The Beach, the Island . . . . and Places Far Away 7/2/17

Hi Everyone, and a huge Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

We’re nine days away from leaving for Michigan, with an arrival date on Mackinac penciled in on or about July 16.  Once we reach Michigan, we’ll be visiting family along the way, and our gang will be spending a few nights with cousins Dave and Diane Bennick near Grand Haven.. There’s also a family reunion where we’ll get to spend more time with cousins who visited us on the island last summer AND meet relatives we have yet to see face to face.  Dave assures us that Bodie and Maddie are welcome and that there are four Golden Retrievers in their neighborhood for Bodie to play with.  LOL – this should be very interesting!

Bodie says he sincerely hopes everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for teenage goofballs who always seem to find a way to get into trouble – even when they’re not trying.

SPEAKING OF MACKINAC

Bruce LaPine shared this and the next two photos toward the end of Lilac Festival week. A Shelper’s boat rounds the breakwall, framed by lighthouses and white lilac blossoms.

The flower beds outside Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at Grand Hotel are flourishing!

More beautiful lilacs – overhanging a white picket fence and framing the Mackinac Bridge.

This is soooo cool . . . .

In honor of the 130th anniversary of Grand Hotel, David Lorch, PhD, LEGO designer, and engineer, created a 9 ft. replica of Grand Hotel made entirely out of LEGOS.

The details are impeccable and include people, horses, a Grand omnibus . . .

. . . . even the chess set on one end of the front porch and pots of geraniums!

I can’t wait to tell you about this . . . . . .

Mother and daughter team, Barbara Toms and Marcia Dunnigan (on the right), have joined together with artist Sharon Griffes Tarr (far left) to create the Mackinac Island Cottage Cookbook.  These three ladies held a book signing at the Island Bookstore last week.

The book is a compilation of Barbara and Marcia’s tried and true personal recipes. Their cottage (shown above on the book cover) is always filled with warmth and laughter, and these are two of my favorite “women of Mackinac”.  That front porch has been the scene of many an island party, and these ladies know exactly how to make everyone feel welcome.

Sharon’s illustrations of island locations are beautiful and add even more fun and enjoyment to the book’s charm.  The Island Bookstore will carry the books, but if you don’t have a trip planned, Jill says just give the store a call, and they will be glad to ship it out.  She has one tucked away for me already, and I am excited to get my hands on it in a couple of weeks!

FROM THE BEACH

We’ve had such a great week at the beach.  Jason and Blake flew in on Wednesday, and on Wednesday night Julie, Jordan and Matthew joined us for grilled burgers.

It’s so hard to get everyone together in one place at one time!  We hated that Matt was out of town and couldn’t join us, and Jen and Alex couldn’t come because Alex had a swim meet.

Jason flew back to Atlanta on Friday, and Blake will be with us until this Friday when he’ll return to Colorado.  In mid-August Blake will return to Ankara, Turkey for a two-year commitment teaching English at a local university there.  He is in the process of raising support.  Please keep Blake in your prayers for his safety and for his purpose there.  There is a need in that country, and work there can impact the regions surrounding it.

Please remember me too in your prayers during this time. This is hard.

FUN STUFF IN BEVERLY BEACH

Ted, Jason, Blake and I were at Turtle Shack Thursday night, and we ate outside. This huge crab sauntered across the sidewalk from behind the building, and when we got up to take a pic, he scooted behind the tire of one of the cars nearby. He sat there until we finished eating and was still there when we left. Biggest crab we’ve seen down here so far.  I guess you can grow that big when you’re wise enough not to cross busy highways during dinner  hour.

PRETTY STUFF AT BEVERLY BEACH

On my way to work last week this lone cloud was hovering over the ocean. I pulled over to get this pic ’cause I thought it was kind of spectacular.

Talk about spectacular! Sunset from our deck last night. I don’t usually like iPhone photos of sunsets because they tend to wash out the colors. But this one was perfect.

One more spectacular shot.  Blake took this panorama as he was walking the beach last night at sunset!

THE PASSING OF A HERO

Those of you who follow this blog often read comments by “Jason-the other one”.  Jason has read the blog for many years, drawn to it because of his love of the island.  Jason served in Afghanistan until 2010 with Ben, his military service dog and partner.  Ben returned to the states a month ahead of Jason, then went home to meet Jason’s wife and parents (Jason had applied to adopt Ben when he knew the dog was being retired).  Jason returned overseas, and Ben spent the rest of his retirement with Jason’s family.  Jason would see him when he’d come home on vacations over the years.

Ben crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. Jason writes, “I’m writing to let you know my beloved partner Ben crossed oer the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with his passing. If not for him I wouldn’t be here today. He saved many lives, allowing countless service members to come home safely to their loved ones. He served our country with honor and had a very blessed retirement. He passed away at 14 years of age. Even at 14, he loved to play and rough house. He was found at home asleep on his bed. We guess it was just his time.”  The photo above is from Ben’s retirement ceremony in 2010.  His service years were March 2004-June 2010.  His last patrol in Afghanistan was June 5, 2010.

Rest in Peace, brave Ben, and thank you for your service.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

Photo Day! 6/26/16

This has been one of those slow news weeks.  I do have one little story to tell, and then the rest of tonight’s post will be a “Photos and Captions.”  I’ve got some great pics to share from both the beach AND our favorite Michigan island!

THE SEA TURTLE PATROL

Ted and I went down to the beach around 7:30 one morning and happened to arrive in time to watch the Sea Turtle Patrol in action!

This volunteers hit the beach early each morning of turtle season to look for tracks and new nests.

These volunteers hit the beach early each morning of turtle season (May-October) – at first to look for tracks and new nests, and then later on to check that nests haven’t been disturbed or to see if turtles have hatched.

We were very lucky that morning, because we spotted the new nest at almost the same time they did?

We were very lucky that morning, because we spotted the new nest at almost the same time they did!

I took this after they had staked out the nest. You can see the tracks of the "mama turtle" (obviously a very BIG mama turtle) leading up the the

I took this AFTER the volunteers had staked out the nest. You can see the flipper tracks of the “mama turtle” (obviously a very BIG mama turtle) leading up the mound of dirt where she covered her 80-120 eggs.  The sign on the nest gives the nest number and states the date it was found.  The eggs will hatch in approximately 60 days, and on day 45 the volunteers will place a red flag on the right rear stake and begin to check the nest on a daily basis.  Lights on the beach (even flashlights)are restricted during turtle season as they may confuse turtles coming to the beach to mate or lay eggs.  Lights also could confuse young hatchlings on their dangerous trip across the beach to the ocean.  So far we have about 20 sea turtle nests along the one-mile stretch that is Beverly Beach.

BEVERLY BEACH PHOTOS

Arriving on the beach after sunrise.

Arriving on the beach just after sunrise.  On this day the wind was churning the waves up pretty good.

An amazing shelf cloud forming over the beach early this morning. (Photo: Neighbor Kevin Freedman)

An amazing shelf cloud forming over the beach early this morning. (Photo: Neighbor Kevin Freedman)

That same cloud coming from the beach over our house in Sunset Inlet. As ominous as it looks, it blew right over us, and we didn't get a drop of rain. (Photo: Neighbor Lisa Mordecai)

That same cloud coming from the beach over our house (2-story on the left) in Sunset Inlet. As ominous as it looked, it blew right over us, and we didn’t get a drop of rain. (Photo: Neighbor David Mordecai)

MACKINAC ISLAND PHOTOS

KathyJo Strukel, who won the Mackinac Island coloring book, is making good progress on the first page!

KathyJo Strukel (Oldsmar FL), who won the Mackinac Island coloring book, is making good progress on the page she chose to tackle first!  She’s using colored pencils.  Good job, Kathy!

The Lilac Festival Parade! A great pic from Clark Bloswick of the Seabiscuit Café float, part of the crowd, and Fort Mackinac in the background.

The Lilac Festival Parade! A great pic from Clark Bloswick of the Seabiscuit Café float, part of the crowd, Marquette Park, and Fort Mackinac in the background.

A simply stunning photo by Steven Kopacki of Artistic Mackinadc Gallery and Studio of the strawberry moon rising

A simply stunning photo by Steven Kopacki, Artistic Mackinac Gallery and Studio, of the “Strawberry Moon” rising over the Straits of Mackinac.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Can’t wait to get back on the island and check out what Steven has new in his studio!

Blog reader Jan Weir and her husband Don (Harbor Springs MI and Indianapolis IN) visited the island for several days a week or so ago. This photo and the next six are from Jan.

Blog reader Jan Weir and her husband Don (Harbor Springs MI and Indianapolis IN) visited the island for several days a week or so ago. This photo and the next five are from Jan.

Lilacs blooming along the boardwalk

Lilacs blooming along the boardwalk bordering Lake Huron.  What a wonderful (and romantic) spot to settle in for a chat.

The hanging baskets are up, and from now until Fall they will grow and grow and grow. When they are taken down, their leaves and flowers will be almost touching the sidewalk. Oh - the former Weber's Florist is now

The hanging baskets are up, and from now until Fall they will grow and grow and grow. When they’re taken down, their leaves and flowers will be almost touching the sidewalk. Oh – the former Weber’s Florist is now Vintage Glam, a new salon offering hair care, nail care, and makeup services.  They specialize in wedding parties!

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast - always an oasis of gorgeous flowers, and breathtaking landscapting - not to mention an awesome place to spend a few nights! Friend Aretha Jansen is the Cloghaun's new Manager this year, taking over from the wonderful Marti Gmazel Carey who retired at the end of last season.

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast – always an oasis of gorgeous flowers and breathtaking landscaping – not to mention an awesome place to spend a few nights! Friend Aneta Jansen is the Cloghaun’s new Manager this year, filling the shoes of the awesome Marti Gmazel Carey, who retired at the end of last season.

Silver Birches! The renovation of the wonderful lodge is on schedule! Looking forward to riding out there and checking it all out!

Silver Birches! Renovation of the wonderful lodge is on schedule! Looking forward to riding out there soon and checking it all out!

Pontiac Trail, along the West Bluff.

Pontiac Trail – along the West Bluff.

A dreamy shot from one of our favorite taxi drivers - Jim Gillespie. He had stopped to rest his horses a moment at Mission Point and took this great photo.

A dreamy shot from one of our favorite taxi drivers – Jim Gillespie. Jim had stopped to rest his horses a moment at Mission Point and took this great photo, looking across the resort’s expansive yard.  Someone asked Jim recently if working on the island – after 30 seasons driving taxi – ever gets old.  His answer was a resounding “NO”!

A great catch of interesting clouds over Grand Hotel. (Photo: Max Jones)

A great catch of interesting clouds over Grand Hotel. (Photo: Max Jones)

A view of the Pink Pony patio and part of downtown from an interesting perspective. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A view of the Pink Pony patio and part of downtown from an interesting perspective. (Photo: Tom Chambers)  Hmmmm . . . . . where were you, Tom?

The Round Island Lighthouse is rarely illuminated. But one night recently, it was. And Clark Bloswick was around to catch the moment.

The Round Island Lighthouse is rarely illuminated. But one night recently, it was. And Clark Bloswick was around to catch the moment.

Friend Steve Fridley and his family love Mackinac almost as much as I do. When they're on the island, Steve has a way of being at the right place at the right time. Like last week - when this rainbow appeared to arch across the sky.

Friend Steve Fridley and his family love visiting Mackinac and do so often. When they’re on the island, Steve has a way of being at the right place at the right time. Like last week – when this rainbow appeared and seemed to arch across the Straits from Mackinac to Bois Blanc.

I. Love. This. Photo! Mary Bailey, the beautiful teenage daughter of friends Jeri-Lynn and Brian Bailey, snapped this shot one recent afternoon. In the way of all teenagers, Mary and her friends were looking for something to do and decided to haul their hammocks all the way up to Anne's Tablet and hang them among the trees. What a way to spend a fun - and leisurely - afternoon on Mackinac!

I. Love. This. Photo! Mary Bailey, the beautiful teenage daughter of friends Jeri-Lynn and Brian Bailey, snapped this shot one recent afternoon. In the way of all teenagers, Mary and her friends were looking for something to do and decided to haul their hammocks all the way up to Anne’s Tablet and hang them among the trees. What a way to spend a fun – and leisurely – afternoon on Mackinac!

With heat indexes in the triple digits here in Beverly Beach, I am counting down the days before we leave for Mackinac.  Right now the plan is to arrive on the island on Monday, July 18, so we’ll be leaving a few days before that.  It will be so strange to pack the car without all of Bear’s paraphernalia (he had his own suitcase), and then there was also the 30-lb bag of dogfood.  Maddie only eats 2/3 of a cup a day, so a 5-lb. bag lasts her a very long time.  I was so hoping we’d have a new furbaby to take with us, but it just hasn’t worked out . . . haven’t found the one who speaks to my heart yet.  So we wait.

Hoping you all are doing well and wishing you a great week ahead!

God bless.

Thanksgiving Week – Here It Comes! 11/23/15

Hi Everyone!

I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to get to blog tonight.  It’s been an incredibly busy day!

We had a surprise birthday party for Ernie Sund, a neighbor here in Sunset Inlet this afternoon.

We had a surprise birthday party for Ernie Sund, a neighbor here in Sunset Inlet this afternoon.  Hmmm . . . should I tell his age?  Will he still speak to me if I do?  I think I’ll chance it – Ernie turned a hale and hearty 75 today.  Happy Birthday, Ernie!

I left in the middle of the party to drive down to Daytona Beach to pick up Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer who flew in for Thanksgiving.  What fun we’ve had with them tonight . . . eating dinner, chatting, and watching movies.

Now – it’s 11:50 p.m. and instead of being sleepy and wanting to crawl into bed, I’m wired and can’t close my eyes.  So, I’m getting to blog after all!

Guess what they got in Michigan this week?

SNOW! No, this isn't Mackinac. It's the front yard of good friends Lowell and Faye. They got something like 12 inches of the white stuff!

SNOW! No, this isn’t Mackinac. It’s the front yard of good friends Lowell and Faye who live in Olivet. They got something like 12 inches of the white stuff on Saturday!  And Lowell got out and shoveled, which I expressly asked him NOT to do.  Sigh.

Mackinac only received a little powder here and there, and the weather forecast is calling for a warm-up before Thanksgiving. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Mackinac only received a little powder here and there, and the weather forecast is calling for a warm-up before Thanksgiving. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

What Mackinac has had plenty of is rough seas and wind. This photo by Bruce LaPine shows huge waves breaking over the east breakwall.

What Mackinac did have this week were rough seas and wind. This photo by Bruce LaPine shows huge waves breaking over the east breakwall.

The island just keeps on awakening to the glory of God's artwork, and Bobby Lee just keeps on capturing it from his spot aboard the Mighty Huron.

The island just keeps on awakening to the glory of God’s artwork, and Bobby Lee just keeps on capturing it.

I got an incredible number of return comments from the blog posting from my iPhone, so I think my trip to Mackinac is going to be so much more fun as far as bringing you along.  Instead of having to wait until I get back to the motel to write and post photos, I’ll be able to “post as I go”.  The only thing I can’t do is add new “header” pics to each post from my phone.  I’ll talk more about all that in the next post.

Ted and I are so excited that this year we’ll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our place for 16 friends and relatives!  Even though Julie and Jordan will be in New York (celebrating Jordan’s 16th birthday), and Blake is spending Thanksgiving with friends in Colorado, we’ve still managed to come up with quite a crowd to sit down around the table.  We have so much to be thankful for, and when we say grace that day, all of you will be in my thoughts.  You have blessed me over the years far more than I could possibly express in words.  I am so thankful for each of you.

Have a wonderful holiday week.  Overeat, watch a lot of football, get out and play in the sand/water/snow/mud/grass (whichever fits), hug your family tight, and remember we can always lose all the weight we’ll gain on Thursday before Christmas – when we’ll do it all over again!

Love y’all and God bless.

Note:  Thank you, Greg Main, for the incredible header photo!

Back to a Happy Normal and . . . the Weeks Ahead! 7/12/15

Don’t you just hate it when your “normal” life gets interrupted by something different?  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not talking about disrupting normalcy with a cruise to Bermuda or winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Giveaway.  I mean a disruption that throws your whole mind and body into turmoil . . . like a fire extinguisher head being set off (when there’s no fire) and flooding your house!

But – as much as I hate to give it up and say this – even those “bad” interruptions can bring good things.  You just have to get over the turmoil, say “thank you, Lord”, and go looking for them.

Our “good things” are these:

The house is back to normal - rooms have been cleared and things put back in their place.

Our house is back to normal – rooms have been cleared and things put back in their proper place.

The downstairs bedroom and closet now has brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

The downstairs bedroom and closet now have brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

. . . so does the stairs.

. . . so does the stairs.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage place under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into the storage area.  I can't show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage space under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into that area (I can’t show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door).

What’s even more amazing is, with the help of the warranty people, our builder, and the restoration company, all this was accomplished in less than a week!  To go from a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-crying-over-it mess to normalcy – with benefits – in six days is an amazing feat in my book!  So a huge thank you to all involved – especially the warranty folks who set off the sprinkler by accident.  Those two guys worked harder than anyone to make sure our house was put back to rights.  Mission accomplished!

A WALK ON THE BEACH WITH BEAR AND MADDIE

I don’t normally get up for the early morning walk with Ted, Maddie and Bear.  To me, if the sun isn’t up, the good Lord meant for us to keep on sleeping.  But the other morning I woke up early – just as Ted was leashing up the dogs – and decided to take the 2 1/2 mile stroll with them (their walk has to be early these days, or they’d all melt before they made it back home).

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

For Bear, the walk on the beach means a time he can be off-leash (yes, the city frowns on this, but who’s around at that time of the day to report us).  He LOVES running the beach, even though he’s not once gone into the water more than ankle deep.  On this morning, when he was doing his normal “scare-the-crabs-out-of-their-holes-and-chase-them-into-the-ocean routine, the sea offered up a very different gift!

“What the heck? It looks like a tennis ball!”

“It tastes like a tennis ball – except a little salty.”

“But before I get too excited and take it home, I’m going to watch it a while to make sure there are no claws with pinchers attached.”

Maddie has no desire to chase tennis balls or crabs.  All she wants to do is dig them up!

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

“I know I just saw his beady little eyes!”

“So many crab holes, so little time.”

Walking back home - from the sidewalk.

Walking back home – from the sidewalk.

OTHER BEACHY STUFF

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast - a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted.  I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish - with four strips of bacon on the side.  Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Breakfast – a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted, with toast and home fries. I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish – with four strips of bacon on the side. Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet gets a little different angle on our little group of houses.  Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset.  Our house is

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet has a little different angle on our group of houses. Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset one day this week. Our house is to the right of the 3-story.

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago.  Looks like a UFO, doesn't it.  Amazingly, we didn't even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago. Looks like a UFO, doesn’t it! Amazingly, we didn’t even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

THE ISLAND!  THE ISLAND!

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

Also from Clark:  Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

Also from Clark: Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

. . . and sunset from near Devil's Kitchen.

. . . and sunset from near Devil’s Kitchen.

I'm jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer.  But this week I'm doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day.  You can only do that once a year, you know.  Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to do it!

I’m jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer. But this week I’m doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day. You can only do that once a year, you know. Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to go!

Also from Jill - a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden.

Also from Jill – a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden . . .

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture.

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture, “Be Still”.  Love this!

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the “new” Fort Holmes!

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

A GOOD CAUSE

Ted and I met Max Jones and his family a couple of summers ago. At that time Max was 13 and had already been in business for himself for two years as the owner/operator of Max’s Errand Service on Mackinac Island.

Max is planning to ride across the State of Iowa to raise money for the Mackinac Island Fire Department.

From an interview of Max by Jason St. Onge at the Mackinac Island Fire Department:

Max, the son of John and Karrie, spends his winters in Kalamazoo but summers on the Island. Max stopped by the Market Street Firehouse to talk about his plan with the MIFD.

Max said, “You guys do a lot for the community and I just want to assist in any way I can. I think I can raise some money to help with equipment.”

Max will spend the next couple weeks securing pledges and training for the ride. He will be asking for pledges from businesses and citizens and promises to collect “Only if I finish the nearly 500 mile trek.”

Max runs a bicycle errand/delivery service on the Island that he started several years ago.

Max will set out on his journey on July 18. Thank you Max, and good luck!!

Personal Note:

To donate to Max’s ride across Iowa, which is July 18-25, you can email Max directly at mjj5366@yahoo.com, subject “Max’s MIFD Ride”, to pledge. Max will email you back with all the details. You can also donate at the micf.org (Mackinac Island Community Foundation) website. Once there, just click “donate”, then put as the fund name, “Max’s Ride for the MIFD”. The money won’t be collected until Max finishes the ride. All donations will be through the Mackinac Island Community Foundation for a tax deduction.

This is a great cause, and we applaud Max for wanting to give back to the Mackinac community.

Max - on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

Max – on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

THE WEEKS AHEAD

Ted and I will be heading to Islamorada in the Florida Keys on Thursday to spend three nights with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  We get back on Sunday, and the following Saturday we head north to Michigan for nine weeks.  There is no way I can even begin to tell you how excited I am to be heading to cooler weather!

For the first three weeks we’ll be with friends Sue and Terry Conlon at Black Lake near Cheboygan – then on August 18 we arrive on Mackinac for six weeks in a condo downtown in the Mission District.

A really fun surprise . . . I’ve been asked to stay two nights at the Grand Hotel (this will be while we’re at Black Lake) to write about the Woods Restaurant (owned by the Grand).  Ted and I have never actually stayed at the Grand, and we are so excited to have this opportunity!

So, we’ll be on and off the island even during the three weeks we’re at Black Lake.

I’ll be blogging the entire time, but I’ve decided to not have any kind of schedule for the rest of the summer.  From now until the end of September, posts might pop up at any time.  It may be a story or just a photograph, but – starting now – expect something more than twice a week – just on no certain day.  And I’ll post the same blog to both Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog (https://bree1972.wordpress.com) and To Be Clay (http://bree2015.wordpress.com).

We’re going to miss Sunset Inlet.  We’re leaving just as we’re all beginning to get to know each other, but we’ll be back at the end of September to rejoin the gang and enjoy Florida when I love it most . . . . fall, winter, and spring!

Please say a safe travel prayer for us.  Bear and Maddie will be staying with our pet sitter for our Islamorada trip, but they’ll be with us – of course – when we head for Michigan!

Love you all!

God bless.

And the Decision is . . . . . 12/1/2013

Header:  A not-quite-ready Thanksgiving family photo taken by bonus son Matt.  

I’ve been sitting here staring out the window for at least 20 minutes, wondering where and how to start this post.  There are so many things to tell you, so many trips taken, so many ideas born and buried, and so many decisions prayed over and made.  When I signed off in October I mentioned how tired Ted and I were – both mentally and physically.  Physically, we’re better now.  Mentally, this last month was at least, if not more, draining than October was.

Because there’s so much to tell I’m going to just stick with one subject tonight, and it’s probably the one you are most interested in.  As the weeks and months go by, I’ll fill in some of the blanks, but tonight I’ll hit the high spots on where our month of soul and house searching has brought us.

What you don’t know is for our last two weeks on Mackinac, Ted and I spent days discussing whether we should buy something else on the island.  We weren’t ready for our condo to sell – in fact, I think that last month we were truly shell-shocked to find ourselves without a place to live.  As we frantically searched for something to lease next summer, we also began to explore houses for sell on the island.  We found nothing fitting our criteria.  Next we looked at lots and seriously considered building a home in Trillium Heights.  We had the site picked out, and we found plans we loved.  But . . . just before letting our hearts take over and make the emotional decision for us, we stepped back and said, “We really, really need to get away from the island before we take this path.”  Our goal of being near our grandchildren and being near the beach would not be realized by building on Mackinac.  If we took that step, the house there would have to be our permanent home.  We would be further from the grandchildren for even longer periods of time.

After less than two weeks at the lake, we left for Florida.  On the way to Ormond Beach, we stopped in and toured a new boating community at Beverly Beach called Sunset Inlet.  Ted had seen it on-line and was intrigued by the homes having ocean views from one side and Intracoastal Waterway views from the other.  We both liked Sunset Inlet a lot, but it was our first stop.  We traveled on to Ormond Beach, where we spent time with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  While they were at work and at school, we rode with a realtor for two days to look at houses we had called him to set up.  When we left there for Amelia Island, we had one home at the top of our list – an almost-on-the-ocean bungalow built in the 50’s that we both really loved – except there was no garage or even carport (NOT a good thing to be without in the salt air), and there was not room to build one.

We arrived on Amelia Island early enough to spend a few hours before dark with our realtor there.  We had lots of houses lined up, but the only one we were really interested in was directly on the beach.  We fell in love with it.  It was our dream to be ON the beach, and here it was.  But . . . it was only a little over 1,000 sq. ft. and it was a townhouse – which meant sharing a wall with someone else.  After five years in a condo, we had adamantly decided “no more shared walls”.  And once again, for the price, this would become our permanent home.  Could Ted and I spend months and months together without any space to occasionally get away from each other.  To be blunt, no.  We looked at houses all the next day, some with views, some without.  And then we went back and looked at the townhouse on the beach.  Could we make it work?  We left there undecided and started our trip back to Ormond Beach to watch Matthew play in his championship football game.

On the way back we passed once again through Beverly Beach, and we stopped again at Sunset Inlet.  We toured the model home once more, talked to the builder, and called our realtor out to act as our agent.  All of us were impressed with the quality of the homes (our agent said they were built like bunkers).  The windows could stand the impact of 140 mph winds without storm shutters, and the entire home is built above hurricane building standards.  But when we left for the lake the next day (Matthew’s team won!), we still had not made a decision.

Way back in the beginning of this process – in May – I said we’d be praying for God to open the doors He wanted for us and close those He didn’t want.  What WE wanted, of course, was a house on the beach on Amelia Island.  We loved that place, and one of the main reasons was it reminded us so much of Mackinac Island – a small community that swells in the summer and retreats in the winter back to the locals, a wonderful downtown, a historic district – even horse and buggy tours!  But, after we returned home and talked with our Amelia Island realtor, doors began to shut rapidly.  No, we probably couldn’t enclose the underneath parking or fence in the yard – or if we could, it would be difficult.  No, there were no single family homes on the beach in our price range.

At the same time, each conversation with the developers at Sunset Inlet ended in “Yes, we can do that.”

With all that said, last Friday we sent our signed contract in to Sunset Inlet to build a two-story home, which should be ready about the time we’d normally be leaving for Mackinac Island.  Beverly Beach is two miles north of Flagler Beach, two miles south of Palm Coast, and 30 minutes for our grandchildren.  We’ll have a new house, views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, and a boat dock.

Our house will look like this - minus the third floor.

Our house will look like this – minus the third floor.  This is the back side, which looks toward the Intracoastal.  The front looks across A1A to the ocean.

Nature walk at the back of Sunlet Inlet that leads . . .

Nature walk at the back of Sunlet Inlet that leads . . .

. . . to the fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.

. . . to the fishing pier on the Intracoastal Waterway.

Our house plan.

Our house plan.

Aerial view of Sunset Inlet

Aerial view of Sunset Inlet – between Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway.

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Our beach – cinnamon colored sand created by crushed coquina shells (something I admit I will have to get used to).

Site concept.

Site concept.

While all this was going on, I was having one heck of a time accepting that Mackinac Island was not going to be a big part of my life anymore.  I can’t tell you how many times Ted said, “You really don’t sound very happy about any of these places in Florida.”  I would reply, “I’m getting there, but it will take some time.”  As days went by, and with me not totally on board, I realized that Ted couldn’t let himself get nearly as happy as he should have been – it’s hard to be happy when your partner isn’t.  Since that realization, I’ve really begun to try and think more positively.  I know that Mackinac will always be with me, whether I have to enjoy it through memories or through periodic visits.  I’ve even come to terms with the fact that unless our lake house sells quickly, we might not get to Mackinac at all this summer, although Ted has promised he’ll get me there somehow – even if it’s only for a short visit.  I know that once the lake house sells, we’ll be on the island – as planned – for at least two months every year.

I came across two very good quotes today – one by Sarah Dessen in her book What Happened to Goodbye, and I’ll paraphrase it:  “Home isn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. Home is wherever the people who love you are, whenever you are together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”  The other is by Tad Williams: “Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.”

I know that’s what I have to do now.  I have to take all the memories from all the places I’ve loved and called home and put them together inside my head so I’ll always have them all.  To those, I’ll add what will be our Florida home at the beach – a place I know I will come to love with a passion over the years to come.  

So – what about this blog?

From the thoughts stated above I’ve realized I can’t continue to write a blog exclusively about Mackinac Island. To do so is to set myself up to never let myself completely love our future home.  The same is true about the lake blog.  When our house here sells, I will have to put it together in my “head home” with Mackinac, where it will live forever.

So here’s the plan.  Sometime in the next week or so, I will post a link here to a brand new blog – title undecided as yet.  In it I’ll continue to write about our family, our dogs, our new home and our old ones.  When we visit Mackinac, it will all be recorded, as will any other trips we take – for however long.  I’ll also continue to update you with photos from the Island (both winter and summer), but on this new blog – NOT on the Mackinac blog.  Both the Mackinac AND the Lake Blackshear blogs will remain on-line forever, and can be read in their entirety by new readers (and old) whenever they/you wish.  I do this with the full knowledge I’ll lose some readers who come here because of their love of Mackinac, and I am deeply saddened by that.  But hopefully many of you will continue to tag along with the Hortons as we start this new life adventure at the beach.  Surely there have to be a few beach lovers among you :)!

So there it is.  The decision is made.  I thank each of you who lifted prayers for this decision, even if the answer wasn’t what you prayed for.  To be honest, it wasn’t what we prayed for either.  But we do think it’s God’s next plan for us, so how can it possibly not be right.  Love and hugs all around, and I’ll be back in a few days with a link to the new blog with Horton Thanksgiving pics and winter pics from Mackinac!  

God bless.