Throw Back Tuesday – The Many Shades of Lilac 2/28/17

Personal Note:  Ahhh -Mackinac Lilacs!  Once you’ve been on the island for the Lilac Festival, you’ll always want to come back for the next one!______________________________________________________________________

First Published:  May 31, 2012

Until we moved to Mackinac Island for our summers five years ago, I never gave much thought to lilacs.  Before we bought on the Island, we’d come up for two weeks in July, thereby missing the lilacs blooming and the Lilac Festival by several weeks.  It was actually our second summer on the Island – when we arrived in May for the first time – that brought them to my attention, and ever since then the topic of “when will the lilacs bloom” has become almost as important as “when will the fall colors arrive”.

Being from the south, I didn’t know a lot about lilacs.  The closest thing we have to a lilac in Georgia is the crape myrtle – they’re even called “the lilac of the South”.  Our crape myrtles (we have two in the yard at the lake in Georgia) are white-blooming, but they come in pink and several shades of purple also – just like lilacs.  What crape myrtles do not have is that unbelievable perfume lilacs produce, and that perfume is hovering over Mackinac Island right now – a scent so sweet and heavy you could almost float on it .  The lilacs are in full bloom – not good for the Lilac Festival which doesn’t begin until June 8; but hey – no one has any control over when they bloom but the good Lord.  And who’s going to fuss about His timing?

Tonight I just want to share a few photos I’ve taken this week of the lilacs I see on a daily basis.  Most of these are in the downtown area, so you know there are hundreds more lilacs around the Island that aren’t even represented here.  It’s been fun for me this week to try and capture them in relation to something else – a home, a building, other trees, water, even a wedding carriage.

I sure wish I could attach a scratch-and-sniff add-on right here so you could inhale the perfume as you look at the photos.

Grey-white Percherons and the burgundy Grand Hotel omnibus, with lilacs blooming in the background. Does anything say “Mackinac Island” any better than this?

From the corner of Cadotte and Market, up to that first curve on the way to the Grand, the lilacs are putting on a major show!  These are some of the Island’s oldest lilacs.

The last and worst snow and ice storm of the winter took many of the over-a-hundred-year-old lilac bushes in Marquette Park. The ones that remain seem to be trying their best to make up in quality what they lost in quantity.  Maquette Park is a fantasy-land of lilacs.

I never tire of admiring all the different shades of purple these trees produce. From dark . . .

. . . to light . . .

. . . and everything in between.

Lavender Adirondack chairs enjoy the shade of a lilac bush so large I’d call it a tree – in the yard of what else . . . the Lilac House Bed & Breakfast!

A private tour buggy turns onto Market from Fort Street. The lilac bushes here are in front of the Market Street Inn and next to Weber’s Florist.

This wall of lilac bushes all but hides the Mackinac Island Public School, across Cadotte from Little Stone Church.

Lilacs form a canopy over the preparation of a wedding carriage.

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Street, perfectly framed by white lilacs on one side and lavender on the other.

Steven Blair couldn’t ask for a better setting for his Artistic Mackinac Gallery and Studio. Can’t imagine a shade of purple that’s not represented here.

The lovely McGreevy Cottage on Market Street.

I’m hoping some the lilacs you’ve seen here will last another week for the start of the Lilac Festival, and there are other later-blooming varieties that will fill in over the next couple of weeks.  But have no fear, Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival is ten days of wonderful entertainment with everything from the arts, to good food, to the best parade in all of Michigan.  Come on up- I promise you will have a great time!


Lazy Sunday 2/26/17

Hi Friends!

I’m going to be lazy this afternoon (and besides that the Daytona 500 is on, and if you live in Florida, you’re required to watch) and just put up a couple of links to two very interesting news stories from 9 & 10 News in Michigan – both of which are about our favorite island!  These are really well done, aired recently, and talk about life on Mackinac during the winter months! Hope you enjoy!

See you back here on Tuesday!

God bless.

A sunset photo from two years ago, courtesy of Clark Bloswick.

A sunset photo from two years ago, courtesy of Clark Bloswick.

Throw Back Thursday – Snapshots from a Golf Cart – or How to Ruin Your Husband’s Golf Game in One Short Morning 2/23/17

Personal Note:  This was such a fun day for me!  Maybe not so much for Ted.

Header:  Ice in the water in front of the Chippewa Hotel on Wednesday, Feb. 22..  (Photo:  Terry Conlon)


First Published September 23, 2009

Ted just started playing golf after he retired, so he is relatively new to the game.  Since we’ve been up here this summer, he’s played only once – with Duck, our neighbor.  This morning he got up with golf on the brain.  He walked over and asked Duck if he wanted to play, but Duck was going off island today.  He came back in the house, looked at me (as if he knew I was his only chance of not having to go alone) and said, “You want to come with me to play 9 holes?” 

Now even that statement is hilarious to me.  He knew I wasn’t going to actually “play” – what he wanted was someone to tag along who he could complain to when he didn’t hit well (or maybe that’s in baseball).  Anyway, it was a cloudy morning, and I didn’t really have any other plans, so I said, “Sure, I’ll bring the camera!”  Ted just rolled his eyes.

He had called yesterday for a tee time (10 a.m.), so we rode our bikes down to the pro shop at the Grand.  Jason, the pro, got us into a cart (the really fun part of this game as far as I’m concerned), and away we went.

The Grand has two courses – the Jewel and the Woods.  They are nine holes each, and the courses are about a mile apart.  When you finish the ninth at the Jewel, you hop on a horse-drawn shuttle for a ride up to the Woods for the second nine.  Ted was only going to play the Jewel.

I admit to knowing just about nothing about golf.  It is a sport, just like football, baseball, tennis, and volleyball.  And, as most of you know by now – if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all – I am not much of a sports fan.  As my husband will tell you with great enthusiasm, to me they are all GAMES.  People should play games for fun.  Therefore, no one should get all worked up over them.   If you don’t get to watch a football game as it is being played, you can always find out the score the next day – or the next!  To me, it is no big deal!  To Ted, it is the difference between life as we know it and some alternate universe!

As we were driving the cart (excuse me, as Ted was driving the cart) out to the first tee, I called our son Jason in Atlanta. 

“Guess where we are!” I said. 

Jason, who LOVES golf, said, “Where – and don’t tell me the golf course!” 

“Yep,” I said.  “Just about to serve off the first tee!”

Jason said, “You serve in tennis, mom.”

“I knew that,” I said.

Jason told me that I would get a totally different view of the island from the golf course.  He had played the Jewel last summer when he was here and came home talking about what a great course it was.

So Ted played golf, and I snapped pictures (making occasional helpful comments on his game).  Here’s the game in pictures – with captions. 

Ted, about to tee off on the first hole of the Jewel.

Ted, about to tee off on the first hole of the Jewel.

The fairway for the first hole. The grass was wet, and the greens were slow (I heard Tiger Wood say that one time).

The fairway for the first hole. The grass was wet, and the greens were slow (I heard Tiger Wood say that one time).

In a couple of weeks, this will be one of the most beautiful trees on the island. I must have taken 20 pictures of it last year from Cadotte Avenue.

In a couple of weeks this will be one of the most beautiful trees on the island. I must have taken 20 pictures of it last year from Cadotte Avenue.


Can you believe it? Swans on Mackinac Island! NOT! These are actually swan impostors, posted in strategic locations on the golf course to scare away the Canadian Geese. It seems geese hate swans!

A beautiful shot down the fairway, over the trees, and into the water (that's the photograph, not Ted's golf shot).

A beautiful shot down the fairway, over the trees, and into the water (that’s the photograph, not Ted’s golf shot).

The steps led to the teebox on this hole.

The steps led to the teebox on this hole.

This was just beautiful. At first I was concerned because it was cloudy, but the clouds filtered the light so the colors were perfect. I think bright sunshine would have bleached out all the lush greens.

This was just beautiful. At first I was concerned because it was cloudy, but the clouds filtered the light so the colors were perfect. I think bright sunshine would have bleached out all the lush greens.

I think it was here that I asked Ted if this was a Par 10 hole.

I think it was here that I asked Ted if this was a Par 10 hole.

What can I say except - Wow!

What can I say except – Wow!

Another Par 10 hole!

No comment.

You can see the top of Turkey Hill through the trees here. If you look closely, you can see a couple turning the corner from the Governor's Summer Residence, starting down the hill toward town.

You can see the top of Turkey Hill through the trees here. If you look closely, you can see a couple turning the corner from the Governor’s Summer Residence, starting down the hill toward town.

The highest point of the Jewel. There is a bench sitting under these trees, and all I wanted to do was sit there and just look out.

The highest point of the Jewel. There is a bench sitting under these trees, and all I wanted to do was sit there and just look out.

Another view from that hill.

Another view from that hill.

A water hazard, with the Grand in the background.

A water hazard, with the Grand in the background.

On one of the last holes, we could look through the trees out over the roofs of town to the water.

On one of the last holes, we could look through the trees out over the roofs of town to the water.

How Ted finds all the balls in the odd places he hits them is beyond me. He told me several times that I am supposed to be watching where the ball goes when he hits it. I told him I do watch where it is supposed to go - but it never goes there. He didn't comment. Probably a good thing.

How Ted finds all the balls in the odd places he hits them is beyond me. He told me several times that I am supposed to be watching where the ball goes when he hits it. I told him I do watch where it is supposed to go – but it never goes there. He didn’t comment. Probably a good thing.

We were near Cadotte Avenue on the next to last hole. Carriages and taxis were going by - it was very distracting for Ted, especially when I would wave to everyone.

We were near Cadotte Avenue on the next to last hole. Carriages and taxis were going by – it was very distracting for Ted, especially when I would wave to everyone.

Me, in the golfcart.

Me, in the golfcart.

Ted, sinking a beautiful putt on the 9th hole.

Ted, sinking a beautiful putt on the 9th hole.

I had a wonderful time “playing golf” with Ted this morning.  He sweetly said he had really enjoyed having me along, so  I asked him when we could do it again.   I feel sure I just misunderstood him, but I could have sworn the words “pigs” and “fly” were in his answer.

Throw Back Tuesday – By Our Side Down Life’s Road 2/21/17

Personal Note:  This is one of those magical Mackinac stories that just appeared out of thin air during the 2011 Festival of the Horse.

Header:  Betty Elmhirst on Drummond


First published July 27, 2011

Betty Elmhirst, from Drummond Island in the U.P. of Michigan, decided to come to Mackinac Island this past Saturday to attend the Festival of the Horse Breed Show.  A horse lover all her life, Betty has owned and trained her own horses for many years and was looking forward to an afternoon of sitting in the sun and watching some great looking horses strut their stuff.

The day was also a celebration for Betty.  After a battle with cancer, she had returned for more testing last week.  A few days later she received word she could now celebrate her one-year anniversary of being cancer-free.  She was pumped and ready for a worry-free, happy day of watching horses.  She got so much more than that.

Betty arrived on the island, made her way up Cadotte to the Burroughs Lot, paid her entrance fee, and settled into a good viewing spot to watch the show.  About half-way through, a beautiful black Tennessee Walker, ridden by owner Penny Barr, entered the ring.  The announcer began to talk about the horse, named Drummond because Drummond Island was the horse’s home when Penny bought him.

Betty’s heart began to pound as she watched the horse walk around the arena in the smooth gait for which Tennessee Walkers are known.

Penny Barr, riding her horse Drummond in the Breed Show.

A thousand thoughts went careening through Betty’s mind.  She once owned a black Tennessee Walker named Domino’s Dazzie.  She had trained him herself, then sold him to a teacher on Drummond Island.  Black Tennessee Walkers are not common, and Betty remembered Dazzie as easily trainable, with a wonderful disposition.   At some point she heard Dazzie had been sold again.  Years passed, and she often wondered what had happened to the special horse.  As any animal lover would, Betty often thought of Dazzie and hoped he was healthy and in a good home.

The more Betty watched Drummond in the ring, the more her interest perked.  When he turned and came toward the area where she was sitting, she saw the star on his forehead, then looked down and saw he had one white sock.  She remembers screaming, “That’s my horse!”

I was standing at one of the corners of the arena fence, snapping photos when I heard Betty’s words.  I turned to find Janice Groat – wife of Jim, whose company built the new community stable – listening as Betty (as yet unintroduced to me) talked about the Tennessee Walker in the ring.  Jim and Janice own Mystic Meadows Farm, a certified riding academy and home to champion Tennesee Walker Horses.  Janice’s eyes were sparkling as she listened to Betty’s story, and of course, sensing a story, I introduced myself to Betty and started listening.

By this time Penny and Drummond had finished in the arena, and Penny, not knowing about the drama playing out nearby, had walked away to chat with someone, leaving Drummond with a handler.  We all walked over to Drummond and watched as Betty was reunited with her horse.  It was evident right away that Drummond aka Dazzie recognized Betty.  His ears perked forward at the sound of her voice, and within moments Betty was in the saddle, guiding Drummond through the moves she had taught him.

Horse and rider – smoothly transitioning into one fluid being. A two legged creature moving a four-legged creature through his paces with a touch of hand or knee or foot.   No need for stirrups – Betty’s grip on Drummond’s back is strong and intuitive.

Back on the ground, Betty whispers sweet words to her former horse.

Betty told us nothing could make her happier than knowing Drummond is a much-loved horse of a Mackinac Island summer resident.

Eventually, someone found Penny, and she came over to see what the fuss was all about.  She was so excited to meet Betty and learn some of Drummond’s background.  She invited Betty to the island to ride Drummond anytime she wanted.

Betty, Drummond, and Penny Barr, his present owner.

Betty said she never would have thought anything could make her happier than she already was on Saturday.  But seeing Drummond again sure put the icing on the cake!

When we think of those companions who traveled by our side down life’s road, let

us not say with sadness that they left us behind, but rather say with gentle

gratitude that they once were with us.

Author Unknown

Snow 2/19/17

When I think of Mackinac Island in the winter, it is with the wistful spirit of a south Georgia woman who hasn’t had nearly enough snow in her life.  I think some of that may be just the human condition of always wanting what we don’t have.

I’m pretty sure there are folks up north who dream of winters spent in Florida – warm beaches, sunglasses, big umbrellas in the sand (and tiny ones in tall, cool drinks), waves lapping up to toes (but not far enough to wet the beach blanket), and seagulls and pelicans doing dips and dives into the surf after fish and other sea creatures.  People in California probably yearn for time in New York, and Texas residents may dream of having a little cottage in New England.

But I dream of snow.  I know I’ve written variations on this theme before, and I know y’all are probably tired of hearing it.  But it’s such a part of me now that I could probably write at least a few sentences about my love of snow every single day.

When did my romance with snow begin?  I can tell you exactly.

Many, many years ago – a long, long time before Ted – I sat with friends at a table in Helen, GA.  We had gone up for a late Fall weekend in the mountains of north Georgia and were surprised beyond belief when, just as we were going to dinner, it began to snow.  It was the second time I’d ever seen snow and the first time I’d ever seen more than a few flurries.  We had reservations at a small charming restaurant off the beaten path and part-way up a mountain – actually it was an old home whose rooms had been turned into private little hideaways, with only a table or two sharing the same space.  Beautiful music was playing softly throughout the house, and somehow we were fortunate enough to be seated at a window.

I have no recollection at all of what I ate that night or even if the food was good.  All I remember is sitting at that window, chin propped on my hand, staring dreamily through lacey curtains as snow silently fell, settling on tree limbs and the front porch of this old house.  I could see the lights of a small town below us, twinkling off and on through the big, fluffy snowflakes.  I fell in love with snow that evening – the beauty, romance, stillness, silence and dignified grace of it.  I can pull that night up at will and remember being filled with  the quiet joy of that scene. It remains one of my fondest memories.

While searching for blog material today I kept going back to snow photos from Mackinac.  The ones below are shared by Greg Main, who spends his winters (and summers) on the island.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.

A Christmas scene on Main Street.


Snowing so hard I can barely recognize it – but pretty sure this is Market Street.

Another view of Market Street, with snowmobiles

Another view of Market Street, with a few snowmobiles ready to take folks home.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The beautiful Metivier Inn, dressed in her winter best.

The road that circle Fort Holmes.

The road that circles Fort Holmes – at sunrise.

Silent night, Holy night.

Silent night, Holy night.


A panoramic view of the homes across from the Board Walk.


A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hug to light the way.

A groomed trail for the first Twilight Trek in January. Lanterns are hung to light the way.

A real life Snow Village.

A real life Snow Village . . . .


The Snow Village as she sleeps.

I know my love affair with snow is viewed with the biased eyes of one who has never lived with it day after day, or dealt with the miseries it brings to daily living and travel.  No, my affair with snow is “pure as the driven” Mackinac version – no cars to pollute it, no garbage thrown on top of it, no traffic jams caused by it.  Seeing Mackinac in the snow transports me back to the scene from that north Georgia window so many years ago.  And that’s the vision I choose to cling to over the years.

God bless.



Throw Back Thursday – Rideable Art 2/16/17

Personal Note:  I loved doing this story!  It involved an afternoon of Jill and I traipsing around the downtown area looking for different bikes, different bike baskets, different bike seats, etc.  Jill is an expert bike analyst, and we had so much fun that day!

Header: A photo from the Rideable Art blog.


First published in August, 2010

Sometimes I get so hung up on posting pretty pictures that I forget to talk about subjects that are of vital importance to those of us who live on the island – and those of you who are planning to visit.  It wasn’t until a reader recently suggested I write a blog on Mackinac Island bicycles that I even thought about everything I hadn’t written about bikes in almost two summers of blogging.  So consider this “Bikes 101” – or “What Everyone Should Know about Two-Wheelers Before Coming to the Island.”  In the time it takes to complete this little seminar,  you’ll also get to see some pretty snazzy bikes – “rideable art” as Grant Petersen has called them.

After I got off work at the Stuart House Museum this afternoon, Jill and I set out to tour downtown looking at different kinds of bikes.  That hadn’t been my original intent, but as usual, anything I plan to do during the day gets changed 10 times before 9 o’clock each morning.  Jill had an hour-and-a-half before she had to be at work, and if there is anyone on this island who knows everything about bikes on Mackinac, it’s Jill.  After all, she’s been coming to the Island every year since the 70’s – that’s a lot of bike knowledge!  She had popped into the Stuart House a little while before I got off and had on the cutest shirt – it was covered in bikes.  Thus, my inspiration to go ahead and write the bike story today instead of what I had originally planned.

Jillski in her biking shirt.

Most of the bikes you’ll be seeing are personal bikes of folks who live here during the summer, although a few may be rentals. 

If you are going to be on the island for more than a week, you need to bring your own bike.  Even having to pay to bring it across on the ferry ($8.00, I think) will be way cheaper than renting one for a week.  Of course, if you just like to hike around, no bike is necessary – or you can rent one for a day or two.  That’s what Ted and I did when we came on vacation for two weeks every summer.  We’d only rent bikes once – the day we biked around the island each year.  Once we bought the condo, we bought bikes to keep here. 

This is the bike I ride now – it’s a Biria, which Ted bought used at the end of last summer.  The Biria was introduced into the U.S. market in 2002 and was designed in Germany.  The “step-through” mounting is why I love this bike.  No lifting the old leg over a bar.  These bikes are unisex.  Except for the easy-mount feature, this is a really plain bike – I haven’t even put a basket on it yet.  But it does have a spring-operated device behind the seat that allows me to put my purse and other stuff there.  It also has both hand and foot operated brakes, which is pretty cool.  I do need a basket though.  Please also notice the really chic shower cap I use as a rain protector for the seat.  I learned the hard way to buy the shower caps that are $2.00 each – not the 3 for $.97 shower caps.

When Jill and I started cruising the bike stands around town, we focused on unique colors, basket design, and any other feature that stood out and shouted, “This bike belongs to somebody who has a mind of his or her own!”  When you live on the island all summer (or all year), and your bike is your only form of wheeled transportation, you want it to be special – just like on the mainland you want the coolest car on the street. 


Shiny pink!


Baby blue. This could be a rental because I don’t see a bike permit sticker anywhere (but I could have missed it). If you ride your own bike on the island, you go to the police station, pay $3.50 for a permit, and stick it on the crossbar – just like buying the annual sticker for your car tag – only way cheaper!

A spiffy black & white design.  Definitely a girls’s bike.  Wow – look at that – flowers on the fenders too!

A blue-patterned bike.  Again this could be a rental.  The bike shops will add a basket to any bike you rent at no charge.  Always ask for a basket!  You will be surprised how much will end up in there – your purse, your camera, your jacket, your water bottle, PLUS your husband’s sweatshirt he wants to take off halfway around the island.

Deep coral. Very pretty.  See all the stickers on the cross bar – definitely an islander’s bike.

Three bikes – three shades of green!

I’m going to call this peach, although I don’t think that’s right.  Maybe my readers can help me here.  Cool bike with it’s own cup holder and a big, black wire basket.  Has a bell on the handlebars too.

Two-tone.  This one is pink and white . . .

. . . this one – green and white.

Bright, bright yellow – and my personal favorite of the colors I photographed today.  Notice the custom handlebars.


Picture this.  It’s a rainy day on Mackinac Island – or a few hours AFTER the rain.  Someone is riding around town with no idea whatsoever that from the back neck of whatever shirt/coat/sweater they are wearing, all the way down to where their bottom is planted on the bike seat, there is a wide, very distinct stripe of mud and horsepoop.  That stripe is there because the bike has no fender.  If you’re going to ride a bike on the island, you need fenders.  Trust me on that.


For the discriminating shopper – dual baskets, one on each side of the back tire. Great for a trip to Douds.  Plastic bag seat cover.  Not as good as a shower cap – but readily available at any store downtown (or stuff one in your pocket before you leave home).

What to do with leftover carpet pieces? Make a custom bottom for your bike basket. If you’re carrying something breakable – this helps.  Look at the extra shock absorbers under the bike seat.  I bet this is one is an extra-comfy ride!

A line of standard wire baskets.

Our best guess was this must belong to the guy who delivers pizza for Island Slice.

A wood-bottomed basket. Doesn’t cushion as well as carpet, but won’t stay wet as long either – if it happens to rain.  Again, the all-important bungee cord.

The ultimate in padding.  This biker is taking old bike inner tubes and cutting them into strips.  The strips are then woven through the wire, creating a padded basket.  No breakage!

Hmmmm – this one has led a long and out-in-the-elements life.  Still going strong though and attached to what looks like a brand new bike.  It’s kinda like buying a new car and telling the dealership to put your old car’s hood ornament on the new car.  Some things you just can’t part with.


We see a lot of these bikes come off boats anchored in the marina. They’re light, and they fold up into a compact, easy-to-store means of transportation.

I loved these two bikes and wish I could have met their owners. The guy bike looks military, even had a star on the crossbar. The girl’s bike is feminine and distinct.  Even the way they’re locked together looks cute.

I can’t tell you how many times we saw “his and hers” Schwinns locked together this afternoon . . .

. . . here are two more – although these might be “his and his”.  It’s hard to tell sometimes because they are making a lot of bikes now with a crossbar that is unisex.


We know this couple, and the husband bought his wife this bike for her birthday. She added the cute sign.  It has bells, cute matching black/white trim on red, a great big basket, and a cup holder.  She said she added the tassles just to prove she was still a little girl at heart.

No doubt about it – this guy is a Packers fan!

Haven’t figured out exactly how to interpret this ornament – but it’s sure cute!

Obviously a Great Turtle Toys employee.

This guy tells his whole story on his bike basket – he loves Michigan, Mackinac Island, Superman, and America.  What more could you possibly need to know?


Seats are as unique now as clothing. Zebra . . . flowers . . . and a shower cap to keep it dry.

Jill’s bike seat. Geez Louise – she’s going to kill me for putting this on here.

Under-the-seat storage.

Spider-Man seat – in fact, it was a Spider-Man bike! Cute, cute, cute!

Just when I think I know all the tricks, I learn a new one. See the hankie stuffed under the seat? That’s there in case it rains, and you didn’t bring a seat cover. Just whip it out, dry off the seat, stuff it back under the seat, and hop on.


There is an area on the island where all recovered bikes go to wait out the winter. These bikes have usually been stolen (although in most cases, “borrowed and not returned” is a better phrase to use. Someone doesn’t want to have to walk somewhere, spots an unlocked bike, hops on and rides off on it. When they get to where they needed to go, they push the bike into a nearby crowded bike rack and walk off. This happens a lot on the island. Usually all an owner has to do is go downtown and look around for a while, and he will find his bike. We’ve had bikes stolen out of our yard (they were unlocked), and they’ve always been found downtown the next morning – twice they were found in the police department bike parking lot!

But – sometimes no one looks for the bike, or the bike is abandoned in the woods, and no one finds it for a month when someone happens upon it while walking a trail, or season workers have bought a used bike at the beginning of the summer and just leave it on the dock when they leave for the winter. Any recovered bike is brought to this storage area. In the Spring, the bikes are auctioned off to the highest bidder. A great time to get a good bike for very little money!

Finally, I wanted to show you a true, true, true island bike.

We counted 15 years of bike permits on this bike.  It has your standard fenders, a large wire basket with bungee cords, another Super Soft bike seat, and – very important – a mounted bike light for night biking.  This biker is prepared for anything, anytime, anywhere.


  • If you use plastic bags as seat covers, ALWAYS throw them into a trash can.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, spooks the horses of the Island like a plastic bag flying across the road.  It is a hazard everyone who lives here deals with everyday, and that’s why – when you are here – you will probably see at least one islander chasing a bag down the road.  Please throw them away – or stick them way down in your pocket so you can use them again.
  • The road is for horses and bikes.  The sidewalk is for walking.  No bikes on the sidewalk, no walking in the street.
  • Horses always have the right of way.  It’s so much easier for you to stop and wait than it is for a driver to stop two 2,200 lb. horses.
  • Always, always, always lock your bike.
  • Always, always, always wear a helmet.

Without Jill’s vast knowledge of all things “bike”, I couldn’t have written this one!  Thanks, Jillski!


Throw Back Tuesday – From Sails to Horseshoes 2/14/17

Personal Note:  I thought this was a perfect post today since it involves a good friend who I don’t get to see or talk to nearly enough anymore.  Today is Mary Stancik’s birthday (she was born on Valentine’s Day and will forever be known to those of us who love her as Mary Valentine).  She no longer works on Mackinac Island, but her great friend Teddie is still very much a part of her life!  Happy Birthday, dear Mary – please hug Teddie (my grand-horse) for me!

Header:  A sunset captured a couple of days ago by Clark Bloswick.


This post was irst published in May, 2012:

A pony is a childhood dream. A horse is an adulthood treasure.”  Author unknown

Many little girls dream of owning a horse, but as a child, Mary Stancik wanted a sailboat.

It was perfectly natural.  Mary’s family was into sailing, and for many years Mary and her mom traveled to Mackinac Island to wait for her brother and father to arrive in the family boat, which they sailed annually in the Chicago to Mackinac Race.   Following each race, the family would spend a few days playing “tourist” on the Island, before sailing the boat together to St. Joe.  It was on one of those “after the race” vacations that Mary rode a horse for the very first time.

Mary remembers: “Dad and I rented a couple of horses from Jack’s Livery.  I still remember their names – Dad’s horse was Poncho, and mine was Bob.  We got up into the middle of the Island and wanted to take the right-hand trail back to town.  The horses had other ideas, obviously knowing the left-hand trail was the fastest way back to the barn.  My horse Bob sat right down in a patch of prickler bushes and refused to budge until we agreed to turn left.  We were back at Jack’s in less than an hour.”

And that was Mary’s last time on a horse until 35 years later – once again on Mackinac Island.

Mary has been the Director of Grounds and Golf for the Grand Hotel for several years now.  I met her three years ago when I was walking past the Grand, and Mary yelled, “Are you Bree, the blogger?” at me from the middle of the tulip bed where she was standing.  “Why yes I am!” I said, so excited someone recognized me.  A friendship was struck that day in the middle of red, yellow and white flowers, and it grows stronger each summer.

One of our first conversations was about horses.  Like Mary, I had watched Maryanke Alexander and Michelle Stuck ride their Friesians around the Island.  I’d never seen one before and neither had Mary.  At the very first Festival of the Horse – at the Breed Show – we both watched Maryanke and Michelle perform with their Friesians, and we both were hooked.  I soon learned Mary was even more hooked than I!

With Maryanke and Michelle’s encouragement, Mary took riding lessons at the end of that summer.  Suddenly, Mary’s mind was no longer filled with sails.  Instead, her dreams turned to shining black steeds, flowing manes, unbelievable power and beauty, and hearts almost as big as their massive bodies.  Mary wanted a Friesian.

Once more Maryanke and Michelle stepped in, looking for the perfect horse for Mary, who admittedly had little horse experience.  They found Teddie, who will be 14 years old this summer.  He is huge, he is shiny black, his mane – cut short because he was used to teach small children to ride – is not flowing, but it will grow.  And his heart – oh my goodness.

Mary purchased Teddie last fall and took lessons with him over the winter in Grand Rapids, where he was boarded.  This spring she brought him up to Hiawatha Hawk Ranch in Mackinac City for a few weeks, where he was cared for by Angie, Joe and Abigail Ostman, and it was the Ostmans who accompanied Teddie over to the Island last week (along with Mary).  Teddie handled his first ferry ride like a champ (a little dose of horsy tranquilizer didn’t hurt either).

From water to solid ground – Teddie’s first steps on Mackinac Island. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Teddie shared his ferry ride with the gorgeous Hackneys from the Grand Hotel – or maybe they shared their ride with Teddie – anyway, they rode over together!

Walking up the Arnold Ferry dock toward town. Mary is leading Teddie, then that’s Angie, Abigail and Joe Ostman from Hiawatha Hawk Ranch.

Ben Mosley, in charge of all the Grand Hotel horses, leads two Hackneys up Market Street.

We make the turn up Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Up Grand Hill. Don’t you wonder what Teddie must have been thinking?

Making the turn toward what will be his new home . . . (Photo:  Jill Sawatzki)

The sign says it all, “Welcome Home, Teddie!”

What more could a good horse ask for? Green grass . . .

. . . and fresh hay.

Mary and the Ostman girls – Angie and Abigail.

Bear and I walked over to see Teddie this afternoon and found Mary busy mucking out the corral as Teddie munched on oats.  I sat down in the door of Teddie’s barn and brushed Bear as I watched Mary go about the business of being a horse owner.  She’d shovel a load of manure into the wheelbarrow, then turn and talk softly for a few minutes with Teddie – scratching his ears, sweeping down his neck with her hand, a love so big already shining between them that my eyes filled with tears.

No, Teddie isn’t a sailboat.  But who needs to sail across the water when you can ride across the land, astride one of God’s most beautiful creatures.

Welcome to Mackinac, Teddie.  What gifts you and Mary are to each other!