It’s Time 1/7/18

When we arrived home from Mackinac Island this October I decided to take a break from writing until the first of the year. I confess to having an ulterior motive.

For at least two years now, I’ve been thinking the lifespan of Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog has really more than run its course.  When I began the blog in 2009 it was just at the beginning of the social media era.  Bree’s Blog was one of only a very few places on the web where folks could go for information about Mackinac, and I slid myself right into that special little niche – reserved for the dear folks who believe Mackinac Island is magical and the most beautiful place on earth.  The blog blossomed, and at its peak nearly 2,000 readers a day stopped by to see what was happening with the Hortons and their pooches on the island.

You followed us home to our precious lake house in Georgia for winters and packed up with us for the move back to the island for the season.  You gave us support and love through so many hard times – selling the condo on the island and our home in Georgia, moving into a rental while we built a new home in Florida, my hysterectomy, Bear’s knee surgery and two years later his death, hurricanes – the list goes on.  But for every hard time, there were hundreds of good times – endless summer days exploring the island, listening to the trees sing their song in the up north woods, riding hundreds of ferries back and forth across the Straits, horse and buggy adventures, nights at the Pink Pony, the discovery of Ted’s birth mother’s family . . . the list again goes on and on.  Even when we weren’t on Mackinac you traveled with us – a trip to Colorado to a ski resort, a trip to Alaska, a trip to Key West, a trip to an amazing little island in Canada, and numerous trips to Flagler Beach as we built our home.

The decision to post the “Throw Back Thursday” posts has given me so much joy – looking back at those first few years and remembering things I haven’t thought about since they happened.  But they also gave me the strength to say . . . .

It’s time.

I’ve told almost a thousand stories about Mackinac Island, and there are many other excellent blogs being written about the island.  All you have to do is Google “Mackinac” and hundreds of resources appear.  Through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and all those other media channels out there that I don’t even know the names of, Mackinac is now an open book.

This past summer on Mackinac was a little bit of a wake-up call for Ted and I.  We seemed to spend a lot of time recovering from spills – and we blamed most of them on Bodie.  But, being totally honest about it – and although Bodie did play his part – a lot of those falls and spills were because our reaction times have gotten slower, our ability to heal quickly has slowed down.  Since returning home we’ve begun to think about the time we would no longer be able to return to Mackinac on an extended time line.  We’ve begun quietly searching for other places where my need for cooler summers would be closer than 1300 miles away.

Until that time comes, and we pray we’ve still got years ahead of us before we have to get serious about it, I selfishly want to enjoy every minute on Mackinac without those self-imposed blog deadlines.  I just want to go and enjoy every second of its beauty and peace and magic.

So, it’s time.

What’s next?  The ending of Bree’s Blog certainly doesn’t mean I won’t be taking photos and posting to Facebook – about Mackinac, and about anything else either serious, mundane or silly that happens in our lives.  So, if you haven’t already, please follow me on Facebook.  Just search for “Brenda Horton” and you’ll find me.

And – there is certainly a possibility I will one day (maybe soon, maybe later) find my way back to blogging about something completely different.  But, that’s just a thought now – not a decision.  I do know writing is in my blood, and if I do go in another direction, I will let you know by posting the info here on this blog – so please don’t “unfollow” me here.  I’ll also let you know on Facebook.

Bree’s Blog will live on forever on the web.  I hope in the years to come newcomers who are just discovering Mackinac will click a key and discover a little blog about the Hortons spending part of their time on magical Mackinac. And I pray they know each and every word and each and every photograph is filled with love and thankfulness and the awe of the discovery of my heart’s home.

I can’t even begin to thank you all for the happiness writing this blog and sharing Mackinac with all of you has brought me.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been writing about the island for almost as long as I’ve been retired.  I began it on a whim, and that whim has buoyed me up over all these years and brought the most amazing people into our lives.  As half-year residents of Mackinac, we were given a behind the scenes glimpse over the years to what makes Mackinac tick, and I tried my best to share it all with you – so you could love it as much as I do.

Thank you to everyone to provided photographs over the winters when we weren’t on the island.  Your generosity and willingness to share your talents kept Bree’s Blog up and running over the cold season.  Thank you to readers, friends, and business owners who allowed me access to stories that wouldn’t otherwise have been told.  Your love of Mackinac makes my heart smile.

And a very special thank you to my dear friend Jill.  Without you there wouldn’t have been a Bree’s Blog.  Thank you for all the insider information over the years, the story ideas, and the thousands of photographs.  Thank you for being my sidekick, my always-willing-to-get-up-early partner in crime, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my “no-you-can’t-write-that” editor.  But most of all – thank you for being my forever friend.  You are beautiful and amazing, and I love you to the moon and back.  Ok – make that to the sun and back.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written and rewritten this post.  If I’d let myself I would have turned into a blubbering baby and sobbed my way through it.  But I want you all to know I don’t have one regret about the years spent here with all of you.  You all became friends – many of you close friends – and I love you all immensely.  You let me into your homes and lives by reading this blog, and that is the greatest gift writing this blog has given me.

So, for now, it’s time.



Thanks, Mary, for helping me make what I thought was an impossible dream come true . . .

God bless.


What’s Happening on Mackinac? Snow! 12/14/17

I’ve been having a blast this week looking at all the winter photos folks are sharing from Mackinac Island.  So – instead of Throw Back Thursday – I wanted to share some of those photos with you tonight!

If these don’t put you into the Christmas spirit, well – I just don’t know what will!

A dray and a taxi do business as usual – even in a snowstorm. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Snow from a porch in the interior of the island. (Photo: Pam Day)

Busy Original Murdick’s Fudge elves make a run for the ferry with a cart filled with Christmas fudge orders. (Photo: Rose Witt)

The Grandview Condos (where we’ve stayed the last two summers) all dressed up for Christmas! (Photo: Pam Day)

Early morning on Cadotte Avenue. (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

Round Island Lighthouse, surrounded by snow and ice. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

A taxi swings by the Christmas tree which stands in the middle of Main Street. (Photo: Orietta Barquero)


A snow-covered Grand Hotel. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

One more shot from the island’s interior. (Photo: Annie Lockwood)

Main Street during a blizzard yesterday. Temp was one degree. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

I confess.  I want to be there. 

But – the last two weeks we’ve had some pretty darn chilly days here in Beverly Beach, and I’ve gotten more in the Christmas spirit because of it.  Haven’t gotten out my snow pants yet, but I have put on a vest AND a jacket to walk Bodie the last few days!

Hope you have your shopping done!  I finished mine yesterday! 

God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – “How Beautifully Leaves Grow Old” 12/7/17

Personal Post:  Part I of a 2-part post from 2011.  I was counting down the days until our return to Georgia and trying to chronicle the beauty of Mackinac in the fall. 

Header Photo:  Thank you to Jocelyn Kazenko for the beautiful Christmas season header shot.  Photo taken the evening of Dec. 4.  It was the calm before the storm, as today the U.P. is being hit with snow storms and high winds!

How Beautifully Leaves Grow Old – Originally Published 10/13/2011

“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” – John Burroughs

Oh geez.  I’m down to counting DAYS now.  19 to go before we’re out of here.  Where did the summer go?  It seems like three minutes ago we were right in the middle of watching the horses come off the ferry and walk up the hill to the big barns.  Now the horses are almost all gone back to Pickford in the U.P., where they will kick up their heels and enjoy a much needed rest.

I’ve asked Ted to get my suitcases out of the attic and put them on the beds upstairs.  I’m going to try and get organized (don’t you dare laugh).  All my days are filling up, and before I can say “fudge”, the 30th will be here, and Ted will be standing in the street next to the taxi yelling, “No, we can’t stay another week!”

Many of our friends have already gone south – or east or west – for the winter (don’t know any who go further north, which would be Canada).  Each day brings partings on the ferry docks and promises to stay in touch by email, or Facebook, or Skype or cellphone, which certainly makes the “partings” a little easier. 

The next three weeks’ calendar is already almost full – lunches and breakfasts with friends still here, meetings with a couple of blog fans, and three days next week I’m volunteering at Shepler’s in Mac City for the Winsome Women conference. What a great group of ladies – almost a thousand each day will be catching the ferry to and from the Island.  I think they have me greeting cars at the entrance gate and showing them where to park.  I have to remember not to talk too long to the women in each car!

But – that’s all about what’s happening in the next 19 days.  For the last three days, I’ve been out on the island with the camera – and that’s what I want to share with you today and tomorrow.  Oh my goodness, I could stay out there from sunrise to sunset – it’s that gorgeous.

Arrowhead Stables, as we were riding our bikes home from church Sunday. It was Little Stone Church’s last service of the season, and Vince and Molly (our pastor and his wife) left the island on Tuesday for their winter home in Florida.

We stopped to talk with Barb, a Village neighbor, who was walking Topaz (their family pony) down the hill.  Topaz was scheduled to leave the island for the winter the next morning.

Maybe the last mowing of the season. Our weather is supposed to be changing drastically by Friday, but these last two weeks could not have been more beautiful.

Trees in front of Barn View – where many of the Carriage Tour employees reside.

Two of our neighbors, walking their bikes home on the road that runs in front of our condo.

Chief Duck’s little poodle, Star – dancing in the leaves for a treat I was holding right over her head.

Still beautiful weather on Tuesday morning, so we sat outside for coffee. The tree just outside out bay window is changing into its fall dress – one “sleeve” at a time.

We went on a long walk Tuesday afternoon. We really don’t have to go much further now than our own front yard to find color – it’s everywhere around us.

Bright red tree over what used to be the goat petting shed at Carriage Museum.

Maddie – straining against her halter.  When you say “walk in the woods”, she is ready!

“Why can’t I go in this tree trunk!?”

“I knew I’d find it! Fox poop – yeah!”

View from in front of the Captain’s Quarters at Fort Mackinac.

I think I’ll stop right there for now, but I’ll have even more to share on Friday.  As I sit and type this, it’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve just returned from town.  I left in a 3/4 length sleeve cotton shirt thrown over a short-sleeve t-shirt and some khaki pants.  Half-way down the hill, the wind changed direction, and cold air hit me like an iceberg.  The fog rolled in over the harbor and flew up each street – replacing warm, bright sunshine with cool, wet air – and the fog horns have been blowing ever since.  I had to stop and buy a sweater in town to wear back up the hill.  And THAT’s how fall arrives on Mackinac Island!  LOVE IT!

Thanks to Sue Randall for stopping by to see me Monday at the Stuart House.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that was my last day working there for this year, as they decided today to close the museum for the season.

Sue and her husband were at the Grand for a few days for a Christian Marriage Retreat.

Personal Note:  Come on back tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 8) for Part 2!


Move Back Monday – “24 Hours” 11/20/17

Header Photograph:  Robert McGreevy, 2014

Personal Note:  I’ve been writing Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog for over eight years now, and I’d guess 98% of the posts I’ve shared have been happy tales of life on Mackinac.  But this is not one of them. 

Reading back over the posts about our 4-day trip to the island during Winter Festival of 2010, I was filled once again with memories of all the wonderful adventures we shared, the delight at the snow-covered island, the joy of being with island friends (and sharing all that with my wonderful Georgia friend Dawn).  What happened on our last night on Mackinac was a tragedy that took two beautiful women from their families and friends.  I only knew them 24 hours, but their happiness and spirit for life is still remembered all these years later.

24 Hours – First Published February, 2010

Tonight I have a story to tell – and tragically, it is one without a happy ending.  I debated whether the story should be told, then decided to write it as a tribute to these two women, whom I only knew for 24 hours.  In just that short amount of time, they touched my heart.  I met them, shared smiles with them, talked with them, teased them, outbid one of them for a rug at a silent auction, said goodbye to them at the school on Sunday afternoon.  Three hours later they were gone.

In the third post I wrote about our trip to Winter Festival, there is a photograph near the bottom of Don Schwarck and me standing outside his home on the island.  Dawn and I had started walking back to town from Turtle Park, and when we passed Don’s home, he had seen us and invited us in to meet his wife and sister-in-law.  As you know, Don and Ted worked together this past summer at the State Park Visitor’s Center.  With other park employees, Ted and I had been to dinner at Don’s last summer, and Don had come to our condo for dinner a few weeks later – bringing fresh veggies from his garden.  A retired high school teacher and coach, Don and Ted had bonded instantly and become good friends.  But I had never met his wife, Karen, who owned her own travel agency and was away for days at a time.  When Karen got a few days back home, she cherished her time on the island – a place she had always wanted to live – a dream they had realized several years ago.

Meeting Karen and her sister, Edye, was like meeting two bubbles of light.  Their smiles were almost identical – genuine, and contagious.  They were happy women, and it showed.  We were invited to stay for a glass of wine, but Dawn and I were tired and ready to get back down the hill – to pull off snowboots and heavy coats.  So we only stayed a few moments, but we talked about seeing them at the school the next day, and then we left.

On Sunday, Karen and Edye arrived at the school a little after we did, ate breakfast, and spent some time checking out the silent auction items.  Edye and Mike (Forrester) instantly got into a bidding war for a 20-person hayride this coming summer, although at the time they had no idea who they were bidding against.  I was bidding against Edye for a rag rug made from sheets – and again didn’t know I was bidding against her (only assigned numbers were used in the bidding – not names).  We spent several hours at the school – playing games, voting on photographs for the 2012 Mackinac Island calendar, chatting with people we hadn’t seen the day before.  Every 30 minutes or so we would run into Karen or Edye – be warmed by their smiles, chat a moment, and move on.  The final event of the day was the announcement of the silent auction winners – Edye had outbid Mike for the hayride, I had outbid her on the rug.  But she was still smiling as she picked up and paid for at least 7-8 other items on which she had been the highest bidder.  She was beaming as she walked by our table and spotted the rug sitting next to my purse.  “Oh, so YOU were #61!” she said.  She and Mike teased each other about her winning the hayride.  I cornered Karen and asked if their snowmobile could carry three people.  I wondered if she would consider driving Dawn and me up to Ft. Holmes later that afternoon.  She grinned and said, “We’ve never tried it with three, but I’ll talk to Don about it.  If he says ok, I’ll come get you.  We can’t go to Ft. Holmes though – that’s off limits for snowmobiles.”  Then we talked about getting together this summer for dinner.  When we were leaving, we all said our goodbyes.  As Dawn and I left the school walking up to the condo, Karen and Edye were riding away on the snowmobile.

Jill and Mike met us at our condo, and we went in for a few minutes so I could leave the rug I bought.  We headed downtown, spent some time out on the marina docks taking photos, then went back to our rooms to rest.  It was late when we left for dinner at the Village Inn, and we didn’t return to our rooms until almost 10:30.  Mike was still standing in the door of our room chatting about our trip home the next day when Marge (our innkeeper) came up the stairs and said Don had just called.  He was wondering if we had seen Karen and Edye.  They had left the house around 4:00 p.m., after dropping off their prizes from the auction, and said they were going for a ride.  When they didn’t return in a couple of hours, he just figured they had met up with us downtown, maybe saw us in a restaurant, and we were all dining together.  He said Karen wouldn’t normally do that without checking in, but that is what he told himself.  Don had already called the police, and when Marge relayed the message that we had not seen them since they left the school, he became deeply concerned.  I called Don, and he told me the police were checking around the island at different homes where Superbowl parties had been held, to see if possibly they had dropped by any of those.  If they were not located at any of the parties, they planned to start an organized search.

No more than 15 minutes later, the roar of snowmobiles filled the quiet air outside The Cottage Inn.  Island residents came from every direction, converging on the Community Hall, which is also the fire station. We stood at our window and watched, as 10 minutes later those same snowmobiles left on the first search of the night – riding out into the cold darkness on a mission to find two missing women.  We found out later they searched every trail on the island, as well as the bluffs and perimeter of the island by the water.  They found nothing and returned to the fire station. 

When we heard and saw them returning, Jill and I walked down to the corner across the street from the station, hoping for some kind of word on the search.  Dennis Bradley, the island fire chief arrived and motioned Jill and I to come in.  He knew we knew the family and asked several questions.  I left my cell phone number with them and asked to be called if we could help in any way.  Then Jill and I walked back to the hotel.  Ten minutes later my cellphone rang.  The island doctor thought it would be good for someone to be with Don, and asked if I’d go.  A police car picked Jill and I up a few minutes later, took us up to the house, and dropped us off.

Don was very worried.  He wanted so badly to be out looking himself, but the police had asked him to stay there by the phone.  Both women had left their cellphones at the house, but had gone out in full winter gear – it helped to know they were dressed for the cold.  By then it was midnight, and for the next 3 1/2 hours we paced the floor, talked a little, worried a lot, and prayed for a good outcome.  It was not to be.

At 3:30 a.m. we saw the lights of the police car pull up in front of the house.  Dr. Karen, two policemen, and Father Ray got out.  We all instantly knew.

In that 3 1/2 hours, some 45 island residents had come together and searched the entire island.  They had gone out first one person per snowmobile and covered every trail, the bluffs, and the lake shore.  The second search was by two people on each snowmobile – one to drive, one to shine spotlights down off the trails.  Around 2:30 a.m., Dennis called to tell usthe Coast Guard had been notified and would be joining the search within an hour.  Don was certain they would have never gone anywhere near the water, but when the coast guard called 30 minutes later, it was to ask what colors they were wearing so they could put the appropriate filters on their search lights.  They planned to use the filtered light to search the island by air.

Karen and Edye were found before the Coast Guard arrived.  On the third search of the night, the islanders went out on foot.  It was 2 degrees by then, and they planned to walk every inch of the island.  In a spot on the West Bluff they had passed several times already on their snowmobiles, on foot they located an almost hidden place in the fence that was broken – the exact width of a snowmobile.  Putting it together later, they concluded that Karen and Edye had ridden down the West Bluff toward the Grand Hotel.  Upon reaching the Grand’s driveway and seeing that the snow had melted there, they had attempted to turn around.  What happened in that next moment is only speculation, but something went horribly wrong.  The snowmobile went through the fence backward and down the steep ledge.  They were gone instantly.

The priest, Jill and I stayed with Don until 7 a.m.  He had begun the process of calling family.  Each woman had two sons, their mother and father are still alive, they had a brother.  I called Liz (our friend who teaches on the island).  She and her family live just down from Don.  She came immediately and has been there ever since.  We flew off the island three hours later.

Mackinac Island is a beautiful paradise, but occasionally its terrain can be unforgiving.  The longer we live there, the more examples we see of the dangers – from bikes to horses to snowmobiles.  Does it make us love it less – no.  But  it does make our respect for the island grow and gives us an awareness of our surroundings and a vigilance to be careful. 

But occasionally there is a freakish accident, and that is what this was.  Karen was a careful driver, they were not out speeding or trying to be daredevils.  They simply went on a snowmobile ride and did not come back.  We certainly cannot fathom a reason for that.  It happened, and we are left to ask “why”.

When I talked to a couple of island residents today, they both said Don was doing as well as could be expected.  The island has responded as they always do – with helping hands, with love, with food.  Again, it is the people who make this island so precious.

I don’t think Don would mind me sharing that after he had been told, he said to Dr. Karen, “She loved this island so much.  She dreamed of living here, and it was here she was her happiest.”  And Dr. Karen responded, “Wasn’t she blessed that she had that – and aren’t you blessed to know that she lived her dream.”

24 hours – such a short period of time to know someone.  But I will never forget their smiles and their joy of life.  Heaven has to be an even happier place tonight.


Personal Note:  My blogging program alerts me when someone has made a comment to a post, no matter how much time has passed since the post was published.  Below is a comment I received earlier this year (2017).  It touched my heart.  Thank you, Caleb.

Thank you for writing this post. Edye was, and will always be, my grandma. I was 9 years old when the accident happened, one week and 7 years ago now, and although reading this opened old wounds, it was a wonderful reminder of just how wonderful they were. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of them, and I’d like to thank you for the feeling of being right with them one more time.  Caleb.


Slip Back Sunday – “Winter Festival 2010 – the Final Day” 11/19/17

Personal Note:  Sunday was our last day on the island for Winter Festival, and we were scheduled to fly home on Monday.  We had already had more fun and seen more snow than I could have ever imagined.  The fairytale world of Mackinac in the winter lived up to all my expectations!

First Published February, 2010

Where Saturday’s activities were all held outside at Turtle Park, the majority of Sunday’s activities were inside at the school.  Here is our group’s day in pictures and captions:  

This is actually a photo from Saturday – or Friday (I can’t remember). Nikki, who lives on the island year-round, and I say hello at the Mustang.

Getting ready to go out to the school on Sunday morning - hot hands and toasty toes!

Getting ready to go out Sunday morning – hand warmers and toasty toes!

Walking up Cadotte Avenue to the school, we passed the very lonely looking Gatehouse Restaurant. So strange to see it like this. In a few months, the tables will be out on the patio, the flowers will be blooming, and there will be happy people everywhere.

Dawn – posing on a snowmobile, under a “No Snowmobile” sign.

Barb, who is the school’s office manager, Dawn and I. We had just noticed that Barb’s cup matched her sweater.

Smi and I – Smi and his wife are our neighbors in the “village”.

As soon as we walked into the gym, 2 -3 tables full of home-baked goodies were sitting there tempting us to start munching. Whenever one little space was cleared, another baked good was brought straight from the kitchen. The island ladies must have been baking all night!

Sign-up tables on the left. Then table after table around the room filled with silent auction goodies – the majority homemade. I bid on several items, but it was the rag rug made from sheets that I really wanted – and it was the only one I was high bidder on. Ok – I admit it. I entered my last bid 2 seconds before the buzzer rang ending the auction, then defended that bid sheet like an all-star hockey goalie.

Dawn and I playing bingo.

Voting on 2012 Mackinac Island Recreation Department Calendar photographs. How to choose only 12!

Talk about Mackinac Island celebrities! Beside me is Jeannette Doud, who writes the Mackinac Island column in The Town Crier. Next to her is Margaret, who has been the Mayor of the island for the past 37 years.

One of several pairs of homemade mittens I bid on at the silent auction. They were all made from donated wool sweaters and the left hand mitten did not match the right hand mitten.  So cute!  I was not the high bidder on any of them. Darn!

After we left the school, we walked up Cadotte to our condo. Looking back over my shoulder, we could see the ice in the Straits.

Going through the snow fence to our condo back door.

Standing on the street in front of the condo. That’s the Carriage Museum in the background.  Everything looks so different covered in snow!

The empty horse corral below our condo.

Starting back to town – down Turkey Hill, next to the Jewel Golf Course.

Where Turkey Hill Road blends into Fort Street, we met a couple attempting to get up the hill on cross country skies. They finally stopped, took them off, and walked up the hill until they hit snow again.

Mike – pretending that he is about to “take the plunge” into the icy water.

On our way to The Village Inn for dinner Sunday evening, we passed Cindy’s Livery Stables – locked, quiet, and dark for the winter.

On the other hand, the Village Inn was ablaze with lights.  You can see in one corner  of the restaurant the cross country skis available for rental.

Mike took this photo at the Village Inn Sunday night. I promise we did not plan our color scheme for the evening – it just worked out that way. The lady on my right is Mary, who with husband Ron, owns the Village Inn.

Thank goodness the supply closet was right next to our room. We had to “borrow” the vacuum cleaner Monday morning so Dawn could suck all the air out of the bag where she packed some bulky items.  Those vacuum bags are amazing!

My blogging corner in our room at The Cottage Inn.

Personal Note:  This should have been the last entry on our Winter Festival trip.  We were set to get a good night’s sleep and fly off the island to St. Ignace early Monday morning.  We still made that flight, but the tragic events that began shortly after the above pic of me in my pajamas was snapped will forever be linked in all of our minds to our trip north that winter.  Because Mackinac in the winter is more beautiful than you can imagine, it is easy to forget that there is another side to all that beauty.  We were all impacted by that other side throughout our last night on the island.  Tomorrow – that story. 


Sling Back Saturday – “Special Place, Special People” 11/18/17

Personal Note: Our third day on the island for Winter Festival, 2010, was a Saturday, and it was filled with everything we could have hoped for – fun, adventure, laughter and tons of community spirit.  We had a blast!

Hal Borland, a former writer for The New York Times, once said, “To know – after absence – the familiar street and road and village and house is to know again the satisfaction of home.”  My readers are well aware that I have two homes – one at the lake, with ties to my southern roots, my family, my friends, and 61 years of history.  Then there is my heart’s home – this island.

Returning here on Thursday afternoon once again filled the space in my heart reserved only for this village and these people.  Winter Festival is basically a community celebration.  In a place cut off from the mainland during the winter – unless you fly in and out – this small community of residents pauses for a weekend and celebrates what makes them special – their children, their bond with each other, their home on this island.

This afternoon when we arrived at Turtle Park, I felt as if I was being welcomed home by family.  So many people who I had last seen at the end of October called out a “welcome back!”  They asked “Where’s Ted?”  They hugged me.  They chatted.  They made me feel that making the effort to travel to Michigan from Georgia for a four day visit was very special to them.  I wanted to tell them all that there was no effort involved – I had simply come to my heart’s home.

We have once again been outside all day.  It was two degrees when we awoke this morning, but luckily the winds have been calm.  We put on layer after layer (at last count we three girls had managed to pull on and zip up seven layers above our waists and three below).  We wore snow boots, wool socks, toe warmers stuck to the bottom of our socks, and hand warmers inside our gloves.  We were warm, but we also looked like inflated robots.  If we had tipped over, there is no way we could have ever gotten up without help.

Here’s our day in photographs – with captions.

Ice in the marina has broken into large pieces.

We left The Cottage Inn around noon. I kept hoping for a snowmobile ride, but Jill insisted we walk. I’m so glad we did.

At the foot of Fort Hill, Jill was already snapping photos. I think, between the two of us, we took more than 400 pictures today.

The trees are beautiful, standing against the white snow.

Dawn – trying to hide behind a tree. In seven layers of clothes!? I don’t think so!

A fork in the road – but they both end at Turtle Park.

Pointing out the path Ted and I take through the woods to our condo.

Marge and Rich (and Joe Cocker) caught up with us toward the end of our hike. They were going to the Winter Festival also.

The Winter Festival was in full swing when we arrived.

One of the many activities was sledding – a favorite with the kids.

There was also snow golf . . . .

Human sled dog races – where the “sled dog” was blindfolded and had to mush around a marked route to shouted instructions from the person (or persons) on the sled . . .

Face painting for the children . . .

Broom hockey – a children’s match and an “over the hill” match . . .

And then there’s Bowling with a Frozen Chicken, the only game in which I participated. You are given a frozen solid, hard as a rock chicken, wrapped in cellophane. You have to hurl it toward the bowling pins at least a thousand feet away. I did not win or place. In fact, I never touched even one of those darn pins. By the way, the prize for the winner of that game was the frozen chicken.

The totem pole at Turtle Park is crowned by – what else – a turtle!

Me with Penny – one of Andrew and Nicole’s sweet dogs.

Mike, who has been filming all weekend, talking with Karen from The St. Ignace News.

Jack, with his wife Terrie, own the Cannonball Restaurant at British Landing. They were grilling hotdogs and brats for the crowd.

Chloe gets in a little sledding, making it all the way down the hill without a crash.

The crowd seemed to continue growing throughout the afternoon, tapering off around 3:30 p.m.

Dawn and I watched some of the games from the bleachers, which were facing the sun. A beautiful day!

An island friend’s little girl – Madison.

Cute Miss Madison again.

We took a break from the festival, and walked over to Trillium Heights, a subdivision behind the Village.

We went by and visited for a moment with Don and his wife Karen. Don and Ted work together at the Visitor’s Center on the island during the summer.

Jill went back to the Festival, while Dawn and I started back downtown.

When Jill started back to town, she walked by the Fort Cemetary. Always a quiet, peaceful setting, today it was a study in beautiful tranquility.

White birch trees, white snow.

Dawn and I walked to town down Cadotte Avenue, past our condo. I will probably return tomorrow and go inside.

The last “to do” item on our agenda today was to find a patch of perfect snow and make a snow Angel.  Dawn did it first . . .

. . . and then it was my turn. So funny! Getting ourselves up out of that snow was a sight to behold!

We were very happy to see The Cottage Inn late this afternoon. We had been gone from noon until almost 6 p.m.

Jill, bless her heart, ran to the Mustang and picked up a “pizza to go” for supper, then left to help Leanne with some details for  the second day of the Winter Festival.  Dawn and I ate pizza, watched a movie (while I should have been blogging), and now, once again, everyone is sleeping as I finish writing.

It has been another wonderful day on the island – we could not have asked for better weather.  We have been plenty cold, but the winds have been calm, and the days have been so beautiful.  Tomorrow we have more Winter Festival activities.  There is a brunch planned at the school with pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, biscuits & gravy, cinnamon rolls & fresh fruit. Oh, yum!  Dawn and I are helping run a silent auction table, and there will be bake sales, a cookie contest, turtle races, and the selection of photographs for the 2010 “Seasons of Mackinac” calendar.  The Superbowl is tomorrow night, with parties planned at both the Mustang and Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  A very busy day!

God bless.

Please come back tomorrow for the final day of Winter Festival, 2010.


Fling Back Friday – “Island Winter Day” – 11/17/17

Personal Note:  The blog post below is from our first full day on Mackinac – a Friday – during Winter Festival Weekend in 2010.  I can look at these pics and remember every second of that day.  It was amazing!

Island Winter Day – First Published February 6, 2010

When I talked to Ted this morning, it was a cold, rainy day at the lake in Georgia.  It was cold here also, but the snow was white, the sun was shining (for a minute anyway), and we were determined to stay outside as much as possible to enjoy every minute. 

Friday was an “extra” day for us.  The Winter Festival activities don’t start until Saturday at noon, so Jill, Dawn, Mike and I spent the day roaming around downtown taking photos.  Mike was officially “on business” for this trip, shooting video for The Cottage Inn and background footage for his ever increasing video achives on the island. 

If you read this blog last summer, you know that Ted and I stayed at the Chippewa Hotel every year we came to Mackinac until we bought our condo.  We love the Chip!  Now I have another place I can personally recommend – The Cottage Inn, a bed & breakfast on Market Street.   The rooms are all beautiful and decorated in different styles.  We are staying in the Victorian Turret Room, which has a queen bed, a sofa sleeper,  flat screen TV, private bath, and pillow-top mattresses. Marge and Rich Lind are the innkeepers, and as soon as you walk in the door you become their most important guest. 

Dawn and I wore our pj’s downstairs for breakfast this morning (after we found out that the four of us were the only guests at the hotel that morning) and found a breakfast casserole, fruit and yogurt, assorted breakfast breads, cereals, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and four different juices.  Everything was delicious!

A great way to start a day on Mackinac Island – good food and good friends! 

Here’s the rest of the day in photographs – with captions.  Pictures tell the story so well when you are on the island.

The first stop of the day was our 11 a.m. appearance on the web cam. So many people watched and sent comments – or called! Mary, one of my readers, sent this photo she had “captured” off her computer screen.

And here we all are waving to the camera. That’s Dawn, Mike, Jill, and Joan (an island resident).

Main Street on a winter day. We were so excited to see this much white stuff. Everyone keeps saying, “We’re so sorry there’s not a lot of snow.” And Dawn and I kept saying, “But, to us, this IS a lot of snow!”

Jill, Dawn and I standing in front of The Cottage Inn.

Around noon everyday, the island residents arrive at the post office to pick up their mail.

The Geary House is located across the street from The Cottage Inn. Mike and his family will be renting it this summer. It is available for rental through the Mackinac Island State Park – monthly rentals only.

We walked down Market Street to the water, stopping in front of this beautiful cottage –  still decorated for Christmas.

As soon as we walked across the street to the boardwalk, away from the shelter of the houses, the wind hit us full force. Suddenly, it was much colder. Round Island Lighthouse stands a lonely watch over water half-frozen in the Straits.

There is a lot of ice at the edge of the lake. We spent quite some time trying to talk Dawn into taking the “plunge”, but she kept saying, “Maybe later.”

We stopped in at the library to check out some artwork by Tim Leeper and other local artists.

Dawn spent some time back in the Used Books sections, where paperbacks are $1, and most hardcover books are $2.

Can you believe  all three have cellphones attached to their ears!

I kept saying these were snow clouds, but I guess the clouds weren’t listening.

Dawn – all bundled up to roam around in the snow.

A bundled -up Jill with her camera.

Rich, who with his wife Marge are the innkeepers at The Cottage Inn, looks out the door as we head out again into the snow.

As we left, Marge and the Cottage Inn mascot, Joe Cocker, were coming back from a walk.

Mike – filming snowmobiles.

Walking down toward the Mission district, where the traffic is less, there was even more snow on the road.  The path on the right is kept clear for walkers.

Leanne had promised us a sleigh ride, and when we arrived at the 4-H barn, she was harnessing Blaze, a small Haflinger.

Jill put Gingersnap into the barn, so she wouldn’t get upset seeing Blaze leave.

Blaze is harnessed and hitched almost exactly the same as the big Belgian horses who pull the taxis in the summer.

One horse plus one sleigh equals a sleigh ride!

While Blaze was being hitched to the sleigh, we were visited by Max, Major and Lily – three Shetland Sheepdogs from up the road.

Blaze and Lily have a little mutual admiration society going on.

Dawn, Leanne, and I leaving the stable.

Riding behind Blaze

Leanne and Jill arriving back at The Cottage Inn.

Liz, from The Quilted Turtle blog – who teaches on the island – was going out to dinner with us. She offered to take me on a snowmobile ride, but first had to help me get my hood on straight. I think I heard her say something along the lines of, “You Southern girls don’t know how to dress for cold weather.” But we’re trying, Liz!

Liz drove me up to the Mission District, then went into a house to get something. When she came back outside, she said, “Do you want to drive?” Are you kidding me!!! She let me drive from in front of St. Anne’s back to The Cottage Inn. Oh my gosh! I loved it!

We headed for the Mustang for dinner – Jill, Mike and I walking – Dawn getting a ride from Liz.

Dinner at the Mustang.

Another fabulous day on the island.  Tomorrow, the Winter Festival begins.  As I finish writing tonight, I am sitting by a window in our room, and outside I can hear the wind whistling around the corner of the inn.  A cold front is coming in tonight from Canada, and tomorrow night the forecast low is 7 degrees – and that’s without the wind chill factored in.  We might not have tons of snow, but I think tomorrow we will get plenty of COLD!  See you then!

Jill snapped this beautiful photo while she was out in the sleigh this afternoon.  Personal Note:  Come back tomorrow for our adventures on Saturday – the first official day of Winter Festival, 2010!