Fling Back Friday – “Lighting the Way to Winter 12/8/17

Personal Note – Part 2 of yesterday’s post from October of 2011.

Lighting the Way to Winter – First Published 10/14/11

October’s poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter.  Nova Bair

If you liked yesterday’s fall color pics, today’s should make you just as happy!  I’m finishing up with the photos I took on the last official sunny day of our Indian summer on Mackinac Island – and a couple of that weather change I talked about yesterday.

I love the quote I found for today . . . . flaming torches lighting the way to winter.  I’ve seen that for the past few days here on Mackinac.  The leaves have been so bright, as the sun filtered through, I’ve had to shade my eyes just to look at them.  With the coming of the rain, wind, and colder temps over the next few days, I know we’ll lose those torches.  But for a few more days . . . they burn on.

Again, we don’t have to venture too far from home to find color now. This tree is right next door and is always beautiful in the fall.

Maddie in the leaves

Still at Surrey Hill – this is the old blacksmith shop that has not been in operation since before we bought our condo.

Looking through the horse corral rails.

The road leading to the back side of the Carriage Museum.

Kinda camouflaged, isn’t she!

There’s really nothing I can say about these next few photos. They’re all taken next door on the Carriage Museum property, and with every different angle, I found more beauty through my lens.

“Man, it feels good to scratch an itch!”

My beautiful boy.

As I was about to leave the house Wednesday afternoon (the day the weather changed), Ted called from outside that there were horses in the backyard. He’s been trying to get me to use up all the horse treats we brought with us from Georgia, so they wouldn’t be sitting on the shelf all winter. I threw a handful in my pants pockets and went outside.  The dray was picking up all the items left in the condo two doors down that the new owner didn’t want.  I think the driver was happy to see a bike go on board.

The horses got their treats . . . . .

. . . and then, trying to avoid rolling over our boardwalk, the driver took the dray too close to a tree and got stuck. All it took was someone climbing a ladder with a board, shoving the board under the branch causing the problem, and heaving it up out of the way.  Out drove the dray.

Coming home late Wednesday afternoon as the weather changed, I paused just past the Grand stables and looked back. The fog was coming in fast, and I could barely make out anything down the hill beyond the bikers walking up . . .

. . . and as I walked my bike up the next-to-last hill from home, I could just make out the outline of our condos through the opening in the trees.

Personal Note:  In 2011 I added a “Mystery Spot” game to the blog.  I’d publish a pic of something most folks who were familiar with Mackinac Island recognize, and the first person who emailed me the location of the pic would get a “prize” mailed to them.  I decided to leave this one in today just so you could see how it worked.  The answer is also included.

THE MYSTERY SPOT

This will be the last Mystery Spot of the season, and I’ve made it a really, really easy one.  If you have visited Mackinac Island, you have seen this object because it is right out there in the open!
The object of the Mystery Spot  is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is . .

Where is it?

 

MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

The antique buggy sits on the porch of “The Lenox” building on Market Street. The Lenox is home for many of the Carriage Tour workers and also houses a few of the City of Mackinac offices on the ground floor.  Personal Note:  The “prize” was usually a bar of Lilac soap!

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Sunday Story – “To Fresh Woods and Pastures New” – 11/5/17

Personal Note:  I had to laugh when I read the first paragraph of this post from 2010.  I could have written those same words this afternoon, after leaving you hanging on Thursday.  But here’s the rest of the story – one of my favorites from “back in the day”!

TO FRESH WOODS AND PASTURES NEW

First Published October 11, 2010

“Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.” . . . John Milton

It was almost cruel to leave you as I did Friday, wasn’t it.  I thought about that as I was ending that post.  Should I go ahead and finish – add 30 more photographs and give you what you really wanted – the farm with the horses grazing free.  I did think about it – I promise.

And then I smiled.  And I thought about the anticipation that built in me on the ride over on the boat last week with the horses.  When we docked, and I watched that first gelding step off the boat, my heart did a little flutter-step.  I watched them load up and the trailer doors swing shut.  And as we rode those 50 miles to Pickford, my heart continued to beat a little faster than normal.  The anticipation of the moment when the horses would be led into that big pasture, when the halters would be lifted over their heads (their halters are never off on the island), and when they would realize they were no longer bound by any means to man – that moment of anticipation was one I wanted you to feel with me.   It wasn’t meant to be cruel – on the contrary, aren’t the good things in our lives we have to wait for all the more treasured because of the wait?

But, now as I sit down to write the rest of this journey, I worry that I won’t be able to give you all the joy and emotion of what that day felt like when we did reach the farm.  But I will try, and what I miss in words, perhaps I can make up to you in the photographs.

First, let me introduce Randy Hall. Randy was my “go to” person for this part of the trip. He was the driver of one of the two horse trailers waiting to transport us to Pickford. I learned later that Randy does a lot of the Carriage Tour driver training on the island in the spring. He grew up with horses in the Upper Peninsula, and his passion for them is evident in how he talks about them and how they respond to him.  He owns a horse farm himself and also grows hay.

Most of these horses are geldings – in fact there are very few mares on the island, although there are some. A majority of the island horses are purchased from the Amish, when they are 3-6 years old. The Amish have already trained and worked them around machinery in the fields, so they come to the island with basic training completed.  The Amish keep most of the mares for breeding and sell the geldings.  There are no stallions on the island.

Loading and unloading into the trailers is old business for most of the horses. They have done this for years, and the nervousness of the few new horses is tempered by the calm of the older ones.

Randy secures this big Belgian in the trailer.

It was so amazing to watch the horses as they came off the boat. Their eyes were wide and bright, their ears pricked forward, their nostrils flared. If I could have read their minds, I think the words would have been, “I know this place. Next is the trailer, a little ride, then freedom!”

Last one into this trailer. We were transporting 12 this first load – 6 in each trailer.

“Look! I see cars! That means we don’t have to work anymore!”

Three horses are secured at the front of the trailer, then a divider door is closed that separates the front from the back. Then three more horses are loaded into the back.

And, we’re off!

I’m sure Randy thought he had been given the worst duty of the year – having to put up with Bree the Blogger for two 100-mile round trips to Pickford.  The photos above are a combination of the two trips – the first one over on the 9 a.m. ferry, then another one when we came back to pick up the second group at 11:30.  I’ve also combined the photos from the two trips to the farm, meaning we released the first 12 horses, then went back to St. Ignace to pick up 11 more and took them to the farm.

Randy was very gracious and friendly and answered all gazillion of my questions, although at times I’m sure he was thinking, “Good grief!  Is there anything about horses that this woman DOES know?”  Here’s a few of the new things I picked up on the trips back and forth:

1)  The Pickford farms – there are three of them – are the winter home of the Carriage Tour horses, as well as the Grand Hotel “omnibus” and State Park horses.

2)  Randy does a lot of training with the horses before they are ever brought to the island.  He does this winter and summer because horses are brought back and forth all season.  A horse may just not be working out and will be returned to Pickford for more training.  There has to be a horse ready to take its place.

3)  There are about 20 horses on the island all winter.  Two are used for the taxi (only one taxi in the winter), and the rest are used to pull the drays because even in winter, the work of the island continues.  Mail has to be brought from the ferries (or plane if the Straits are frozen), as do supplies for the grocery store, restaurants, hotels, and school that remain open.

4)  Additional horses are brought to the island over the winter during peak times – Christmas and New Year’s – when more visitors arrive.

5)  Let’s say a horse learns to be the right-hand side horse in a two-horse hitch team.  Can he also work on the left?  “Sometimes,” Randy said, “but there are some that can never change over.”

6)  Not only do the horses know where they’re going when they are turned out into the pasture on the island without their shoes for the first time, but they also know by the changes that occur toward the end of the season.  Randy said they know that when the weather begins to cool, and they are working an easier schedule, their days on the island are coming to an end for another year.

7)  I asked what determines which horses remain on the island for the winter.  “Some of it is temperament,” Randy said.  “They have to be able to adjust from the relative ‘quiet’ of bikes to the ‘racket’ of snowmobiles.  Some can make the adjustment, some can’t.  When we find a horse that isn’t bothered by all that extra noise, we tag him as a possible winter horse.”

8)  Only the draft horses (Belgians and Percherons) stay outside all winter.  The others are brought in at night and during really bad weather.

We’re at the farm! This was a 60-acre pasture that was a part of what is called “9-mile farm”, one of the three owned by Carriage Tours.

Irvin, another Carriage Tour worker who stays in Pickford, was there to open the gate.

I walked through the gate and was standing in the corner (out of the way) when the first horse was led off the trailer . . .

. . . followed closely by the second.

And here’s where I choked up the first time. Watching Randy remove the halter, I envisioned the horses immediately taking off into the freedom of the pasture.  But these are horses so used to human companionship, so in tune with their lives around people, that their main interest was not first to “make a break for it”, but to taste the wonderfully abundant grass . . .

. . . and then to roll.

Can you image the horse joy of rolling around – not on the dirt of the horse corral below our condo . . .

. . . but to be scratching your back on green, sweet-smelling grass!  Talk about kicking up your heels!

On the second trip, I went further down the pasture road to photograph the horses as they came in.

Another halter coming off.

These beautiful Belgians watched me curiously for a couple of seconds, then seemed to shrug and moved off to graze.

After a time, they began to realize that they could move freely about this huge pasture, AND the pasture was full of food!

These two seemed to be watching for another horse. Randy said they were part of a three-horse hitch team and were watching for their friend. He arrived a few minutes later.

Another happy horse!

At first I was concerned about Jane. She walked into the pasture and stood completely alone for a few minutes, seeming bewildered by the big, open space . . .

. . . but shortly after that, her team-mate “June” found her.  Then they both wandered off and found the third member of this 3-horse hitch bunch, “Jake”.

That big tire is filled with minerals, and there are also salt blocks in the pasture.

“Now, about that party . . .”

Two plus two. These duos may be team-mates, or they may just be part of a two-horse hitch group and feel more comfortable in groups of two.

So beautiful . . .

I walked back to the truck and took these next few shots from the road as the last few horses were released.

A river runs through that stand of trees to the rear of the pasture and will provide the water the horses need until they are moved later in the year.  The horses have begun to move away from the fence and have started exploring their big, new space.

The Belgians and Percherons stay outside all winter in all kinds of weather. Randy said in 2-3 weeks, their winter coats will begin to come in, and they will look like shaggy versions of themselves. All the farms have ravines where the horses instinctively gather during snow storms. The sides of the ravines block the wind, and all those bodies snuggled together stay warm.

Randy drove a little out of the way to show me one of the farms where the horses will winter. The 60-acre pasture we delivered the horses to today is only a temporary enclosure. By December they will all be moved closer to this farm place, where someone lives year-round.

These water dispensers can be seen all over the farm land. The pipes are buried deep underground to prevent freezing.  At the top of the pipe, warming trays keep the water from freezing when exposed to cold air.

Each of these bales of hay weighs approximately 1200 lbs. It takes four of them per day for 80 horses. At the end of the season, the three farms will be supporting around 500 horses, so you can imagine how much hay has to be stored.

As we left the farm, we could see in the distance other groups of horses whose vacations began a little earlier than those we brought today.

The horses we dropped off will join these in December.

What a beautiful vacation spot.

What a delight it was to watch the horses wander, in groups of two and three, around that pasture – nibbling on the grass, playfully trotting over to say “hi” to a friend, lifting their heads and feeling the wind ripple across their backs and over their ears.   I wonder what they thought that first morning when they awake free – no noisy barn workers or drivers, no harnesses thrown over their heads or bridles put in their mouths.  Instead they awoke, as their ancestors did before them – on the open plain – to a morning quiet except for the singing of birds and the whisper of the long grass shifting in the breeze.  Perhaps they strolled down to the river for a sip of clear, cold water and then came back soon to find, in addition to the grass, bales of hay for their dining pleasure.  To them, it had to be like Heaven on earth.

Enjoy your rest, sweet giants.  And in the Spring, come back to us fat and healthy and refreshed.  We’ll be waiting.

My sincere thanks to Doc Al for setting up this trip and to Dale Peterson and Randy Hall for your gracious hospitality.  And a special thanks to Dr. Bill Chambers, who has allowed me to ride along – not only on this trip – but also last year when I wrote the stories about taxi and Carriage Tour drivers.

I have seen things so beautiful that they brought tears to my eyes.  Yet, none of them can match the gracefulness and beauty of horses running free.” . . . Anonymous

Throw Back Thursday – “Do They Know?” 11/2/17

Personal Note:  I’m often asked where the horses go in winter when they leave Mackinac Island.  Several years ago I wrote a two-part blog that followed a group of horses on their journey from the island to their winter quarters.  I was privileged to be allowed to travel with them on the ferry to St. Ignace and then in a caravan of trucks (pulling horse trailers) into the upper peninsula of Michigan.   Below is the first part of that blog, and I’ll post the second part, “To Fresh Woods and Pastures New”,  on Sunday.  Hope you enjoy!

DO THEY KNOW? (First published October 8, 2010)

“Do you think they know what’s about to happen?”

That was one of dozens of questions I asked Wednesday and Thursday.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Pickford farms, where the horses of the island go to spend their winters, but I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen – at least not this year.  Then a few days ago I put a bug in Doc Al’s (the island vet) ear that I’d like to do this story, and he asked all the right people, and all those people said “ok”.

So there I was at the big horse barn on Wednesday afternoon, where I’d been told by Dale Peterson (who runs the barn) I could watch the blacksmith remove the shoes from some of the horses leaving the island on Thursday morning.

I’ve never been inside the blacksmith’s shop on the island. I knew where it was (on the back side of the big barn where the majority of the Carriage Tour horses are housed) and always stopped by there at the end of the season to take a photograph of the hundreds and hundreds of horseshoes stacked up outside the door.

I watched as Eric and Keith (the blacksmiths) brought two horses out of the barn to have their shoes removed. These were two of the 36 which would be going to the winter pastures on Thursday. Their manes had already been shaved – so they don’t return in the spring with manes full of cockleburs. The haircut also ensures that the returning horses’ manes will all be the same length in the spring, giving the teams a more matched appearance.

Keith is the head blacksmith. While he worked, he explained that most of the horses wear steel shoes on their back hoofs and rubber-over-steel on their front hoofs (to add traction on wet pavement).

Removing the nails which keep the shoes on the horses’ hoofs (the process is completely painless, as is the shoeing itself) requires strength, balance, and the ability to keep the horse calm while the work is done.  Sometimes a simple prop is used to anchor the foot while the shoe is removed . . .

. . . and sometimes the hoof rests on the blacksmith’s hip.

Over 1,400 of the steel shoes and more than 3,000 rubber-over-steel shoes are used each season.  At the end of the summer the shoes are transported off the island for disposal.

Hay wagons travel up Cadotte all the time, but I had never actually witnessed what happens to the hay when it arrives at a barn. Carriage Tour workers were unloading a hay wagon as I was leaving Wednesday afternoon, and I stopped to watch the process. The bales are tossed onto an automated conveyor belt that carries each bale up into the hayloft of the barn.

At the top of the belt, another worker is waiting to remove the bale and stack it in the loft.

Ted set the alarm clock for 6:30 Thursday morning, and I grumbled myself awake.  I needed to be at the barn (a five-minute walk from the condo) at 8 a.m. so I could watch the workers catch the horses in the corral.  I figured an hour-and-a-half would be plenty of time to get myself awake enough to make sense when I got down there.  Silly me.  I’d forgotten how many months it’s been since I had to get up at 6:30 (almost 2 hours earlier than I’ve been getting up lately).  I needed to wash my hair (don’t ask me why – I just felt like it needed to be washed) – which I did.  I needed two cups of coffee so I wouldn’t growl at anyone (I made the coffee and didn’t have time to drink a drop).  I couldn’t decide how many layers to wear (after checking the Weather Channel for Pickford – an hour north),  I decided on three, saddling myself with two too many – it was a gorgeous northern Michigan Indian Summer day.

I left the condo at 7:50, and arrived at the barn to find taxi and Carriage Tour drivers busy washing and harnessing their horses for a regular day.

This two-horse hitch carriage was getting a quick rinse before pulling out for a day of transporting island visitors around the island.

It was while I was watching the horses in the corral that Dale walked over, and I asked, “Do you think they know what’s about to happen?”

He smiled.  “Oh, yeah – they know”, he said. “We have 36 going today, and yesterday all of their shoes were removed.  They are never put into the corral without their shoes.  So they know something is different.  And the ones who have been through this for a few years learn to anticipate it.”

A few minutes later, Eric moved toward the corral, opened the gate, and he and several other barn workers began to catch the horses, bring them outside the corral, and group them into four’s.

Denise, from the Carriage Museum, came down to take photos also and shared this one with me late this afternoon. That’s me with the backpack, standing around like I have no clue what’s going on while everyone else is busy, busy, busy.

We’d be transporting three groups of four horses this first trip. All the horses going today were either Belgians (all shades of brown) or Percherons (usually black, grey, white, or dappled).

“Jane” is a new horse this year. Because of that, she had her picture made before going off the island. It will be put into a computer file which stores “mug shots” of each horse owned by Carriage Tours.  That’s Jim holding Jane’s nametag.

Once the horses were grouped, everything started moving really fast. I instantly knew I had really messed up by not riding my bike. When these guys take off to walk down a hill, they don’t think “leisurely stroll”. I started off ahead of them and was soon ridiculously behind.

It was a wonderful morning on the island, and the horses seemed to sense that this was no ordinary walk around the block.  I’m sure the pavement must have felt very different to their feet without their shoes – maybe like that first barefoot day of summer right after school is out.

At Four Corners I knew I was about to lose this footrace. I started out ahead of the first group, and now was being overtaken by the last two groups.

This is another Denise photo (thank goodness!). And yes, that’s yours truly huffing down the hill on the right – now firmly in last place.

A great photo from Denise as one group passes the Grand Hotel.  They are really beginning to feel frisky now!

I took this one from behind (where I stayed for the rest of the trip down the hill).

The horses on Market Street (a Jill photo). I had just turned onto Market and was crossing behind them to Main Street.  That’s Frankie and Hershey on the sidewalk.

I arrived at the ferry dock a good 10 minutes after the horses, and thank goodness we had left the barns early. A crowd had formed on the dock (as it always does when word that “horses are coming” sweeps through downtown). Visitors are awed by getting up close to these gentle giants and love to pet them and snap photos.

This little boy had lots of questions about the “horseys” and wanted to touch them – as long as Mom touched them first.

As much as I’ve been around horses and their drivers for the last three years, I’m still always amazed at how the workers seem to know the names and temperaments of each and every horse – and I’m talking over 400 of these four-legged wonders.  In this photo, Eric was talking to a small crowd that had gathered about the likes and dislikes of each of these four.

And then there’s the obvious love the workers have for these animals – and that love is returned full measure by the horses. Watching them say goodbye always gets me teary-eyed.  Don’t know if I could handle doing it several times a week as they do this time of year.

I think these four were saying, “As soon as we get to the farm, let’s plan a party!”

Loading time finally arrived, and the first group was separated and led into the ferry – one by one.

Not a single one of the 12 balked. It was like they were thinking, “Ok – gotta take a little boat ride in order to start the vacation.”

The last group boarded, and I asked if I could go inside on the horse level to take photos. No worries – but they did suggest I might want to take the photos, then go topside for the trip over.

The horses are all tied individually at the rear of the ferry. Most have made the trip so often they take it all in stride.

“Let’s get this show on the road – uh, water!”

The Huron is a lot different from the catamaran we’re used to riding. It’s main purpose is to transport freight of all descriptions (including horses) back and forth across the Straits.

And we’re off!

The only other “civilian” on the boat was Tarry, who works with the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. She had crossed with the horses many times and had all kinds of good suggestions for photos.

The horses made the trip just fine.  Next step to freedom – a trip down the gangplank . . .

. . . then a step up into the horse trailers.

On Sunday, we’ll travel to Pickford and watch the horses unload into what – to them – must feel like Heaven on earth.  You will love it!

Have a great weekend, and God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/26 17

Personal Note:  I loved reading back over this blog, first published October 31, 2009.  Some of the businesses listed in this post are no longer open, and restaurants open all winter have changed since 2009.  So please remember, if you’re planning a winter trip to Mackinac THIS (2017-18) winter, you need to check what’s open and what’s not!

Header Photo by Jill Sawatzki. 

The Islanders Get Their Home Back

In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island.  Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’.  We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again.  I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”

Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 500) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski.

Yes, there are a few businesses still open.  The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup.  The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store.  The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!).  The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.

I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring.  One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint.  The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks.  Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.

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La Galerie’s display windows, completely bare. The doors have special slanted mats in front of them to prevent melting snow from getting into the shop.

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The sign on Goodfellow’s door.

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Two empty shops on Main Street.

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Shepler’s Ferry Dock – no boats, no people.

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These workers were carrying the awnings from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop somewhere to put in storage. All the stores with awnings do the same thing. That’s easier that having to replace all those awnings that heavy snow would have broken during the winter.

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Luggage carts from the ferry docks going to storage.

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Decked Out, a very nice clothing store, empty and locked.

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Murdick’s Fudge, getting a new coat of paint before the snow falls.

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The lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.

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The Pink Pony – two nights before this photo was taken, it was full of costume-clad goblins.

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Sweet Anna. I finally got to photograph her somewhere besides in front of the Grand shoveling up horse poop. She was leaving the island, on her way back to college.

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Jill took this shot early one morning this week, before she left. It’s boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles, waiting to be picked up for recycling.

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Empty Main Street – Wednesday morning.

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The other end of Main Street.

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A new shop – opening in the spring!

It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m.  Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night.  About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again.  There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance.  We didn’t.  So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill.  We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere.  Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!

We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy.  We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away.  That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok.  So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather.

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Downtown tonight – just as we got into town, the rain stopped.

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The Village Inn tonight. They have placed a pool table in the middle of the floor where about 10 dinner tables were this summer.

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On the way up the hill tonight, we stepped into the little entrance gazebo of the Jockey Club to get a little protection from the wind for a minute. Behind Ted you can see a snow fence. It has been placed all along Cadotte bordering the Grand’s property. It will prevent snowmobiles from crossing onto the golf course.

Time to go to bed.  We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean.  Sunday we leave.  Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season.  I can’t believe that day is finally here.  I   just   can’t   believe   it.

 

One Week Home 10/22/17

The Hortons have been back in Florida for almost a week now.  The bags are all unpacked, the dirty clothes from the road trip are washed, and I’ve pressed all the clean stuff that came home in the luggage and just couldn’t be worn until the travel wrinkles were removed.  We are glad to be home.

I love our house here.  And I love our neighborhood, our friends, and knowing Julie and Matt and the grandkids are just a 20-minute ride down the road.  Before we head back to Mackinac next summer, our beautiful Jordan will graduate from high school.  How can that possibly be?

Jordan and Matthew on Homecoming night. It was Jordan’s last Homecoming before she graduates and Matthew’s first as a Freshman this year.

Our trip home was different this year.  We went a different route because Jason’s house in Atlanta is still being reconstructed after Irma dropped two trees on top of it.  We saw some different scenery, but we kind of missed the “tried and true” routine of our normal route.  I think we were most disappointed that the fall leaves were just not yet in full splendor in the mountains.

Jill captured our early morning departure from Shepler’s dock . . .

. . . . and our departing ferry. What a beautiful sunrise that day!

We loved West Virginia. It reminded us a lot of the farmland in Georgia . . .

. . . . except there were more hills!

We crossed into Virginia through a tunnel through a mountain . . .

. . . . and enjoyed some spectacular mountains vistas through that state as well as North and South Carolina.  But the colors – they just weren’t there yet.

The sunset from our deck our first night back was beautiful . . .

. . . . and dinner out the next evening with some of our neighbors made us feel like we’d finally arrived home.

As Bodie stated so eloquently our first evening back, “There’s just nothing like sleeping in your own bed.”

MEANWHILE, BACK ON MACKINAC

In the week we’ve been gone, Mackinac Island has been dressing for Fall in a big way and showing off as only Mackinac can!

A beautiful view of the village of Mackinac Island and the Straits beyond. (Photo: Steven Davenport)

Trinity Church steeple against an awesome orange sky. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)

Cadotte Avenue and its gorgeous Maples. (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

The Cadotte Avenue trees again with Little Stone Church’s steeple shining through.  (Photoe: Tom Chambers)

A brilliant sky highlights the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The Round Island Passage Light against God’s magnificent artwork. (Photo: Steven Davenport)

Just an unbelievable photo from high up in Grand Hotel of Cadotte, the Grand golf course, and the Straits!  (Photo: Patrick Conlon)

AND A FEW MORE

Dinner out our first night back at Breakaway’s. Eating outside right across the street from the Atlantic . . .

. . . . and watching a lady lead her pet turtle around with a weed eater. I kid you not. She says she takes him for a walk about once a month by cutting the grass with the weed eater.  He will follow her anywhere – lured by the sweet grass smell! She walked off down the sidewalk with him following right behind her.

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed and Breakfast – all decked out for Halloween. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

A group of horses walk up Spring Street below Fort Mackinac (after coming down Turkey Hill), headed for the ferry and a few months of rest and relaxation in the UP. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)

There’s been a few days of rough ferry rides since we left. Jim Mishler captured waves crashing on the Mackinac shore during one storm.

8,000 tulip bulbs being planted in Grand Hotel’s garden so we can all enjoy the tulip display in May!  (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

Maddie: “Just what I’ve been waiting for – Bodie’s head on a platter.”

One of my favorite spots to leaf peek – Mackinac Island cemeteries. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)  That’s Pam’s husband Mike on the bike.

A vintage postcard, discovered by Roger Priebe, of the Chippewa Hotel Restaurant in the late 60’s.

Good morning from Grand Hotel. (Photo: Bob Decker)

A beautiful rainbow over the homes of Sunset Inlet. (Photo: Cat Brooks)

WHAT’S NEXT?

A good question – and one I’ll be thinking about a lot between now and the end of the year – and have been thinking about most of the summer.  Until then, I’m going to take a break from writing, but I’ll be back here at least once a week with some of my earlier posts.  Everyone seems to enjoy those, and I’ve sure got plenty to share.  So, stay tuned for Throwback Thursdays!  And, of course, you can always keep up with us on Facebook!

You all continue to be a source of great happiness for me, and I love each and every one of you.  You can’t imagine what it means to me to have you in my life. 

God bless.

 

 

And Away We Go 10/13/17

The bags are packed.  Ted took more than half our stuff over to the truck this morning and started the process of arranging it so we can once again get back home with everything we brought with us.  That part never seems to get easier.

I’ve got the last laundry load going, and anything that gets worn from this point on won’t get washed until we’re back at home in the sunshine state.  All that’s left to do is go out to eat this evening, try and get some sleep ,and be ready when the taxi arrives at 7:15 Saturday morning so we can make the 8 o’clock ferry.

I can’t believe it’s time to go.

I thought I’d post a few pics from around the island this week.  I wish I had a lot more fall colors to show, but those last three weeks of warmer-than-normal weather postponed the height of the “leaf” season on Mackinac.  It’s coming though, and those of you who have plans to visit Mackinac the last two weeks in October should be in for a great show!

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Not much color yet on Market Street, but what is there sure is pretty!  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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Bodie (and yours truly) is sure going to miss our after-dinner walks in the cool, crisp air.

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All the corn stalks and mums downtown herald the fall season.  There was a bride and groom in that carriage passing in front of the Chippewa Hotel!

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Dinner last night in the Chippewa Dining Room.  Ted splurged and had the Cowboy Steak, and I had the Pasta Di’Angelina with Chicken.  Yum!

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Looking down Market Street to the sparkling waters of Lake Huron!

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Also going to miss watching Grand Hotel horses play in the corral outside the condo!

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Fall colors in the maples that line Cadotte are coming on strong!

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A brief visit to Petoskey this week – a great little Michigan city with a booming downtown.  Colors were more prevalent there.  Strange because they are south of Mackinac.

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Fall decorations at Shepler’s dock in Mackinaw City.

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“Mom.  Would you tell me the story one more time about why we’re leaving? I’m sure I loved the beach as much as I do Mackinac, but I can’t remember why just now.  You say it’s gonna snow here soon?  What’s snow? You say it’s like beach sand, except whiter and colder? I gotta tell you, mom, snow sounds pretty nice.  But I guess sand does too.  Oh wait! Is the beach where the crabs are? And that big grassy area where all the neighborhood dogs run and chase each other?  I remember now!  Ok . . . let’s go to the beach!  But, mom.  We can come back here next summer, right?  Oh good.  Thanks, mom.”

Please remember us as we travel back to Florida.  We’re skipping Atlanta this year and going home by a new route – through the Carolinas instead of Kentucky and Tennessee.  Hoping to see some fall colors along the way!

I’ll be posting on Facebook as we wind our way south.  We’re excited to get back to our Florida home, friends, and family.  I’m hoping the cool weather will follow us home, cause our Florida friends have sure had a hot, humid, and stormy summer.  They are ready for a cool-down!

God bless.

Company and Canoes 10/7/17

Hi Friends!

We’ve had such a great week on Mackinac.  It feels like Fall again, and today (Saturday) is one of those rain-all-day, blustery times when you want to pull on a sweatshirt, and a pair of sweatpants and fleecy socks and just sink into the sofa with a good book.

Fortunately, the rain held off until our company, Dave and Diane Bennink, had come and gone. They were only able to be here for one night, but we sure enjoyed them while they were here!

There were a few places we didn’t hit when Dave and Di visited last summer, and one of those was the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac. It has one of the best views of Mackinac’s downtown and marina area, and even though it was windy we chose to sit right out there on the edge of the cliff and enjoy the sunny day and the activity down below.

Di visited with the horses that were in the turn-out corral next door (this is one of Grand Hotel’s Hackneys). It’s been SO HARD not to sneak carrots and sugar cubes out to these beautiful creatures all summer. But – we’ve faithfully abided by the rules.  They did tell us we could bring horse treats up to the barn and they’d mix it in with their regular food. It’s not what we might feed them that’s the problem – they just don’t want anyone to get fingers nipped in the process.

We had dinner with Dave and Di at 1852 Grill Room at Island House Hotel, where the food and the sunset were fabulous.

Ted and newly found cousin Dave – walking ahead of Di and I on the way back from the fort.

We’re hoping y’all come back next summer for a longer visit!

A CANOE

One of our sweet condo neighbors, Craig Harris, texted me a couple of weeks ago to share that a birch bark canoe was being constructed at the Mackinac Island Public School, and students were taking part in the process.  Unfortunately, that was the week I was off-island for appointments every single day – so I missed the construction part.

But – I was on hand last Saturday when the canoe was launched!

Howard Kimewon (far left) of Manitoulin Island, Ontario taught the students how to complete a birch bark canoe and also taught them terms from Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe people – also known as Ojibwa. Our neighbor Craig (to the right of Kimewon) volunteered to help with the project after hearing about it while taking a Ojibwa language class that Kimewon offered on the island last winter.

The skeleton of the canoe (made of white ash Kimewon harvested, sawed, and milled) was constructed in the Mulcrone Car Wash in St. Ignace and brought to Mackinac Island by ferry.  Kimewon was commissioned to build two canoes by the Michilimackinac Historical Society.

The canoe is 14.5 feet long. Sheets of paper birch bark line the outside and are affixed with straps and clamps to form them into shape.

Fibers from American basswood trees that are soaked in water to be malleable are used to stitch the bark together. The materials were all harvested from the forest by Kimewon.

The canoe was launched off Windermere Point by Kimewon and John Perault . . .

. . . and the two men paddled for about 10 minutes within sight of the West Breakwall and the Round Island Passage Light . . .

. . . before coming back to shore.

The canoe was loaded on a dray for transport by to the school and will eventually be paddled to St. Ignace.  What a fantastic experience for our island school children!

(Some material for this story from the 9/21/17 edition of The St. Ignace News article written by Stephanie Fortino.)

A FEW PICS

A huge load of luggage (for this late in the season) lined up and awaiting transfer to a Shepler Ferry for transport back to the mainland.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Hmmmm. What’s missing from this picture?

The hanging baskets!  All the gorgeous baskets that were hung in one day in the spring are removed in one day in the fall. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

A not-so-often-seen view across to the Iroquois Hotel.

The parade ground at Fort Mackinac late in the season. As you can see, the fall colors have not arrived yet.  Those three weeks of very warm temps seem to have stopped the colors from appearing except in bits and pieces around the island.

So glad these four sisters (and blog readers) introduced themselves last Saturday when the canoe was being launched. They come to Mackinac every year and stay at the Windermere. Glad Jill was there to be in the pic also!

A new kid in town. This “pretend” coyote has appeared in several areas around the island as a deterrent for those pesky – and messy – Canadian geese. Don’t know what affect he’s having on the geese, but apparently the squirrels and bunnies have figured out he’s not real! (My apologies for not saving the photographer on this photo. Bruce LaPine? Tom Chambers? Jason St. Onge? Greg Main?

The ending of a lovely night with Dave and Di. A drop off at the condo under a partially-obscured-by-clouds  full moon.   I do love this place.

By this time next Saturday we’ll be on our way back home.  It’s not nearly as much fun to pack up for the trip back as it is when we’re heading north.  But – we’re ready to get back to Julie, Matt and the grandkids, our Beverly Beach friends, and our home.  They’ve all endured the wrath of Irma while we’ve been gone, and even though our house had very little damage, others in our neighborhood were not so fortunate.  Also, Flagler Beach sustained much more property damage from Irma from storm surge than it did last year from Hurricane Matthew.  It’s going to be hard to see our little old Florida beach town so changed.

Hope to have one more post before we leave, but if not, I’ll let you know when we’re safely home.  Love you all.

God bless.