Mackinac Island Winter Update – Volume 3 11/30/2011

Hi everyone, and happy “Week after Thanksgiving”!  Ted and I enjoyed the most wonderful holiday with all the children and grandchildren at the Georgia lake house – except Blake, who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Denver, CO.  He’ll be home for Christmas though – can’t wait!

What better way to start this week’s update than with our first newsletter from Greg Main!  Thanks so much, Greg, for allowing me to share your wonderful words about life on the island during the winter months!

     “As we near the end of November, with the winter months just around the corner, there are changes in store for those of us still on Mackinac other than the weather.  Actually, these changes will also affect those of you who will be returning. 

     So far, we’ve experienced little in the way of winter-to-come, with only a few flurries in the air one afternoon and temperatures falling a few nights into the upper 20’s.  Typically, gray days, cool temps and rain forecasted every few days is a November we expect. 

     An expected change – one which was generally not wanted among this community – is the destruction of McNally Cottage.  Gone for good is yet another of the island’s historic structures.

     Another expected change, this one scenic in nature, was the removal of all the remaining mature maples lining both sides of Cadotte Avenue.  Their spindly replacements will take some time to get used to, as will the ‘new’ view looking up and down that street.  Hopefully, a few decades from now, future generations will be able to enjoy the same canopy-covered, photogenic street many of us will fondly remember.  One drawback (personal opinion, here) to the new plantings was the placement of one tree directly in front of Little Stone Church, making it impossible to get an unobstructed photograph of the church head-on.  However, it was the same way with the old trees.

     One of the unexpected changes is the change in management of the Village Inn.  After 28 years, Ron and Mary Dufina will no longer be leasing the building, as owner Dennis Cawthorne decided to let the Grand Hotel give it a go.  The new name, as I’m told, is something like ‘Cawthorne’s Village Inn, a Grand Hotel restaurant’,  but don’t officially hold me to that name. All of the kitchen equipment was removed a couple weeks ago for remodeling, and a lot of painting and other remodeling has been taking place in the bar and restaurant areas since the first of this month, with a December 1st re-opening still being anticipated.

     For the first couple weeks this month, the noxious odor of hot asphalt wafted downhill from the airport, intermittently invading the olfactory senses of anyone outside in the downtown area.  With that aspect of the airport job now nearly finished, the runway is once again open, although only for daytime flights until the new lighting installation is completed. 

     Our town Christmas tree was set up on Main Street, donated by Rosie Charnes from her property in the village.  This tree is strikingly different from the norm, it being much larger in height and girth.  It is a great looking tree, and we’re all looking forward to the official lighting.

     Just as we’ve been getting used to the continued running of Arnold Transit’s fast ferry, the announcement was posted today that the Chippewa, or ‘the slow boat’ to many of us, will be put into service beginning Saturday.  Shepler’s ferry is still running also, per the ferry ordinance, but there have been more empty or near-empty ferries coming and going every day between here and St. Ignace this Fall than I have ever seen before. 

     Mackinac Island’s first annual ‘Turkey Trot’, a 5k/3.1mile run/walk/ dog/walk/ bike/ whatever will take place Thanksgiving morning at 11 o‘clock, beginning at Doud’s Market, route unknown to me at this time.  It’s a just-for-fun event, untimed, unsanctioned.  Perhaps a good way to work off some calories before packing them back on later in the day.  

     Freighters remain an everyday sighting in the Straits.  It seems busier this November than most that I recall.  Maybe this is a sign of good things to come, economically.

     I’m getting started with these missives a bit later than usual this year as most of my week has been tied up with working.  It’s rehab time at the Island House Hotel, and every room is gone through, painted, patched and primped.  Five days per week there leaves little time for me to wander about, gathering ideas, mustering opinions or to chat with people in order to sit at this keyboard on a semi-regular basis and pass along things I might deem interesting . . .hopefully.

     It is that time of year when quiet returns.  The daily parade of dump trucks loaded with McNally site excavation dirt and gravel rumbling through town notwithstanding, traversing the bluffs, east and west, the Annex roads, interior trails and even circling State highway are a welcome contrast to the noise and hubbub of the all-too-brief summer season.  It isn’t so much that island wildlife is more abundant or noisy at this time of year, it’s the lack of human distractions which enable one to pause now and then, noticing an interesting architectural feature on a cottage, listen to the distinct, myriad warbles and trills of those non-migratory (or procrastinating) birds or to simply walk or bike slowly, taking in the newly-created vastness of the masses-free areas all over the rock.  It’s a good time to be here if you like the transition phases of Mackinac living.  We quickly fall into daily routines which, themselves, change little as winter approaches, sets in for a spell, then melts away a few months from now.  It can be a busy time for some, a relaxing time for others.  For those of us who like being busy with a day now and then to relax, it is, again, a good time to be here.

     This first offering will be rather short until I get myself into a routine sometime after the holidays, after which I can ‘settle in’ to hopefully have more to write each time along with new photos as often as possible.  Until the next time, I hope all is well with everyone wherever you are.”  Greg Main

As I’ve mentioned before, November is a slow month on the Island, with a lot of men off hunting.  November is also the month when many store owners are off the Island traveling to “market” and purchasing all the goodies we’ll want to buy next summer!

The St. Ignace News is a winter source for a lot of what I learn about the Island in the off-season, and this week’s issue was brimming with information.

  • In a story by Matt Mikus:  The skeletal remains of at least four humans found at the excavation site of the demolished McNally Cottage (believed by Cecil Pavlat, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians repatriation specialist, to be of Native American origin) may be reinterred in a memorial burial mound on the Island.  Pavlat stated at the Mackinac City Council Meeting on Nov. 16 that this would be a culturally acceptable means of repatriation and would help bring awareness to Native American history on the Island.  Pavlat plans to contact the Mackinac Island State Park Commission to find a possible location for the burial and the monument.  If the state park commission is unable to fulfill the request, there is also the possibility of a private landowner donating a plot of land.  In response to a question my council member Anneke Myers, Pavlat said the 400 yards of earth removed from the site could probably be contained and interpreted on a plot of land 200 feet square.
  • From Jeannette Doud’s Mackinac Island column:  1)  Folks are getting anxious about the lack of snow – snowmobiles are ready to go, but first that white stuff has to fall from the sky!  2)  The Island hosted its first Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  It was a 5K, 3.1 mile walk, run, or bicycle ride, and dogs were allowed.  The race wasn’t timed or sanctioned – it was just for fun.  3)  Christmas Bazaar December 3-5.  4)  Christmas tree lighting Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. (you can watch on the Island web cams at!)

Shepler’s “fast” ferry will continue to run through December 2 – and possibly longer, depending on weather conditions.  The Felicity is pulling the extra duty, with other Shepler fast ferries out of the water for the winter months. Although all the ferry companies now run only from St. Ignace, the Mackinac City Shepler Dock is decorated for Christmas.

Thanks to all the readers who “snagged” a photo off the webcams of the Christmas Tree going up in the middle of Main Street and emailed them to me.  The two I’m posting are from Smi Horn, who lives year-round on Mackinac and got a great shot from a different angle than the webcams –  and a shot at sunset tonight, Nov. 29, from Nicole Doud of Little Luxuries.

As Greg mentioned in his newsletter, this is a really BIG tree. Can't wait to see it glowing with lights this Friday night!

Nicole added this sunset shot of the unlit tree to her Little Luxuries Facebook page just tonight.

The Mackinac Island Tourist Bureau has a new site where Island videos are being posted.  This is the one I chose to highlight (about horses, of course, and with some great music), but once you’re there you can click on all the others.  Thanks to Mary Slevin for this snazzy new resource!

I’ll close with a few more photos from Steve Fridley . . . . . .

Mission Church on the east end of Main Street, before you get to Mission Point. If you've never been inside, please make a point to drop by on your next trip to the Island. Its peaceful simplicity will draw you in and bring a moment of calm to a busy day.

Marquette Park. Street lights. Full moon. Peek-a-boo clouds. Sigh.

A quiet fall evening downtown.

Fort Mackinac - with fall color!

Can’t believe when we talk next Wednesday it will be December, and we’ll all be in the middle of the Christmas hustle and bustle.  Let’s not forget, during all that craziness, to celebrate the true meaning of the season – the birth of the baby Jesus.  Love to you all!

God bless.

Shared by a friend - too, too cute!


14 thoughts on “Mackinac Island Winter Update – Volume 3 11/30/2011

  1. I can almost feel the nip in the air. The fall pictures are beautiful and oddly peaceful without humans and horses everywhere. It seems like something is missing. The pups are adorable.

  2. Loving all the updates from the island! Thanks to Greg for his wonderful letters, always love reading them. Saw some of the snow falling on the webcam the other night. Looked really pretty but nothing was sticking. Awesome picture from Nicole and ALWAYS love night pictures of town! Cute pups 🙂

  3. Brenda, do you know of any shops on the island that might have Mackinac Island Christmas ornaments for sale that could be ordered online? If anyone would know, it would be YOU!!

  4. Brenda,

    Really enjoyed your GA and Island posts this week. I can’t believe how much I miss the Island and can’t wait to return in the Spring. One of these years, I am going to make it to the Island during the winter. Thanks for your wonderful blogs!

  5. Brenda,

    I really look forward to your Winter Update blogs because, among other things, they are so informative. Although, I’m not there, it is nice to know what’s going on. And thank you for including the Greg Main letters.

    Speaking of winter, you should be at our house in Southern Michigan this morning. Seven inches of new snow on the porch. It’s a wet snow and the new trees we planted last month are bent over, one of them all the way to the ground. The sun is supposed to shine today, so hopefully the snow will melt off the trees very quickly and they will be alright. In the meantime, you’re welcome to come by and help me shovel snow. Be sure to wear your coat, cap and gloves because it’s 24 degrees right now.

      • After I wrote my comment, I went outside to measure the snowfall and take some pictures. Faye had already taken two before daylight. My “official” measurement was 9 1/2 inches.

        I have posted some pictures on my Facebook page ( for anyone who is interested, but especially for any of you “wimps” who can’t take the snow. Actually, I’m taking it because I don’t have any choice in the matter. I hope the temperature goes up and the snow melts soon. It is beautiful though.

  6. Thanks to you, Greg, and Steve for the updates and photos. Another great start to my day! As Lowell noted, we got some snow down here in the bottom of the mitten-we only got and inch or so here in Ypsi so the shovels did not have to make an appearance. We’re considering ourselves very fortunate though as a few communities over, they’re having some serious flooding issues due to all the rain that came before the snow. Lucky you in nice warm Georgia!

  7. I love your winter posts! That’s the Mackinac I knew and love. Special thanks for telling us about the really big Christmas tree – I eas wondering! Love hearing from Greg, too.

  8. Thanks for the update (Greg) and the photos….loved the last one of the dogs! Can’t wait to hear more from Greg on the opening on the “new” Village Inn. It wasn’t hard to notice how much bigger the tree is this year…..I’ll be watching at 5:00 on Friday for the lighting of the tree. We dodged a bullet on the snow here in Niles…..sorry Lowell and Jill….I know just east of here got a bunch. I too want to make it to the Island sometime in the winter.

  9. Thank you for the beautiful pictues. So glad y’al had a great Thanksgiving. Be sure and check out the camera on top of the Chippewa.

  10. Now THAT’s a decent sized tree! (I did think last year’s was a little disappointing!) I do hope I remember to be online at 2:00 pm PST to participate in the tree lighting! ;-))

    I love Greg’s update! and if that’s a short one, I can’t wait for his regular-sized ones!

    Thanks, Brenda, for keeping is all in touch, no matter where we are!

  11. Now I know what Cathie is doing in the middle of the night. She’s trying to get the first blog comment in. One day I’ll make it. Lowell gets up too early, I’m still drinking coffee, but I do enjoy his wonderful comments. He seems to have a very interesting yard, what with new flowers, new snow, new trees and other stuff. My dog protective services have managed to keep our yard free of snow so far this winter. Wonderful pictures of the big tree and other stuff. Know ya’ll had a great Thanksgiving and looking forward to Christmas. We have a lot to be thankful for. It should be a very festive season ; except for Ted and his inferior Bulldog football team.

  12. Thanks Greg for the letter! Very informational! I have been looking at mackinaclive and saw the tree so I am anxious to see it lite. Whoever your friend is with the dog pictures, it is absolutely hilarious! I love it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s