I will be completely honest with you. I was seriously thinking about skipping this post tonight. Our day began at 7 a.m., and we literally have not slowed down since. I thought “I can skip today, it will be ok, my blogging buddies will understand.” But then I remembered a comment from Samille, one of best friends at the lake. It went something like, “We will be missing you, and we want to know what you doing everyday; so DON’T SKIP A DAY!” So Samille, this one is for you sweetie.
We slept like logs last night (I’ve never understood that expression – do logs sleep?), woke up to a temp of 34 degrees, listened to the TV and found out the temp on the island this morning was 24 – with frost. Back went on the jeans and sweatshirts. We were underway and had to travel only 4 hours to catch the 1:30 ferry – no problem.
We have never traveled into northern Michigan in the spring, and the first thing we noticed was the trees are just beginning to bud out. At the lake in Georgia, everything is in full foliage, azaleas have bloomed, grass is green. Up here you can barely see the leaves beginning to bud. We also began to see the white birch trees which are so common up here and which we never see in the south. Indians used the bark of these trees to make canoes (think Last of the Mohicans). They are beautiful.
Do you notice something missing in the picture on the right ? Billboards! They are very few and far between up here, and it’s so nice just to see nature.
When you get to the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan, you round a curve and the Mackinac Bridge comes into view. This magnificent structure is the longest suspension bridge in the U.S. (five miles). The first time Ted and I came up, we crossed the bridge and went over to the island on the ferry from St. Ignace instead of Mackinaw City. They actually close the bridge when the wind gets over a certain velocity because cars have literally been blown over the side. Some people just cannot bring themselves to drive across, and there are workers on either end who will get in your car and drive you across. We don’t go over anymore because we just like leaving from Mackinaw City, but the bridge is an awesome sight to see.
When we got to the ferry dock, we (ok, it was actually Ted) unloaded the truck, and the dock porters put everything on a cart. This is what 6 months of “stuff” looks like shrink-wrapped to go over on the ferry (it’s just the cart in the foreground, and the bike is not ours). Of course, we also have those 8 boxes that we mailed last week. Sure hope I have as much room for “stuff” as I think I do. This cute little old couple was on the ferry with us, looking out the window at the bridge as we crossed. I wondered if they were returning maybe for their 50th wedding anniversary to where they had spent their honeymoom (I’m a fool for a romantic story, so that’s the background I gave them anyway.) They were so sweet and still had that “I love you” twinkle in their eyes.
Our friend Judy, who lives in another one of the condos, surprised us by being on the dock when we arrived. We had called a taxi (which, of course, is a horse and buggy), and it was also waiting for us when we arrived. Judy climbed on with us, Ted loaded “stuff” again, the dogs jumped in, and off we went. Our driver, Janeen, remembered us from last year (well, actually she remembered our dogs). That is how Ted and I are known on the island – Bear and Maddie’s mom and dad – nobody knows OUR names. I sat right behind her in the taxi and we chatted about what was happening on the island so far this season. She is from New York and comes every summer to drive a taxi. She obviously makes a lot in tips to do that, but I think she genuinely enjoys being around horses and meeting people. As we headed up our hill, we came to The Grand Hotel (which you will hear a lot about this summer). It was the first time we have been here early enough to see their famous tulips. Janeen said the blooms had just been open a couple of days. There are literally thousands of tulips planted in the beds outside the Grand. They bloom, then they are dug up and the ground is replanted with other annuals. They were gorgeous, and in another few days, they will be breathtaking.
Bear and Maddie are such characters on the taxis. Bear jumps right in and settles ON A SEAT – no floor for him. Maddie has to be held in Ted’s lap because she thinks the horses are dogs, and she has been known to challenge them. I mean these horses weigh TONS, and she goes after them like they are yorkshire terriers.
There are three hills going to our condo (it’s really one long hill, but the horses break it into three and stop at the top of each rise to rest a few minutes. Can you imagine pulling those taxis loaded with people and luggage and boxes and animals up those hills all day long? They are very, very strong and very, very well cared for (more on that over the summer also). At the top of one rise, we began to notice again how different the island looks in early spring. Except for the tulips, nothing is blooming yet. The lilac bushes are just beginning to put on leaves; but by mid June. when it is time for the Lilac Festival, they will be filled with blue and violet and white blooms, and their sweet smell will cover the island.
As we topped the last rise, the condo came into view. You could tell that the weekly mowing has not begun, and the flowers have not yet been planted in the beds. All in all, the whole island just looks different from what we are used to seeing. It is May on Mackinac, and it will be amazing to watch the landscape slowly change from dull brown to green and red and blue and violet and yellow and pink.
I read somewhere that “in northern Michigan life moves with the rhythm of the seasons. Ice melts, mushrooms emerge, trees leaf out. Here you enter a world where, for centuries, adventurers have come to read forests and waters”.
We’re glad to be back.