Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 13 – 2/29/2012

Hi everyone!

The BIG NEWS for Mackinac Island is that ferry service has started again!  No one can remember the last time ferries were running in February, but as of today (Feb. 28) Arnold Ferry’s Huron is making three round trips daily from St. Ignace to Mackinac.  And that makes the 500+ year-round Island residents mighty happy!

More ferry news came from a called Mackinac Island City Council meeting on Monday:  For those qualifying for Resident Passes on ferry tickets, they must be purchased prior to March 31.  Summer residents are urged to make arrangements to purchase those tickets before that date, even if your arrival time to the island will be later.

Have you ever heard of an International Dark Sky Park?  I hadn’t either.  But only a few miles west of Mackinac Island and north of Petoskey – along Lake Michigan –  a small 600-acre stretch of old-growth timber has been declared Michigan’s first such park – one of only six in the U.S., and only 10 total in the world.  Very few places on this earth offer a full night sky of stars and galaxies that isn’t drowned out by lights from streetlights and buildings.  The Dark Sky Park was designated by the Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association.  Experts measured the amount of light in the area, and found that it offered a clear, unaltered view of the night sky.  Full status will be granted shortly, and Emmet County has passed an ordinance to curtail the growth of artificial light at night in surrounding areas, with the land in and around the park zoned for natural conditions and stringent lumen limits. (Source: Triple Tri Blog)

The night sky - without lighting from the earth.

This past week a film crew was out on the ice in front of Colonial Michilimackinac in Mackinaw City shooting a documentary on Great Lakes ice and its impact on the environment.  For more information about the film, visit

A Mackinac Island Historic Parks photographer captured the film crew out on the ice.

I absolutely love that there is a Meals on Snowmobiles program during the winter on the Island.  Every Tuesday and Thursday over 40 hot meals are delivered to senior citizens who are year-round Island residents.  If snow covers the ground, the meals are delivered  by snowmobile.  This winter, however, with snow not being very plentiful, the meals have been delivered at times by a fire department truck.  The meals are prepared by John Cadotte, who has been a chef on the Island,  and Tom Boburka, who is an artist and cooks at Sinclair’s Irish Pub and other restaurants. Island volunteers help with the delivery of the meals, and at least once a week children from the island school make deliveries, helping them stay connected to the older members of the community.  The program is funded by Ste. Anne’s Church, with support from the Mackinac Island Community Foundation.  (Story source:  The Mackinac Island Town Crier)

You know how excited I get about seeing the “Horton” name in the Town Crier?  Well, you can imagine my excitement when they used a photo of Ted, Blake, and I from our Colorado trip in the Winter edition!

Our “Village” neighbor, Jackie Bradley, was named Mackinac Island’s Volunteer of the Year recently.  Jackie passes our condo on an almost daily basis, walking to town with several children she watches for working parents.  She is everywhere on the Island – always helping others.  A great choice for this award!

I think I’ve mentioned that I am speaking to a DAR group in my hometown of Sylvester next week about Island history as it relates to the American Revolution and the War of 1812.  Ted has volunteered to go with me and cover the history aspect of the talk, while I will mainly talk about the “magic” of the Island (kind of a two-for-one special).  An email to Mary McGuire Slevin of the Tourism Bureau yielded a big package of goodies to share with the DAR ladies.

Thanks, Mary!

That about covers the news I have.  Now for a group of photographs that you are going to LOVE!

My Mackinaw City friend, Chris Ann - who winters in south Florida - had family members staying at their cottage on Lake Michigan last week. They emailed her this photo of part of their group walking on the ice just off the shore of their property. You can see the Mackinac Bridge off to the right.

This made me dizzy looking at it - a VERY old photograph of the bridge under construction in the 1950's from LIFE Magazine via Circle Michigan. The roadway is not there yet - just the suspension cables. Oh. My. Goodness.

Smi Horn captured this scene last week of the Mackinac Island Fire Department responding to a minor fire downtown. Main Street almost has a traffic jam!

Ice in the harbor and a great view of the East Bluff cottages. (Photo: Heather May)

Coffee Trail. (Photo: Heather May)

This parking space is occupied. (Photo: Heather May)

This photo by Heather May looks almost "otherworldly". It was taken right in front of the Island School and shows ice stacked up by the wind and water currents. That sky looks really eerie. Heather said she used a couple of filters to get some of this effect.

An inside shot of the Mackinac Island Public Library by the Tourism Bureau. I have always LOVED this blue. It is different, it is striking, it is "Mackinac".

The road ahead, taken from the snowmobile of Mary Mcguire Slevin.

Until today, the airport was the only game in town to get on and off the island. These two photos from Robert McGreevy show a full parking lot . . .

. . . and a plane arriving filled with supplies.

I think that’s it for this week.  Hope all of you are doing well.  Spring is right around the corner!

God bless.

20 thoughts on “Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 13 – 2/29/2012

  1. Love all of Heather’s pictures especially the “otherworldly” one. That is so cool…looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. The dark sky park sounds awesome! Can you imagine how many stars you could see without all of the city lights…wow! Your name and picture in the Town Crier? I’m not surprised at all…just wondering what took them so long. 🙂

  2. Hi Brenda,
    Dave and I were out at McGulpin lighthouse last summer and they told us all about the dark sky park. We took a drive out there. It was about 7:00 pm and it was already so dark in the woods it was spooky. I heard from my cousin in Petoskey that the original big building on the beach will be torn down because it’s not safe anymore. I can’t wait to see what will be built and what it looks like at night. Where we live is all heavy light pollution.

  3. I can remember going up to Mullet Lake when I was a kid, and the Milky Way was evident. Not any more. . . . So, that dark sky park sounds wonderful! Thanks for keeping us up to date!

  4. Wow,wow,and double wow. The Town Crier,Taylors birthday party,the night sky,and Heather’s other world picture. I just love you so much. Thank you for making me so homesick I could just jump into our truck and go up I75.

  5. About the Sky Park , you mentioned there are only a few in the world , So, what is the purpose of the Sky Park besides looking at the night sky ? Why was this area choosen of all places ? This is an honor for Michigan !!!
    P.S I love all of your Pictures

    • Thanks, Shawn. And I think that is exactly the purpose – to find the few places left on earth where the night sky can be viewed without any interference of man-made lights. You can Goggle “sky park michigan” and find lots of stories about the intent of this association. The area in Michigan is only five miles from Mac City.

  6. Brenda, I’m curious. In the winter, how do they move supplies around town? Do they still have drey horses on the island for moving supplies?


    • Yes, Tom. It’s all done exactly like it is in the summer – unless a small load of something could be moved by snowmobile. All the trucks you saw on that one pic with the firetruck are probably there with the construction going on with the new hotel. Trucks are NOT used to transport supplies. The island truly does strive to maintain its vehicle-less status year-round.

  7. Dark Sky Park sounds like a must see… Making a note of that right now. Thanks for the tip and as always, thanks for brightening my day. Work has been extraordinarily busy lately and it’s nice to read your blog, look at photos and drift away, even if it’s only for a minute or two.

  8. I too will have to make a point to stop by the Dark Sky Park. I love going up north because you can see more stars it seems than down state where we are. I’ll put that on my list for this summer for sure. Thanks!

  9. The bridge pictures makes me nervous just to look at it. Everytime I drive across it my heart is pounding & hands are sweating. I do have my pride so I don’t ask the bridge patroll workers to drive me across but I hear they will do it if you ask! Last summer my 20 year old niece and I were leaving the island and she insisted on driving across the bridge so she could brag to her friends. I was a complete mess and ended up putting my hands over my eyes until we were on the other side!!!

  10. Enjoyed the pictures so much and felt especially connected to two. First I am a DAR and wish you would come to Kansas to give your talk. Second I was on a boat under the bridge when they lifted the last big support piece. I was 12. I don’t remember being all that impressed but then… I was 12. 🙂

    FYI, for a piece this summer. The Mackinac Island Yacht Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this summer starting with a gathering in May.

  11. Brenda,

    I watched the Bridge being built when it was in that state of completion (or should I say incompletion). However, my watching certainly wasn’t from that vantage point. I was watching with binoculars from Ella Chamber’s front porch on Cadotte Ave. at the head of Mahoney Ave. She had excellent binoculars and I could bring the workers close enough to touch. Such wonderful memories I have! I’m thankful to be so fortunate.

    The picture of the people on the ice brought to mind the time, as a teenager, my dad and younger brother walked across the ice from a point northeast of Cheboygan to Bois Blanc Island. Our guide was a man (and his two sons our age) who lived on Bois Blanc in the summer and in Cheboygan the rest of the year so his boys could go to high school there. On the way over, it started to snow very hard and we couldn’t see anything in that all white world, but that man had a perfect sense of direction and we arrived on Bois Blanc exactly where we were headed.

  12. Thanks Brenda, for mentioning the Night Sky Park designation at The Headlands. This is a VERY big deal for Mackinaw City. They are hoping to draw people from all over the country to see the sky as our ancestors did. Let’s all try to get our there this summer.

  13. I have a new computer background to enjoy – the sparkling stars at night! I have only seen a night sky like that once. It was deep in the Appalachian back country when I was young. its amazing to really see the night sky without light pollution. Everyone should witness it at least once in their lifetime. If you can go to the new park in Michigan. You will not regret it. Beautiful and wonderous. I also saved the errie photo too. Very cool!

  14. Wow, that night sky! In our area we never get to see that. The only time I have seen something like that was while in Uganda in a remote village. I could have just laid out there for days watching the sky.

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