Memories in a Suitcase 6/18/09

It seemed like Tommy and Sandi had just arrived in a taxi, and here they were climbing back into one to go home.  The days and nights they spent with us were way too short, and tonight when Ted and I sit down at the kitchen counter to eat dinner, the conversation will be aimed more at grocery lists and which book we plan to read next, instead of sharing memories with our guests of all the fun things we had done that day.  I hope Tommy and Sandi enjoyed their time with us.  When company comes, we try to pack the island into a neat suitcase and open it each day to bring out an experience that will turn into a lasting, happy memory.  With short visits though, we are always left with a suitcase not quite empty.  After visitors leave, we think of things for days that we didn’t do, or see, or visit, or eat.  But that’s just a good excuse for another visit!

One of the sights Tommy and Sandi got to enjoy that Cathie and Charlie missed were the lilacs in full bloom.  Although the ones in front of our condo are still not blooming (we’ve been told they are “late-bloomers”), the waterfront, Marquette Park, and all the streets and side streets in the city are a riot of color – and not only from lilacs.  Islanders have put in their summer gardens, and the warmer temperatures and that good ole horse manure and composted soil are working their magic.





After we left Mike on Monday morning, Ted took the dogs home and then met us at for lunch at Mission Point Resort’s Bistro on the Greens.  The Greens is an 18 hole, two-acre executive putting course which overlooks the Straits of Mackinac.  The sun was shining, the temperature was around 71, and we enjoyed both our lunch and a great game of competition putt-putt.  Of course, Sandi and I couldn’t have cared less who won, but the two guys were doing their macho thing.  For those at home who are wondering, Ted won by one stroke over Tommy.



After our game, we walked over to show Sandi and Tommy the lobby of Mission Point.  Originally built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s by Moral ReArmament, it briefly served as a college, then struggled as a hotel for two decades before being bought and transformed by John Schufelt.  Schufelt kept the good bones of the original structures, such as the large timbered, cathedral-ceiling lobby, the 575 seat theater (where islanders and tourists can watch first-run movies), and the many fireplaces.


We ate in Monday night and turned in early.  I’ve mentioned before how late it is when it gets dark up here.  Tommy especially was amazed every night when, at 9:45 p.m., it was still light outside.  When we tell people at home we usually go to bed right after the sun goes down, we are not kidding (not to mention by that time, you are physically tired and ready for a good night’s sleep).

We had been encouraging Sandi and Tommy to go with us on a bike ride around the island, and Tommy was a little skeptical.  I think he thought Ted was pulling his leg when he said it would be an easy 8-mile ride.  Tommy said “easy” and “8 miles” did not go together.  But I backed Ted up on that.  We knew that with the hiking up and down the hill they had been doing, the bike ride would be no problem.  They rented bicycles (both confessed to their last ride being years and years ago), and enjoyed another spectacular day outside.  The trip was a piece of cake for both of them, and they also got to stop at a few tourist landmarks.

Tommy and Sandi prepare for their bike ride around the island.

Tommy and Sandi prepare for their bike ride around the island.

Ted and Tommy try their time at stone skipping - a serious sport on the island.

Ted and Tommy try their hand at stone skipping - a serious sport on the island.

A stop at Devil's Kitchen, one of the youngest limestone formations on the island.  Although the limestone has been in place for 350 million years, the erosion forming the small cave has taken place in the last few centuries.

A stop at Devil's Kitchen, one of the youngest limestone formations on the island. Although the limestone has been in place for 350 million years, the erosion forming the small cave has taken place in the last few centuries.

Having completed the island circuit, we turned in the rental bikes and ate lunch on the outside deck of Mary’s Bistro, a restaurant on the waterfront downtown.  The plan for the afternoon was a drink at the top of The Grand Hotel at The Cupola Bar.  Ted nor I had ever been to the Cupola and WOW!  We will definitely be back, if for nothing but the view.  It is the tallest structure on the island, and the window separations appear to frame dozens of individual portraits of the Straits.  It was stunning.


A sailboat appears as a tiny speck on the Straits from the Cupola at The Grand Hotel.


Round Island Lighthouse - framed.

Round Island Lighthouse - framed.

The Grand Hotel pool from the Cupola

The Grand Hotel pool from the Cupola


The "three of us" high above the Straits of Mackinac

The "three of us" high above the Straits of Mackinac

We left The Grand after only an hour, because after 6 p.m. ladies are required to be in their dressy clothes, and men must wear coats and ties.  We had appetizers at the Pink Pony, more appetizers at Horn’s Bar, then dinner at The Village Inn.  We were stuffed.  Since leaving the condo around 4:30 that afternoon, the temperature had dropped, and the wind was blowing pretty steadily.  Sandi, Ted, and I had gone into The Big Store and bought jackets when we got to town, but Tommy, who had on long sleeves and khakis said he would be “ok”.  We had planned to take a taxi home because of the weather, but when the restaurant called one for us, we were told it would be 30 minutes.  So we opted to walk home.  The three of us who were bundled up in our jackets were pretty cozy – no comment from Tommy.

Once again, we were in bed right after the sun went down, except for me writing a brief blog last night around midnight.  We had a big country breakfast this morning at the condo, and Tommy, Sandi and Ted caught the noon ferry.  Ted took them to the airport in Pellston, and they were supposed to land in Atlanta around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

While eating at the counter tonight, we talked about what fun we had with Sandi and Tommy and some of the funny things that had happened and had been said.  Tommy had almost run a little boy off the road before he got the hang of bike riding again; my bike seat had somehow gotten wet even under its cover, and the seat of my pants was soaked for the entire trip around the island; Sandi’s tan darkened even in the lower temperatures; they both wanted to take Maddie home (they are dachshund lovers).

Tommy made an interesting comment over coffee Wednesday morning.  He said he had heard people talking all his life about going south for the winter, but hardly anyone said they were going north for the summer.  That’s what we do, and Tommy said he now understood why that had appealed to us.  He said after being here, the beach in the summer didn’t sound so great – in fact it sounded hot and sandy and humid (three things you won’t find here).

Sandi and I both shed some tears as she was walking out the door –  it had been too long since we had seen each other.  It was wonderful sharing our island with the two of them, and we hope they come back next summer.  That suitcase still holds many memory-making experiences that need to be unpacked.


 NOTE:  Historical information on Mission Point Resort and Devil’s Kitchen copied from Amy McVeigh’s Mackinac Connection: The Insider’s Guide to Mackinac Island.


3 thoughts on “Memories in a Suitcase 6/18/09

    • The last time I checked – two days ago – the water temp was a balmy 42 degrees – not exactly the kind of water I want to swim in! Some people do go in though – they just don’t stay for very long. You mostly dip your feet in at the edge of the shore. For water sports (except boating-there is a large marina) you would need to take a ferry to either St. Ignace or Mackinaw City. I’ve seen parasailers over the water over there, so I assume you could rent jet skis.

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