A Horse’s Tail . . . . or Was That a Mustache! – 8/24/22

Sometimes it’s all about being at the right place at the right time

Before I get to my story I need to talk about backpacks. I know I covered this subject years ago, but just in case you missed that conversation, I’ll go over it again. One of the first things my friend Jill taught me when we bought our condo in 2008 (and I started blogging) was that a backpack on Mackinac is as essential as good walking shoes and rain gear. Two reasons. You walk a lot here, and if you’re traipsing around with a purse hung on one shoulder all day, that load is going to get uncomfortable – and you’re probably going to wake up one morning with shoulder and neck issues. With a backpack, the weight you’re carrying is evenly distributed across both shoulders, relieving that stress tremendously. But now for the main reason. A backpack leaves BOTH your hands free, and when a photo op presents itself you can grab your cell phone (or camera) and be snapping pics in a few seconds. I carry my cell phone in the back pocket of my shorts or jeans, so I’m ready pretty much instantly if I see something interesting.

So. On Monday I was on my way back up the hill from town, huffing and puffing and trying to convince myself I could make it to the top without stopping to rest. To take my mind off my lack of oxygen, I started listening to the driver of a two-horse hitch Carriage Tour wagon, which was maybe 50 ft. in front of me. She was using her microphone, so I could easily follow along.

She was saying, “Now I bet what you ladies and gentlemen don’t realize is that one of the horses I’m driving is pretty famous. His name is Mustache Merle, and he’s famous because . . . he has a mustache!”

Now I had first read about Mustache Merle on his very own Facebook page, but I’d never seen him on the streets. I had also heard he was becoming so popular on social media that people had begun to add “find Merle” to their bucket list items on trips to Mackinac.

The driver was continuing, “Merle is really popular, and people are always coming up to my carriage and saying, “Oh my gosh! Is that Mustache Merle? Could I take a picture of him?” Her carriage riders gave an appreciative chuckle, but it was pretty obvious they were somewhat underwhelmed to be in the presence of such a prestigious horse.

And yep. That’s when I forgot about my bursting lungs and decided to seize the moment.

The carriage had arrived at Four Corners, and the driver reined the horses in for a rest break before she would continue on to Surrey Hill. I put myself into another gear and puffed up beside the carriage like I had been chasing it down (I really didn’t have to “act” too much on the puffing part).

“Hey!” I said excitedly as I hurried past the driver, pulling my cell phone out of my back pocket. “Oh my gosh! Is that Mustache Merle? Could I take a picture of him?”

There was about two seconds of dead silence and then the whole carriage erupted in laughter. And the driver looked at me like I was someone she had just conjured up out of nowhere.

Passengers shouted various things as I walked around the horses, happily snapping photos.

“No way!” “Do you get paid to walk behind this carriage and say that?” “The driver JUST SAID people do that!” “Do you get free carriage rides for being part of the act?

The driver remained pretty much speechless, at one point just looking at me and shaking her head. I tucked my cell phone back in my pocket, adjusted my backpack, and said cheerfully, “Thank you SO MUCH! Finding Merle has been on my Mackinac bucket list all summer!

And then I waved at everyone, turned right and finished my walk home. Right time, right place. Love it.

The one, the only . . .
. . . Mustache Merle!