This has been a “pins and needles” weeks. From the time we began to realize Hurricane Ian was probably going to impact Florida’s west coast, and then come across pretty close to us on the east coast, we’ve followed along on every report, praying it wouldn’t strengthen or cause harm to lives and property along both sides of the Florida peninsula. Unfortunately, Ian did come ashore as an almost category 5 hurricane, with devastating damage from Naples to Tampa. In our little neighborhood there are roofing shingles, soffit and other debris everywhere. Sunset Inlet looks pretty beaten up, but no one is hurt, and all can be repaired. We’ll know more tomorrow when someone can go inside our house and make sure we don’t have any roof leaks, or water intrusion from windows or doors. If we do, we’ll be going home three weeks earlier than planned. I’ll post on Facebook as soon as I have something definitive to report.
In the meantime, a huge thank you to Sunset Inlet neighbors who have kept us informed all last night and all day today through the very thick of it. We had 50-60 mph winds and at least 10 ” of almost constant rain for over 12 hours straight. It’s hard to be away from home when something like this is going on, and we thank you all for being our eyes and ears.
Update: The wind and rain finally calmed down enough for neighbors to go inside our house and check things out. We have some soffit off, but roof and siding are fine. Inside there were no leaks. Something going on with the air conditioning unit in the garage (leak), but AC is working, and the problem might not be storm related at all. We’ll call our AC company to come out and check asap. We are still in disbelief that Sunset Inlet never lost power.
Thanks to everyone for prayers lifted and please continue to pray for those in Florida whose entire lives have been changed over the last two days.
I’m sorry . . . . but please help me understand where the heck this summer has gone! It seems like just yesterday we arrived on the island and unpacked our bags of clothes, plastic containers of “can’t live without this from home” items – and miles of charging cords to go with our iPhones, iPads, laptops, and AirPods. We opened the two boxes we’d shipped ahead that contained cold weather gear – coats, boots, scarves, gloves and wooly caps (some of which we’ve worn this past week). We had 18 glorious weeks ahead of us – 18!
Now we’re down to four . . . and I plan to soak up as much joy out of these next weeks as I possibly can.
Looking ahead I’m dreaming of cool/cold wood walks through bright fallen leaves, air that smells so crisp and chilled I almost want to take a sip of it, and evenings wrapped in a fleece blanket – listening to the winds of autumn whistle around the sides and up the stairwells of this condo building. I know from past experience this time will fly by at warp speed, and somehow I’d like to turn that whiplash sensation into the slow flow of molasses.
A few pics below from our weekend . . .
We had friends come in last week (and more this week) who all met through Bree’s Blog. Last Tuesday I met Joleen Griffin (Wisconsin) at Good Day Cafe for some Moomer’s ice cream. We went across the street, sat on the pink benches outside the Chippewa, and caught up on our lives. I’m so sorry we didn’t get a pic, Joleen. What was I thinking?
We are closely monitoring Hurricane Ian as it relates to our home in Flagler Beach and to the entire state of Florida. The last update is saying we will probably not be impacted by high winds, but we could have 8-15″ of rain. We did everything we could to prepare our home for hurricane season before we ever came north, but Sunset Inlet neighbors are already collecting sandbags, and some were added to our front door this afternoon. And so we wait.
Again . . . summer is ending swiftly now, but so looking forward to the beauty of fall!
Today is the first day of fall, and yours truly couldn’t be happier. Yesterday our high was 70, and today our high is forecast to be 53, with northwest winds blowing at 15-25 mph. I know not everyone gets as excited as I do about fall up north (because it’s a precursor to long, cold, snow-filled, gloomy winter days) . . .
I’ll be the first to tell you that fall is my absolute favorite season on Mackinac – or anywhere else for that matter. Yes, I love spring on the island, with its time of renewal, summer with its gorgeous flowers, and winter with everything covered in pristine snow. But fall! I have to agree with poet and author Victoria Erickson, “If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.”
So . . . until we leave toward the end of October, these posts will be filled with fall on Mackinac. We aren’t to the point I can begin to show you massive amounts of color yet, but that will come soon. Today I’m just passing along some miscellaneous pics taken this week that I hope you’ll enjoy!
So looking forward to sharing with you the time we have left before heading to Florida. Also thinking about whether to continue writing after we get home. It won’t be Mackinac, of course, but Florida in the winter can be interesting – and beautiful in its own way. It sure has been great connecting back with each of you – and adding some new friends – this summer!
At the beach they save the day several times a week when heat and humidity make for pretty constant bad hair days. In Florida Ted is notorious for coming in after Bodie’s morning walk and saying, “Let’s go somewhere for breakfast”. I will give him a look, point to my frizzy hair, and say something to the affect of, “Do you really want to go out in public with me looking like this?” And he will say sweetly, “Just put on your hat.” And I do.
I left my “bad hair day” hat in Florida because as far as I’m concerned there is NO HUMIDITY in Michigan. I know I’m going to hear some “back talk” on that statement from folks up here, but seriously y’all – compared to Florida, Michigan really has NO HUMIDITY. If you don’t believe me, just come on down south any day from April through October.
But sometimes I just like wearing a hat. And since I’ve been on the island I’ve been popping in various stores, trying on hat after hat with no “bingo” moment. I swear one day I found a shop downtown with a whole WALL of hats – and I tried on every single one. Nope. Not a single “bingo”. Too tall, too short, wrong shape, brim too narrow, brim too wide.
One morning when Blake was here we walked up to Surrey Hill to grab some donuts. On the way back down I stopped by The Paddock, the little “thrift shop” next to the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House. And there – on one of those bald, white styroform heads – sat this old, battered, black felt/wool hat. I picked it up (no price tag anywhere), found a tiny mirror against a wall, and plopped it on my head. And even though it was dirty and misshapen (it actually looked like someone had gotten mad and stomped it on the ground), I kinda liked it. Blake’s one comment was, “If you like it, you should get it.”
But I didn’t. I put it back on the bald head and we went home to eat our donuts.
The next morning was Labor Day, and Blake and I were going over to Mackinaw City to meet Ted and have lunch after he finished the bridge walk. Strangely, I’d been thinking about the hat all morning. I know – weird. So I asked Blake if he would walk back up and ask someone in Wings of Mackinac how much it cost. I said, “If it’s more than $10, don’t get it.”
Ten minutes later he was back, hat in hand. “How much?”, I asked. He grinned and said, “The lady took one look at it and said, ‘Is $2.00 too much?'”
Since then I’ve worn that hat quite a few times. Most people look at it a little strangely – like they’re trying to figure out just exactly ‘what hat shape is that supposed to be’. But then they usually say, “I really like your hat!” And I do too.
It’s been a weird summer for me this year. In the 22 years we’ve been coming to Mackinac, I’ve had the freedom to walk or bike anywhere and anytime. If I wanted to ride around the island, with a stop at the Cannonball for fried pickles, my bike was only a few steps out the back door. Maybe it was a great afternoon to ride to the airport and watch planes take off and land. How about spending an afternoon just riding the island backroads, watching the leaves change from green to red? Easily accomplished for the last two decades.
But not so easy this year. I’ve walked a lot, and an hour or two of walking is no biggie for me. It gets me to Doud’s and anywhere downtown I want to shop. I’ve walked to the fort and to both the East and West Bluffs. I’ve walked to Arch Rock. And Mission Point and the Annex. And, as always, I’ve happily spent a great number of hours on the trails in the woods.
But balance issues have kept me off my bike – and I confess I’ve been pretty bummed about it. My one ride on friend Meredith’s recumbent bike earlier in the summer just made me long for more, and after several weeks of company (ours and theirs), Saturday was the day we were able to once more schedule another ride. Meredith rode her husband’s recumbent, and I rode hers. Meredith’s daughter and son-in-law (Delynn and Ted) and my Ted rode along with us on their bikes. We were determined to ride around the island, and I think they all thought we two needed chaperones (which it turned out we did)!
Thoughts on recumbent bikes so far: 1) They are a bit cumbersome and require space to get off the road. If there’s no shoulder, you can’t just pop it off the pavement and put the kick-stand down – because it’s wide. 2) It would be difficult to push if something went wrong with the gears, brakes, etc. It would require bending over and pushing. 3) I really, really like them, and it is a really, really comfortable ride. I have knee and back issues, and riding this bike caused no stress on either of those. I also love that it works your core more than a regular bike. 4) Absolutely no balance issues, which is mostly what keeps me off a regular bike. I feel safe on a recumbent.
If we get to come back to the island next summer, a recumbent is definitely something I will consider purchasing because . . . .
But. Even if I never ride a bike again (of any kind), and even if we return next summer and walking turns out to be my only mode of transportation, I will still consider myself among the luckiest people on this earth. Ted and I have been so fortunate to have called Mackinac our summer home for so many years, and we don’t take that lightly in any way. Mackinac has gifted us with her people and her beauty. And for that we will always say, “Thank You”.
Hi Friends! We’ve had company for a couple of nights so I haven’t posted in a few days. Dave and Diane Bennink, Ted’s cousin and his wife, drove up from Spring Lake MI. They’ve been coming on an annual basis since Ted discovered his biological mom’s family several years ago, but Covid has prevented us seeing them for the last two summers. It was so good to be able to get together again!
We got in a couple of walks on Wednesday after they arrived in the afternoon and then ate dinner here at the condo. But Thursday morning we were up and out early for a full day.
We went straight from the carriage tour to Grand Hotel for lunch. Then we went roaming around the grounds, played a game of cornhole, and peeked in on the newly updated Esther Williams Swimming Pool.
We were planning to walk to town to do some fudge and sweatshirt shopping, but we spotted something else that changed our minds . . .
We stopped off at the Secret Garden (of course) . . .
While we were snapping family photos a lady standing nearby happened to hear Di call me “Bree” and inroduced herself as a blog reader. She and her sweet husband were visiting the island for a few days, and we all loved talking with them. Thanks for saying hello, Faith and David!
We’d made6:30 reservations for dinner at the 1852 Grill Room inside Island House Hotel. Ted and I hadn’t eaten there for several years, but just let me say we plan to not wait nearly that long again.
A special thanks to those who have mentioned to me this week that you’re happy I’m writing again. There’s a small group of long-time readers (who are now good, good friends) that will be on the island the last week in September. Can’t wait to see y’all!
Ted and I walked to town last evening to attend the Patriots Day ceremony in remembrance of 9/11. To paraphrase a bit of what Mackinac Island Fire Chief Jason St. Onge remarked, “It’s been 21 years since the towers fell and all those lives were lost. There are students about to graduate from college who had not been born when the planes struck and only know of it through their parents’ stories and what they read in history books. I don’t know if there are very many small towns left that still hold these ceremonies of remembrance, but Mackinac Island does.”
Yes we do.
Each year a crowd gathers on either Market Street or in front of Lady Liberty at the marina and remembers those who lost their lives – the people in the towers and every first responder who rushed into those buildings – police, fire fighters, and paramedics. Their memories are honored, and I’m so proud of be a part of this community who holds those lives close to their hearts.
After the ceremony we ate dinner at The Gate House, then started our climb up Cadotte. I love walking home this time of night.
We have company coming on Wednesday for a couple of nights, and I was just looking at the calendar to see how much time we have on Mackinac after this week. Best I can tell, it’s five more weeks . . . but how is that possible? It seems as though we just got here!
So looking forward to Fall on the island and lots of walks through the woods while the trees put on their autumn finery. Hope you’ll join me!
9/11/22 Note: I posted the blog below on September 12, 2013 about the return of Mackinac’s replica of the Statue of Liberty to the island. You’ll notice at the end of the post that funds were being raised to have Lady Liberty placed permanently in the marina area, and that she would be housed in the Stuart House Museum until that time. By the next summer, funds were in place, the new pedestal was installed and, just in time for July 4, 2014, Lady Liberty was placed permanently on the lawn of the Mackinac Island Marina.
Original post:On the 12th anniversary of that September day when all our lives changed forever, Mackinac Island’s own Statue of Liberty returned to her home and became part of the Island’s Patriots Day celebration.
The statue was originally donated to the Island in 1950 by the Boy Scouts of America, marking their 40th anniversary, which had the theme “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”. Over 200 of the statues were donated to communities in 39 states, but the statue here on Mackinac is the only one given to the State of Michigan. The statues are about 8 1/2 feet tall – without a pedestal – weigh about 300 pounds, and were made by a company in Chicago. Our statue’s big sister stands in New York harbor, is more than 305 feet tall from the ground to the top of her torch, and weighs more than 150 tons.
The Statue of Liberty replica on Mackinac Island has been used every fifth year to commemorate the attacks on 9/11/2001, and the Patriot Day services were conducted at that location in 2006 and 2011.
Mackinac Island’s Statue of Liberty, as she stood near the marina from May 28, 1950, the date of her dedication, until November 28, 2012.
The replica withstood 62 years of harsh northern Michigan winters and was in need of the kind of repair work only a specialist could handle – dents in the copper skin, seams that needed to be ground out or filled in, and spikes on her crown that needed to be replaced. Masons, excavating crews and landscapers all needed to be involved.
American Legion post 299 on Mackinac Island wanted to refurbish the statue and bring it back to its original form. Post 299 Commander Paul Wandrie, said, “We are calling our drive to repair and relocate this statue, the ‘Save Our Statue’ or ‘S.O.S.’ Project.” The City of Mackinac Island also supported the project, the cost of which was estimated at approximately $61,000.
On November 28, 2012, the statue was removed from her pedestal, with Winberg Masonry, Belonga Excavating, Davis Construction and Venus Bronze Works, Inc. involved in the project.
The statue was shipped to Venus Bronze Works in Detroit for the winter, where she underwent a complete makeover.
On April 1, 2013 Paul Wandrie and his two brothers checked on the Statue of Liberty replica in Detroit. Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, was their tour guide around his shop. Wandrie stated, “Since he is preparing to solder the sections back together, he must insure that these sections are perfectly cleaned. The bottom portion will be attached to a brand new base that will be made of bronze.”
When Wandrie was contacted that the statue was finished (the pedestal still remains to be done), it all fell into place that the statue would return to the Island as part of the Patriots Day celebration on September 11, 2013.
Shepler’s Ferry donated the use of their freight boat, the Sacre Bleu, for the trip across the Straits, and boats from Arnold and Star Ferry Lines, the Mackinac Island Fire Department and the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks planned to join the boat parade accompanying the statue on her crossing. Private boats were also invited to join in.
Paul Wandrie and Chris Shepler both granted me permission to come across on the Sacre Bleu with the statue, and that is how I came to be aboard when Lady Liberty returned to the Island.
Emotions were running just below the surface yesterday and kept threatening to emerge. I boarded Shepler’s to travel to St. Ignace (where the statue had spent the night in a Shepler warehouse). The statue’s Honor Guard, made up of Post #299 Commander Paul Wandrie, Mackinac Island Police Officer Ken Hardy, Mackinac Island Fire Fighters Jason Kladiva, Ron Langsworthy, and Jamie Bynoe, and EMT Mark Bielinski, were all aboard the same boat. As I rode over I was thinking about the events of 9/11/2001 and remembering – as we all do – exactly where I was when I heard that breaking news broadcast when the first plane flew into one of the Twin Towers. I was sitting at my desk in the Public Information Office of the Dougherty County School System in Albany, GA. The morning was just beginning, and we had a day packed with assignments, paper work, and visits planned into several schools. In the incredibly short time it took for a fellow worker to rush in from another office and shout, “Quick, turn on the TV!” (our office had the only TV in our 3-story building, as we were charged with keeping up with emergencies – weather or otherwise), all plans – and our entire world – changed.
When we walked into the St. Ignace warehouse and first saw Mackinac’s Statue of Liberty – refurbished, no dents, all spikes of her crown in place and sparkling clean, I began to feel tears welling up and a throat lump forming.
Compared to her big sister in New York City, she is shorter and weighs less; but she is still the United States’ symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression, and – even in a warehouse – she carries the dignity and power of what she symbolizes like the great lady she is.
The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .
. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon on which she would rest during her trip to Mackinac.
The gentleman on the left is John Eagan. It was John and his boss, Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, who did all the meticulous work on Lady Liberty. The statue was taken apart, dents were removed, and new cooper sheets were applied – followed by new layers of wax and a patina for a glossy finish. Her old book and stand had been wood on the interior, and it had rotted. The book and stand are now hollow and covered in copper and wax. There are copper supports that run through the statue like tree branches for added support. Eagan said, “The more we worked on it, the more it became a real labor of love.”
The statue was pulled outside . . .
. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.
One of the firemen placed his helmet next to Lady Liberty’s face, and it was then the emotions of the massive loss of the 9/11 event coalesced into tears that spilled over.
Chris Shepler piloted us across the Straits as other vessels began to fall into place with the Sacre Bleu.
We were joined by Arnold’s Chippewa . . .
. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft, captained by Robert McGreevy, with Myron Johnson as deck hand . . .
. . . and Star Line’s new Anna May.
As we sailed into the harbor, the Chippewa’s fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace Fire Department Lt. Matt Bowlby and Fire Fighter Nate Montie, opened up with a huge spray . . .
. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island Fire boat.
Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.
A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .
. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .
. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.
The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flatbed . . .
. . and stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.
Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.
The Patriots Day program was filled with speakers who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the bravery of Americans, not only on 9/11, but during all the wars in which we’ve fought. (Click on individual photos to enlarge.)
After the program and time for photo opportunities, the statue was carried into the Stuart House Museum . . .
. . . where she will remain until funds have been raised to complete her pedestal. (Photo: Steven Blair)
When the remaining funds have been raised, the statue will be centered approximately 100 feet west of where she formerly stood, which will give her a more prominent location. At this new spot, she will be seen by more people entering the harbor, and she will be more easily seen from the roadway.
The project to refurbish this replica of a national treasure has in a few short months raised all but approximately $17,500 of the $61,000 needed. Funds have come in from individual donations by Island residents, by visitors to the Island, from the State of Michigan, and from across the country. On September 11, 2013, Paul Wandrie said, “Thank you to everyone that has helped us along the way, and we look forward to receiving the rest of the funds so we can get Lady Liberty back to the marina. “
It’s on days like this that the magic of Mackinac can almost physically be seen winding its way along the streets and through the crowds. The people of Mackinac Island have always been a close-knit, kind and compassionate community. When something of theirs is in need of repair or replacement, they come together and find a way to make it happen. So it’s been with the refurbishment of Mackinac Island’s replica of the Statue of Liberty, and so it will continue to be for generations to come.
Stand tall, Lady Liberty. We look forward to you soon taking up your new post at the entrance to the harbor!
On Wednesday night Ted, Blake and I went out on a Sip n’ Sail Sunset Cruise on the Isle Royale Queen III. The entertainment was Wixie Harrington, a duo (Melissa and Mark) that will just leave you speechless with their music. I frankly could listen to Melissa sing for hours on end and Mark’s instrumentals and vocals just add to the magic.
We arrived early and were able to get a coveted spot on the top deck (up close to the music, and eventurally the bridge and that crazy beautiful sunset!
Having Blake here has been so much fun this week, and we’ve still got a few more days to go before he starts the next leg of his journey. He’s gotten in plenty of jet lag sleeping, but he’s still gone out a lot to roam the island. When he walked in the den yesterday morning at 6:30 (I was having coffee, and it was barely beginning to get light outside) and announced he was going out to exercise and then go for a run, I knew he was pretty much back on USA time.
The week so far in pics . . . .
These next three pics are from Blake . . .
We have a lot planned for the rest of the week before Blake leaves on Saturday. This time is going by way too fast!