Lowell & Faye’s Amazing Trip to Mackinac Island – Part II 6/27/2013

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Faye and I walked east past Marquette Park, the marina, and the Manoogian Art Museum, which used to be the Mackinac Island Indian Dormitory until it became the Mackinac Island Public School for nearly a hundred years.  We continued walking  past the Bay View Inn, the Island House Hotel, originally built in 1852 with the east wing added in 1895 and the west wing added in 1912, Ste. Anne’s Church, the Old Mission Church and many residences.  As we walked along, I noticed a mourning dove sitting on a picket fence, no more than three feet from me.  Apparently, the bird was welcoming us to the Island because it looked at us but never left the fence.  Faye took a picture and we continued our walk.

When we arrived back at the Chippewa, Brenda & Ted, Jill, Lora and Sarah were already there.  It was only a short time until the Town Crier reporter, Stephanie Fortino, walked in and the surprises for the day really began.  Stephanie started the interview right there in the lobby.  After a short time, Brenda said the taxi was ready.  The “taxi” had turned into a beautiful carriage from the Grand Hotel, pulled by a team of the most beautiful high-stepping Hackney Horses and with Ben Mosely, Grand Hotel Stable Manager, as the driver.  He later informed me that Hackneys are born with that high-stepping gait.

Brenda, Lowell and Stephanie.  Stephanie spent several hours with us as we were touring the island.  She was interviewing Lowell for the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

Brenda, Lowell and Stephanie. Stephanie spent several hours with us as we were touring the island. She was interviewing Lowell for the Mackinac Island Town Crier.

Ted riding shotgun with Ben as Brenda gets their picture.  Stephanie the Town Crier reporter is at the left.

Ted riding shotgun with Ben as Brenda gets their picture. Stephanie, the Town Crier reporter, is at the left.

Ted rode shotgun with Ben, and Brenda, Stephanie, Faye & I climbed into the carriage.  Jill, Lora and Sarah left to ride bicycles out to Arch Rock and we were off down the street just as though we were celebrities.  We went through town and up Cadotte Avenue to the Grand, but instead of going on by the east end, as we had done the day before, Ben drove in front to the West Bluff with its very impressive Victorian summer cottages, which are actually mansions from that time period.  Continuing on, he drove us through Hubbard’s Annex, which is more wooded and with homes that are more modest, but not much less impressive.  I had never been in the Annex before.

In the Grand Hotel Carriage riding through the Annex.  The Hackney Horses were beautiful.  Is it all right to say horses are beautiful?

In the Grand Hotel Carriage riding through the Annex. The Hackney Horses were beautiful. Is it all right to say horses are beautiful?

From there we went on through the woods to the cemeteries, where Ben turned left to go up to Fort Holmes.  As we arrived, those who were already there stopped looking at the gorgeous scenic views and turned their attention to the beautiful carriage and horses, with the elegantly dressed driver.  I hope Fort Holmes will be restored in the future.  There isn’t much left except the berm, which used to be covered with timbers, and the entryway to the fort.  Was it from the fort that we looked down on Sugar Loaf Rock?  I don’t remember, but I know we did it.

A good picture of our driver, Ben Mosley, and the Grand Hotel Hackney Horses.

A good picture of our driver, Ben Mosley, and the Grand Hotel Hackney Horses.

After about a half hour at Fort Holmes, we rode the short distance to Point Lookout, and it certainly is a lookout.  The views cannot be described.  I just know they were awesome.  Of course, that’s true all over the Island. (Note from Brenda:  Lowell, Sugar Loaf was viewed from Point Lookout.)

Then it was on to Arch Rock, where Jill, Lora and Sarah met us and Stephanie continued the interview.  Actually, the interview never really stopped during the whole carriage trip.  The metal viewing platform that was new in the 1950’s is still there and looks as strong as ever.  I showed the others where I thought the little Curio Shop had been located where I worked so long ago.  I’m sure I was about right.

At Arch Rock and looking at the area where the Arch Rock Curio Shop used to be when Lowell worked there.

At Arch Rock and looking at the area where the Arch Rock Curio Shop used to be when Lowell worked there.

After more pictures and a lot of talk, at least on my part, it was time to start the last leg of our wonderful carriage ride.  Jill, Lora and Sarah rode their bicycles, promising to meet us at the Grand Hotel.  On the way we went by the back of Fort Mackinac, the summer residence for Michigan’s governor and the Horton’s condo.  (It always seemed odd to me that for so many years there was no Governor’s mansion in Lansing, the capital city, but there was a summer residence on the Island.)

When we arrived at the front steps of the Grand Hotel, it was time to leave the carriage.  Thank you Ben, Brenda & Ted for one of the great treats of life for Faye and me.  By the way, Magic Jill was at the Grand to meet us and take pictures.

Then it was up the steps and into the hotel, where we, including Jill, had lunch and a very good lunch it was.  Of course, I guess my review of the lunch doesn’t mean much.  I once complimented Faye on something she had made. He answer was, “That’s no compliment. you’ll eat anything.”  Well, I do like to eat.

Stephanie and Jill when we had lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Stephanie and Jill when we had lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Inside the Grand Hotel.

Inside the Grand Hotel.

After lunch, Lora and Sarah, who had lunch in the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac, joined us and we went up to the Grand Hotel Cupola.  Once again, we could see the beautiful (I wish there were more synonyms for beautiful) views of the island, the water and Mackinac Bridge.  Then we went down to Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor and Lora treated all of us.  Thank you, Lora.  I don’t remember what the others had, but I had Raspberry and yes, it was very good.  I’ll give it a 10 for Brenda.

Sarah Elizabeth and Lora in the Grand Hotel Cupola.

Sarah Elizabeth and Lora in the Grand Hotel Cupola.

After the ice cream treat, Ted went to the condo to check on Bear and Maddie.  Jill, Lora and Sarah returned downtown on their bicycles and Brenda took Stephanie, Faye & me in an actual taxi back to the Chippewa.  If I remember correctly, that was when Stephanie left us to go to St. Ignace.  Brenda sent us to our room and she went home. (Note from Brenda:  Hmmmm.  I can’t seem to remember “sending Lowell and Faye to their rooms”, but if Lowell says I did, it must be true!)

Wednesday, June 5,2013

Once again we were up early.  We had our coffee, ate our breakfast and packed everything in preparation for going home.  About 8:30 we walked down Main Street to the Windermere Hotel where we had a nice visit with Margaret Doud.  As I’m sure most of you who read Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog will know, Margaret Doud has been the mayor of Mackinac Island for the past 31 years.  She and her mother, Jeannette, are the owners of the Windermere Hotel.  It was Jeannette’s mother, Ella Chambers, in whose house I lived during the summers of 1954, 55 & 56, and for whom I worked at the Arch Rock Curio Shop during the summers of 1955 & 56.

Mayor Margaret Doud and Lowell.

Mayor Margaret Doud and Lowell.

After our visit and having my picture taken with the mayor, we walked back to the hotel.  On the way we stopped in one of the fudge shops and bought three big slices of fudge.  Isn’t that what everyone does when they visit the Island?  If I remember correctly, Brenda, Ted and Jill were already in the lobby when we arrived.  We brought our luggage down and after checking out, arranging with Josh Carley to take it to Shepler’s Ferry Dock and having my picture taken with Josh and Archie Horn, all of us walked to the dock.  Because we were a little early, we waited on the street out of the wind,  While we were waiting, who should we see coming down the street but Brad Chambers.  Brad lives in the same house I lived in long before he was born.  Of course, it was Brenda who knew him and she introduced us.  That was nice to have a short visit with him.

Lowell with Archie Horn and Josh Carley, dock porters, as we were getting ready to leave the island.

Lowell with Archie Horn and Josh Carley, dock porters, as we were getting ready to leave the island.

When it was time to board the ferry, with our VIP tickets (can you imagine that?) we went to the head of the line and were able to sit in the back of the boat because the water was rather choppy.  Ted left us there, but Brenda and Jill went with us to Mackinaw City.  When we got there, they insisted that Faye & I wait in the warm tent while they took our luggage to the car and brought it to the front for us.  While we were waiting, I heard someone say that’s’ Capt. Shepler over there, so I went over to the ticket booth where he was to thank him and have a short visit with him.  We looked to where Brenda and Jill were and saw that they couldn’t get the trunk open.  (Now, this a secret between you and me.  All they needed to have done was press the little picture of a car with an open trunk that is on the remote, which they had on the key ring.)  Anyway, they decided to put everything in the back seat.  We saw it when Brenda drove up with the car.  At the time, I thought I would transfer everything to the trunk when we stopped later, but I didn’t do that.

After our good-byes , we left Mackinaw City and headed for Cheboygan, fifteen miles southeast along the Lake Huron shore.  On the way, we stopped at the roadside park on the lake where my picnic loving mother once took my brother, sister and me for a very early Good Friday picnic.  It was cold and there were ice floes in the lake, but it was fun.  I took a couple pictures and we continued to Cheboygan, where we drove by a few places that were familiar to me from my teenage years.  Then we drove a few miles south to visit a lady who was a neighbor back then and is now 100 years old.  I really shouldn’t say old because she looked and acted younger than I do.  We visited for about an hour and headed for home.

When we arrived home and were unloading the car, what did we find but another surprise underneath everything in the back seat.  Brenda & Ted had given us two more books, “Wish You Were Here, An Album of Vintage Mackinac Postcards” by Steven C. Brisson and “Above Mackinac” with pictures by Robert Cameron and text by Phil Porter, a book that I had admired at Ted & Brenda’s condo.

The first surprise may have been on Ted & Brenda, but the last surprise certainly was on Faye & me.

A Few Extra Photos

The Grand Hotel horses and omnibus - waiting in front of Shepler's Ferry dock.

The Grand Hotel horses and omnibus – waiting in front of Shepler’s Ferry dock.

Lowell having a cup of coffee as he's sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbor.

Lowell having a cup of coffee as he’s sitting on the balcony overlooking the harbor.

Our Jill.  She, along with Ted and Brenda, made our journey to the island exceptional!

Our Jill. She, along with Ted and Brenda, made our journey to the island exceptional!

Overlooking the city of Mackinac Island with the Straits of Mackinac lighthouses and a freighter in the distance - from Fort Mackinac.

From Fort Mackinac – Overlooking the city of Mackinac Island with the Straits of Mackinac lighthouses and a freighter in the distance.

The big white building is the side of the Chippewa where we sat on our balcony and watched the ferries come in.

The big white building is the Chippewa where we sat on our balcony and watched the ferries come in.

Lowell talking to Captain Bill Shepler, who owns Shepler's Ferry Line.

Lowell talking to Captain Bill Shepler, who owns Shepler’s Ferry Line.

Let me conclude by saying it was such a wonderful trip.  We could not have been treated better by anyone with whom we had any contact on Mackinac Island, especially Brenda & Ted Horton and Jill Sawatzki.  Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b), so I’m sure everyone who had anything to do with making our trip so memorable has been blessed because I know Faye & I sure were.  I just wish there was some way to thank Brenda for arranging “The Trip of A Lifetime” for Faye and me.

Brenda, you are a gem!  Southern charm, personified, right here in Michigan on our own Mackinac Island!  And yes, Charlie, she truly is amazing!

Note from Brenda:  Those of us who were in on the planning of Lowell & Faye’s trip to Mackinac are truly the ones who were blessed.  Seeing their delight on every street, at every corner, and with each new adventure shared was all the thanks any of us needed. 

Lowell & Faye’s Amazing Trip to Mackinac Island 6/25/2013

You asked for it, you have patiently waited for it, and now it’s here – Lowell & Faye’s own story of their trip to Mackinac Island!  In Lowell’s own words – and they are mighty descriptive, well-written, and exuberant words – you can follow along with every step, carriage ride, visit, thought and memory.  This is will be a two-part post, so don’t forget to come back on Thursday for “the rest of the story”!

Accompanying the story are Faye’s great photos, with captions by Faye & Lowell.

And now . . .

Lowell & Faye’s Amazing Trip to Mackinac Island

Of first importance, while we were on the Island I asked Brenda how long it took her to prepare a blog.  She answered by saying that selecting and uploading the pictures took the most time, but when she got to the words, they just flowed.  Well, I’m no Brenda. As easy as it is for me to talk, when it comes to writing, the words do not “just flow.”  They are written, rewritten and rewritten again.  With that in mind, here goes:

 Sunday, June 2, 2012

We left home (rural Olivet, Michigan) at 7:11 am in order to get to the Church of Christ at Houghton Lake, where I preached from 1979 until 1990.   What a wonderful time of worship it was, as well as being able to visit with some of those whom we had known so many years past.  The drive to Houghton Lake is about 150 miles and was uneventful, except tor a little rain a few times.  We arrived just as the worship hour was beginning and immediately, we saw Frank Swan near the back, who turned to welcome us.  That sure made us feel good.  Then he interrupted the man who was making the opening announcements and announced that Lowell and Faye Greene had just walked in the door.  It was a little embarrassing to be singled out like that.  Nevertheless, it was very nice to be recognized.  The sermon by Don Wray was about the fact that Jesus has prepared a place for His people that will be revealed when He returns.  What a blessing.

Houghton Lake Church of Christ where Lowell preached from September, 1979 to April, 1990.

Houghton Lake Church of Christ, where Lowell preached from September, 1979 to April, 1990.

Preacher's house at Houghton Lake, where we lived from 1979-1990,

Preacher’s house at Houghton Lake, where we lived from 1979-1990,

After worship we visited with some of those who were there when we were, including Bess Gibbard, Debbie Davis, Rod & Carol Lafraugh, Frank Swan and his wife Chris, who came to Houghton Lake after we left.  I didn’t get to visit with the Simpsons and the Tostiges and I’m sure sorry about that.  We then went to a restaurant with a group from the church and by 1:00 pm we were on our way north to Mackinaw City, where we arrived about two hours later.  Mackinaw City bears no resemblance to what it was back in the 1950s and I couldn’t find the Shepler’s Ferry Dock.  We stopped at a state information building to get directions and found the dock with no problem.  As we drove onto the dock, Faye saw Brenda & Ted talking to someone.  They didn’t see us until we drove right up in front of them, so I guess you could say the first surprise was on them.  However, from then on we were the ones to be surprised.  We parked the car and went to the ticket booth to get the proper documentation so we could get the car back.  Then we were given our VIP ferry tickets.  As we walked across the dock to the ferry, we saw our names on the reader board, just as though we were “somebodies.”  With Brenda & Ted, we boarded the ferry for the 15-20 minute trip to the Island.  Nothing like the 45 minutes it took back in the 1950s.  Faye thought the ride was a little rough, but I enjoyed it.

When we arrived on the Island, there was Jill with her camera.  Let me tell you, that girl is magic.  I think she knows the secret of space travel.  She took pictures of us as we walked by and then the next thing we knew, she was in front of us again.  That happened often while we were on the Island.  Magic!  We walked to the head of the dock and made arrangements with Archie Horn to take our luggage to the Chippewa Hotel.

Our first order of business when we got to the street was to wave at the Main Street Webcam that’s on the Lakeview Hotel.  Later we learned that people actually saw us and knew who we were.  As a matter of fact, some of them waved back. (In case you don’t know, it’s http://www.mackinaclive.us/index.asp?cam=0 .)  Then (Brenda & Ted, Jill, Faye & I) started walking up the street toward the Chippewa Hotel.  Of course, my mouth was running a mile a minute and I was pointing at this, that and everything.  Many times while we were on the Island, people asked me how it had changed.  All I can say is that it has changed a lot and yet it’s the same.  I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true.  There are some new buildings and some buildings have been replaced (the building in which I first rented a room had burned and been replaced).  However, I think the biggest change is the use of so much more color in painting the buildings.  Back in the 1950s almost everything was painted white.  All of the old hotels are still there, but of course, there are also some new ones and I don’t remember that there were any bed and breakfasts.  I think I figured out the location of the two restaurants I worked in the first summer I was on the Island.  Is it really possible that was 1954?

Magic photographer Jill on left, catching Lowell and Brenda.

Magic photographer Jill on left, catching Lowell and Brenda.

Finally, we arrived at the Chippewa Hotel where we saw an elevator door that was painted with lilacs.  Later, when we entered the elevator  through those we saw a sign unique to Mackinac Island, “No Bicycles In Rooms.”  I checked Faye & me into the hotel and all of us went up to the second floor suite that had been reserved for us.  It overlooked the harbor, but we could also see part of Marquette Park, some of the homes and other buildings to the east, Round Island and Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island, the Round Island Channel, and Lake Huron to the east.  It was, without a doubt, a spectacular view.

Lilac doors

Our unique elevator inside the Chippewa.

No bikes

Sign inside the elevator – only on Mackinac Island would you see a sign like this!

Looking to the east as I was standing on the balcony of our suite.

Looking to the east as I was standing on the balcony of our suite.

We visited for awhile.  That is, we visited when Brenda and Jill weren’t taking pictures or maybe it was also while they were taking pictures.  Let me mention right here that I had expected Ted to be very quiet and reserved.  That was not the case.  He is outgoing and a gold mine of historical information.  We sure enjoyed being with him while were on the Island.

After awhile Brenda, Ted and Jill left us to relax, which by then we were glad to do.  A little later Faye & I decided to go across the street to Doud’s Market, where we bought a few items from the deli for our supper.  By the way, Doud’s is a wonderful little grocery, the oldest family owned grocery in the United States, and it’s on Facebook.  Check it out.  We were still very tired and went to bed early, but not before we heard a knock at the door.  I was handed a box which contained a very nice gift from another of Brenda’s blog readers, Lora.  That was a very nice extra and one that was certainly not expected.

Doud's Market, a beautiful little grocery store. It is the oldest family-owned grocery store in the U.S., dating from 1884.

Doud’s Market, a beautiful little grocery store. It is the oldest family-owned grocery store in the U.S., dating from 1884.

 Monday, June 3, 2013

We were awake at our usual time of 6:00 am.  We made coffee, ate our cereal and took a walk through downtown.  On the way down the street, as we were getting ready to cross Astor Street, around the corner from behind us came a penny-farthing (one of those bicycles with a very big wheel in the front and a tiny wheel in the back).  We continued down the street and went to the Bicycle Inn where we tried to contact Lora, but she and her niece had already left for the day.  We walked a little farther and Faye took my picture walking on the beach with the Mackinac Straits Bridge in the background.  It was here that she also took a picture of me in front of the Windermere Hotel in the same location where she had taken my picture in 1987.  Of course, I had a full head of dark brown wavy hair back then.

Lowell walking by the water in front of the Windermere Hotel.  Way behind him in the Straits of Mackinac is the Mackinac Bridge.

Lowell – walking by the water in front of the Windermere Hotel. Way behind him, in the Straits of Mackinac, is the Mackinac Bridge.

From Windermere Point.  (l-r) Round Island Passage Light, Round Island and the Round Island Lighthouse.

From Windermere Point. (l-r) Round Island Passage Light, Round Island and the Round Island Lighthouse.

Lowell and me in front of the Windermere, which is owned by the daughter of Ella Chambers.

Lowell and me in front of the Windermere, which is owned by the daughter of Ella Chambers.

We walked back  to the Chippewa where Brenda met us.  Together with her we walked about one block to where the carriage tour starts.  As we got into the carriage, we met our driver, Sam, who was very personable and knowledgeable about the history of Mackinac.  The two horse carriage turned up Fort Street to Market Street and to Cadotte Avenue.  On the way we passed the Dr. William Beaumont House where he did some of the earliest experiments of the human digestive system in the early 1800s, the Stuart House where Brenda volunteers, the Biddle house which was built about 1780 and is the oldest home on the Island, the new medical center, the Ella Chambers’ house where I lived for three summers and the Grand Hotel which was built in less than four months and opened in July, 1887.  The price of rooms at that time was 3-5 dollars.  I think the price may be a little more now.  Did you know the Grand has hosted five U. S. presidents, one Russian prime minister, one Russian president, inventor Thomas Edison and author Mark Twain?

Sam was very good about giving us a history lesson about the island.

Sam was very good about giving us a history lesson about the island.

The Ella Chambers house, where Lowell rented a room when he worked on the Island back in the 1950's.  A Chambers still lives in the house.

The Ella Chambers house, where Lowell rented a room when he worked on the Island back in the 1950’s. A Chambers still lives in the house.

We rode on up Cadotte Avenue to the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum where we saw Ted coming across from the condo.  Faye & I assumed Maddie and Bear were coming to meet us.  Forget that!  Their first priority was the treats that they expected to get from Denise Beaudoin at the museum.  After they got their treats they were willing to show some interest in us.

TbroughBandMtotheSHCM.Wethoughttheywerecomingtomeetus,buttheywereonlyinterestedinlookingfortheladywhohadtreatsforthem

From the Museum we walked the short distance to Ted & Brenda’s condo, through which Brenda showed us.  We visited for about a half hour, but I was surprised to learn that Maddie and Bear didn’t talk.  After all, they have written some very interesting and entertaining blogs.  Maybe they were just shy.

Then it was back to the museum where we saw, among other things, the old horse drawn fire wagon and the horse drawn hearse.  Later we learned the hearse is taken out of the museum and used for every funeral on the Island.

InsidethecarriagebuildingMIHwhichisstillusedforIfunerals

We exited the museum and boarded a three horse, thirty-five passenger carriage for the remainder of the carriage tour.  Our wonderful driver and guide was Ryan.  He gave us a continuous narration during the whole ride (I promise, I only interrupted him a few times.  Of course, I was the only person mouthy enough to do that).  If the two drivers we had are any indication of the quality of Carriage Tour employees, someone sure knows how to hire the right people.  We rode through the woods, past the Island cemeteries and Skull Cave to Arch Rock where I worked at the Arch Rock Curio Shop in the mid 1950s.  After the Rock, with the crystal clear lake water below, we continued the tour back to Fort Mackinac, with Ryan continuing to regale us with his stories, excellent information and comments about everything we passed.

Arch Rock.

Arch Rock.

Ted, Lowell and Brenda on the lookout platform at Arch Rock.

Ted, Lowell and Brenda on the lookout platform at Arch Rock.

When we arrived at  Fort Mackinac, we left the carriage to go inside to the Tea Room for lunch.  If I remember correctly, we had cream of broccoli soup, chicken noodle soup and a sub.  All were very good.  I believe Ted told me that the Tea Room is now operated by the Grand Hotel.  I don’t remember his name, but the manager of the Tea Room couldn’t have been nicer to us.

After we ate lunch, with Ted & Brenda as our guides, we toured some of the buildings of the fort which had been completely restored beginning in 1960.  We liked everything, but we especially enjoyed the one room Post Schoolhouse.  I’m sure that was because of the one room schoolhouses Faye & I attended as children.  While we were in the fort, Charlie McMichael called all the way from New Orleans.  I’ll flatter myself and say it was just so he could talk to me, but I’m sure that’s not true.  Charlie is the cousin/brother in law of Ted and a really nice man.  He and his wife, Cathie, had hoped to be on the Island at the same time we were, but, sadly, it was not to be.  My very best to you, Charlie & Cathie.  Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to visit one another.

It was at the fort that Faye & I bought a little book entitled, “Mackinac, An Island Famous In These Regions” by Phil Porter.  It’s a great little history book of the Island, claiming to be from furs to fudge, and it certainly is that.  Let me mention just here that later in the evening we walked into our room and laying on the bed was a book, wrapped in very nice light blue paper.  Of course, when I called Brenda, she knew nothing about it.  As it turned out, it was from Charlie & Cathie and Brenda had wrapped it and had it delivered.  The book is “Mackinac Island, It’s History In Pictures” by Eugene T. Peterson.  Someone knew what I like because it sure complements the little book I picked out.

 Then we left the fort and returned to the Chippewa Hotel, Brenda told us to be in the lobby at 10:15 on Tuesday morning where I would be interviewed by a reporter from the Mackinac Island Town Crier.  Later, on the phone, she informed me that plans had changed and we should be in the hotel lobby at 9:45 am.  Then we would take a taxi out to Arch Rock where the interview would take place.

Lowell, in front of the Chippewa Hotel, where we enjoyed three nights of luxury.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I think that’s a good place to end Part I. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about the way Lowell writes!  Hurry back on Thursday for Part II of Lowell & Faye’s adventure.  There’s lots more good stuff to come!

Remembering Chris Ann 6/23/2013

My dear friend, Chris Ann Nelson, slipped the bonds of earth  and stepped into Heaven on March 4 of this year.  On that date in Mackinaw City – the location of the Nelson’s sweet cottage by Chris’ beloved Mackinac Bridge – snow covered the ground, and the Straits were frozen.  Chris and Burton’s four children were spread across the country.  Her many friends from the Island and from the Mackinac Historic State Parks (where Chris Ann had worked for several years) were gone to warmer climates and would not return until spring.

And so, in the planning of her Memorial – by her family and by Chris Ann herself – the service date was set for June 22.  It would herald the beginning of Nelson Week – the annual gathering of their clan – 4 children, 4 bonus children (the spouses of children), and 10 grandchildren.  Each year they all pile into the cottage on Cobble Beach at the base of the bridge, and for a week the cottage rings with voices talking and laughing, children playing games, trips to the Island, a lot of food being consumed, and love just bouncing off the walls.  Each year special t-shirts are designed, worn throughout the week and for one much-planned-for family photo that increased in number of people each year as grandchildren were born.

Last summer's annual Nelson Week photograph.

Last summer’s annual Nelson Week photograph.

It is easier to have a celebration of someone’s life after a certain passage of time.  And that was what happened on Saturday, June 22.  Instead of a funeral, mourning Chris Ann’s death, there was a celebration of her life.  And it was amazing.

The church service was held at Mackinaw City Bible Church, which Chris Ann and Burton attended during the summer and where Burton still teaches Sunday School.  Sue Conlon, who I stayed with in January when I came up to visit Chris Ann in January, picked Jill and I up at the dock, and we and the Forrester family arrived at the church a little before 11:00.

I was so humbled when I opened the program and found they had used one of my photos from last October.  A family member said, "We went through hundreds of photographs, but that one was so Chris Ann - big smile, and looking up to the Heavens."

I was so humbled when I opened the program and found they had used one of my photos from last October. A family member said, “We went through hundreds of photographs, but that one was so Chris Ann – big smile, and looking up to the Heavens.”

The service was beautiful, and even after extra chairs were brought in, the church was standing room only by the time the program began.  Friends and family sang songs special to Chris Ann, and two of their children and Chris Ann’s sister spoke of what Chris Ann had meant to them.  People in the audience were given the opportunity to speak, and I joined 10 or 12 others who stood to give our thoughts.  I think I got out three sentences before I started weeping, but I hope I managed to say what I wanted to – how Chris Ann made me want to be a better person, how I find myself asking in some situations, “What would Chris Ann do?”, and how much I loved and miss her.

After the service, Jill and I returned to the Island, and Ted and I caught the 6 p.m. ferry back to Mackinaw City for the evening events of Chris Ann’s special day.

From 5-10 that evening friends and family were invited to an Open House at their cottage, where dinner was served under a tent

From 5-10 that evening friends and family were invited to an Open House at their cottage, where a food tent was set up, a bonfire was blazing, and people had the opportunity to visit and reminisce.  People came from all over the country, including several from Pine Isle, where they wintered each year.

On one of the picnic tables was a large bucket of long-stem flowers.  Guests were invited to take a flower, visit Chris Ann's gravesite

On one of the picnic tables was a large bucket of long-stem flowers. Guests were invited to take a flower, visit Chris Ann’s gravesite, and say our private goodbyes.

Chris Ann's grave is just across the road from the back of their cottage in a lovely cemetery with rolling green grass and birch trees.

Chris Ann’s grave is just across the road from the back of their cottage – in a lovely cemetery with open areas of green grass and beautiful birch trees.

Chris Ann and Burton chose this spot before they returned to Florida last fall.

Chris Ann and Burton chose this spot before they returned to Florida last fall.

Folks spent time visiting in groups . . .

Folks spent time visiting in groups . . .

. . . or sitting in pairs on several benches that dot the Nelson shoreline.

. . . or sitting in pairs on several benches that dot the Nelson shoreline.

Special Chris Ann cookies had been shaped into the State of Michigan and decorated with Chris Ann's name.

Special Chris Ann cookies had been shaped into the State of Michigan and decorated with Chris Ann’s name – with a heart at the tip of the mitt.

Special activities had been planned for the children.

Special activities had been planned for the children.  (Photo: Suria Nelson)

Inside we met children, Chris Ann's sister, Paige, and spent some time visiting with Burton.

Inside we met children, Chris Ann’s sister, Page, and spent some time visiting with Burton.

I stepped away several times to just stand on the beach and think about Chris Ann . . .

I stepped away several times to just stand on the beach and think about Chris Ann . . .

. . . and there's not a doubt in my mind that she was present with us.

. . . and there’s not a doubt in my mind that she was present with us.

Because of ferry schedules, Ted and weren’t able to stay for the after-dark activities, so I want to thank Cheryl Nelson Priest, Carol Nelson Shaw, Suria Nelson, and Dave & Sarah Coker for sharing these next photographs.

Sparkling Moments of Love for Chris Ann were celebrated by lighting sparklers . . .

“Sparkling Moments of Love for Chris Ann” were celebrated by lighting sparklers . . .

. . . and having a moment of silence.

. . . and a moment of silence.

cheryl nelson priest

Sky lanterns were readied by the grandchildren . . .

Sky lanterns were readied by Chris Ann and Burton’s children and grandchildren . . .

. . . as Burton and the rest of the guests looked on.

. . . as Burton and the rest of the guests looked on.

As each lantern was released . . .

As each lantern was released . . .

. . . they whispered to God how Chris Ann had been a blessing to them.

. . . it was whispered to God what a blessing Chris Ann had been.

The day was so special.  It had been foggy or cloudy nearly all day, and we all laughingly said Chris Ann was probably fussing about the weather.  We also said that if she had anything to do about it, it would clear up before dark.  And . . . just before dusk . . . the clouds parted, and as you can see in the photo above, Chris Ann’s day ended with blue and pink skies over her much-loved Mackinac Straits.

To Cheryl, Carol, John and Bryce – it was so good to see, meet and talk with you in person.  How blessed you all are to have had Chris Ann as your mom.

To Page – it was a delight to meet you.  What great fun you and Chris Ann must have had as sisters.

To Chris Ann – You are thought of every day, remembered with smiles, and will be missed until we meet again.  I love you, Sunshine!

A Quiet Week – Until . . . 6/20/2013

The Horton house has been relatively quiet the last few days (insert huge sigh of relief).  I worked Monday at the Stuart House, Ted worked Tuesday at the Visitors Center, Wednesday was off-island grocery day, and today we’ve had a really relaxed day doing mostly nothing.

Even with the lack of any special events going on, I still have some photos to share that I’ve collected during the week, and a little later, I have an exciting island rescue to tell you about!  So let’s get started . . .

While photographing Lilacs at Four Corners the other day, my eye was immediately drawn to this magnificent sculpture of an eagle . .

While photographing Lilacs at Chambers Corner the other day, my eye was immediately drawn to this magnificent sculpture of an eagle . .

Am I going crazy?  Has he always been there, and I've never noticed him?  Geez - I hope not!  Regardless, he is a beauty!

Am I going crazy? Has he always been there, and I’ve never noticed him? Geez – I hope not! Regardless, he is a beauty, and looks very natural soaring between the Lilac trees.

We missed the Blessing of the Animals this year, but this beautiful photo was taken by Stephen Blair of Maryanke Alexander on her awesome Friesian Regina

We missed the Blessing of the Animals this year, but photographer Steven Blair captured this beautiful moment of Dr. Vince Carroll blessing Regina, Maryanke Alexander’s wonderful Friesian.

Looking dwn

Looking downtown from Fort Hill.

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I can’t get enough of Jeff’s garden on French Lane this year.  It is lush with greenery and flowers, and the summer has only just begun!  Give it another month to grow, and oh my goodness!

Blog readers Paul and Elaine Williams, enjoying some cool refreshments at the Pink Pony!

Blog readers Paul and Elaine Williams, enjoying some cool refreshments on the Pink Pony outside patio.  (Photo:  Jill Sawatzki)

Michigan blue!

Michigan blue sky and water – looking across the yard in front of the Grand Hotel, down to the Mackinac Island Public School.

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Doud’s Market on the right, the Chippewa Hotel across the street, the Visitors Center sideways across from the Chippewa, and Marquette Park across from the Visitors Center.  Add bikes, people, carriages and horses, and you have an always busy corner.

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Fort Mackinac, with yellow umbrellas visible at the Tea Room, one of our favorite places to have lunch with a view!

Maryanke and Regina took a ride down Main Street last evening, to the delight of a lot of tourists.  We were downtown to have dinner with the Forresters, so we got to say hello also.

Maryanke and Regina took a ride down Main Street last evening, to the delight of a lot of tourists. We were downtown to have dinner with the Forresters, so we got to say hello also. (Photo: Mike Forrester)

Ted and I took Maddie and Bear up to Lookout Point today.  It was a great day for a walk, and the woods are so green it takes your breath to walk through them.

Ted and I took Maddie and Bear up to Lookout Point today. It was a great day for a walk, and the woods are so green it takes your breath to walk through them.

Cathie, forgive me.  I missed the big Lily-of-the-Valley blooming, but I did find a few for you!

Cathie, forgive me. I missed the big Lily-of-the-Valley blooming, but I did find a few for you!

rrrr

I’ve never seen the grasses in this photo before in the woods.  I know they look blurred, but they are actually just that fine and whispy.  Anyone know what type of grass this is?

Sugar Loaf

Sugar Loaf

It was at Sugar Loaf today that a dramatic rescue took place.  The Mackinac Island Fire Department and EMT’s were called to Sugar Loaf by a family whose son had become trapped inside one of the cave-like opening in the huge limestone outcropping.

In the photo above you can see a wide sand-like trail that winds around sugar loaf on the right.  Above that trail there three holes (almost looks like two eyes and a mouth).  It is hard to tell in this photo, but those holes are quite a distance from the base of Sugar Loaf.

A 14-year old boy, who frequently comes to the island and has done this before, once more climbed into one of the holes.  Not realizing until it was too late that his larger size now would get him in trouble, he became wedged in the hole and could not get out.

In Assistant Fire Chief Jason St. Onge’s words:  “Lt. Larry Rickley and Fire-Fighter Craig Bunker from Engine 1 used air-chisels and other hand tools to help extricate the young man, while Allied EMS, EMT Tony Spata rendered aid.  The three men were able to balance on the edge of the rock while they worked.”

St. Onge said, “Rickley and Bunker worked like horses to free up the young man, and Tony Spata all but climbed in to render aid/oxygen/assurance to keep him calm.”

As I’ve said many times in the past, the Mackinac Island Fire Department, Police Department, and EMT’s are first-rate, professional, highly-trained individuals who have to answer emergency and rescue situations not many other emergency personnel would have to deal with in their districts.  Mackinac Island is unique in so many ways, and these men and women are the best!

A huge thank you to all who took part in this rescue – both on and off duty!

FROM ANOTHER PERSON’S PERSPECTIVE

After a recent visit to Mackinac Island, a new friend of mine, Jean Schachermeyer, shared this the other day on Facebook:

On Saturday I was sitting on a balcony on Mackinac Island watching the folks on Main Street, and I took notice of three things I wanted to share about Michiganders…

1. Kids…riding bikes down Main Street (helmets on:) and one said to the other “Aren’t you going to be sad when we have to leave this place?” 
2. An Amish woman riding a bike putting her face back to feel the wind on her face. I could just tell it was quite a treat for her.
3. Watching the folks as they exited the ferry and walked onto the island, I noticed families, working class families. They had no luggage and were not spending the night, but making maybe an annual pilgrimage to this amazing Michigan treasure. Soaking in the sights, smells, and sounds…spending their hard earned money on fudge, taking a carriage tour, knickknacks to remember the day. 

I think someone already coined the phrase but what the heck . . . Pure Michigan.

Thank you, Jean, for saying so well what I try to say with each post on Bree’s Blog.  Mackinac Island is like a gift, all wrapped up and waiting for all who come to step off the ferry, open her up, and see what what she has to offer.  Pure Mackinac.

Back Track and Forward March 6/18/2013

You will not BELIEVE all the photographs I have backlogged over the last few days!  I’ve been focusing mainly on Lilacs for a good two weeks now, and the Lilacs are still going strong, even though their “festival” ended yesterday. Tonight I want to catch up on a few other topics, throw in a few more flowers, and highlight some of the parade from yesterday. So, here we go . . .

THE PEOPLE WE MEET!

New lady on the corner!  Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler's Ferry, look directly across the street on the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see - during daylight hours anyway - the brilliant smile of Mert.  As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things "Mackinac" and does it so easily and with such friendliness that you just want to stay and chat a while longer.  She'd love for you to stop by - to ask questions, to talk about Mackinac, or just to say hi!  Oh, and tell her "Bree" sent you!

New lady on the corner! Walk down Main Street as far as Shepler’s Ferry, look directly across the street to the corner of Main and Astor, and you will more than likely see – during daylight hours anyway – the brilliant smile of Mert. As the Corner Concierge, Mert helps visitors with all things “Mackinac” and does it so easily and with such friendliness you just want to stay and chat a while longer! She’d love for you to stop by – to ask questions, to talk about the Island, or just to say hi!  You will love her!

This beautiful family, Theresa, Allen, Amelia and Michael - from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie's for ice cream.  Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree's Blog and follows us in Georgia during the winter also.

This beautiful family – Allen, Theresa, Amelia and Michael – from Tecumseh MI, met me last week at Sadie’s for ice cream.  While we were there, Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try – Caramel Turtle Cheesecake!  A T-E-N!

Loved hanging out with this great family, and while we were in Sadie's Amelia chose my 4th flavor to try - Caramel Turtle Cheesecake!  A T-E-N!

Theresa is a frequent commenter on Bree’s Blog and follows the Lake Blackshear Blog in Georgia during the winter also.  Loved hanging out with this great family!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff's garden.  They didn't know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this.  They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa's iPad in the car going home.  LOVE IT!

A couple of days later, I turned the corner down French Lane and spotted Theresa and Allen trying to find all the hidden treasurers in Jeff’s garden. They didn’t know I was anywhere around until after I snapped this. They left the island the day of the Lilac Parade and watched it on Theresa’s iPad in the car going home. LOVE IT!

Richard!  This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago.  Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun.  Always good to see Richard!

Richard! This sweet gentleman used to live all summer on the Island, and Ted and I first met him several years ago. Now he returns for a few days here and there, and I happened to spot him downtown this week, resting on a bench in the sun. Always good to see Richard, and he always asks about Bear and Ted . . . in that order.

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called "Bree?"  I turned and met Ted (I'll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca.   They were married on Mackinac just last year and were up for a visit.  This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident, they reminded me of ME!

On the way home a couple of days ago, right by the big barns on Cadotte, someone called “Bree?” I turned and met Ted (I’ll remember that name for sure) and his wife Rebecca. They were married on Mackinac just last year, found Bree’s Blog when they returned home from their honeymoon, and were up for a visit. This sweet couple is from Aurora, Ohio, and their love of the island was so evident, they reminded me of ME!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up - finally, after several attempts -  at the Island Bookstore one evening last week!  Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Evi is a blog fan from New Jersey, and we met up – finally, after several attempts – at the Island Bookstore one evening last week! Hope to see you again soon, Evi!

Tommy and Gerald - our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night.  They are part of an A Cappela Choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI.  We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly).  Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.

Tommy and Gerald – our two teenage young men who stayed with us Saturday night. They are part of an a cappella choir from Roosevelt High School in Wyandotte, MI. We had a fun time with Tommy and Gerald, who challenged us to a game of Monopoly (who knew teenagers still played Monopoly) after returning from singing for their supper at the Seabiscuit restaurant. Three hours later, Ted was bankrupt, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Tommy was Donald Trump Jr.  During that Monopoly game, they also put away two large bottles of juice, a huge bowl of popcorn, a whole bag of tortillas, a jar or salsa and a jar of cheese dip – with a little fudge as dessert .  LOL – they SO reminded me of Jason and Blake at that age!  We enjoyed having Tommy and Gerald with us – they were smart, well-mannered, and fun – a tribute to their families.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

The choir group after church on Sunday.

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer.  Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent!  It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind).  They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and "do Mackinac" with no real set agenda (the best way).  Have fun, you two!

Blog readers Traci and Bill stopped by the Stuart House this morning while Mike Forrester was visiting, so Mike became our photographer. Traci and Bill are from Pulaski, Tennessee, and it was so nice to hear a Southern accent! It was a spur-of-the-moment visit for them (the best kind). They drove 13 hours to get here and plan just to relax and “do Mackinac” with no real set agenda (the best way). Have fun, you two!

FOUR-LEGGED CRITTERS

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near The Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, obviously tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away.  The Gate House provides water dishes for pets!  A cutie-pie!

Out snapping Lilac photos the other day near the Gate House, I ran across this sweet puppy, tied out while mom and dad lunched on the patio just a few feet away. The Gate House provides water dishes for pets! A cutie-pie!

This precious baby was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

This precious pooch was enjoying the shade at Park Place Suites, which is pet-friendly!

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I'm right on that name).

Back to front Grand Hotel omnibuses, the first driven by Shelby and the second by new driver Caleb (I hope, I hope I’m right on that name).

New neighborhood pooch, Charlie!

New neighborhood puppy, Charlie . . .

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

. . . and our condo neighbor, Judy, is back for the summer with her sweet Buddy.

It's not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdale in your front yard, but it happened this week!  These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade!  That's Kyle on Duke's back.

It’s not often you can wake up with two Budweiser Clydesdales in your front yard, but it happened this weekend! These two, Duke and Jack, were here with four of their team-mates for the Lilac Parade! That’s Kyle on Duke’s back.

A FEW MORE FLOWERS

Only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers - near where the old Grand stable once stood.

I only had to walk down Cadotte to find this big clump of Lady Slippers – near where the old Grand stable once stood.

Lilacs!

Dark Lilacs . . .

. . . and light Lilacs!

. . . and light Lilacs!

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

A friendly group of Pansies . . .

, , , and one loner.

. . . and one loner.

A very, very small section of Jeff's garden on French Lane.

A very, very small section of Jeff’s garden on French Lane.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B, with its luscious gardens in full bloom.

The always-charming Cloghaun B & B – surrounded by Lilacs.

A curve on Cadotte . . .

A curve on Cadotte . . .

. . . . and Mahoney Avenue.

. . . . and Mahoney Street.

THE PARADE!  THE PARADE!

The mighty Clydesdales!

The mighty Clydesdales!

FFFF

Do not try this at home – at least not if you are MY age!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade - right in the shade - and sweet smell - of beautiful Lilacs!

This couple had a choice spot to watch the parade – right in the shade – and sweet smell – of beautiful Lilacs!

We had serious bands . . .

We had serious bands . . .

. . . and not so serious bands.

. . . and not so serious bands.

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

We had beautiful performing horses . . .

. . . and

. . . horses performing beautifully . . .

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

. . . and a couple of silly horses!

vvvv

We had musical marching groups . . .

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

. . . and patriotic marching groups.

We had clowns in groups . . .

We had clowns who came in groups . . .

. . . and some alone.

. . . and some who came alone.

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

We had celebrity local dogs, like Chloe and Bella, who represented Wheels of Mackinac . . .

. . . and dogs whose names we'll never know - but who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

. . . and dogs whose names we’ll never know – who will grow up to be service dogs all over the country.

We had beauty queens who rode in carriages . . .

We had small beauty queens, teenage beauty queens .  .

. . . and some who walked.

. . . and grown-up beauty queens.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

And we had bicycles in all sizes and shapes.

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald "Duck" Andress.  Duck rode in a carriage this year instead of on horseback, but his son

Grand Marshall of the parade was our neighbor Donald “Duck” Andress. Duck rode in a carriage this year, but his son Jamie – seen behind him in the white headdress – continues the tradition of their family by riding on horseback.

Are you asleep yet?

I think that catches us up to today in photos.  As you can see, it’s been a busy time on the Island, and today the Island was taking a great big breath and relaxing after a tremendously successful Lilac Festival.

I don’t know what all is happening for the rest of the week, but I’ll be back in a few days to tell you all about it.  See you soon!

YEAHHHH! IT WORKED!!! 6/16/2013

OK . . . HOW COOL WAS THAT!!!!

I know ya’ll watched and enjoyed every minute ’cause I’ve been getting emails and comments and phone calls ever since we walked in the door a few minutes ago!  Mike just posted that 919 folks from across the country tuned in today!  I am SO EXCITED it all worked perfectly – thanks to . . .

Mike Forrester, who was live streaming from the balcony of the Lilac Tree Hotel for the entire parade!!

Mike Forrester, who was streaming live from the balcony of the Lilac Tree Hotel for the entire parade!!

Ted and I were invited to watch the parade from the Yacht Club, and I couldn't wait to scurry over to the Lilac Tree to see if everything had worked.  Mike, Jeanine and Siena

Ted and I were invited to watch the parade from the Yacht Club this year, and as soon as it ended, I couldn’t wait to scurry over to the Lilac Tree to see if everything had worked out. Jeanine and Miss Siena took Mike to the Grand Hotel for lunch today for Father’s Day, then hurried back to set everything up.  The Forrester family rocks!

Since most of you (I hope) tuned in for the parade, I’m not going to post a lot of pics this year, but tomorrow night I will be back with a few highlights, like the ones below.

Tonight, I’m just going to say:  Good night from Mackinac Island, and a very, very Happy Fathers Day to all the wonderful dads out there.  I hope your day was just the greatest!

p1

p3

p2

ATTENTION!! ATTENTION!! LINK TO LILAC PARADE SUNDAY, JUNE 16, AT 4:00 P.M.

As promised, below is the link Mike Forrester is providing to the live stream from Mackinac Island of the Lilac Parade Sunday afternoon, June 16, at 4:00 p.m.

When you click the link, you will see a picture of the fort.  The link will go active around 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  Mike will also be recording the event.  If you miss it live, you’ll be able – hopefully –  to watch it later on YouTube, even though it will be in 15-minute increments, because that’s all YouTube allows.
Below is a note from Mike:
Brian Bailey, the general manager of the Lilac Tree where we’re staying, has told me they are announcing the parade from the room next to ours, so viewers hopefully will also be able to hear the loudspeakers announce the bands, performers, floats, etc.  I’m still a bit concerned about Internet bandwidth, so there may be times when the live stream freezes or hiccups.  Nothing I can do about that, but hopefully it won’t be too often.
Thank you SO MUCH Mike for taking part of your vacation time with your family to provide this service for everyone out there you loves Mackinac Island, but couldn’t attend the parade in person.  You ROCK!