“The sun always shines on Mackinac Island” is a local saying those of us who love this rock use a lot. Even when it’s cold or raining, and even when the wind is howling around the corners of the buildings downtown, some of us Pollyannas are still looking up – fully expecting the sun to peek through at any minute. To us, it doesn’t really matter what Mother Nature sends – just being on Mackinac makes the sun come out – even if it only shows itself in the smiles on our faces.
By the time I publish this, we will have been on the island approximately 70 hours. We arrived in sunshine, with temps in the 50’s, but the rest of the week has been pretty wet and pretty chilly. Here’s a look at what the week’s been like since our arrival . . .
Monday (noon-ish): After 4 1/2 hours on the road (which included lunch at Ted’s favorite chain restaurant, Big Boy’s (this is a childhood memory thing for him, left over from visits when he lived in Ft. Thomas, KY), we turned into the Shepler’s Ferry docks. We had some business to take care of before we could board the next boat (parking and season passes), so we unloaded Maddie and Bear and headed for the main office. Since I wrote the “Day in the Life of a Ferry Boat Captain” story last summer, I’ve really become a fan of this family-owned business. The “family” aspect extends out to all the Shepler cast members, and the personal customer service is something you won’t forget. I just love the whole operation – the entire Shepler family, the wonderful cast and crew (who I hope you’ll meet up close and personal as the summer progresses), and the awesome ladies in the marketing department, led by Misty Martinchek. Shepler’s rocks!
Chris Ann and Burton Nelson were on the dock to greet us in Mackinaw City. They stayed with us overnight in Georgia a few weeks ago on their way north from their winter home in Florida.
Taking care of business. Beside me is Captain Bill Shepler, the head of this awesome clan, then Captain Chris, and that's Misty across from me.
About to board.
Bear, Maddie and I getting off the ferry at the island . . .
. . . followed by Ted with lots of luggage.
Following Mackinac Island tradition, friends were on the dock to greet us. Oh my gosh! It had been almost seven months since we’d seen these folks. We were excited!
Jill is taking the photo, but that's Loretta (who owns Martha's Sweet Shop) petting Bear and Mary from the Grand behind her. What's in the white box Loretta is carrying? Only the best cinnamon buns, blueberry muffins and raspberry muffins you have ever put in your mouth! We haven't had to buy breakfast food yet! Did you notice the heavy coats everyone has on?
All the ladies who came to greet us had to scurry back to work, so we wasted no time loading up on the taxi which was waiting for us (Ted had called for it from the ferry).
And up the Grand hill we go. I know I take practically this same photo each year, but I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to see the Grand come into view for the first time each spring. With some of the big trees gone (cut down in the winter because of disease and replaced by strong, healthy young trees), the beautiful hotel could be seen a lot further down Cadotte this year.
As usual, Maddie had to be subdued into remembering that she weighs 12 lbs. and the horses weigh 2 tons . . .
. . . while Bear propped his head up on the back of the seat and dozed off.
The tulips are just before bursting into bloom at the Grand!
Ted did most of the luggage-carrying up the steps of the condo, and as we started to unpack I realized, as I always do, that I had brought way to much “stuff”. Do you remember that last fall I took photos of all the clothes I was leaving so I wouldn’t duplicate anything again? Guess what – if you CAN’T FIND THE PHOTOS, they don’t do you any good!
By four we couldn’t stand it any longer and had to get outside. Bear and Maddie needed walking, and Ted and I both were in need of some leg-stretching ourselves. With Bear off the leash once we got into the woods, we were interested in seeing what he remembered about the island. We started down an oft-traveled road, with Bear running several feet ahead of us. Suddenly he stopped, peered left into the woods, looked back at us, and immediately darted down the wooded path we’d traveled so many times last summer. He knew immediately where he was and led us onto all our favorite paths as we walked.
After returning home to feed Maddie and Bear, we started down the hill for the first time – headed for the Chippewa and dinner.
The corral in front of our condo is not nearly full of horses yet, but this big guy was enjoying his supper. The horses all put on weight over the winter (all they do is eat, and with no exercise to keep those calories in check, they bulk up). Hmmmmm . . . same thing happens to me!
First time this spring down Turkey Hill, next to the Grand's Jewel Golf Course. With no leaves on the trees yet, it's easy to see Lake Huron through the branches.
First stop - outside the Island Bookstore where we met up with Frankie, some of Bonnie's family, Jill and Bonnie.
Then it was on to the Pink Pony at the Chippewa Hotel where we were greeted by two of our favorite bartenders, Jacob . . .
. . . and Susanna.
Daffodils are coming up all over the island, and I noticed these after we left the Chip to start home. They're at the Marquette Park corner of Fort Hill and Main Street.
On Tuesday Ted left to go across to get the rest of our luggage while I unpacked the rest of what we’d brought over the day before. By the time he got back, the three boxes we’d mailed had also arrived, so the rest of the day was spent unpacking clothes we really shouldn’t have brought and carting suitcases upstairs to storage.
Now for what has REALLY kept me hopping the last two days! A few days before we arrived, Shepler’s asked Chris Ann and I if we would help them as “welcomers” for the Win-Some Women conference held at the Grand Tuesday-Thursday. Each day Shepler’s was expecting 800 ladies to arrive on the dock at Mackinaw City to cross to the island, and extra “hands on deck” would be appreciated. We jumped at the chance! Although I didn’t get to help on Tuesday (just couldn’t get over there the day after we arrived), Chris Ann worked all three days, and I worked Wednesday and Thursday.
I wanted to catch the 8 a.m. boat across to Mackinaw City, and Jill met me halfway up Cadotte and walked to the dock with me, where she snapped this photo.
The weather was really cold and wet on Wednesday, but the ladies arrived in good spirits and were loaded quickly onto the ferries. I took this shot after returning to the dock from where I was "stationed" - at an intersection to direct arriving cars into the proper parking lot. I had on my cuddle duds, a turtleneck, a windbreaker, long pants, and was carrying an umbrella. I needed all that - and more!
This is Patrick, who is Dockmaster for Shepler's at the Mackinaw City dock. He was in constant motion, making sure everything was handled efficiently and quickly.
Back on the island at the bookstore on Wednesday afternoon. You know how straight my hair is in the photos above? It was that straight when I left the condo that morning also. All those waves come springing out in the rain! Loving my Shepler's windbreaker and the Shepler's backpack that were volunteering perks.
Thursday was a much better day weather-wise! Chris Ann and I were stationed together at the main gate to the dock, and we had a blast welcoming the last group of 800 women. That's Noel, another Shepler volunteer, who was directing traffic.
Eight hundred women = tons of luggage! The efficiency with which the cast got the luggage tagged and loaded was amazing.
As 800 women were headed TO the island, several hundred school children were coming OFF!
How's this for great customer service - that's Captain Bill Shepler, the owner of Shepler's Ferry Line, out welcoming guests. Today I also saw him take luggage out of cars, load it onto luggage carts, handle problems over the hand-held radios, check out every single detail of what was happening on the dock, and still take the time to deliver two steaming hot cups of coffee to Chris Ann and I at our post.
Noon - and our volunteer time is over. We ate pizza for lunch with the rest of the cast members - then Chris Ann headed home about a mile away on the mainland, and I jumped back on the ferry to the island.
On Friday I plan to sleep late, finish the last of the unpacking, wash some clothes, and get rid of the winter dust on the furniture. Sounds like kind of a boring, blah day, doesn’t it. But, you know what? All I have to do is look out the sliding glass doors or one of the windows of the condo . . . . and I’m walking on sunshine!
See you back here on Monday morning with all the happenings of the weekend. So glad to be back telling my little stories to the lovers of Mackinac Island. You rock, too!