Did you know that at 5:45 a.m. the sun is not up? It’s not up at 6 a.m. either . . . or even 7:30!
I didn’t know this because I’m usually just opening an eye around 8 or 8:30. Horrible, I know. “Sleeping my life away” (as my mom used to say when I was a teenager and stumbled into the kitchen for breakfast around 11 on a Saturday morning). But after years and years and years of working – the last 13 of which involved a 45-minute commute – meaning I got up at 5:30 in order to leave home at 7:00 and arrive on time at 8:00 (well, maybe I wasn’t always on time – ok, I was never on time) . . . anyway! . . . I no longer consider it an obligation or a virtue to put my feet on the floor before the sun pushes itself up over the horizon.
But today I did.
I needed to be at the Shepler dock in Mackinaw City at 9 a.m., and the only ferry leaving before that was at 8. Thinking it would be pouring rain, I had reserved a taxi, and in order to have another rider with me and not have to pay a double fare, the taxi picked me up at 7:15, after picking up a Grand Hotel worker in the Village. Long story short, that got me to town 30 minutes before the ferry was leaving, so I asked to be dropped off at Martha’s Sweet Shop. Loretta Spata and her husband Tony (I wrote about him in the EMT story) own Martha’s, and this morning she was already there making coffee and filling the display cases with warm baked goods. After choosing a pumpkin walnut muffin and coffee, Loretta and I sat down together and visited for 15 minutes, interrupted occasionally by another early riser coming in for a favorite treat. Tony joined us for a few minutes also. What a great way to start a day – maybe I should get up earlier more often! Or maybe not.
I only worked until 11:30 today, and in that 2 1/2 hours Cindy and I welcomed around 1,000 ladies to Shepler’s, before they parked and boarded the ferries that were running every 30 minutes today due to the Win-some Women Conference at the Grand. I never fail to be amazed at the coordination of the Shepler cast members and how they can efficiently make order out of chaos . . . but they do it – day after day – and with mile-wide smiles on their faces.
Jill and I both had hair appointments (already written in blood before I was asked to work), so I begged off to keep the appointment, promising to work Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Jill picked me up, and we drove across the Mackinac Bridge into St. Ignace. Pam at Leroy’s slapped some color on my gray roots, and while I was “processing” (makes me sound like a can of tomatoes, doesn’t it), Pam cut and styled Jill’s hair. After Pam finished up with me, Jill and I ate lunch at a Chinese/Thai restaurant, then caught the 3:30 ferry back to Mackinac.
Our immediate reaction when we hit the island was, “What in the world is that smell!” Now you know Jill and I weren’t talking about horse poop. We are waaaayyyy beyond noticing the smell of horse poop. This was a totally different, totally new smell. We went in the bookstore (Jill was off today) and the post office, and then I hailed a cab. It was the cab driver who said, “Can you believe we can smell the tar they’re pouring at the airport all the way into town?” Well, mystery solved.
Which brings me – long story longer – to what I promised to talk about today – the changes for next year on the Island. These are just the ones that I know about – I’m sure there will be more as the winter progresses.
1) The airport. As reported earlier, the runway pavement has been removed, the “hump” leveled out, sinkholes filled in, and the new runway is being paved. Contractors and State Park employees have discovered artifacts under the runway that date back to the early 1900’s. It’s plain to see that one area was used as a landfill, and as organic material decomposed, the runway dipped. The sinkhole areas have been excavated down 27′ to the bedrock, then stablized with two layers of stone and cloth. When all the work is complete, pilots will have a clear view from one end of the runway to the other (no hump in the middle). The new runway has been moved 65′ east of where it was originally, to be within FAA regulations which require 300′ of clear space beyond the runway. (I will try to get out to the airport before we leave for another photo of the progress – but I can’t promise.)
2) Dennis Cawthorne, who built the Village Inn Restaurant on Hoban Street in 1981, has entered into an agreement that allows the Grand Hotel to take over management of the restaurant Nov. 1. The restaurant will be named Cawthorne’s Village Inn – a Grand Hotel Restaurant. It’s my understanding that the very popular eatery (planked whitefish is the specialty-yum), managed beautifully by Ron and Mary Dufina for many, many years, will be closed from Nov. 1-Dec. 1 for renovations, then will reopen for the winter season.
3) The Grand Stable. The Grand Hotel’s “fleet” of Percherons and Hackneys are “moving on up” next spring – up the hill past the big horse barns to the area at the horse corral below our condo. Even though we knew it was coming, it was a huge surprise last week when I was walking home and found bulldozers, workers, and a huge mountain of dirt where before there was only grass and trees.
4) The Jockey Club. More work being done by the Grand!
Staying as long as we do into the fall, we get to see the beginnings of what will be new and beautiful in the Spring. As soon as Labor Day passes, planned construction begins. There’s a very short window of time to get renovations and new construction done between the end of the tourist season and the first snows of winter, and it is amazing to see how fast things get done up here in the fall!
There you have it – the changes that are coming that I know about now. It’s going to be exciting next Spring to arrive and see the airport, the Grand stable, and this new seating area for the Jockey Club – all shining and new. Even more to look forward to!
I’ll take Thursday off, but I’ll be back on Friday with more photos and more news. Thank you for your continuing comments and emails (more on that to come before we leave). Love and hugs to you all.