness I did!
It was Dennis Bradley, Assistant Manager of the Mackinac Island Airport.  Last summer I asked Dennis to please give me a call if there was a day when the airport was having lots of traffic.  And he had remembered!  Arriving on Wednesday were government leaders, business owners, and others to attend the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel, and it seems like most everyone arrived by plane.  Our little airport was hopping!
I rode my bike out to the airport (about a 10-minute ride), and when I got there one of the Grand Hotel carriages was waiting under the portico.
Ben, who has spent so much time this week exercising the hackneys, finally had them harnessed up to one of the wagons they are intended to pull – a Grand VIP carriage.
I walked into the airport lobby just as a family was entering from the plane parking area.  Dennis told me the gentleman was Robert Schostak, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.  Being my usual shy self, I followed them out, introduced myself, and asked if I could get a photograph for the blog.  Mr. Schostak asked me where I was from (the accent always gives me away), and I told him Georgia.  He graciously agreed to be photographed.
 Back inside, Dennis said, “Before someone else arrives, you’ve got to go out and get a photo of a couple of planes.  One is probably the largest we’ve ever had land here, and the other one is just a really neat plane.”   (Remind me to go back out to the airport this summer for an in-depth story on how the airport actually operates, but today I was there for the planes!)

East apron. On a busy summer weekend, it's not uncommon to find the airport apron filled with private planes owned by island residents who fly in and out during the year. But these are not those planes. These are all corporate, state, and chartered planes which had arrived carrying VIP's for the Detroit conference.


West apron. A few of the planes would be staying at the airport for the 3-day conference, but some simply landed, delivered their passengers and their luggage, and immediately flew out again.


Dennis was pretty sure this was the largest jet to ever land at Mackinac. Airport . . .


. . . but the one that really caught my eye - and his - was this one!


As I was snapping photos, the pilot walked up - ready to take off . . . and asked if I'd like to go inside and take a look around! Are you kidding me!!


Well geez! Talk about cushy comfort! The pilot explained this was a Piaggio P180 Avanti - made in Italy. I'm standing in the door and shooting toward the rear of the plane. You can see the pilot (who's really up front) reflected in the mirrow at the back.


Looking into the cockpit . . .


OK, Frog . . . this one's just for you! (Frog is my adopted brother-in-law who is a retired Delta pilot.)

On Thursday Ted went to work from noon to 4, and I walked downtown to pick up the mail and do a little shopping.  And that about covers the week except for these random notes:

The lilac blossoms are beginning to open! They have a ways to go before every bush is blooming, but each day more and more beautiful color is being seen. The Lilac Festival is June 10-19. I predict it's going to be a glorius one, with the lilacs at their peak.


The mystery of the "small horse" is solved! After taking this photo Wednesday evening of someone leading her across our lawn, I made some inquires today, then went directly to the owner. It's the Ben Mosley family (you remember Ben is the Grand Hotel stable manager and our condo caretaker). His wife fell in love with the pony a few weeks ago, and now she is a permanent resident of the island. And a "pony" is what she is - a registered Hackney pony (a smaller version of the Grand Hotel's Hackney horses). They are calling her Miss Minnie, although her official name has "Mackinac" in it. She is three years old, about two years from being full-grown. Ben says she will only grow "up" another two inches, but she will become much more muscular. She is already trained to harness, and the Moseley's are planning to refit the family's antique pony cart for her to pull. And now we all know!

Have you finished that second donut yet?  I’m almost done, but I have a new feature to preview tonight.  Each Friday I will be posting a photograph of something on the island.  Some will be relatively easy to recognize – some not so much.  The object is to be the first to identify where the object is located.  When you think you have the answer, email me at  I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing.  Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners.  To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess.  This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to!  
I’m going to start off with an easy one . . .

Where on Mackinac Island is this tree growing through this fence?

Again, please email your answers to me at  PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.

All righty then!  The coffee has to be cold and the donuts eaten!  See you back again on Monday morning with all the weekend happenings, and I’ll have a pic or two for you on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Whew!  My fingers are tired!  Have a safe and fun weekend.  God bless.


The fence surrounds the family graves of one of the Fort Mackinac commanders in the Post Cemetery.

Posted by: bree1972 | June 1, 2011

All Around the Town 6/2/2011

One of the nicest things about stopping in at the Island Bookstore is hanging around long enough to see who else will show up. This day Bonnie walked in first, then Joan with grandson Jordan. Jill took the pic!


Ted and I spotted Nancy (with her bike) giving Jane some advice on where to plant flowers at Hart's. So, of course, we stopped and gave some advice too!


Lunch at the Seabiscuit Cafe is always fun. Tried their new Lobster BLT - Oh yeah! Will be having that again!


Not many things can make Ted abandon the street when he's biking, but a trio of 2,000 lb. horses will do it every time.

See you tomorrow with all the news from this week – and good grief, there is a LOT of it! 
And . . . . along with the news on Friday morning, I’m introducing a new weekly feature to Bree’s Blog.  After nearly three summers of photographs from every conceivable spot on the island, it’s time to find out if my readers have been paying attention!
Make sure you bring a BIG mug of steaming hot coffee with you to your computer Friday morning cause I’ve got a ton of stuff to talk about.  Oh, go ahead.  Throw a couple of donuts on a napkin, and bring those too!
Posted by: bree1972 | May 31, 2011

From the Deck 6/1/2011

Living where we do up on a hill past the Grand (actually, it’s three hills past the Grand), we have a birds-eye view of the comings and goings of traffic you might not see everyday downtown.  Here are a couple of examples from this week:

Ben has really been working the Grand Hotel hackneys a lot in the two weeks we've been here. We see him all over the island with them (there is more than one team), and I happened to be out on the deck when they cruised by. Look at those two front legs - sharply bent at the knee in the natural hackney action gait. Although you can't tell it in this photo, they are actually trotting here.


I have no clue where this baby-size horse came from or where it was going. In all my years of being on the island, I've never seen a horse this size here - except for the 4-H ponies. But I think this is young horse - not a pony. I've got to find out about it!


Here's where I'm usually about to sit down when I spot something interesting coming up the hill. This is my favorite spot downstairs in the condo - where I curl up with a book, or a crossword puzzle, or a cup of coffee . . . and my camera is always close by.

Irene Cowley, a blog reader from California who grew up on Mackinac Island, sent me this great shot of her two pups doing exactly what Bear and Hershey were doing last week in a photo I posted – waiting for the crumbs. Too cute!
See you tomorrow!
Posted by: bree1972 | May 30, 2011

If We Build It, They Will Come – Part II

Last fall I wrote about the Mackinac Island Horsemen’s Association (MIHA) and their dream to build a community stable for the island.  The MIHA has worked diligently for three years to fund this project through proceeds from the Mackinac Island Festival of the Horse and from private donations.  Through their hard work, and the generosity of people who love this island and everything it stands for, over $190,000 has been raised. With those funds, and with a construction loan for the remaining amount, the MIHA broke ground this spring, and the community stable is going up so fast it’s like watching a time-lapse photograph.

The site as it appeared last Fall, when I was given a tour by Leanne Brodeur and Steve Rilenge. With proceeds from two Festivals of the Horse, the arena and seating were already constructed at the rear of the property .


The Mackinac Island Horsemen's Association vision.


The site now, looking from the horse arena toward the rear of the stable. Can You Believe It!!


Inside work - where each of the two wings will hold 10 stalls. One wing will be for the 4-H horses, and the other wing will be used as private rental stalls, bringing in revenue for the stable and the island 4-H program.


One of two "run-ins", where horses turned out into the corrals during the day can go for shelter.


The other "run-in", nearly completed.


Looking straight through the building. In the center, between the two wings, will be tack rooms, classrooms, and bathrooms.


Ted talks with Jim Groat, owner of Mystic Meadows Construction Company, who is building this stable with so much pride and care you'd think it was his own. Jim owns a professional horse facility himself, and he knows everything that's needed to make Mackinac Island's stable one of the finest in the country.

If you go back and look at the photos above one more time, you will notice that everywhere you look there is sand.  I think I mentioned in last Fall’s story that people associated with the Horsemen’s Association believe this spot of land was somehow ordained to be used for this purpose, and Jim has made that belief even harder to deny.  Of the three places on the island that could have been used for the facility, the other two that were surveyed had about an inch of topsoil and nothing but rock below that.  This piece of land, and as far as anyone knows it is the only property like it on the island, is sand – pure, white almost-beach perfect sand – the safest, easiest, and most natural setting for a horse facility.  No rocks to dig through, no hauling in of sand for topsoil.  Jim says the money that was saved in construction with just that benefit alone is unbelievable.  On an island with very little topsoil and limestone below that, to find this 4-acre spot with nothing but sand for many feet down is truly a gift.
If things continue to progress as planned, the stable will be open by the middle of June, and that is truly remarkable.  But please don’t think the work is over.   Donations are appreciated, and if you’re interested in making a contribution, please email me at, and I will get you to the right person.  Another way to contribute is to plan on visiting the island during the third annual Festival of the Horse July 20-24.  Proceeds from all the activities during this special event will go toward the community stable debt.  Click here for 2011 Festival of the Horse information:
Please make a visit up to see the community stable part of your island visit.  The site is located on British Landing Road across from Wawashkomo Golf Course.  And you’ll be seeing lots more of the activity up there as the summer progresses right here on this blog.  It’s only a 10-minute bike ride from our condo, and I’m planning on taking riding lessons this summer – yes I am!
If you’d like to read the original article about the community stable, you can find it by clicking here:

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