Cathie and Charlie left Sunday morning on the 10 a.m. ferry. It was raining, it was cold, it was windy. They had arrived 10 days ago in the same kind of weather and had seen the Michigan spring come full circle within that time. Some days it was in the low 50’s – some days in the 60’s – it even hit 70 once. The nights were all over the place too. We had 30’s, 40’s and a couple of 50’s. We had a little rain, lots of sunshine, some windy days, and a day or two of calm. They say up here if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes – it will change. They are right.
The last couple of days were spent trying to cram in some sights we had missed. We scheduled a private carriage tour and left at 1:00 in the afternoon, hoping for an hour or two of warm sunshine. We got the sun, but we also got the wind. Charlie had missed out on some of the sightseeing, but he finally could see for himself what Cathie had been bubbling over about for days.
Thank goodness we had brought along a couple of blankets (actually throws) from home and our caps and gloves. When we were up on the bluffs, the wind was blowing so hard we decided against even getting out of the carriage to take pictures. We still got some really great shots across the harbor. I don’t think I have ever seen Lake Huron as blue as it is right now.
Saturday morning we hiked with the dogs up to Ft. Homes, which is the island’s highest point. In 1812, the British set up their cannon on this site and, without a shot being fired, took Fort Mackinac from the Americans. A reconstructed stockade is all that remains on the site, which is 325 feet above the Straits. Before reaching Ft. Holmes, we stopped off to show Cathie Sugar Loaf, the largest of the island’s limestone stacks. Sugar Loaf towers 75 feet above the ground.
From Ft. Holmes, you can just about “see forever”. The lighthouse in the harbor looks like a tiny toy. Ted took Maddie and Bear on a stroll around the top of the stockade while Cathie took pictures. Maddie, as always, was on guard for anything that she might attack. We got a super picture looking straight down Rifle Range Trail, over the fort, to one of the Star Line ferries coming into the harbor.
On the way down the hill, Bear ran ahead of us for several hundred feet, then found a nice, shady spot to wait for us to catch up.
After a quick lunch, Cathie went into her power shopping mode, and we headed for town. She only had one more afternoon to clear the shelves in the stores she had “pre-shopped”, and time was running out.
At each stop I would say, “Cathie is leaving tomorrow,” and every storekeeper would gasp and insist that she couldn’t possibly leave – she had to stay at least another week.
I know you think I am kidding when I say this, but it is the absolute truth – when Cathie got on that ferry Sunday morning, every store clerk on Market and Main Streets was weeping.
When Ted called Cathie and Charlie Sunday afternoon to see how far they had driven, he kidded her that there were five stores on Market Street with “Closed for the Season – Thanks, Cathie!” signs on their doors.
When I called at 9 a.m. this morning and asked for a taxi for the 10 o’clock ferry, the dispatcher said, “I’ve got one in the village now. Can you be ready in 5 minutes?” When you order a taxi and are told you don’t have to wait at least 25 minutes, believe me you start jumping! We ran downstairs with suitcase after suitcase after suitcase; we carried little plastic shopping bags out by the dozen; we even had duct-taped together a box of goodies that we couldn’t find any other place for.
Really it was good that they left that way. There was no time for long goodbyes and tears. Ted was riding his bike down to help them unload at the dock, and then he had to run to the store. I had decided not to make the trip down because of the rain. The visit had ended. The friendship would now begin – not only with Cathie, but with Charlie also.
I know I haven’t talked much about Charlie, but I admire him so much. Charlie is Cathie’s rock. A former Delta pilot, he is the steadying calm to her whirlwind, and his sense of humor kept us in stitches their entire visit. Charlie has some physical limitations due to an illness that the best doctors in the United States have still not given a definite name. But he put all that aside to give this dream trip to Cathie, and I know how much she loves that he did that for her. They balance each other perfectly.
Today was my birthday, and after a quiet day spent reading and writing some thank you notes, we walked downtown with the dogs for my birthday ice cream cone. Climbing Fort Street going back home, just below the Governor’s Summer Residence, we came upon four lilac bushes in full bloom. Saturday marked the beginning of the Lilac Festival on the island, and the residents have been worried that the famous flowers would not be blooming because of the late spring. I don’t think they have anything to worry about based on these gorgeous specimens.
It’s been such a wonderful week with Cathie and Charlie. Now we start getting ready for Sandi and Tommy, who arrive from south Georgia on Friday. Hmmmm, maybe I should warn the store owners to restock fast!
Note: Historical information on Sugar Loaf and Ft. Holmes copied from Amy McVeigh’s Mackinac Connection: The Insider’s Guide to Mackinac Island.