Nice While It Lasted 7/23/2013

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Hey!  Bear here!

As part of my punishment Mom is making me write this post tonight.  I think that’s a little harsh, but she’s the Mom, and since I’m trying to get back in her good graces, I’m going to tell you my story.  I don’t know why she’s so huffy about it, but you know Moms!

Here’s what happened.  A couple of weeks ago, Mom came up with this plan to teach Maddie and me to “go” faster than we “go”.  She and Dad don’t like hanging out in the rain, waiting for us to “take care of our business”, so Mom thought she knew a way to get us to “take care of business” faster.

We’d leave the condo for our normal three-times-a-day walk, and Mom would make sure we saw her put treats in her pocket (I don’t know why she thought we had to watch her do that – we can smell them two blocks away).  Anyway, for the next few days, whenever Maddie and I would get around to “going”, Mom would whip a treat out of her pocket and make a big deal out of it.  It was really pretty funny to watch her carrying on, but whatever makes her happy, we are happy to try.

It took me a little while to catch on, and Maddie STILL doesn’t know what the game is.  That’s because she’s too busy sniffing out every single leaf, rock, flower, and dirt mound on the island.  Me though?  I got it almost right away.  I’d lift my leg and “go”.  I’d get a treat.  I’d assume the position and “go”.  I’d get a treat.  I mean after a couple of weeks, I’d take care of everything in a flash and be enjoying my reward, while Maddie was still sniffing an ant in the grass.

But then I guess I got a little too big for my britches (if I wore britches).  We’d leave the house, and I’d take care of everything and get my treats.  Then we’d continue the walk so Maddie could “perform”.  This was boring, so one day I thought I’d try something different.  I “assumed the position” again.  Mom and Dad said, “I wonder why Bear is “going” again?  And Mom tossed me a treat.   This went on for a couple of days, with Mom beginning to worry I was having tummy problems.  I mean, I was “going” three of four times on one walk!  And enjoying my treats.

But today I made a mistake.  We left home, and because Mom was talking on her phone, she didn’t take me off my leash until we got to this big clearing with nothing but grass.  She unhooked the leash, and I bounded away and “assumed the position.”  After a sufficient time had passed (I had worked it out in my head that the position should last exactly 11 seconds), I came bounding back for my treat.  Uh-oh.  Because we were in a grassy clearing where other people might walk, instead of off a trail in the woods, Mom pulled a plastic bag out of her other pocket and proceeded to look for the poop.  And look.  And look.  Oh dear. 

“Where’d you poop, Bear?” Mom asked, with a curious look on her face.  No treat was coming out of her pocket, so I thought I’d give it another shot.  I walked away a few feet and “assumed the position” again.  1 . .5 . .8 . .11!  I looked over my shoulder to find Mom standing practically right behind me, and she was tapping her foot and frowning. 

“I don’t see any poop, Bear,” she said, with a little bit of “the joke is over” tone in her voice.

Hmmmm . . . I guess tomorrow I can just take my time “going” and join Maddie in smelling the flowers.  Bear out.

It was nice while it lasted though!

It was nice while it lasted though!

A Little Night Life and a Lot of Romance 7/21/2013

It’s been a relatively quiet weekend for the Hortons.

The Bayview to Mackinac Race began Saturday, and with winds much more favorable than for the Chicago to Mackinac race last week, five boats have already crossed the finish line.  ll Mostro came in first, second was Wind Quest, and third was Equation.  I’ll try to get a pic or two Monday after I leave the Stuart House.

Friday evening Ted and I met Denise and Mike (from Carriage Tours) for dinner over at the Key Hole Bar and Grill in Mackinaw City.  We’d been hearing about their “all you can eat” perch and ribs special, and we all wanted to check it out.  We had almost a 30-minute wait, but it was worth it!  Ted went through a plate of ribs and THREE plates of perch.  The rest of us just had the “normal” plates, and we were still stuffed.  I have no idea where my hubbie puts all that food!

It's been a while since we've been on the water at night.  We caught the 9:30 Shepler back to the Island.

It’s been a while since we’ve been on the water at night. We caught the 9:30 ferry back to the Island.  As you can see, there was still a little light left in the evening sky.

The Round Island Lighthouse is even more beautiful at night than during the day.

The Round Island Lighthouse is even more beautiful at night than during the day.

It was so quiet as we coasted past the breakwater

It was so quiet as we coasted past the breakwater  . . .

. . . and pulled up to the Shepler dock.  The Great Lakes cruise Ship, York town, was docked

. . . and pulled up to the Shepler dock. The Great Lakes cruise ship, Yorktown, was visiting the Island this weekend.  The Yorktown accommodates 138 guests in 69 exterior cabins.

We called for a taxi . . .

We called for a taxi . . .

. . . and while we waited, I walked down to JoAnn's Fudge and watched a night worker finish up some peanut brittle.

. . . and while we waited, I walked down to JoAnn’s Fudge and watched a night worker finish up some peanut brittle.

It's always fun riding a taxi at night.  We picked up one or two other folks going to the Village on our way up the hill and arrived home to a happy-to-see-us Maddie and Bear.

It’s always fun riding a taxi at night. We picked up one or two other folks going to the Village on our way up the hill and arrived home to a happy-to-see-us Maddie and Bear.

Occasionally I receive a really great email from a reader, and this is one I want to share – with  Katie’s permission, of course.  It’s a lovely story of one little girl’s childhood wish to be married on Mackinac Island and just proves, once again, that when Mackinac is involved, wishes very often DO come true.

Hi, Brenda!  Hoping this email address works. I saw it on one of your Lowell posts a few weeks ago and have been meaning to write ever since. I wanted to say that I love your blog! I kept coming across it over the past couple of years and just recently subscribed to the email feature which handily puts you directly in my inbox. I love it!

I was born and raised in the gorgeous north woods of Wisconsin and took vacations with my family to the Island when my sister and I were both growing up. One of those times (I must have been around 10 yrs old) we saw a bride and groom at the Grand, and it was just SO magical.  I turned to my mom and said, “I want to get married on Mackinac.”

In 2007 I took my soon-to-be fiance to the Island, and in passing I’d told him that story, along with many others of our awesome vacations in the UP. Of course, he fell in love with the Island too. After we got engaged, that same year, we started planning a fall 2008 wedding in northern Wisconsin in my hometown (the beautiful Minocqua).  Things just weren’t clicking though.

Some time later my fiance said, “You should have your dream wedding in your dream place. Let’s get married on Mackinac!”  I broached the idea to my parents, who were paying for the wedding, and we decided it wouldn’t be TOO much more costly to do just that!  I was overjoyed!!!

My mom and I planned the wedding and were DIY maniacs to help keep the cost down.  All the invitations, save the dates and thank you cards were handmade by us, as well as the favor boxes and the seating cards. My sister is a wonderful potter and made pots for all the tables as the centerpieces (pink geraniums). It was so much fun!!! Our theme was bicycles (of course) and pink and green hues. We even ordered our flowers wholesale and made bouquets and boutonnières the night before the wedding!

Our wedding was May 9th 2009. The ceremony was in the morning up on the cliff at the Somewhere in Time gazebo.  I remember it was snowing that morning before we left the cottage (my mom rented McGreevy Cottage for the whole week). I wanted my wedding outside at that gazebo, and I wasn’t going to move it indoors (Mission Church was our bad weather backup plan) for a little snow. Tough Wisconsinite talking!  😉 Anyhow, the ceremony was just beautiful. I could go on and on…but I won’t!

Then the sun came out, and my husband and I took off in our gorgeous wedding carriage to take photos!  There were people waving and yelling out their congratulations along the way, and we really felt like royalty!  It made me think of that day long ago when I’d seen that bride and groom on the Island…and it made me hope that some little girl saw us and thought the same thing I had. Mackinac Magic.

Our reception followed in the Lakeview Hotel. Our guests had an incredible time, and we got to have the wedding of our dreams. It truly was amazing.

We were living in Maryland when we went back for our 1st anniversary, again to run the Great Turtle half marathon in October 2010, and again last summer during the Lilac Fest while I was pregnant. We recently moved to Texas (to hopefully start a vineyard) and aren’t sure when we’ll be able to make it up again. So I’ve been slowly going through your blog posts from the beginning and am really enjoying them. It makes me feel like I’m there again.  Wanted to send you my Mackinac story since I feel like I know you from your posts. It seemed only fair that you know a bit of me too! I think Lucy (our 6yr old, 75lb Plott Hound/Lab mix) has a crush on Bear…

I attached a couple pictures for you to see! Kathryn B. Holt did the photos for us. Armand (Smi) Horn performed the ceremony.  Arrowhead Carriages was our carriage company.  It was just incredible.  Also attached a photo of Lucy last summer on Mackinac.

So, finally, it’s nice to ‘meet’ you! At least online! Keep up the wonderful work!

Katie, TX

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Thank you, Katie, for allowing me to share your story.  I know my readers are all going, “Awwww . . . . .

The heat wave is over.  We had a high of 69 today, and we have 70’s forecast for the coming week.  AWESOME weather!

We have friends from Georgia coming this week – one couple Thursday-Saturday and another Sunday-Tuesday.  So excited to see folks from home!

I’ll be back in a few days with a Mackinac update.  Y’all have a super week!  God bless.

Stormy Night on Mackinac Island 7/19/2013

Hi everyone!

I was going to post last night, but we had a little weather excitement here on Mackinac, and I never did make it to the computer.

A little background.  It’s been HOT here.  I know it’s all relative, but 85 degrees with no air conditioning is pretty hot for this old girl.  It’s even been humid, and we’re just not used to that up here.  For the last few days, all SEVEN of our fans have been running night and day.  The days have been tough, but nights cool down enough – with the seven fans – that sleep is comfortable.  Even the horses are getting pampered more than usual.  A “walk only” order was issued, and on straightaways, where horses are sometimes trotted, the walking only rule is strictly enforced.  Horses are also given water at closer intervals, and rest periods include standing in front of giant fans, after a cool-down with water from a hose.

Regardless, after 3-4 days of this, everyone was ready for some relief – even though we were pretty sure relief would come only after some crazy weather – when the cold front from Canada met the warm front in Michigan.  The crazy weather arrived Thursday evening.

This is called a shelf cloud and made me think of the scene from the movie Independence Day.    After this was posted on Facebook by  Becky Larson Sulfridge, someone commented, "It looks like the island is about to be swallowed up."

This is called a shelf cloud and made me think of the scene from the movie Independence Day. After this was posted on Facebook by Becky Larson Sulfridge, someone commented, “It looks like the island is about to be swallowed up!”

When the storm hit, rain began blowing through every open window.  Our lights went out for a few minutes, but other places on the Island lost power for several hours.  Trees came down and so did power lines.  Our emergency personnel – fire department, police department and EMT’s, as well as the folks at Cloverland Electric – were out immediately, working on clearing roads and beginning to restore power.  One large tree branch came through a window in the William Backhouse Astor house on Cadotte.  There was lots of broken glass, but fortunately the person in that room only had minor cuts.

Jill took this photo this morning.  A tree fell across French Lane onto a shed

Jill took this photo this morning. A tree fell across French Lane onto a shed.  That’s the Lakeview Hotel on the right.  Another tree narrowly missed a home in the Mission district, and trees were also down in the Annex.

While all this was happening on the Island, winds near 65 mph hit the Mackinac Bridge, turning a semi-truck on its side over the railing.

I can't even begin to imagine how terrifying this was!

I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying this was!

Mike Godi posted this pic from another angle.  The bridge was closed until nearly 1 a.m. this morning, while emergency crews worked to clear the lane.  Thankfully, the driver was not badly injured, but he sure was shaken up!

Mike Godi posted this pic from another angle. The bridge was closed until nearly 1 a.m. this morning, while emergency crews worked to clear the lane. Thankfully, the driver was not badly injured, but he sure was shaken up!

We’re wondering today if we may be in for more of the same tonight and tomorrow.  Right now, although the winds are blowing close to 20 mph, the temps are still in the 80’s and muggy.  The forecast is for a low 0f 52 on Sunday morning and highs in the low 70’s, so more storms may be coming.

OTHER NEWS

Not only did I receive the information I requested from the blog reader who came by to visit Monday at the Stuart House, but I also received a gift from her!

Susan Gordon and her husband Rob have been on the island for a few days.  When I said I forgot to bring home their information from work (which I'd written on a scrap of paper from my purse), Susan took pity on me.

Susan Gordon and her husband Rob have been on the island from Naperville, IL for the last few days.   When I mentioned on the last post that I forgot to bring home their information from work (which I’d written on a scrap of paper from my purse), Susan took pity on me.

When Ted and I came home from the Yacht Club Thursday morning, we found this beautiful package of note paper on the backporch.  I love it and will keep it in my purse from now on!

When Ted and I came home from the Yacht Club Thursday morning, we found this beautiful package of note paper on the backporch. I love it and will keep a supply of this in my purse from now on!  Thank you, Susan!

This is Susan and Rob's precious Yorkie, Bailey George!  What a doll!

This is Susan and Rob’s precious Yorkie, Bailey George! What a doll!

While Ted and I were on the Pink Pony patio the other evening, Andrea (another blog reader), came by to say hello.  Her friend Bonnie snapped this shot.  Loved meeting you two!

While Ted and I were on the Pink Pony patio the other evening, Andrea (another blog reader), came by to say hello. Her friend Bonnie snapped this shot. Loved meeting you two!

Portside-a coffee bar

There’s a new coffee bar in town!   Carolyn May, who operates Lucky Bean on Market Street, has opened Portside on the Arnold Dock.  This is a great location for passengers coming and going!

The other day, when we were doing the Senior photo shoot with Brittany, Jill took this one of me with Regina.  Ok, Ok.  Did you really think I wasn't going to get this close to a Friesian and NOT have my photo made!?

The other day, when we were doing the Senior photo shoot with Brittany, Jill took this one of me with Regina. Ok, Ok. Did you really think I was going to get this close to a Friesian and NOT have a photo taken!?

Ted - replacing lightbulbs.

Ted – replacing lightbulbs.

The serenity of Surrey Hill at dusk.

The serenity of Surrey Hill at dusk.

Jill and I stopped for ice cream at Sadie's after Tuesday's photo shoot.  I don't think I told you about flavor #5.  That was orange pineapple.  I give it an 8 only because it was a really hot day, and I would have like it better as a sherbet or sorbet.  When Jill and I stopped in, I had raspberry sorbet (a 10) - so cool and refreshing!

Jill and I stopped for ice cream at Sadie’s after Tuesday’s photo shoot. I don’t think I told you about flavor #5. That was orange pineapple. I give it an 8 only because it was a really hot day, and I would have liked it better as a sherbet or sorbet. When Jill and I stopped in, I had raspberry sorbet (a 10) – so cool and refreshing!  Jill’s flavor was called “Super Scoop”, and she liked it a lot!  By the way, have you noticed how small these are compared to what I started out with at the beginning of the summer?  That’s because I learned you can order a CHILD’s one scoop for half the price!  And that is perfect for me!  Not so much Ted.

Beautiful view from the East Bluff.

Beautiful view from the East Bluff.

My talk on Pet Therapy Thursday morning at the Yacht Club went fine, I think.  Bear, of course, was perfect.  We both wore our “working” uniforms, and Bear worked the crowd, doing his famous “lean in” maneuver.  The guys were charmed.  Sorry – no pics from that.

That’s it for now, I guess.  It’s thundering again, and the rain is starting.  We’re supposed to be going over to Mac City at 6:30 to meet friends for dinner.  I hope this is over by then!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  God bless.

Yacht Races and Dreams Coming True 7/16/2013

NOTE:  To the sweet blog reader who came by the Stuart House Monday with your husband and your precious Yorkie in the stroller, please email me your information so I can post the photos (brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com).  I wrote it all down on a piece of paper on my desk at the museum and forgot to take it with me – and, old lady that I am, I sure can’t remember what I wrote. Lordy, I need a helper!

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Thought I’d pop in here with a few photos of what’s been happening the first couple of days of this week.  Of course the 2013 Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race is underway, and if things had progressed normally, all the boats would have finished by now.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t cooperate with sailing winds this year, and it has been an extremely tough race, with sailors sitting idle for hours and hours without a single breeze.  The winds picked up slightly this morning, and boats have slowly but surely crossed the finish line during the day.  As I type this (at 8:25 p.m.), there are still a few boats out; but hopefully all will be in the harbor and doing some serious partying by nightfall, which is still another hour away here on the Island.

On Monday, after my Stuart House hours were over, I walked along the boardwalk and practiced using my long lens on the few boats that were coming in at that time.

On Monday, after my Stuart House hours were done, I walked along the boardwalk and practiced using my long lens on the few boats that were coming in at that time.

There has been a lot of social network chatter from the racers.  It seems, what Mom Nature took away in wind, she added in biting flys.  Some were saying their supplies of bug spray was gone in the first few hours.  That makes for a really bad day on the water.

There has been a lot of social network chatter from the racers. It seems what Mom Nature took away in wind, she added in biting flys. Some were saying their supplies of bug spray were gone in the first few hours. That makes for a really bad day on the water.

This boat has just passed the finish line and been welcomed by the firing of the canon.

This boat has just passed the finish line and been welcomed by the firing of the canon.

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There’s always good with the bad.  As they sat in the doldrums overnight, with not a cloud or a breeze to be had, sailors reported numerous shooting stars and sightings of the Northern Lights.  That must have been amazing!

Blog reader Lori wrote me a few weeks ago with a special request.  Her daughter, Brittany, will be a Senior this year, and her wish was to have her senior pictures taken on Mackinac Island.  Now, I just have to tell you that in MY time, senior pictures were all the same.  We did arrive at school that day with special attention taken to make up and hair, but as far as what we wore, we had no choice.  We were seated, draped in a black V-necked cape, and photographed one after another (the same cape was used by all).

Wow!  How things have changed!  These days, seniors get to choose where their Senior photos are taken, and anyone can take them!

So, Lori asked if I would help Brittany find some special places on the Island for the photographs.  Her two biggest wishes were photos on the porch of the Grand Hotel and one with a Mackinac horse.  Well, I knew the Grand was no problem, but you know me!  When I think Mackinac horse, I think Friesian!  I contacted Maryanke Alexander, and she very graciously agreed for Brittany to be photographed with her awesome Regina.

The family arrived this morning on the 8 a.m. ferry (Brittany’s Godmother, Lisa, is a professional photographer), and we spent the entire morning racing around the island.  We got beautiful photographs with Regina, at Anne’s Tablet, at the Somewhere in Time gazebo, at the Grand Stable (where we just happened to catch Ben leaving with a vintage buggy – one wish we thought we’d miss), and at the Grand.

The photos below are mine, because I just couldn’t help snapping a few.

Brittany and her family on the East Bluff, overlooking the harbor.

Brittany and her family on the East Bluff, overlooking the harbor.

You can just tell that Regina knows her photograph is being made. Brittany sure looks natural up there, doesn't she?

You can just tell Regina knows her photograph is being taken. Brittany sure looks natural up there, doesn’t she?

I couldn't believe how well the colors in the Grand flowerbeds blended with Brittany's gorgeous red hair.  I love this photo!

I couldn’t believe how well the colors in the Grand flowerbeds blended with Brittany’s gorgeous red hair. I love this photo!

A HUGE thank you to Maryanke Alexander, Carriage Tours, Ben Mosley, and the Grand Hotel for making Brittany’s dream come true!

A friend of mine, Mary Stancik, shared this video today, and I just had to post it.  It is definitely one of the top five most beautifully awesome videos I’ve ever seen, and it was all filmed in time lapse photography in Michigan.  The music is great also, so turn up your speakers!  http://player.vimeo.com/video/65504232?color=12f202.

Ted and I are off to Traverse City tomorrow.  Thank you to everyone who wrote to tell us all about the wonderful restaurants, wineries, and shops to check out.  Alas, Ted has his mind set on several hours at Sam’s Club.  Does that sound awesome or what!

Have a great rest of the week! 

Restful Weekend, Busy Week to Come 7/14/2013

The beautiful weather has continued on the Island throughout the weekend.  I just love it when we can open all our windows, upstairs and downstairs, and let the breezes off the Great Lakes blow through the condo during the day.  At night – would you believe it – it’s still a little too cool to leave all the windows open, but leaving our French doors in the bedroom open – and the fan going – creates a perfect sleeping climate.

In case you’re wondering what’s happening on selling the condo . . . . . nothing. That’s good news and bad news.  Good, because it’s been such a great summer up here so far, and bad because our next little “life adventure” depends solely on selling one of our two nests.  Preferably both.  But hey, we haven’t even been here half the summer yet.  And as Ted and I both know, someone looking to purchase real estate on Mackinac Island  has to fall completely in love with this magical place – like we did.  And then they have to decide they  just can’t live another minute without having something to call their very own right here in the middle of Lake Huron –  like we did.  It doesn’t happen that often – but it does happen.  So we wait.  And that’s ok.

The Infinite Diversion was the first boat to cross the finish line in the 2013 Chicago to Mackinac Island Yacht Race.  It arrived this afternoon

The Infinite Diversion was the first boat to cross the finish line (around 3:30 this afternoon) in the 2013 Chicago to Mackinac Island Yacht Race.  The probable second boat, at the moment of this writing, is Windquest and she has about six nautical miles to go.  Winds have been very low, and sailors are having to use all their skills to catch a breeze and make some progress.  Sometime between now and Monday afternoon the other 299 boats will arrive at the Mackinac Island Marina.  But the partying will begin tonight and continue through Tuesday.

Larry and Angela left on Saturday morning to return home to Atlanta,  They used Friday to go up and see the Soo Locks, then drove into Canada for a few hours.

We don't get to see these cousins as much as we'd like to . . .

We don’t get to see these cousins as much as we’d like to . . .

, , , and we sure hated seeing them leave so soon.

, , , and we sure hated seeing them leave.

One of our favorite dock porters, Archie Horn, showing how baggage handing is done - Mackinac style!

One of our favorite dock porters, Archie Horn, showing how baggage handling is done – Mackinac style!

The view from our back porch.  I sat out there the other night for a few minutes with my camera and caught Molly heading to the barn with her team.  She works for Gough Livery and gives a great private tour.

The view from our back porch. I sat out there the other night for a few minutes with my camera and caught Molly heading to the barn with her team. She works for Gough Livery and gives a great private tour.

Coming back the other way was Bob on his taxi.  He'd

Coming back the other way was Bob on his taxi, with a group maybe going out to dinner.

Abby Holstrom got this great shot of the new PINK umbrellas on the outside patio at the Pony.  Very appropriate!

Abby Holstrom got this great shot of the new PINK umbrellas on the outside patio at the Pony. Very appropriate!

Speaking of the Pony, Ted and I were there Saturday night on the back deck and got to watch the ending shift of the dredging operation that's been going on in the marina for the last few days.  With low lake levels and 300 sailboats approaching, it was decided that the lake bottom needed dredging in some areas before the boats arrived.

Speaking of the Pony, Ted and I were there Saturday night on the back deck and got to watch the ending shift of the dredging operation that’s been going on in the marina for the last few days. With low lake levels and 300 sailboats approaching, it was determined the lake bottom needed dredging in some areas.

The size of the bucket was amazing (you can see the man standing beside it).  I have no idea how many thousands of pounds of silt was removed and placed on the barge where the crane rested.  Another amazement was the tiny little tug boat maneuvering that huge barge.

The size of the bucket was amazing (you can see the man standing beside it). I have no idea how many thousands of pounds of silt was removed and placed on the barge where the crane rested.  Ted was thinking he’d like to be able to sift through it for all the items that have been dropped overboard in that marina over the years. Another amazement was that tiny little tug boat maneuvering that huge barge.

Mike Forrester, who visits the Island with his family at least once a year, and who produced the live streaming video of the Lilac Festival Parade this year, posted on his blog how he put together that live feed from a Lilac Tree porch.  Totally awesome!  Read it here:  http://www.mackinacislandblog.com/profiles/blogs/streaming-the-lilac-festival-grand-parade

That’s all I’ve got tonight y’all.  It’s been kind of nice not having a lot on the schedule for a week, but all that ends tomorrow.  Here’s the schedule:

  • Monday:  Work at Stuart House and check out the marina for boats.
  • Tuesday:  A sweet little project working with a reader’s daughter on her senior pictures – with the help of some kind Island folks.
  • Wednesday: Off-island.  Bear to groomers and Maddie to doggie day-care while Ted and I go to Traverse City shopping – just for the fun of it!
  • Thursday: I’m speaking again at the Men’s Breakfast at the Yacht Club – this time on Pet Therapy, and Bear will become the first dog allowed in the Yacht Club!
  • Friday:  Rest???

I think there will be some neat photo opps during the coming days, and of course, I will be sharing them with all of you! 

Hope everyone’s week is great!  God bless.

Just Perfect 7/11/2013

I love Mackinac Island.  It doesn’t matter to me if it’s warm or cold, clear or cloudy, dry or raining – I just love it.  Occasionally though, you get a day so perfect you feel as if God just decided to laugh out loud and declare, “Today on Mackinac Island, the weather will be P E R F E C T.”

And today it was.  No clouds in a sky so beautifully hued if it were a paint color, its name would have to be “Michigan Blue”.  Low 70’s.  A tad of a breeze.  Low, very low humidity.  As I said . . . perfect.

As if that wasn’t good enough, my Georgia cousins on my mom’s side, Angela and Larry, just happened to pick yesterday to arrive on the Island.  They flew from Atlanta to Flint, rented a car and drove up, arriving just in time to hurry into the Grand Hotel (Angela loves the whole Somewhere in Time magic of the Grand and has had it on her bucket list for quite a while), dress for dinner and enjoy a special evening of great food, strolls around the grounds, and rocking chair peacefulness on the Grand porch.

This morning, Angela and Larry awoke to our perfect island day.  They walked up to our condo, and from there we covered seeing quite a few of Mackinac’s treasures.

Our first official stop was Lookout Point overlooking Sugar Loaf.  We walked there after passing the three island cemeteries and turning right up Fort Holmes Road.  We promised them after we reached Fort Holmes, everything else would be downhill.

Our first official stop was Lookout Point overlooking Sugar Loaf. We walked there after passing the three island cemeteries and turning right up Fort Holmes Road. We promised them after we reached Fort Holmes, everything else would be downhill.

As with almost everyone who visits for the first time, they couldn't get over the blueness and clarity of the Lake Huron water.  "It looks like the Caribbean," they said several times.

As with almost everyone who visits for the first time, they couldn’t get over the blueness and clarity of the Lake Huron water. “It looks like the Caribbean,” they said several times.

A couple more hills . . .

A couple more hills . . .

. . . brought us to Fort Holmes, and Ted got to talk all about the history of what happened there.

. . . brought us to Fort Holmes, and Ted got to talk all about the history of this spot.

From the top of the Island we could barely make out the red of a parasail drifting over the Straits.

From the top of the Island we could barely make out the red of a parasail drifting over the Straits.

Since it was on the way, we stopped by Skull Cave . . .

Since it was on the way, we stopped by Skull Cave . . .

. . . then had lunch at Fort Mackinac's Tea Room.

. . . then had lunch at Fort Mackinac’s Tea Room.

We parted company after lunch, leaving Larry and Angela with a chance to explore on their own.  They plan to spend two more nights on the Island at the Chippewa downtown.  We hope you’re enjoying your island adventure as much as we’re enjoying you being here!

THE WEEK IN PHOTOGRAPHS

Loved seeing blog reader Joyce and her husband Al on Monday.  They stopped by the Stuart House to say hello!

Loved seeing blog reader Joyce and her husband Al on Monday. They stopped by the Stuart House to say hello!

While visiting the Fort Cemetery today, we noticed coins had been placed on nearly every stone marker.  Does  anyone know why?  It seems I read about this somewhere, but now I can't remember what I read.  Help!

While visiting the Fort Cemetery today, we noticed coins had been placed on nearly every stone marker. Does anyone know why? It seems I read about this somewhere, but now I can’t remember what I read. Help!

Today we ate up on the deck at the Tea Room that is above the level where the yellow umbrellas are.  Our first time to eat up there - we liked it!

Today we ate on the deck at the Tea Room that is above the level where the yellow umbrellas are. Our first time to eat up there – and we liked it a lot!  You can see we had a Great Lakes cruise ship in the harbor today.

A beautiful sunset shot of two Shepler boats by Shepler Captain Pat Springate.

A beautiful sunset shot of two Shepler boats by Shepler Captain Pat Springate.

The Cottage Inn's Joe Joe Cocker.

The Cottage Inn’s Joe Joe Cocker.

Flowers on the outside patio at Mary's Bistro.

Flowers on the outside patio at Mary’s Bistro.

Breathtaking Windermere Hotel gardens.  I could just stand and look at this all day.

Breathtaking Windermere Hotel gardens. I could just stand and look at this all day.

Did you notice that every balcony

Did you notice that every balcony in the two hotels behind the Grand Hotel omnibus has its own hanging basket?

More Hawkweed.  It's everywhere, it's everywhere!

More Hawkweed. It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere!

In a few days, the Mackinac Island Marina will be alive with sails in rainbow colors.  The

In a few days, the Mackinac Island Marina will be alive with Crayola Crayon-colored sails. The Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race begins Friday, July 12 for the Cruising Division boats, and the remaining divisions start toward the Island on Saturday, July 13.  By Monday this harbor will be teeming with activity, and the Island hotels, restaurants and bars will be wall-to-wall people.  Let the races begin!

The Trinity Episcopal Church steeple cross, as seen from Fort Mackinac.

The Trinity Episcopal Church steeple cross, as seen from Fort Mackinac.

This crow had a bird's eye view of everything today after he found a perch on the end of the flagpole at the Tea Room.

After he found a perch on the end of the flag pole at the Tea Room, this crow had a bird’s eye view of everything!

Buzz and Patty's sweet Bailey.

Buzz and Patty’s sweet Bailey.

A huge freighter slips past the lighthouses . . .

A huge freighter slips past the lighthouses . . .

. . . and continues west toward the Mackinac Bridge.

. . . and continues west toward the Mackinac Bridge.

Sweet friend Bonnie has been on the Island for a few days, and today we spotted her on a front porch on the boardwalk.  It was good to visit with her for a while!

Sweet friend Bonnie has been on the Island for a few days, and today we spotted her relaxing on a front porch on the boardwalk. It was good to visit with her for a while!

A seagull comes in for a landing on his own shadow.

A seagull comes in for a landing on his own shadow.

On the way home this afternoon, we walked through the Grand Hotel Rose Garden for the first time this summer.  Always beautiful!

On the way home this afternoon, we walked through the Grand Hotel Rose Garden for the first time this summer. Always beautiful!

Just one more thing.  Friends Steve and Orietta Humphrey, who are in Washington DC going through orientation before leaving for their year-long medical mission trip to Tanzania with the Peace Corps, will be blogging about their experiences there.  If any of you would like to subscribe to their blog, you can click the link below and then click on the “follow” button.  They’re posted once already.  I know this is going to be an exciting and very busy year for them, and I look forward to hearing about the work they will be doing:   www.daktari2013.wordpress.com

Steve and Orietta - from a previous trip to Africa

Steve and Orietta – from a previous trip to Africa

The 4th on Mackinac Island 7/7/2013

I know I’m prejudice about this, but I just don’t think the 4th of July can possibly be celebrated anywhere else as well as it is on Mackinac Island.

Maybe it’s because everything is set using Fort Mackinac’s revolutionary-era history as a backdrop.  Maybe it’s the small town feel.  Maybe it’s because every single building in town is decorated with red, white and blue.  Maybe it’s the gathering at Windermere Point for greased pole climbing, tug of war, watermelon rolling, wheel barrow races, balloon tossing and sack races.  Maybe it’s the All-American picnic held at the fort, with folks sitting on the ground on red-checkered tablecloths, eating food from the Grand, watching games, dances and live music performed by costumed interpreters.

Whatever the reason, we enjoyed an awesome 4th, and I’d love to show you a little bit of how the day was celebrated here on our favorite island.

The 4th was a beautiful day on Mackinac.  We started toward Windermere Point a little before 1 p.m., passing the Grand Hotel on the way down the hill.  The Grand always puts on a super-sized celebration for the 4th, and this year was no exception.  Families were having a wonderful time!

The 4th was a beautiful day on Mackinac – low 70’s, low humidity, cool breezes. We started toward Windermere Point a little before 1 p.m., passing the Grand Hotel on the way down the hill. The Grand always puts on a super-sized celebration for the 4th, and this year was no exception. Families were having a wonderful time!

Windermere Point was PACKED with families.  We had just missed the stone skipping contest - darn it - but we quickly recognized where the next big event was happening . . .

Windermere Point was PACKED with families.

 We had just missed the stone skipping contest - darn it - but we quickly recognized where the next big event was happening - at the greased pole climb!

We had just missed the stone skipping contest – darn it – but we quickly recognized where the next big event was happening – at the greased pole climb!  I don’t know what the prize is at this event in other places, but on Mackinac each child was climbing for a nice, crisp $20 bill!

Children of all sizes attempted to make it up the pole.

Children of all sizes attempted to make it up the pole.

Some came very close.

Some came very close.

And others went home $20 richer!

Others went home $20 richer!

And some just climbed to prove that they could!

And some just climbed to prove that they could!

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Another busy spot all afternoon was the Windermere Point Dog House. The line was long for the hot dogs, Polish sausage, brats with kraut, ice cream, fudge and soft drinks.

The face painting table was swamped with eager little faces waiting to be transformed into butterflies, flags

The face painting table was swamped with eager little faces waiting to be transformed into butterflies, flags, and animals of all kinds.

This guy got dunked . . .  a LOT!

This guy got dunked . . . a LOT!

My friend from Georgia, Jane, is here at her cottage for a few weeks . . .

My friend from Georgia, Jane, is here at her cottage for a few weeks . . .

. . . and her family won the t-shirt contest.

. . . and her family won the Best Costume Award!  What was REALLY awesome about that was . . .

. . . they designed and made the t-shirts themselves - starting with white shirts and cans of spray paint!

. . . they designed and made the t-shirts themselves – starting with white shirts and cans of spray paint!

Children are so much fun to watch, aren't they!?  These two little boys were having a "ball"!

Children are so much fun to watch, aren’t they!? These two little boys were having a “ball”!

Joan's granddaughter, Jenavieve, showed off her 4th of July dress . . .

Joan’s granddaughter, Jenavieve, showed off her 4th of July dress . . .

. . . while her grandson, Jordan, rolled around on the ground - just like little boys so often do!

. . . while her grandson, Jordan, rolled around on the ground – just like little boys so often do!

We met up with Patty and Buzz at Mary's Bistro for lunch . . .

We met up with Patty and Buzz at Mary’s Bistro for a late lunch . . .

where we watched all the activity around the Star and Shepler Ferry Line docks.

. . . where we watched all the activity around the Star and Shepler Ferry Line docks.

Sweet little Bailey, who had waited patiently undernearth our outdoor patio table while we ate lunch, got to go wading in Lake Huron!

Sweet little Bailey, who had waited patiently under our outdoor patio table while we ate lunch, got to go wading in Lake Huron!

Before going home for a nap, we took a short walk through town, where we spotted "Uncle Sam" outside the Magic Store . . .

Before going home for a nap, we took a short walk through town, where we spotted “Uncle Sam” outside Doc’s Magic Shop . . .

. . . and a turtle in the bookstore!

. . . and a turtle in the bookstore!

Flags were everywhere, but the largest one, except for the fort flag, was spotted on the side of the Chippewa Hotel.

Flags were everywhere, but the largest one, except for the fort flag, was spotted on the side of the Chippewa Hotel.

We weren't the only ones ready for a nap!

We weren’t the only ones ready for a nap!

After a brief rest at the condo, we left on our bikes with Patty and Buzz, and rode to Fort Mackinac for the Red, White & Blue Celebration for Mackinac Associates.  It’s held each year under a big tent behind the fort and there’s wine, cheese, shrimp, and lots of other goodies!  From there we walked into the fort to attend “An American Picnic”, sponsored by the Grand Hotel. 

Lines for the buffet were long, but moved swiftly.  It was all picnic food - hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, slaw, salads, ribs, and chicken.  Don't even get me started on the dessert table - but, among other things, I had a piece of pecan pie, which they told me was made with Georgia pecans!  I wonder if our friend Cecil at Lake Blackshear, who works for a pecan company which ships the nuts all over the world, sent those up to the Grand this year.

Lines for the buffet were long, but moved swiftly. It was all picnic food – hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, slaw, salads, ribs, and chicken. Don’t even get me started on the dessert table – but, among other things, I had a piece of pecan pie, which they told me was made with Georgia pecans! I wonder if our friend Cecil at Lake Blackshear, who works for a pecan company that ships the nuts all over the world, sent those up to the Grand this year.

We chose to sit on the deck of the Tea Room (I can never get enough of the view from up there).

We chose to sit on the deck of the Tea Room.  A lot of other people had the same idea.

I can never get enough of the views from up there.

I can never get enough of the views from up there.

About half-way through dinner, we were serenaded by two fort interpreters.

About half-way through dinner, we were serenaded by two fort interpreters.

We didn't want to miss an event downtown at 8:00, so we walked down the almost 120 steps from the fort to Marquette Park and found a spot in front of the part to sit.

We didn’t want to miss an event downtown at 8:00, so we walked down the almost 120 steps from the fort to Marquette Park and found a spot in front of the park to sit.

Caddywampus captured this great shot of the ceremony.

Caddywampus captured this great shot of the ceremony.  The flag is carried down Main Street to the Mackinac Island Public School, near where the fireworks are set off.

Seeing that huge flag go by, carried by local firemen, EMT's, and police officers just made my heart swell.

Seeing that huge flag go by, carried by local firemen, EMT’s, and police officers just made my heart swell.

We climbed back UP those 120 steps . . .

We climbed back UP those 120 steps . . .

. . . and walked back through the parade grounds just as the fort interpreters were entertaining.

. . . and walked back through the parade grounds just as the fort interpreters were entertaining.

We left the fort, picked up our bicycles . . .

We left the fort, picked up our bicycles . . .

. . . and rode through woods blanketed in what seemed like miles of yellow Hawkweed.

. . . and rode through woods blanketed in what seemed like miles of yellow Hawkweed.

Even with my new camera, I still can't capture fireworks, but this was my best shot.  I've got to learn how to do better on that.

Even with my new camera, I still can’t capture fireworks, but this was my best shot. I’ve got to learn how to do better on that.

Ted and I watched the fireworks from home.  We sat out on our balcony and watched them explode over the trees from where they are set off from a barge near Windermere Point.  Maddie and Bear watched them with us, wondering – I’m sure – what all the racket was about.  It was a glorious 4th – and just about as perfect as you could ever want. 

I hope yours was the same!