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.

Back to a Happy Normal and . . . the Weeks Ahead! 7/12/15

Don’t you just hate it when your “normal” life gets interrupted by something different?  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not talking about disrupting normalcy with a cruise to Bermuda or winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Giveaway.  I mean a disruption that throws your whole mind and body into turmoil . . . like a fire extinguisher head being set off (when there’s no fire) and flooding your house!

But – as much as I hate to give it up and say this – even those “bad” interruptions can bring good things.  You just have to get over the turmoil, say “thank you, Lord”, and go looking for them.

Our “good things” are these:

The house is back to normal - rooms have been cleared and things put back in their place.

Our house is back to normal – rooms have been cleared and things put back in their proper place.

The downstairs bedroom and closet now has brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

The downstairs bedroom and closet now have brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

. . . so does the stairs.

. . . so does the stairs.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage place under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into the storage area.  I can't show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage space under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into that area (I can’t show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door).

What’s even more amazing is, with the help of the warranty people, our builder, and the restoration company, all this was accomplished in less than a week!  To go from a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-crying-over-it mess to normalcy – with benefits – in six days is an amazing feat in my book!  So a huge thank you to all involved – especially the warranty folks who set off the sprinkler by accident.  Those two guys worked harder than anyone to make sure our house was put back to rights.  Mission accomplished!

A WALK ON THE BEACH WITH BEAR AND MADDIE

I don’t normally get up for the early morning walk with Ted, Maddie and Bear.  To me, if the sun isn’t up, the good Lord meant for us to keep on sleeping.  But the other morning I woke up early – just as Ted was leashing up the dogs – and decided to take the 2 1/2 mile stroll with them (their walk has to be early these days, or they’d all melt before they made it back home).

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

For Bear, the walk on the beach means a time he can be off-leash (yes, the city frowns on this, but who’s around at that time of the day to report us).  He LOVES running the beach, even though he’s not once gone into the water more than ankle deep.  On this morning, when he was doing his normal “scare-the-crabs-out-of-their-holes-and-chase-them-into-the-ocean routine, the sea offered up a very different gift!

“What the heck? It looks like a tennis ball!”

“It tastes like a tennis ball – except a little salty.”

“But before I get too excited and take it home, I’m going to watch it a while to make sure there are no claws with pinchers attached.”

Maddie has no desire to chase tennis balls or crabs.  All she wants to do is dig them up!

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

“I know I just saw his beady little eyes!”

“So many crab holes, so little time.”

Walking back home - from the sidewalk.

Walking back home – from the sidewalk.

OTHER BEACHY STUFF

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast - a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted.  I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish - with four strips of bacon on the side.  Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Breakfast – a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted, with toast and home fries. I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish – with four strips of bacon on the side. Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet gets a little different angle on our little group of houses.  Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset.  Our house is

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet has a little different angle on our group of houses. Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset one day this week. Our house is to the right of the 3-story.

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago.  Looks like a UFO, doesn't it.  Amazingly, we didn't even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago. Looks like a UFO, doesn’t it! Amazingly, we didn’t even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

THE ISLAND!  THE ISLAND!

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

Also from Clark:  Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

Also from Clark: Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

. . . and sunset from near Devil's Kitchen.

. . . and sunset from near Devil’s Kitchen.

I'm jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer.  But this week I'm doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day.  You can only do that once a year, you know.  Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to do it!

I’m jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer. But this week I’m doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day. You can only do that once a year, you know. Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to go!

Also from Jill - a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden.

Also from Jill – a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden . . .

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture.

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture, “Be Still”.  Love this!

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the “new” Fort Holmes!

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

A GOOD CAUSE

Ted and I met Max Jones and his family a couple of summers ago. At that time Max was 13 and had already been in business for himself for two years as the owner/operator of Max’s Errand Service on Mackinac Island.

Max is planning to ride across the State of Iowa to raise money for the Mackinac Island Fire Department.

From an interview of Max by Jason St. Onge at the Mackinac Island Fire Department:

Max, the son of John and Karrie, spends his winters in Kalamazoo but summers on the Island. Max stopped by the Market Street Firehouse to talk about his plan with the MIFD.

Max said, “You guys do a lot for the community and I just want to assist in any way I can. I think I can raise some money to help with equipment.”

Max will spend the next couple weeks securing pledges and training for the ride. He will be asking for pledges from businesses and citizens and promises to collect “Only if I finish the nearly 500 mile trek.”

Max runs a bicycle errand/delivery service on the Island that he started several years ago.

Max will set out on his journey on July 18. Thank you Max, and good luck!!

Personal Note:

To donate to Max’s ride across Iowa, which is July 18-25, you can email Max directly at mjj5366@yahoo.com, subject “Max’s MIFD Ride”, to pledge. Max will email you back with all the details. You can also donate at the micf.org (Mackinac Island Community Foundation) website. Once there, just click “donate”, then put as the fund name, “Max’s Ride for the MIFD”. The money won’t be collected until Max finishes the ride. All donations will be through the Mackinac Island Community Foundation for a tax deduction.

This is a great cause, and we applaud Max for wanting to give back to the Mackinac community.

Max - on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

Max – on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

THE WEEKS AHEAD

Ted and I will be heading to Islamorada in the Florida Keys on Thursday to spend three nights with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  We get back on Sunday, and the following Saturday we head north to Michigan for nine weeks.  There is no way I can even begin to tell you how excited I am to be heading to cooler weather!

For the first three weeks we’ll be with friends Sue and Terry Conlon at Black Lake near Cheboygan – then on August 18 we arrive on Mackinac for six weeks in a condo downtown in the Mission District.

A really fun surprise . . . I’ve been asked to stay two nights at the Grand Hotel (this will be while we’re at Black Lake) to write about the Woods Restaurant (owned by the Grand).  Ted and I have never actually stayed at the Grand, and we are so excited to have this opportunity!

So, we’ll be on and off the island even during the three weeks we’re at Black Lake.

I’ll be blogging the entire time, but I’ve decided to not have any kind of schedule for the rest of the summer.  From now until the end of September, posts might pop up at any time.  It may be a story or just a photograph, but – starting now – expect something more than twice a week – just on no certain day.  And I’ll post the same blog to both Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog (https://bree1972.wordpress.com) and To Be Clay (http://bree2015.wordpress.com).

We’re going to miss Sunset Inlet.  We’re leaving just as we’re all beginning to get to know each other, but we’ll be back at the end of September to rejoin the gang and enjoy Florida when I love it most . . . . fall, winter, and spring!

Please say a safe travel prayer for us.  Bear and Maddie will be staying with our pet sitter for our Islamorada trip, but they’ll be with us – of course – when we head for Michigan!

Love you all!

God bless.

Mackinac June Visit – Last Day on the Island 6/25/15

The last day of our June visit to Mackinac was on Wednesday, and after spending the morning writing a Stonecliffe post, I hopped on a waiting taxi to meet Jill and Sue for lunch. Already on board the taxi were a couple from Kentucky and a lady with her daughter.  The daughter (I wrote down all the names and have somehow lost them – imagine that) was from Canada, and her mom was visiting her – in the states for the first time.  And that’s how . . .

. . . three moms (one from Kentucky, one from Saudi Arabia and me) spent a taxi ride sharing stories and cell phone photos of children and grandchildren.  The lady from Saudi Arabia didn't speak a word of English, but her daughter translated for us.  She was so sweet and funny and must have shown us a hundred photos of her family.  Only on Mackinac!

. . . three moms (one from Kentucky, one from Saudi Arabia and me) spent a taxi ride sharing stories and cell phone photos of children and grandchildren. The lady from Saudi Arabia didn’t speak a word of English, but her daughter translated for us. She was so sweet and funny and must have shown us a hundred photos of her family. Only on Mackinac!

We ate lunch at Millie's on Main and then took a long walk together - it felt just like old times!  So glad a stranger asked if he could take our photo so we could all be in the shot!

We ate lunch at Millie’s on Main and then took a long walk together – it felt just like old times! So glad a stranger asked if he could take our photo so we could all be in this shot in front of the lilacs!

I know the middle of June is well past “spring” in most places in the country, but with the high temps being only in the low 60’s, most of the island flower gardens haven’t been in the ground long.  But, Mackinac always manages to look beautiful for the Lilac Festival, and this year was no different.

The steeple of St. Anne's always makes a wonderful backdrop for the Main Street lilacs.

The steeple of St. Anne’s always makes a wonderful backdrop for the Main Street lilacs.

Hard to believe a couple of weeks ago, there were no flowers in these beds at all.  It's just another bit of Mackinac magic!

Hard to believe a couple of weeks ago, there were no flowers in these beds at all. It’s just another bit of Mackinac magic!

One of the new places to visit on the island - the Peace Garden behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Museum . . .

One of the new places to visit on the island – the Peace Garden behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum in Marquette Park. 

What a great place for a little quiet time!

The garden represents the longstanding peaceful relationship between the United States and Canada since the end of the War of 1812.  Jack Barnwell and his crew did a beautiful job with the landscaping – what a great place for a little quiet time!

Jill had to leave us to go to work, and I needed to get back to Stonecliffe to start packing.  Sue walked with me as far as the Grand Hotel, and we decided to go out on the porch so we could photograph the tulips from above.

The entrance to the Grand!

The entrance to the Grand!

An awesome view past the geraniums on that long front porch.

An awesome view past the geraniums down Cadotte Avenue.

What an awesome landscaping achievement.  A pinwheel garden of tulips!

What an amazing landscaping achievement – a pinwheel garden of tulips!

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor was doing a brisk business - even in the chilly temps.

Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor was doing a brisk business – even in the chilly temps.

Have any of my readers ever played chess with these life-size chess pieces?

Have any of my readers ever played chess with these life-size chess pieces?

Another view of the tulips from above. . .

Another view of the tulips from above. . .

. . . and one from eye-level.

. . . and one from eye-level.

I walked past the Grand to Four Corners and hooked a left onto Annex Road - which took me straight back to Stonecliffe.

I walked past the Grand to Four Corners and hooked a left onto Annex Road – which took me straight back to Stonecliffe.

What a fun, fun trip!  We can’t wait to get back in August for six weeks on the island! 

This will be the last post on Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog until we return to the island in August.  I’ll be back on Sunday on the To Be Clay blog (http://bree2015.wordpress.com) to catch you up on everything that’s been happening at the beach for the last couple of weeks.Hope to see you then!

God bless.

Personal Note:  Please lift prayers for continued healing for our former neighbor and great friend Chief “Duck” Andress.  Duck cut off two of his fingers last week while working on his world-famous walking sticks in his shop.  He is doing great, but a few extra prayers never hurt!

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The Stonecliffe Adventure – The Rest of the Story 6/21/15

Having the opportunity to spend a few days at the Inn at Stonecliffe gave Ted and I a whole new Mackinac perspective.  When we lived on the island for six months out of each year, we – like most folks – got into our little comfort zones.  We’d go to certain restaurants, certain bars, certain shops, and certain areas of the island.  It wasn’t that we had anything against other places – we were just unfamiliar with them and – I guess – too lazy to give them a try.

Now that we’ve stayed at Stonecliffe – and eaten there – we’ve definitely added this gorgeous area to our comfort zone list.  We’ll be back later in the summer to have dinner and try out the fabulous new Sunday brunch they’ve recently added – as well as head up there in the evening for a drink on the patio or to watch the sun go down from Sunset Rock.

When I explore new places where I’ll be staying a few days, one of my favorite things to do is seek out cozy spots to read – or just to sit and be quiet for a few moments.  Stonecliffe is one of those places where “out of the way” spots are plentiful, and when you go looking for those special spots, you’re also bound to open doors to special rooms, special outdoor spaces, and special people!

The back porches of the Summer House Suites are cool and shady, and the ferry and freighter sound effects from the Straits add to the "Mackinac" experience.

The back porches of the Summer House Suites are cool and shady, and the ferry and freighter sound effects from the Straits add to the “Mackinac” experience.

I loved this little alcove on the second floor at the mansion.  Comfy chair and lighting through stained glass windows - perfect spot to curl up with a good book!

I loved this little alcove on the second floor at the mansion. Comfy chair and lighting through stained glass windows – perfect spot to curl up with a good book!

The Inn's staircase is a spiral masterpiece.  There are rooms on both the second and third floor, with the staircase winding up to the third floor through the turret.

The Inn’s staircase is a spiral masterpiece. There are rooms on both the second and third floor, with the staircase winding up to the third floor through the turret . . .

. . . . with stops along the way to look out on Stonecliffe's beautiful grounds.

. . . . with stops along the way to look out on Stonecliffe’s beautiful grounds.

This little nook on the first floor is all about Stonecliffe weddings.

This little nook on the first floor is all about Stonecliffe weddings, with albums filled with past wedding photographs.

My favorite "daytime" hidey-hole - a half-hidden bench beside the fireplace in the Inn's bar.

My favorite “daytime” hidey-hole – a half-hidden bench beside the fireplace in the Inn’s bar – a nice spot for journaling or to just get away.  And if you want to read, there’s a window seat on the other side of the fireplace which, on cool evenings, is filled with a crackling old-fashioned wood fire!

Not exactly a "hidey-hole", but the pool at Stonecliffe is awesome and was just being filled for the first time the week we were there.

The pool at Stonecliffe (as seen from a Summer House suite) is awesome and was just being filled for the first time the week we were there. . .

. . . and - like everything at Stonecliffe - the pool is just a stone's throw from an unbelievable view of the Straits!

. . . and – like everything at Stonecliffe – the pool is just a stone’s throw from an unbelievable view of the Straits!

A big surprise when this door was opened.  The resort has its own beauty salon - to the delight of all the wedding parties who stay there.  Hair and makeup stylists come up from town, and this room turns into "party central" in the hours before a wedding!

A big surprise when this door was opened. The resort has its own beauty salon – to the delight of all the wedding parties who stay there. Hair and makeup stylists come up from town, and this room turns into “party central” in the hours before the ceremony!  You see that big white hook in the upper left-hand corner of the room?  Yep – that’s for the wedding dress!

 

Trey

Trey and Matt are always ready to load luggage onto or out of the taxis, get everything up to your room, and help answer questions!

The kitchen at Stonecliffe is sparkling clean and highly efficient.  It's hard to believe that this was once a private family's kitchen space.

The kitchen at Stonecliffe is sparkling clean and highly efficient. It’s hard to believe that this was once a private family’s cooking space.

The huge laundry room in the Summer House Suites handles the linens for both properties.  This is Tyiana's third season at the resort (she works at several positions there).  She is the only person I've ever seen fold a fitted sheet into a perfect square!

The huge laundry room in the Summer House Suites handles the linens for both properties. This is Tyiana’s third season at the resort (she works at several positions there). She is the only person I’ve ever seen who could fold a fitted sheet into a perfect square!

I poked my head into an office door and met these two hard working ladies -  Intern Extraordinaire Margaret McGovern and Sales Manager Becky Miller.

I poked my head into an office door and met these two hard working ladies – Intern Extraordinaire Margaret McGovern and Sales Manager Becky Miller.

I can't end without reintroducing you to Stefanie Congdon, who was the lady who invited me up to write about Stonecliffe.  Little did I know that Bree's Mackinac Island Blog played a small part in Stefanie's arrival on Mackinac.

And I can’t end this series without reintroducing you to General Manager Stefanie Congdon, who invited me up to write about Stonecliffe.

A huge thank you to Stefanie and her gracious staff for making our stay at The Inn at Stonecliffe a magical few days.  We were treated like royalty, fed well, and made to feel like family.    But – that’s the way every guest is treated at Stonecliffe.  I saw it over and over again in the days we were there – all the special touches, the attention to detail, and the time being taken to answer questions, make suggestions, and ensure each guest feels special.

Martin Buber said, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  When we started our Stonecliffe adventure, I thought I knew what we’d find – a magnificent family home rich in history, beautiful in design, and filled with the luxurious trappings of an island paradise.  We found all of that . . . and we also found many of the “secret destinations” at Stonecliffe.  It will all keep us returning to this special spot over the years, and I encourage you to go and discover it all for yourself.  Don’t be bashful about roaming the halls and walking the grounds. The Stonecliffe experience is another part of Mackinac that will reach out and grab your heart . . . and not let it go.

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Mackinac June Visit – Monday Afternoon/Tuesday 6/18/15

 

Being on Mackinac for a few days refueled my engines in so many ways.  First, it got me away from the oven that Florida has become in the last week or two.  Although the thermometer just topped 90 today for the first time this summer, the humidity makes it feel infinitely hotter.  Bear and Maddie can’t even take their normal walks out to the intracoastal dock anymore because the wood on the walk-over is too hot for their paws.  They just put on their brakes and refuse to move.  So – I was more than delighted to dig out a sweater and jacket for the island highs – only in the 60’s!

Second, it was wonderful to see so many island friends!  On Mackinac you can hardly turn a corner without seeing someone you know, so we spent a lot of time catching up on a year’s worth of news.

And third – for me – it was a homecoming.  No matter where else we go, I believe Mackinac is always going to be my ultimate destination on this earth. The island recharges my spirit in some unfathomable way that defies explanation.  I feel energized when I’m there – able to climb hills, walk miles and miles, leap small buildings in a single bound – well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift.

After meeting with Stefanie on Monday morning and getting a tour of beautiful Stonecliffe, I grabbed the shuttle to town, planning to meet up with Ted, who had already borrowed a Stonecliffe bike and was out exploring.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been having some back issues for a couple of weeks, so biking was out of the question for me on this trip.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Cadotte Avenue over a horse's back!

Cadotte Avenue over a horse’s back!

My first stop was the Island Bookstore.  Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there - all smiles!

My first stop was The Island Bookstore. Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there – all smiles!  Coming into that store is like opening a door to a favorite room in your home . . . familiar, comfortable, cozy – and filled with folks you can’t help but love.

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort).  The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he'd walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe.  There was music playing we were walking through Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on)

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort). The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he’d walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe. There was music playing in Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on).  This lady was videoing her husband dancing in front of the lilacs.  The man had some serious moves . . . so cute!

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A broader view of Marquette Park and all the lilac trees.

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One good thing about living in a two-story house is that you get a good dose of aerobic activity each day, and that comes in handy on Mackinac!  I usually have to stop several times going up the ramp in front of the fort, but this time it was a relatively easy climb – and the higher you go, the better the view!

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac,

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac, looking across Marquette Park out to the Straits . . .

. . . and another looking straight up Main Street.

. . . and another looking straight down Main Street.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park offices, where we picked up Ted's bike.  Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground on familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park office, where we picked up Ted’s bike. Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground so familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

. . . . where nothing had changed.  Carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack.  Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island's main tourist attactions.

. . . . where carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack. Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island’s main tourist attractions.

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation.  Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation. Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather.  I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town.  The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo).  Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I'd get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather. I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town. The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo). Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I’d get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge.  Sure enough she was there, and we had a great visit!

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with so many of our friends from the "Village" - where our condo was located.

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with many of our friends from the “Village” – where our condo was located.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off walking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we'd use practically every day.  I'd stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off hiking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we’d use practically every day in our summers there. I’d stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.  I love the Mackinac woods more than any other part of the island. It’s in those woods I find the peace that makes the island so special to me.

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

 . . . and the horse corral nearby - larger now than it was when we lived there in the summers.

. . . and the horse corral nearby – larger now than it was a couple of years ago.

And . . . for the first time since we sold  . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.  Well, maybe just one or two.

And . . . for the first time since we sold . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.   Ok, ok . . . maybe just one or two.

Our last full day on the island was Wednesday, and that story is coming soon.  But first, tune in Sunday for one more post about Stonecliffe – its hidden nooks and crannies and what goes on behind the scenes to ensure your stay is perfect!

God bless.

Give Me Just a Little More Time (Please!) . . . . 6/14/15

So much to tell!  So much to show!  How to even begin?!

Our four days on Mackinac Island were filled with so much activity it’s hard to even know where to start!  Ted and I have been going non-stop since we got home, and our oldest son, Jason, flies in late this afternoon to visit for a few days.  So . . . .

I’m going to continue my little “vacation from blogging” a few more days, with the promise I’ll be back hopefully on Thursday (Jason leaves on Wednesday), with tons of photos and stories from our trip.  There will also be at least one more blog post on Stonecliffe within the week!

Hope everyone is doing great, and I’ll see you back here in a few days!  I promise it will be worth the wait!

Here’s a little hint of things to come . . .

Boarding the ferry for our trip from Mackinaw City to the island!  Notice we traded our shorts and flip-flops for jackets and rain gear!  No complaints from me on that!

Boarding the ferry for our trip from Mackinaw City to the island! Notice we traded our shorts and flip-flops for jackets and rain gear! No complaints from me on that!

Hanging out with Sue and Jill - two of the sweetest ladies I know!

Hanging out with Sue and Jill – two of the sweetest ladies I know!

Beautiful Main Street during Lilac Festival Week.

Beautiful Main Street during Lilac Festival Week.

Tulips at the Grand!

Tulips at the Grand!

A breath-taking view around the spiral staircase at Stonecliffe!

A breath-taking view around the spiral staircase at Stonecliffe!

Stay tuned  . . . there’s much more to come!

God bless.