On the Street Where We Live . . . . 8/27/15

Today – for the first time since we arrived almost two weeks ago – I took my camera out with me and shot pictures. I just walked from our condo down to Doud’s corner, but I think you’ll be able to see what I’ve meant in the first couple of blogs about the beauty of this year’s flowers!

Looking from Marquette Park up Main Street toward the Marina . . .

Looking from Marquette Park up Main Street toward the Marina . . .

. . . and then back toward Doud's corner.

. . . and then back toward Doud’s corner.  The hanging baskets this year drape almost to the sidewalk.  Incredible!

The big cottage here is Brigadoon, but you're also seeing the corner of Anne's Cottage.

The big cottage here with the gorgeous stone chimney is Brigadoon, but you’re also seeing the corner of Anne’s Cottage, with its elegant iron fence.

Brigadoon through the flowers.

Brigadoon through the flowers.

The majestic Island House . . .

The majestic Island House and its gardens.

A few close ups . . .

A few close ups . . .

. . . you know I don't know the names . . .

. . . you know I don’t know the names . . .

. . . but I wish I did!

. . . but I wish I did!

Hanging baskets from every balcony!

Hanging baskets from every balcony – plus some flower boxes.

The Inn on Mackinac.

The Inn on Mackinac.

Love these flowers along the fence . . .

Love these flowers against the white picket fence and the white house . . .

. . . and looking past them to the harbor.

. . . and looking past them to the harbor.  Two ladies were standing with me taking a photograph of the same scene, and one said to the other, “Can you just imagine being able to look at this every day from your backyard?  That’s what I call living the good life!”  Amen to that, ladies.  Being here to experience it for even a few hours is pretty special too!

Looking down the street toward our home for the next few weeks , , ,

Looking down the street toward our home for the next few weeks , , ,

. . . and here's where we are. Sure have been enjoying our morning coffee out on that deck!

. . . and here’s where we are. Sure have been enjoying our morning coffee out on that deck!

I know I promised more than I’ve been giving in the way of blogs since we’ve been here, but we’ve had a series of “happenings” that has kept us hopping since our arrival, and my writing and photography has had to take a backseat.  I think we’re about to settle into some normalcy now . . .  at least I sure hope so!

There is so much happening this weekend and on into next week, and if the weather cooperates it’s going to be a blogger’s paradise  – the Festival of the Horse is Friday and Saturday, and the Grand Garden Show begins on Sunday.  So stay tuned and come along for all the fun!

Week One of Six! 8/23/15

Our first week on Mackinac has been a mixed bag of weather.  We’ve had sunshine and warm temps.  We’ve had rain and cool temps.  We’ve had nice breezes and some fairly brisk winds.  Whatever the weather though, the joy comes from being here, and you won’t hear any complaining from us – rain or shine!

What an awesome way to start each day - Good Morning, Mackinac!

What an awesome way to start each day – Good Morning, Mackinac!  Since our condo is at the Mission Point intersection, it’s a great place to people/dog/carriage watch all day.  On the weekends at night we can sit on the deck and listen to live entertainment at Bistro on the Greens!  Pretty cool!

I don't think I've ever seen Mission Point as colorful as it is this year.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mission Point as brilliantly colorful as it is this year.  Just love all the pinks, reds, and yellows spilling out of the tiered garden at the front and from every available terrace and pot.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and - like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill - I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits featuring the steeple of St. Anne's Church.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and – like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill – I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits, featuring the steeple of St. Anne’s Church.  Would love to know exactly how many photographs and paintings have been created standing in this spot.

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

This is another one - seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn't it?

This is another one – seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn’t it?  Notice the rain gear in the basket?  Always prepared!

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode down to the Mackinac Island Fire Department for the presentation of the check

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode downtown for the presentation of the check from Max Jones to the Mackinac Island Fire Department.  Max, with his father John, Dr. Stephen Humphrey, and Mark Chambers rode across the State of Iowa as a fundraiser (only Max collected donations) for the department.  Generous givers donated $4,783 to the fund, with another $300 pledged.  Way to go, Max!  (Photo l-r: Paramedic Rick Linn, Asst. Chief Sam Barnwell, FF Ron Langworthy, TF Johny Morris, Max Jones, Asst. Chief Jason St. Onge, FF Tony Brodeur, and SFF Travis Vartanian.

Max with his fellow riders - his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max with his fellow riders – his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max and his wonderful family - mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

Max and his wonderful family – mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages - this one from St. Anne's . . .

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages – this one from St. Anne’s . . .

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skills to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skill to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful Friesian. It turned out the driver was island friend Ann Levy who - with Michigan's Sugar Queen - had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island's fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that's worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful tuxedo-decked-out Friesian. The driver was island friend Ann Levy who – with Michigan’s Sugar Queen – had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that’s worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn't affecting the Marina - which was full.

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn’t affecting the Marina – which was full.

Doud's was dark inside, but it didn't seem to stop shoppers at all.

Doud’s was dark inside, but it didn’t seem to stop shoppers at all.

It was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way - with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

And it was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way – with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. Awesome job, Chippewa!

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington, and normalcy resumed.

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from our bedroom window. See those dark clouds . . .

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from a bedroom window. Those dark clouds . . .

. . . they blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going!

. . .  blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going and hope you have your rain gear packed in your purse!

It was wonderful to walk in the doors of Little Stone Church this morning!  We got to see many friends we hadn’t yet seen elsewhere and heard a wonderful message from our pastor, Reverend Fred Zobel, a retired U.S. Navy Captain. 

It’s almost 8 p.m. now, and the rain is gone.  The streets have been washed clean, the grass is even greener, and the only leftovers of the storm I see from my window are whitecaps in the Straits and waves crashing against the breakwater.  There was walkers and bikers on the lakeside trail at Mission Point, dogs are being walked, and folks are on the sidewalk heading into town. 

Ahhhhh . . . life is good!

______________________________________________________________________

Don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but August 30-September 1 is the 3rd Annual Grand Garden Show, featuring the world’s #1 plant brand, Proven Winners.  Presenters will include Jamie Durie, host of HGTV’s show Outdoor Room, PBS talk shop host, gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, and our very own award winning garden designer Jack Barnwell.  Rooms at the Grand are sold out for the event, but tickets for the presentations and tours of some of Mackinac’s most beautiful private and public gardens are still available.  I’ll be covering one day of the event, and I’ll be so excited to share it with you through words and photographs.

See you back here soon!

God bless.

Mackinac Island – the First 24 Hours 8/18/15

There are times when I wish I could pack up every single person who loves Mackinac Island as I do and arrange for them to be sitting where I am at a certain moment.  Tonight is one of those times.

This is my view as I sit down to write tonight. It's 8:20, the day-trippers have left the island, and the streets are quiet except for the occasional clip-clop of taxi horses bearing folks from Mission Point downtown, to the Grand, or out to the Woods.

This is my view as I sit down to write tonight. It’s 8:20, the day-trippers have left the island, and the streets are quiet except for the occasional clip-clop of taxi horses bearing folks from Mission Point downtown, to the Grand, or perhaps out to the Woods.

It's cloudy tonight, with the threat of rain. What few people I see from my window are wearing jackets against a definite little chill in the air.

It’s cloudy tonight, with the threat of rain. What few people I see from my window are wearing jackets against a definite little chill in the air.  I can hear the bell buoys clanking, warning boaters the waves are kicking up a bit.  Like the fog horns, I love the desolate clank of those buoys.

SAM_8193

Ted and I and our two travel-weary pooches arrived at the condo we’ll be calling Home Sweet Home for the next six weeks around 4:00 Monday afternoon.  We immediately fell in love with our new space and its location.  We are in the Mission District – almost to Mission Point, and away from the craziness that is downtown right now.  As one-time summer residents we know after Labor Day that craziness will turn more toward the approach of fall . . . the island’s slower season, but also one of its most dramatic.  If you ever visit Mackinac after she puts on her September and October colors, you will want to return and experience it again and again.  Trust me on that. 

We’ve spent our first 24 hours stocking the pantry and figuring out where everything is in the condo.  Today we rode up to our old condo at Surrey Ridge and reconnected with Steve and Cindy, who bought our place.  I confess it’s the first time I’ve been able to be within 100 feet of it without crying, but today we went inside and visited with them and their two dogs for over an hour.  When they heard a few weeks ago we’d be here for six weeks, they immediately offered us the bikes we’d had all those summers to use while on the island (we sold them with the condo).  That was a tremendous gift, and Ted and I rode away on bikes that still feel as if the seats were molded just for us.

I’d planned to ride up to the Woods for some last minute photos for the Woods story, but – as normal on Mackinac – we spent too long talking with friends on the street.  Maybe tomorrow!

Before dinner tonight we took Bear and Maddie out for a good walk along the bike path at Mission Point . . .

Before dinner tonight we took Bear and Maddie out for a good walk along the bike path at Mission Point.

True doggie happiness - a hundred new and interesting smells to explore and process!

True doggie happiness – a hundred new and interesting smells to explore and process!

I know readers used to get tired of me saying this, but - honestly - the flowers this year are the most beautiful EVER!

I know readers used to get tired of me saying this, but – honestly – the flowers this year are the most beautiful EVER!

Caught in action. Otter? Mink? He ran into the tennis court and was trapped for a moment, then scurried through a hole in the fence and into the wetlands nearby.

Caught in action. Otter? Mink? He ran into the tennis court and was trapped for a moment, then scurried through a hole in the fence and into the wetlands nearby.

Two ladies doing what you just naturally do on the island - sit, chat, relax . . . breathe.

Two ladies doing what you just naturally do on the island – sit, chat, relax . . . breathe.

If there is a more beautiful putt-putt course on this planet, please tell me where!

If there is a more beautiful putt-putt course on this planet, please tell me where!

What it's all about - pure Mackinac.

What it’s all about – pure Mackinac.

I rode into town late this afternoon to pick up a book the Island Bookstore was holding for me.  As I pedaled home past Doud’s, I heard someone call, “Bree! Bree!” I turned to see a beautiful lady with a huge smile, hailing me from across the street. I did one of my famous u-turns against traffic, and that’s how I got to meet Beverly Polk, a blog reader from Venice, Florida, who worked as a young woman at the Grand Hotel.  She has been on the island three days and had rented an electric scooter and rode around the island, up to the cemetery, and through Hubbards Annex.  Today she spent most of the day at the Grand and also viewed art exhibits at the library and art museum.  This lady knows how to reconnect to Mackinac!!  So glad you hailed me down, Beverly – it was a pleasure talking with you!

So – that’s our first 24 hours on Mackinac.  We are blessed to be here for this extended time, and I hope you’ll enjoy coming along with us as we see what’s new, visit the familiar, and have a few adventures along the way.  Stay tuned!

God bless.

Black Lake – Relaxation, Adventure . . . and Friendship 8/16/15

Island on Monday afternoon.  Our time here with Sue and Terry has been a combination of great friends, good food, engaging conversation, coffee by the lake, reading in the hammock, and happy hour on the deck.  It’s been awesome getting to know Sue and Terry better- as well as their many lake friends. Here’s a little bit of what we’ve experienced for the last three weeks!

TERRY AND TED’S EXCELLENCE ADVENTURE

"Let's put the kayaks in at the Red Bridge and paddle down the Black River to Black Lake." Sue and I don't remember if it was Terry or Ted who came up with the idea, but - guys being guys - once the idea formed, executing it couldn't be far behind.

“Let’s put the kayaks in at the Red Bridge and paddle down the Upper Black River to Black Lake.” Sue and I don’t remember if it was Terry or Ted who came up with the idea, but – guys being guys – once the idea formed, executing it couldn’t be far behind.

The Red Bridge - precisely in the middle of nowhere . . .

The Red Bridge – precisely in the middle of nowhere . . .

. . . and where Sue and I dropped them off in the middle of a cool Michigan morning. Please note: Ted is NOT planning on raiding a bee hive during the trip - he is guarding against the attack of black flies and mosquitoes. Thankfully, neither were problems on this trip, and Ted took off the gear after only five minutes on the river.

. . . and where Sue and I dropped the two adventurers off in the middle of a cool Michigan morning. Please note: Ted is NOT planning on raiding a bee hive during the trip – he is guarding against the attack of black flies and mosquitoes. Thankfully, neither were problems on this trip, and Ted took the headgear off after only five minutes on the river.

Terry shoves off from the bank . . .

Terry shoves off from the bank . . .

. . . and after a few moments, they disappeared from view around a bend. Sue and I swear it was at this point we heard the sound of dueling banjos in the distance.

. . . and after a few moments, they disappeared from view around a bend. Sue and I swear it was at this point we heard the sound of dueling banjos in the distance.

But - luckily - they didn't encounter any backwoodsmen, and three hours after we dropped them off, they arrived back at the cabins - none the worse for wear.

But – luckily- they didn’t encounter any backwoodsmen, and three hours after we dropped them at the bridge they arrived back at the cabins – none the worse for wear.

TERRY AND TED’S NOT-SO-EXCELLENT ADVENTURE

The second kayak trip started much the same way as the first - at Happy Hour. This time they planned to put in at and travel through really wild country back to the lake. We should have known they were planning something more difficult than the first trip, but - like most good wives - Sue and I just knew our husbands wouldn't think of doing something outside the realm of safety!

The second kayak trip started much the same way as the first – at Happy Hour. This time Hawkeye Conlon and Chingachgook Horton planned to put in further up the river and travel through even rougher wilderness country back to the lake. Were Sue and I worried?  Of course not! We knew our husbands wouldn’t dream of doing anything outside the realm of safety!

Once again, the guys shoved the kayaks into the back of Terry's truck, and Sue and I drove them (down rodes I'm sure had not been designated on Google Maps) to the "dropping off" point - Kleber Dam.

Once again, the guys secured the kayaks in the back of Terry’s truck, and Sue and I drove them (down roads I’m sure are not recognized by Google Maps) to the “dropping off” point – Kleber Dam.

As they prepared to launch, Sue and I asked the caring question wives always ask when their husbands prepare to start out on an adventure: Is your life insurance paid up, dear?

As they prepared to launch, Sue and I asked the caring and concerned question wives have historically asked whenever their husbands prepare to start out on an adventure: “Is your life insurance paid up, dear?”

As Ted paddled into the middle of the stream (the Black River), we noticed the water was flowing pretty fast . . .

As Ted paddled into the middle of the stream (the Upper Black River), we noticed the water was flowing pretty fast . . .

. . . and by the time we had the truck back on the bridge at the top of the dam, Hawkeye and Chingawkchuck were nowhere to be seen.

. . . and by the time we had the truck back on the bridge at the top of the dam, Hawkeye and Chingachgook  were nowhere to be seen.

The story as it was told to us around the campfire that evening: Ted: "As soon as we rounded the first bend, we encountered rapids. Terry paddled right and got caught by some logs, so he yelled back to me to go left, which I did. Bad news - to the left were more rapids, and I immediately found myself in the water, with my kayak upside down."

The story as it was told to us around the campfire that evening: Ted: “As soon as we rounded the first bend, we encountered rapids.  Terry paddled right and got caught on some rocks, so he yelled to me to go left, which I did. Bad news – to the left were more rapids, and I immediately found myself in the water, with my kayak upside down.  I lost two bottles of water, and my kayak was full of water. I turned it over and got most of the water drained out before climbing back in.”

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Terry: “By that time I had pushed myself off the rocks, and we were paddling downstream again.”  Ted:  “It was about then I realized what else I had lost when I tipped over – my glasses!  Luckily – at the last minute before we left – I had switched out my good pair for my spare pair!”

Terry: " The entire trip was filled with rapids, log jams, curves, and rocky areas we'd have to maneuver around."

Terry: ” The majority of the trip was filled with rapids, log jams, curves, and rocky areas we’d have to maneuver around.”

Terry: "When all else failed, we'd be forced to pull up on shore and portage around the obstacle."

Terry: “When all else failed, we’d be forced to pull up on shore and portage around the obstacle.”

Ted: "We portaged around jams six or seven times during the next four hours."

Ted: “We portaged around log jams six or seven times during the next four hours.”

The guys were planning to kayak back to the lake, but after four hours of battling the river, Terry sent a message to Sue which basically read:  “We are at the Red Bridge.  Come get us.”  We gave our brave husbands gold stars for realizing another four hours from the Red Bridge to the cabin may have been a little more than what they’d planned for – after all the unexpected “fun” they’d had the first four hours! 

BEAR AND THE TUMMY BUG

On Sunday, out of the clear blue sky, Bear started exhibiting all the symptoms that accompany a stomach bug.  I won’t go into details on what that means, but I’m sure you can figure it out.  He was sick all afternoon and all night.  Monday morning found us at the Indian River Animal Hospital where tests showed he’d picked up a really nasty bacterial infection.  The doc said it was just a matter of encountering different bacteria in a different environment than he was used to.

It took about 24 hours for the four meds he was given to clear up the infection. My boy was one sick baby for a while. Look at those weak eyes.

It took about 24 hours for the four meds he was given to clear up the infection. My boy was one sick baby for a while.

Three days later he was back to his old self and off to the groomer for a new summer "do". This is the shortest I've ever had him cut, and at first I was almost in tears when I saw him. It's growing on me though, and - just like when we get a haircut we don't like - it will always grow out!

Three days later he was back to his old self and off to the groomer for a new summer “do”. This is the shortest I’ve ever had him cut, and at first I was almost in tears when I saw him. It’s growing on me though (no pun intended), and eventually it will grow out.  Kinda looks like teddy bear fur!

BLACK LAKE PHOTOS

Besides our friends, two of the things I miss most about our Georgia home are the trees and the ability to plant flowers whenever and wherever I want. Sue has certainly given me my "fix" during these weeks at Black Lake. She loves gardening and has flowers in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes.

Besides our friends, two of the things I miss most about our Georgia home are the trees and the ability to plant flowers whenever and wherever I want. Sue has certainly given me my “fix” during these weeks at Black Lake. She loves gardening and has flowers in pots, hanging baskets and window boxes.

Makeshift shoe dryer!

Makeshift shoe dryer!

Ruby Sue - always on guard!

Ruby Sue – always on guard!

Geraniums . . .

Geraniums . . .

. . . geraniums!

. . . geraniums!

Terry - mostly retired, but still doing a little work from the patio.

Terry – mostly retired, but still doing a little work from the back deck.

Sue - beginning a birdhouse project. She plans to hang brightly-painted birdhouses on what's left of the trunk of a tree that was cut down this week.

Sue – beginning a birdhouse project. She plans to hang brightly-painted birdhouses on what’s left of the trunk of a tree that was cut down this week.  This lady NEVER slows down!  LOL – I used to be like that!

Speaking of cutting down trees - this guy was using the biggest slingshot I've ever seen to hook a rope around a branch at the top of a tree.

Speaking of cutting down trees – this guy was using the biggest slingshot I’ve ever seen to hook a rope around a branch at the top of a tall pine . . .

Success!

Success!

Best place to pretend you're going to read when you know you'll be asleep within three minutes!

Best place to pretend you’re going to read when you know you’ll be asleep in three minutes! The tether tied to the tree is so when you briefly wake up you can pull the rope and start yourself swinging again.  It’s also an aid to getting OUT of the hammock.  Love it!

Among the pines . . .

Among the pines . . .

. . . and always close to their beloved lake - the graves of two former golden retrievers and one Irish Setter.

. . . and always close to their beloved lake – the graves of two former Golden Retrievers (Abby Louise and Murphy Louise) and one Irish Setter (Kelly May).

Much used toys - jet ski, kayaks and canoe.

Much used and enjoyed toys – jet ski, kayaks, canoe and floats.

Everything that's needed for lake living!

Everything that’s needed for lake living.  LOVE the sandy beach!

Ted - collecting golf balls he's hit into the lake. The water is clear, shallow, and you can easily see the bottom.

Ted – collecting golf balls he’s hit into the lake. The water is clear, shallow, and you can easily see the bottom.

"Golf balls? I love golf balls almost as much as tennis balls! Let's play a game where you hit them - but not IN THE WATER - and I'll retrieve them!

“Golf balls? I love golf balls almost as much as tennis balls! Let’s play a game where you hit them – but not IN THE WATER – and I’ll retrieve them!”

"I'll hide, and you hit!"

“Even better!  Hide and seek golf!”

Napping in the sun.

Settling down for a nap in the sun.

A late Saturday afternoon pontoon boat cruise with Sue and Terry and new friends Kathy . . .

A late Saturday afternoon pontoon boat cruise with Sue and Terry and new friends Kathy . . .

. . . and Todd.

. . . and Todd, who have just moved to Florida also!  Like we used to do, they stay in Michigan all summer to enjoy the cooler weather in a place that’s been in their family for a couple of generations.

Sunrise view from our cabin.

Sunrise view from our cabin.

A huge thank you to Sue and Terry for inviting us to stay in one of the cabins at Whispering Pines these last few weeks.  It’s been a perfect time of relaxation, and you’ve made us feel at home from the moment of our arrival.  We can’t wait for you to come over and stay with us on the island!

On Monday we’ll do some last minute cleaning and packing, and by late afternoon we should be settled into the condo on Mackinac for the next six weeks.  Sure hope you’re planning to come along with us!

God bless.

A Grand Hotel Visit and More Fun at Black Lake 8/9/15

Oh my goodness!  It’s been a week since I’ve written, and the days have been so full it seems more like a month!  Over the last eight days, Ted and I (and Bear and Maddie, of course) have enjoyed fun days at Black Lake with Sue and Terry (and Brinkley and Ruby), spent two nights on Mackinac, eaten well (with not nearly enough exercise to make up for it), and slept like babies.  The weather has been AWESOME, with daytime temps in the 70’s and nights in the high 50’s and low 60’s.  Sleeping with all the windows open is SO peaceful, and the few times it’s rained during the night the sound of raindrops on our little cabin’s roof is like having someone sing us a lullaby.  Dreamland!

When the Grand Hotel invited me to write a guest blog about the Woods Restaurant, the invitation included an overnight stay at the Grand – something Ted and I had never done.  When the Woods blog is published on their website, I’ll make sure everyone gets a link; but in the meantime, I’m excited to share our stay at the Grand and the rest of our island visit!

I can always count on Jill to meet the ferry when we arrive on Mackinac!

I can always count on Jill to meet the ferry when we arrive on Mackinac!

We arrived on the island a day early so I could attend a girls only porch party.  After checking into the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa, our first stop was the patio at the Chippewa for lunch.

We arrived on the island a day early so I could go to a fun “girls only” porch party on Tuesday night. After checking into the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa (our first stay there also – highly recommend!), our first stop was the patio at the Chippewa for lunch.  I’ve always loved that “Real World/Mackinac Island” sign – makes me know I’ve arrived at a place where worldly current events can be temporarily ignored!

After the porch party I met Ted back at the Pink Pony (imagine that) to listen to Myk Rise for a while.

After the porch party I met Ted back at the Pink Pony (imagine that) to listen to Myk Rise sing and play guitar.  The Pony is always THE spot to be for an entertaining evening.

On Wednesday morning we slept in (no dogs to take out and feed!), then just walked around downtown – chatting with friends we’d see on the street, checking out a few new shops (and favorite old ones), and waiting for check-in time at the Grand.

As many times as we've ridden up this hill, it was never with the purpose of checking into the Grand - but on Wednesday it was!

As many times as we’ve walked or ridden up this hill on our bikes or by taxi, it was never with the purpose of staying at the Grand – but on Wednesday it was!

We checked in and followed the bellman to our room . . . .

. . . and what a room it was!

. . . and what a room it was!  When Carlton Varney, president/owner of Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc., one of the oldest established interior design firms in the United States, was commissioned to totally redecorate the Grand Hotel in the 1970’s, he vowed to incorporate every color in the magnificent Grand Hotel gardens into his design.  The hotel, whether public spaces or private rooms,  is a testament to how Varney – also known as “Mr. Color” – fulfilled and continues to fulfill that design.

Our room was spacious and beautifully decorated, and we drew back the drapes across one side of the room . . .

Our room was spacious and beautifully decorated, and when we drew back the drapes across one side of the room . . .

. . . this was our view!  A screen door opened onto our second floor balcony . . .

. . . this was our view! A screen door opened onto our second floor balcony, and when we stepped outside . . .

. . . and thewonderful view of the Straits of Mackinac and the West Bluff expanded.

. . . the wonderful view of the Straits of Mackinac and the West Bluff expanded.

As I began to unpack what I planned to wear that evening, a knock on the door sounded, and there stood a Grand staff member with a beautiful bouquet of flowers  . . .

As I began to unpack what I planned to wear that evening, a knock on the door sounded, and there stood a Grand staff member with a beautiful bouquet of flowers . . .

. . . and a gift basket of wine, wine glasses, fruit, cheese and crackers - compliments of the Musser family.  Talk about making a girl feel special!

. . . and a gift basket of wine, wine glasses, fruit, cheese and crackers – compliments of the Musser family. Talk about making a girl feel special!

Our evening at the Woods was fantastic (more to come on that in the future on the Grand Hotel blog page), and we were back in our room early enough to watch the last rays of sunset from our balcony.

A group of late-night diners head out to the Woods on the shuttle.

A group of late-night diners head out to the Woods on the shuttle . . .

A lone ferry approaches the turn toward St. Ignace.

. . . and a lone ferry approaches the turn toward St. Ignace.

Breakfast (or lunch or dinner) in the Main Dining Room is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!

We were up early for breakfast, served in the Main Dining Room, and  a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!

After breakfast, with a couple of hours to spare before we were to check out, we walked through the parlor and out onto the porch.  Carlton Varney's touch is seen everywhere, and the colors he incorporates make for that "WOW" factor wherever you turn.

After breakfast, with a couple of hours to spare before we were to check out, we walked through the parlor and out onto the porch. Carlton Varney’s touch is seen everywhere . . .

. . . and the colors he incorporates makeforthat"WOW" factor wherever you look.  This is the entryway to the Grand Hotel Ballroom where an orchestra plays nightly for dancing.

. . . and the colors he incorporates make for that “WOW” factor wherever you look. To the left is the entryway to the Grand Hotel Ballroom where an orchestra plays nightly for dancing, and to the right is the entrance to the Audubon Wine Bar.

No matter how many times we've stood or walked or rocked on the Grand front porch, it never fails to impress!

No matter how many times we’ve stood or walked or rocked on the Grand front porch, it never fails to impress!

At 660 feet, it still holds the world record for front porch length . . .

At 660 feet, it is still the longest front porch in the world, and every inch is lined with flowerboxes filled with live, brilliantly red geraniums.

We truly hated to check out Thursday morning, but leaving was made easier when I got to visit with sweet friend Molly McGreevy, who rode her bike down to the Grand to say hello.

Molly looked awesome!! In her own words: "I'm almost halfway through chemo. If I hadn't been delayed by the staph infection and subsequent kidney failure brought on by antibiotics, I would have been done with chemo last month. But, I have to count my blessings as I did get better and so far I've had relatively mild side effects. Other than fatigue and being short of breath sometimes, I feel pretty good."

Molly looks awesome!! In her own words: “I’m almost halfway through chemo. If I hadn’t been delayed by the staph infection and subsequent kidney failure brought on by antibiotics, I would have been done with chemo last month. But, I have to count my blessings as I did get better and so far I’ve had relatively mild side effects. Other than fatigue and being short of breath sometimes, I feel pretty good.”  So glad to share this happy news!

It was going to be 5:30 before we could pick up Bear and Maddie at the kennel, so after ferrying back to the mainland, we took a chance and rode by Burton Nelson’s place in Mackinaw City.  Burton’s wife, Chris Ann, was a dear, dear friend who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer on March 4, 2013,and the last time we saw Burton was at her memorial service that summer.

It was wonderful to see Burton, who is living fulltime now in their little cottage by the bridge.  Although he's had some heart problems in the last couple of years, he's doing great now, and we had a wonderful visit reminiscing about Chris Ann and chatting about what he's been doing.  LOVED seeing him!

Burton is living fulltime now in their little cottage by the bridge that Chris Ann loved so much.   Although he’s had some heart problems in the last couple of years, he’s doing great now, and we had a wonderful visit reminiscing about Chris Ann and chatting about what he’s been doing since we last talked. LOVED seeing him!

FUN AT BLACK LAKE!

We have another eight days here at Black Lake with the Conlons, and we’re looking forward to each of them.  Whether we’re reading in the swing by the lake, floating off the sandy beach,

. . . taking the pooches for walks through the woods . . .

. . . taking the pooches for walks through the woods . . .

. . . enjoying 5 o’clock Happy Hour, or just hanging out in the cabin, the last two weeks have been filled with relaxation, fun, good food, and great people!

Oh – Terry and Ted have been on a couple of memorable kayak adventures, but that’s a story for another day!

Leaving the Red Bridge on the Black River and hoping to find their way back to Black Lake.  Three hours later they did!

Leaving the Red Bridge on the Black River and hoping to find their way back to Black Lake. Three hours later they did!

See you back here soon!  God bless.

 

My Heart Knows 7/31/15

UP NORTH

It’s the place people go to escape,

A place made of cabins, pine trees and lakes.

But no matter how far you drive

There’s no sign to say “you’ve arrived”.

So just follow your heart till you find . . .

Your special place that brings peace of mind.

As you breathe in the air and unwind . . .

Your cares are all left behind.

It’s no mystery where the northwoods start

When you arrive Up North you’ll know

In your heart. 

Suzanne Kindler

It happened for me on Monday afternoon as I was driving somewhere between Flint and Gaylord, MI.  Ted had been napping, but I knew he was awake.  We had reached that point on the upper limits of I-75 where the highway separates, the billboards disappear, and between the northbound and southbound lanes the space is filled with trees. For a few miles it’s miscellaneous green, and then you begin to see the trunks of white birch. 

I reached over and touched Ted’s arm and said, “We’ve arrived.”

“Arrived?  Arrived where?” he said, looking out the window.

“Arrived where I’m a different person from who I am anywhere else,” I said. 

Ted smiled.  He’s used to me going all mystical on him when we’re up north.  I smiled back, feeling my body relax and the magic of the northwoods turn the corners of my lips upwards.

IMAGINE . . . .

Think back to your childhood and try to remember the most fun you ever had.  Chances are one of the first things that will pop into your mind is summer camp – at least if you were ever lucky enough to go. 

Being at Sue and Terry’s place on Black Lake is like that . . . .

Our place . . .

Our place . . .

It's a log cabin filled with sink-down-into-them sofas. . .

. . . is a log cabin filled with sink-down-into-them sofas. . .

. . . windows and door that are never closed . . .

. . . windows and doors that are never closed . . .

 . . . and doors at the front and side that slam shut when they closed and squeak when they open.

. . . and screened doors at the front and side that slam shut when they close and squeak when they open.

There's a dock lines with American flags . . .

There’s a dock lined with American flags . . .

. . . kayaks . . .

. . . kayaks on a sandy beach . . .

. . .  a fire pit, a swing, a hammock . . .

. . . a fire pit, a swing (it squeaks too), a hammock, chairs designed for conversation (that’s Sue and Terry’s cabin behind the trees) . . .

. . . and two resident Goldens (Brinkley and Ruby) that have made Bear and Maddie welcome.

. . . and two resident Goldens (Brinkley and Ruby) who have welcomed Bear and Maddie with open paws.

We sleep at night with the cabin wide open and the screened porch aglow with sparkling lights.

At night the screened porch glows with sparkling lights . . .

. . . and we sleep amid pillows piled high on a tall bed close to open windows.

. . . and we sleep amid pillows piled high on a tall bed close to open windows.

For three weeks we’ll call this beautiful setting home. 

My heart knows we’ve arrived

Weary in Wapakoneta! 7/26/15

Hello from Wapakoneta, Ohio!

We had all kinds of good intentions to make it to Whitmore Lake, MI today, but after 600 miles and 11 hours on the road – from our first stop last night at Jason’s in Atlanta – we just said, “That’s enough!” and pulled into one of our favorite dog friendly Best Westerns.

It’s amazing how much more time living in Beverly Beach adds to this trip.  We traveled 400 miles on Saturday to Atlanta, and we’ll have another 400 to go on Monday.  Yes, it’s a long trip, but we know it will be worth it when we arrive!

Bear co-piloted most of the day, Maddie slept, I navigated (with the help of MapQuest on the iPhone), and Ted drove - yep, all 600 miles.

Bear co-piloted most of the day, Maddie slept, I navigated (with the help of MapQuest on the iPhone), and Ted drove – yep, all 600 miles.

Highlights (hmmm . . . maybe these are lowlights) of our trip today: 

1)  Had to make an unscheduled 30-minute stop in Richmond, KY at a PetSmart to find Maddie a halter after hers broke on a walk earlier this morning.  She patiently put up with Ted, me, and a PetSmart employee putting her little legs in and out of at least 15 different halters before we found one that would work on her little sausage body. 

2)  Lunch was drive-through because it was just too hot to leave the pooches in the car – even in the shade with the windows down some.  No way!  So we ate our McDonald’s with Bear and Maddie drooling over our shoulders.  Yes, they got a few French fries.

3)  Several times today the truck AC cut off and nothing but hot air blew out.  Let me just tell you this old girl almost had a heart attack right there and then.  Visions of the riding the remaining 700 miles with all the windows down and our feet hanging out the window.  Thank you Lord, it kicked back on each time.  Please Lord, let it be ok tomorrow . . . and the rest of the summer.

4)  Traffic was HORRIBLE in Cincinnati and in Dayton.  It always is.  And, even after that long stop to shop for a halter, it was the traffic delays in both those cities (caused by construction) that sealed our decision to stop in Ohio and not go on.

Traffic backup outside Cincinnati.

Traffic backup outside Cincinnati.

We are so looking forward to pulling in at Whispering Pines Cottage on Black Lake Monday afternoon!

Sue sent this pic a few minutes ago after seeing my traffic pics on Facebook.  She said

Sue sent this pic a few minutes ago, after seeing my traffic pics on Facebook. She said”Traffic is really heavy at Black Lake too . . . had a boat go by about 20 minutes ago.”

Dinner was Taco Bell in our room (can’t leave dogs unattended in room, and just couldn’t bring ourselves to put them back in the truck again today). 

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  I’ll see you all back here in a few days . . . or a day  . . . or sometime soon!

Thanks for all the travel prayers.  Please send one more up for tomorrow!

Hugs and love and God bless.