The Island, the Beach, and a Touch of Alaska 3/12/17

Hi Friends!

Most of this afternoon has been spent on-line, working out details for our May trip to Alaska.  I had no idea there’d be so many decisions to make!  Most of the hard ones involve choosing from dozens and dozens of excursions that can be added to an already packed schedule.  Do we want to visit a sled dog camp?  Do we want to actually ride aboard a sled pulled by sled dogs?  Do we want to take a small boat out from one of our ports of call to see whales and other marine life?  Do we want to hop a small plane for a bird’s eye view of wildlife and glaciers – or a helicopter that will actually land ON the glacier, where we can get out and walk around!  Of course if we’d won a recent lottery, all this would be so much easier to figure out.  But – no lottery money arriving here, so we’re trying to work out what’s going to fit into our budget.  More to come in the weeks ahead on that!

Hmmmm . . . wonder if that ice in the water will be melted by May?

Sticking with that “cold-weather” theme, Mackinac Island had their fair share of winter weather this week.

Friend Sue Conlon and husband Terry had to cross the Mackinac Bridge this weekend, and conditions were rough! That sign says, “High Winds, Escort in Progress”.  That means someone did not think they could cross without assistance, so a Bridge Authority person drove their car across for them.  I think I read the bridge was closed for a short time that day because of the high winds, but I could be mistaken on that.

A snowy scene from the island last week, just proving that work continues there, regardless of the weather. (Photo: Josh Carley)

A panoramic view across the icy Straits of Mackinac.  (Photo: Greg Main)

The Mighty Huron had a tough time plowing through the ice in the Straits on Saturday, but she made it.   (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A beautiful shot of the full moon from beneath The Mustang Lounge sign. (Photo: Josh Carley)

Probably the biggest news from Mackinac last week was the mysterious disappearance of the wildly popular Mackinac Island News & Views Facebook page.  Clicking on the site brought a puzzling message saying simply, “This site has been archived.”  The site is the “go-to” place for information on the island, and the beautiful photographs placed there on a daily basis keep Mackinac fans entertained year-round.  There were hundreds of comments and pleadings for the return of the site.  Then, just as mysteriously as it disappeared, it opened again for business this weekend.  All 23,000 of its fans – including this one – rejoiced and celebrated!

Wanted to share a couple of stories tonight that are both really interesting and very informative reads!

This first one covers last week’s visit to Grand Hotel by hotel President Dan Musser III and several full-time employees, “2017 Winter Visit to Grand Hotel and Mackinac Island:

This second story was featured on-line at MyNorth and will make you want to book a stay at Grand Hotel just to eat there!  It’s titled “Dinner at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island: 130 Years of Caviar and Aristocracy”.  Click here:


Ted and I will be dropping off Maddie and Bodie at Lily’s (our wonderful petsitter) and traveling to Kissimmee FL on Monday to meet for lunch one of Ted’s by-birth aunts and her husband (Aunt Marsha and Uncle Dan), along with Lindie, Mike, Kel and Gwen (we met all four of these cousins on Mackinac this summer, and Kel and Gwen were just here a couple of weeks ago).  So glad several of these new relatives like to come to Florida for the winter!  Aunt Marsha is Ted’s birth mother’s youngest sister.  Pictures to come next Sunday!

Bodie joined me Friday night on the deck to wait for the sunset.

It didn’t disappoint!

It’s still amazing that we get to enjoy views like this on an almost daily basis. We’ve learned that a scattering of clouds always produces the best shows!

It was a great night!

See you back here on Tuesday with a “throw-back”!

God bless.



The Surprise That Almost Was 2/18/16

Guess what’s coming to Mackinac Island this summer?  Sushi Grand! 

That’s right, Grand Hotel is opening the island’s one and only Sushi Restaurant next to The Gate House at the bottom of Grand hill.  It will be a made to order sushi restaurant for dine-in and take-out.  Once again, Grand interior designer Carleton Varney of Dorothy Draper and Co. in New York will be working his magic.  The ceiling will feature a hand painted stylized map of Asia, and Japanese conical straw hat light fixtures will hang over the sushi bar.  The overall décor will be gold with red accents, and the countertops will be black marble.  The walls will be a custom gilt wallpaper with an ink bamboo trelliswork design overlay, and the floor texture will resemble a wading pool. The restaurant will open in May, 2016!


Due to ice in the Straits, the Mighty Huron was unable to run over the weekend, and on Monday morning island workers arrived by air for the first time this winter.

Due to ice in the Straits, the Mighty Huron was unable to run over the weekend, and on Monday morning island workers arrived by air for the first time this winter.

A TomChambers photograph of the setting sun reflecting off St. Anne's late on Valentine's Day.

A Tom Chambers photograph of the setting sun reflecting off St. Anne’s late on Valentine’s Day.

That same afternoon Clark Bloswick captured the sun reflecting off

That same afternoon Clark Bloswick captured the sun reflecting off the snow pack on the north end of the island.

Wow . . . . from All Things Mackinac Facebook Page

Wow . . . . from Greg Main.


Three photos in sequence of last night's sunset from our second floor deck.

Three photos in sequence of last night’s sunset from our second floor deck.


Yes - I still pinch myself that I get to see sunsets like this now - just by looking out the back door.

I still pinch myself that I get to see scenes like this –  just by looking out the back door.


For about four months I’ve been putting together the best surprise ever for Ted’s birthday.

Back in November I started planning  a surprise trip to Alaska – something Ted and I have always talked about doing, but have never gotten around to booking.  In May, 2017 Ted will turn 70, and I thought, “What a great way to celebrate!”  I was going to plan the whole thing, and on May 5 of that year I’d present him with a beautifully wrapped gift containing . . . . two tickets to Alaska.  Oh my gosh, I was so excited!

My head was FULL of ideas and plans.  What about Maddie and Bear?  I’d book Lily, our pet/house sitter.  What about Ted’s volunteer job??  I’d call his boss and tell him that although Ted THOUGHT he’d be working in May, there would be two Tuesdays he wouldn’t show up.  What about paying for it?  With some creative budgeting (and well over a year to pinch pennies), I thought I could pull it off.  The kids were all in on it.

I contacted Mackinac Island friend Kay Berke, who with husband Larry are the co-founders of Royal Travel & Tours in DeKalb, Illinois.  They have over 43 years experience in the travel industry, and I knew we’d be in good hands.

Kay and I have been texting and emailing back and forth like crazy, and I was VERY careful to transfer all Kay’s emails into a separate folder.  I didn’t want Ted to glance at my phone one day and see a line of messages in my Inbox from Kay labeled “Alaska”.  Oh, I was so clever!

So.  As I mentioned the other night, I emailed some photos to Cathie of her little dog Gypsy and also some photos of her sweet husband Charlie.  The next morning, as we were having coffee, Ted asked to see the photos I sent Cathie, and I handed him my phone.  He said, “I’ll have to go to your “Sent” box, won’t I, to pull up the photos?”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, I knew the surprise would never happen.  He clicked on the “Sent” box, and there – just below the email to Cathie -were about 10 emails to Kay marked “Alaska”.  You see, although I moved Kay’s EMAILS TO ME into a separate folder, I forgot to move MY EMAILS TO HER into the same folder.

And, of course, Ted said, “What are all these emails to Kay about Alaska?”

I burst out crying.

They say what makes surprises so beautiful is that they come without waiting – Ted would have gotten to enjoy that part of it.  And I would have enjoyed the planning, but perhaps not the waiting.  So, maybe it’s best that it worked out this way.  After a few days of disappointment, I’m laughing about it now.  And Ted has told me it’s the sweetest surprise he’s ALMOST ever received.

The trip is still on – eleven days (4 over-land and a 7-day cruise).  We are VERY excited!