Wow! It seems like only a few minutes ago I was updating this site for last week. Time is beginning to spin by faster and faster now, and in only 12 weeks, Ted and I will be loading up the truck once again for the journey north and another season on Mackinac Island. I have to tell you – I am already getting VERY excited. I have to admit the trip up for the Winter Festival did a lot to control my total craziness at not having seen the island in so long. At least Ted is fairly satisfied I won’t do anything foolish like leave a month ahead of him. But I’ll be ready when he says, “Let’s go!”
We’ve had a wonderful few days here in South Georgia – our weather has been what it is supposed to be here – cool (high 60’s), bright and sunny, and dry. A bunch of us “ri’vah rats” went into Americus to eat Mexican on Friday night, and we had a large time – it was a pretty rowdy bunch and so much fun!
But, you didn’t come here to read about Georgia, you came here to catch up on Mackinac Island. So here we go!
Mackinac State Historic Parks 2010 Calendar of Events
The Mackinac Island State Historic Parks just released their 2010 Calendar of Events, and Ted and I already have our Associate Membership for the year. Let me just alert you here. IF you are planning to be on the island for even just a week this summer, consider becoming an Associate. A “Friend” Membership (the entry level) is $65. That gives you unlimited admission for two people into all the Mackinac State Historic Parks – Fort Mackinac and the historic buildings downtown (Mackinac Island) , Historic Mill Creek Discovery Parks (near Mackinaw City), Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse (Mackinaw City), and Colonial Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City). Here is the reason we personally find this such a thrifty idea. If you are going to be on the island for a week, you are going to want to visit Fort Mackinac and the historic buildings downtown at least once. If you have children with you, plan on at least one more visit to the Fort just for them to “see it again” – another admission fee for four. Then someone is going to say to you, “did you eat lunch at the Tea Room at the Fort?” Well, no you didn’t – because no one told you it is one of the most beautiful places on the island for VIEWS! So back you go to the fort, paying admission once again for the whole family just to eat at the Tea Room. Then you discover you are there when the fort has one of their special programs planned for one of the evenings of your vacation. Another admission fee for the family. Then, on the day before you leave, you decide to run back to Sutter’s Store (inside the Fort) to pick up that quilt you spotted on the first visit. Another admission fee. At $10.50 per adult and $6.50 per child over age 5, these trips have now cost you (family of four) $112. For an $85 “Voyageur” Associate Membership (this is the one Ted and I get), two adults and as many of your children/grandchildren under the age of 18 as you have with you can go into any of the four Mackinac State Historic Parks mentioned above as many times as you want, visit the historic buildings downtown as many times as you want, and get a 15% discount at Sutter’s Store. And your Associate’s card is good for the whole season – not just one visit. It’s like having a summer fun pass! I’m just sayin’ – you need to think about that Associate’s Membership.
Click here for the 2010 season calendar: http://www.mackinacparks.com/Userfiles/File/Events%20Calendar%202010%20.pdf
A Greg Main Newsletter
Our friend Greg Main, who lives year-round on the island, sent his newsletter this week. Here are a few highlights and a couple of his photos. “With the arrival of the annual Chili Cook-Off and Poker Run/Ski last weekend, I had the opportunity to get out on the ski trails for only the second time this winter. Friday afternoon, I walked the trails to set out packs of postcards at designated spots for the poker run/ski participants to find the following day. After placing the first packet near the cannon behind Fort Mackinac, I cut across the rifle range on my way to the stairway which leads up to Fort Holmes. It was while I was on the rifle range that I noticed how incredibly quiet this area of the island was. Given the over-all lack of activity we’ve seen in general this winter, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to be experiencing a lack of noise, but ‘eerie’ was a more appropriate way to describe the quiet rather than, say, ‘tranquil’. An absolute lack of wind and a grey, overcast sky only added to my “Twilight Zone” feeling crossing this open expanse. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many episodes of the various television programs dealing with paranormal activities lately.
Anyhow, the ski trails had been freshly groomed (thanks, Tonto!) and I was further surprised to see how much snow there was on the ground on these higher elevations, as compared to what little there was around town. Earlier in the week, some of us were bemoaning the lack of snow and how it would affect any skiers for the weekend. While on my way to Sugarloaf, I came across a Barred Owl perched in a large pine. Finally, I was fortunate enough to come across some of Mackinac’s more elusive wildlife.
The rest of my walk was without incident and I soon found myself back at my starting point, the “Village Inn”, where most of the festivities on Saturday would take place. There were only 9 chili recipes entered for bragging rights this year, one of the larger groups of ‘regulars’ from downstate were not going to be here this year to ski and the neighboring “Pontiac Lodge” was nowhere near full as it has been for many years for this particular weekend. Also, given the lack of an ice bridge, it looked as though this year’s event would be sparsely attended. How wrong we were!
Forty-one entries for the poker run far exceeded the two-dozen or so that we expected and not long after the chili tasting began at noon, there was standing room only, with people waiting at the door! Skiers, walkers and chili connoisseurs packed the place for several hours that afternoon, making for a nice financial shot-in-the-arm for at least one of the island’s year-round businesses. “”The Lieutenant’s Chili”, an entry from Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub took first place honors (431 votes), just five votes ahead of John Cadotte’s “Mild Mackinac Madness”. While always trying to be subjective when tasting and judging different styles of chili and not trying to show any favoritism, I was glad to see the group from way out on the left-coast (shall I call them “Team Barr”?) garner third place honors with their entry “Headsmacker”, which missed second place by a mere 14 votes. One of the chefs spent so much time stirring his chili, he sprained his wrist, arriving Saturday afternoon brandishing a newly-wrapped hand. Well . . . that’s the story one of my cohorts came up with, anyhow. It’s always good to see so many of the same faces each year and just as nice to meet first-timers, not only for the weekend activities but those visiting the island in general.
Critter sightings have increased significantly since I spotted the owl. Two bald eagles, a golden eagle and otters can now be added to my list. The mature eagles have taken to checking out the area while perched in a tree behind the main lodge at Mission Point and can be found there most every day. Otters are seen nearly every day scampering about on the shore ice near Leslie Court Condos and/or any area between there and the Iroquois Hotel. Dan Calvin tells me he watched two eagles and otters all standing on the ice within 20 feet of each other near Round Island lighthouse this morning. Neither seemed afraid of the other. That would have been interesting to watch, and it reminded me of the coyote/crow standoff I witnessed a few winters back while walking around the east side of the island.
As has been typical this winter, we continue to miss the snowfall that many to the south of us have received. The weather for the next week or so looks to be rather ho-hum as does the rest of this winter season. With today’s melting, dare I suggest that Spring is nigh? Until next time, I hope all is well with you wherever you are.”
Tim Leeper Update
As of Saturday, Feb. 20, Tim is 45 days into his ride across the country. He found the state of Lousiana very biker friendly, and Alabama not so much. He crossed the Mississippi River by ferry, then went “off map” and found a more direct route to Florida. He had problems in three states with dogs chasing his bike and found the best deterrant to be a plastic bottle filled with Gatorade, which he squirts at the dogs. He loved Fairhope, Alabama, where the spring flowers had already been planted. The ferry across Mobile Bay was closed, and he had to travel 100 miles out of the way to find another way to cross. Tim posted on his Facebook page he was looking for a ride home from St. Augustine (his final stop). Friends emailed back they were going to Florida and would change their travel plans by a few days so they could pick him up. They will drive him to his mother’s home, so he can visit with her a few days, then pick him up from there and drive him back to Michigan. Tim had a minor bike crash (just some scratches) and two more flat tires on Saturday, Feb. 20, before arriving in Crestview, FL to spend a few days with friends Helen and Richard Wolfgang (of Wolfgang Galleries on Mackinac Island). The end is in sight!
Sadie Wins It All and Retires to Become a Mom
Sadie, the adorable jet-black Scottish Terrier owned by the Musser family of the Grand Hotel, achieved the Triple Crown of dogdom last week with her Best in Show win at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Championship in New York City. Sadie also won Best in Show at the National Dog Show in Philadelphia in November, 2009 and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in California in December, 2009. The Westminster win was 4-year old Sadie’s 112th Best in Show. Sadie made the rounds of talk shows the following morning and rang the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange.
Following her win at Westminster, R.D. Musser II announced Sadie’s retirement from competition. Sadie will retire to become a mother and Musser stated that she will “spend part of the summer running around on the porch at the Grand Hotel”.
Can’t wait to see you this summer, Sadie. Maybe you, Bear and Maddie can have a play date!
Dirty Jobs from the Island on February 23 – Don’t Miss It!
Mike Rowe and his Dirty Jobs crew will be showcasing Mackinac Island on Tuesday evening (February 23) at 9 p.m. This is a NEW episode, and the entire show will be dedicated to jobs that Mike and his crew “attempted” during their Fall visit to the island.
Shepler’s “Boat Load of Tickets” Giveaway
If you have a trip planned to the island this summer, be sure and check out Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry on Facebook. They are running “Boat Load of Tickets” contests all winter, and the next one starts Monday, Feb. 22. Ted and I have already won our two!
Ice Sculpture Contest Winner
Friend Joan Barch, another year-round resident on the island, shared this week that her son Jay and his fiance Nikki won the island ice sculpture contest. Even finding enough snow to attempt an entry was a little difficult, and Jay collected snow and ice from around the island on his snowmobile. Their entry, Humpty Dumpty, is shown below.
I guess that about covers the island for this week. I’m adding a few more Winter Festival pics below. Good Lord willing, I’ll see you back here next Monday with another island update. Have a fantastic week! God bless.