A Week of Waiting . . . . and a Lot of Joyful Moments 9/30/2022

Moments in time that bring a lot of joy . . . .

Lunch on Tuesday at the Gate House with four of my favorite folks – Bart and Andy from the Chippewa and long-time blog readers DeAna and husband Shawn.
I met DeAna the first time when she and Shawn (a Michigan fire fighter) and their son Trace visited me “quite a few years ago” when I was volunteering at the Stuart House. If I remember correctly Trace was just about to get his driver’s license. Now Trace is grown, married and a Michigan fire fighter also! Love this family so much!
Lunch today at the Chippewa with another group of blog friends, Mike and Pam day from Ohio and Kem and Ed Green from Iowa. Missed you, Pam Kay Kentala! Also in pic are dear friends Jill and Brian Bailey, GM at the Chippewa Hotel Waterfront and Lilac Tree Suites. Brian has been putting up with Ted and I since 2000, when we stayed at the Chippewa for the first time.
The “girls” – Pam, Kem and Jill
Probably my last Secret Garden pic of the season – unless I swing by later and find a river of chrysanthemums flowing under the bridge.
Walking Bodie down to the corner vet’s office at Chambers Corner for his monthly check-up, strongly suggested by his oncologist since he wouldn’t be seeing her for four months.
Our boy was pronounced “a healthy dog” by Dr. Shaker Hites. That pink spot on his nose is from lost pigment due to his radiation treatment – and will probably remain pink from now on. We’ve also noticed recently that the fur under the side of his neck that received the radiation treatment to that lymph node is now white as snow. The other side is blonde.
A great pic by Ted of our handsome boy from one of their early morning walks. Anne’s Tablet and the Straits of Mackinac in the background.

And a week of waiting . . .

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.

God bless.

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.

Help Me Understand 9/26/2002

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 . . .

The Viking Octantis slips out past the breakwall off Windermere Point on this past Friday. Its last stop on Mackinac for the season was today, September 26.
When I turned away from the Octantis this was my view of the Windermere Hotel. That tree to the right will be one of the first ones on Main Street to dress up for fall.
This Little Free Library at Benjamin Hill on Market Street was packed with some good reads!
If I was guessing, I’d say that Ben Mosley, with Miss Lucy as his loyal sidekick, was on his way to pick up some Grand Hotel VIP’s at the ferry dock.
A single Hollyhock was still blooming near the parsonage on Cadotte Ave.

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?

Saturday night we had dinner with Yvonne and Tony Pitsch (Iowa) at the Chippewa.
Ran into Max Jones downtown this weekend. Ted and I have known Max since he was a teenager and had his own bike delivery business on the island. When I was writing the fire fighter articles for Mackinac Island News and View, Max was home from college for the summer and working as a volunteer fire fighter and as an EMT. Max is now in medical school and has just been sworn into the U.S. Navy as an Ensign. He is one of the finest young men Ted and I have ever met. So proud of you, Max!

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.

My walk to church on Sunday. Next week Little Stone Church will hold its last service of the season. Our highs are now in the 50’s and nights are slipping into the 40’s.

Again . . . summer is ending swiftly now, but so looking forward to the beauty of fall!

God bless.

It’s Fall, Y’all! 9/22/2022

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) . . .

. . . But, hay! It’s going to warm back up into the 60’s in a few days – so let’s not start thinking about winter quite yet!

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!

Me, doing what I do 99.9% of the time climbing the Cadotte Hill – stopping to photograph “something”. Funny story. A Carriage Tour driver passed me the other day and shouted, “I love your backpack!” I laughed and shouted back, “Thank you!” That backpack has come to Mackinac Island with me for 22 summers. It’s Vera Bradley and the pattern ‘Java Blue” was retired in 2006. So I consider it vintage. Like me.
A foggy morning recently near Anne’s Tablet. (Photo credit: Ted Horton)
A sunny walk to town.
Geraniums blooming along the entrance to Little Stone Church. Ted and I are associate members here and love this congregation so much. We went to the Holy Land a few years ago with a group from the church and our pastor and his wife, Dan and Beth Hans. Only two more Sundays left in this season. Hard to believe the summer has flown by so swiftly.
Grand Hotel flower gardens are beginning to look “fallish”! I love ornamental cabbages!
A look down the west end of Market Street toward a sparkling Lake Huron.
A carriage coming down Hoban Street toward Main Street. The beautiful Cloghaun Bed and Breakfast is in the background.
Whoops! There it is!
Fall hedge trimming at the condo
Friend Meredith and I out for one of our “wandering” walks. We never have a plan, so we weren’t surprised when we found ourselves on a trail neither one of us had ever been on before. It was almost completely overgrown (we took it off a Trillium Heights road), but we stuck with it and came out near the cemeteries. There may have been poison ivy involved, but luckily we were both in long pants! P.S. We solve most of the world’s problems on these walks.
Our sweet boy on top of the island – at Fort Holmes (Photo Credit: Ted Horton)
Same afternoon as above. Great shot, Ted! Gosh, I love that blue sky!
Always an extrs treat when a taxi ride home includes dropping off Grand Hotel guests – especially in the evening! There’s even a glimpse of the swimming pool as we turn the corner.

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!

That Old Black Hat 9/20/2022

I’ve always loved hats.

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.


Freedom (the Mackinac Island Version) 9/18/2022

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)!

My initial concern was getting down the hill next to the Grand. The one other time I’d ridden this bike we had stayed on level roads. But it handled like a dream, the brakes were great, and soon we were through town and heading past Mission Point.
I hadn’t ridden around the island in several years and had not seen the large rocks that now border the coast and protect the road through wind and rain storms – and high lake levels. There are still open spaces in spots where you can walk down to the beach to wade around or swim.
Ted rode with us for about 2 miles, then peeled off to go watch the Georgia Bulldogs!
DeLynn and her Ted and Meredith – all AVID Michigan State fans. Thank goodness Michigan State wasn’t playing until last night or Meredith and I would have been riding around the island all alone!
We didn’t quit pedaling that often, but Silver Birches, renovated back to its former glory, was well worth a stop.
And of course we stopped at the Cannonball Oasis . . .
. . . for an order of those famous fried pickles!
Ah. The hill. Craig’s bike, which Meredith was riding has regular bike gears. Meredith’s bike, which I was riding, has a pedal assist function. Even with the pedal assist at its highest level, I pretty much struggled up that hill – but I made it without stopping, something I have NEVER done before. Meredith needed a little assistance from Delynn’s Ted, as the gears just didn’t give her enough power. I felt really bad when she turned and told me to pass her and NOT SLOW DOWN. We will definitely have to figure out a different arrangement next time so we both can ride without hill issues. Or we’ll just stay off the hills!

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 . . . .

. . . it gives me my freedom back to explore and to zip here and there in a timely manner!

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”.

God bless..

Sliding Into The Weekend 9/16/2022

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.

Carriage Tour driver Jared gave us a great adventure out on the interior island roads. Jared has been with the tour company for seven years and was one of the most knowledgeable drivers we’ve ever ridden with. Accurate history facts and lots of humor thrown in for fun. Thanks, Jared!

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.

. . . Dave and Di, standing by the pool. Quite the upgrade, and we loved it – especially the poolside cabanas!
Same location – we don’t exactly look like we’re dressed for swimming, do we.

We were planning to walk to town to do some fudge and sweatshirt shopping, but we spotted something else that changed our minds . . .

. . . the Gem Miniature Golf Course. This 18-hole course is open to guests and to the public and blends into the natural suroundings of the grounds of Grand Hotel. We had a blast playing – and big Dave won the round (that hole-in-one sure helped his score).

We stopped off at the Secret Garden (of course) . . .

. . . and got our first pic this year “on the bridge”. I’ll tell you the story of that battered old hat one day soon.

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 made 6:30 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.

The glassed in dining room looks out over the Mackinac Island Marina. Di and I had the whitefish, and Dave and Ted had the prime rib. Both were SO delicious. And let me add one more thing . . . the international wait staff at 1852 Grill Room is incredible. A very classy evening out – we even dressed up and everything!
Our view from the Island House front porch as we waited for a taxi home.

Miscellaneous Pics

A peek inside The Island Bookstore – hands down the BEST little bookstore in all the land! Jill wasn’t working on this morning, but Tam was busy at the counter.
Ted and Isla, who belongs to our sweet neighbors Meredith and Craig. Isla is an Australian Labradoodle, and she loves Ted (who always has yummy treatos in his pocket).
From Bodie: “My mission on dis mornin – should I choose to accept it – was to clear the big yard beside the scout barracks of those big messy birds you hoomans call geese. I accept assignment and it take me exactly two seconds to send them flyin’. Mssion accomplished. Where’s my chimken snacks? (Turn up sound to hear terrified bird honkin’)

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!

God bless.

Walk With Us Home . . . . 9/12/22

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.

A short clip of Carolyn May, beautifully singing the Star Spangled Banner (there was no sound system, so you might need to turn your volume up a bit).

After the ceremony we ate dinner at The Gate House, then started our climb up Cadotte. I love walking home this time of night.

Hardy Hibiscus along the Grand fence. They are literally as big as dinner plates.
This gives a little more perspective on their size in relation to their surroundings.
The Jockey Club was ablaze with light . . . .
. . . and the Grand employees bike parking deck was pretty uncrowded.
My favorite pic of the evening. The big horse barn at Four Corners, where we turn right to go home. In the quiet you could hear horses snorting and sighing, and some clip-clops as a few taxi horses were walked to their stalls for dinner.

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!

Hope to be posting scenes like this soon!

God bless.

Lady Liberty Returns to Mackinac Island – Originally Posted on September 12, 2013

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 myself and my 2 brothers visited with the Statue of Liberty Replica in Detroit.  Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works was our tour guide around his shop.  Getting to see the statue was the reason why we were there.  This picture shows some of the work done.  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.

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.

Yes - compared to her big sister in New York City, she was shorter and weighed less - but she was still the United States symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression

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 . . .

The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .

. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon she would rest on during her trip to Mackinac.

. . . 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 . . .

The statue was pulled outside . . .

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

One of the firemen laid his helmet next to her

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.

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 Ottawa . . .

We were joined by Arnold’s Chippewa . . . 

. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft . . .

. . . 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.

. . . and Star Line’s new Anna May.

As we sailed into the harbor, the Ottawa's fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace firemen, opened up with a huge spray . . .

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.

. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island Fire boat.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flat-bed . . .

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flatbed . . .

. . stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

. . and stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.

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 . . .

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)

. . . 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!

Lady Liberty as she stands today.

God Bless America!

Sip . . . . and Sail . . . . and Other Good Things 9/9/22

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!

Sip n’ Sail Cruises are great for making new friends – like these two happy ladies from Texas and Nebraska. They were already in love with Mackinac (they came with a group), and were planning to return next year with their husbands in tow.
The trip included an up close hello to the freighter Saginaw.
Approaching the bridge . . .
. . . and passing underneath – crossing from Lake Huron into Lake Michigan.
As we started the return trip, the sun began to make its slow slide toward the horizon . . .
. . . and by the time we were approaching Round Island Lighthouse, the sky was starting to glow.
And then this magic happened.
And this . . .
. . . and this.
A little Wixie Harrington for your listening pleasure . . . .

Other Good Things

Through island friends, Blake met two Island House workers from Turkey this week. They had breakfast together one morning and really enjoyed the chance to share their love of that country.
Blake left the island today. He’s spending the night across from the Pellston airport to catch an early flight to Georgia to see more family. After that he flies on to Colorado. Usually when he leaves us during his annual visit to the states, I’m sad because it will be another year before I’ll see him again. But he’s decided to be here for at least two years this time – so guess what! For the first time in five years, he’ll be home for the holidays. Happy Mama!

God bless.

A Hint of Fall 9/07/2022

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 . . . .

Walking back to the condo after church on Sunday I noticed a couple of Maple leaves beginning their leisurely turn into red. Slowly, but surely, fall is arriving.
At least once a week I veer off into Grand Hotel’s Secret Garden. It’s still beautiful, and the hint of fall has reached this lovely spot also. Shadows are longer, and the light is different.

These next three pics are from Blake . . .

Taken from our balcony early one morning. Across the golf course you can see a bit of Grand Hotel rising above the trees and, further still, the blue waters of Lake Huron.
Taken from a dock near Watercolor Cafe. The summer crowds have thinned a lot., and the island is relaxing into its slower season.
Looking from the porch of The Island House across the lawn to the marina
Friends Brian Bailey and Lisa Brisson joined Ted for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. This was Ted’s 12th trip across the Mackinac Bridge.
Mackinac Island Public School opens the day after Labor Day, and the Opening Day Picnic is an annual tradition – at least until Covid prevented the gathering for the last two years. But this year is was on again, and Blake and I (and many island residents and supporters) met in the school yard for a lunch of hotdogs with all the trimmings (thanks to Jill for this pic). We so love this tradition of opening a new school year by showing all the students, faculty and staff that they are loved and appreciated. Ted was volunteering today at the Visitors Center, so he couldn’t attend . . . .
. . . but Blake did his share taking care of the hotdogs!
Just a cute pic I snapped at the corner of Cadotte and Market. I’d say this pooch is living his best life for sure!

We have a lot planned for the rest of the week before Blake leaves on Saturday. This time is going by way too fast!

God bless.