Way Back Wednesday – A Day in the Life of a Carriage Tour Carriage Driver 5/3/17

Personal Note:  Another in “A Day in the Life of” series I wrote during our first summer as Mackinac Island summer residents.  A few days before I posted this Ted and I and friends from Georgia, Dawn & Stevie, were bike riding in the interior of the island.  On the road that runs in front of Skull Cave, Ted, Dawn & Stevie passed a 3-horse hitch carriage tour wagon by going around it off the road.  When I attempted it – clumsy person that I am – I hit a rut and fell over into the path of those three horses pulling the carriage.  One second I’m on the bike, and the next second I’m curled into a fetal position on the road, waiting for three very large horses to run over me.  It didn’t happen, thanks to the driving abilities of Justin, who I rode with to write this post.

P.S.  Yes, I forgot to do a “Throw Back Tuesday” – hence, you get a Way Back Wednesday!___________________________________________________________________

FIRST PUBLISHED AUGUST 27, 2009

Riding with a Carriage Tour driver was something I have wanted to do all summer, and today was the day.  I had asked if I could ride with Justin Diemert, the young man who was driving the 3-horse hitch carriage the day I took a nose dive off my bike in front of him.  I got my wish!  Who better to showcase than Justin, who, as far as I’m concerned, saved me from serious injury, and possibly saved my life.

A little about how the Carriage Tours work.  Downtown on Main Street there is a booth where tourists can purchase tickets for Carriage Tours.  That is where you are loaded onto a 20-passenger carriage.  Group tours also start their sightseeing trip from there.  Once you are underway, the driver gives a narrated tour through the downtown area of Mackinac Island – covering the main attractions on Main and Market Streets.  From Market, they turn up Cadotte, go past Grand Hotel and the horse barns, and at the bottom of the hill that our condo sits atop, they take a slight right and go up to the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum.  There passengers unload and spend 15-20 minutes in the museum – looking at the carriages, going through the shops, or having ice cream, or fudge, or a sandwich (if you get there around 9:30 in the morning, you may be lucky enough to get piping hot donuts that are to die for).

After you finish your visit to the museum, you move to the back of the building and exit onto the backporch. There you wait to be loaded onto a 3-horse hitch carriage, which holds 35 passengers.  Now if I went into the logistics of how all this works from downtown to the top of our hill, I would be here into next week trying to explain it.  Surfice it to say their method works smoothly, and the passengers get where they need to be 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the entire season.

Denise is usually loading and unloading folks at the front of the building, and Kim is usually on the backporch doing the same.  But today Kim was off, and Denise and Judy were working the back.

Denise and Judy

Denise and Judy

Justin pulled up about 15 minutes after I arrived, and Denise explained I would be job shadowing him today.  I reminded him about what he had done to save me from his horses, and he smiled and said, “Oh yeah, you’re that crazy woman who tried to scare my horses to death.”  HE DIDN’T SAY THAT!  What he actually said was, “Oh, I thought you looked familiar!”

IMG_5359

IMG_5363a

Let me tell you a little about Justin.  This is his third summer on the island, his second summer driving for Carriage Tours.  He visited a friend on the island one summer, and the friend was driving carriage horses.  He came back the next year, after applying for a job as a driver, and learned his skills on the “school bus”, as they call the “learning carriage”.  Justin was born in Detroit, lived most of his life in the small town of Roscommon, MI, and is now a senior at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.  He has a double major – Film and English – with plans to be a screenwriter and director.  He has already written several screenplays, his most recent “Mortuary Angels”.  Justin hopes to be able to take a film project from beginning to end, preferring to direct his own screenplays, rather than have someone else do it.  That way he will have complete control of the finished product. He has no plans to move to New York or LA – at least not now.  He says Michigan has a booming film industry, and he feels he will be able to stay here to follow his dream.

I rode with Justin through three tours – about 45 minutes each – and when the passengers were loaded, Denise told them why I was on board, and that I would be taking pictures for this blog.  No one objected at all.  In fact, I think they thought it was pretty cool – although I did have a couple of gentlemen ask me, “What’s a blog?”

We loaded the first group, and we were on our way, with me riding shotgun beside Justin.

IMG_5373

When Justin is driving and talking to the passengers, he is constantly turning around and making eye contact with them.  I really think that is why his passengers connect with him so easily and feel comfortable asking him questions.  He uses a headset mike, so even the people in the very last row can easily hear him.

IMG_5448

On the second leg of the Carriage Tour (the first being downtown), you see the three cemeteries, Rifle Range, Skull Cave, Arch Rock, the Avenue of the Trees, and Fort Mackinac.  I’m not going to give Justin’s narrative word for word, or share with you all the jokes he told.  But just in case you are ever on his tour, I am going to help you out with answers to three questions he might ask.  If you remember these, you will make Justin think you are really, really smart!

We passed the three island cemeteries just a few minutes into the tour – St. Anne’s Catholic Cemetery, the Protestant Cemetery, and the Post Cemetery.  First question I am going to help you out on:  What are the three criteria you must fulfill to be buried in one of the Mackinac Island cemeteries?  One is that you have to have lived on the island for at least 15 years; the second is that you must own property and pay taxes here.  What is the third?  (tick tock, tick tock)  – you must be dead!

From the cemeteries, you pass Skull Cave, where Justin told the scary story of the cave’s history.  Something I learned was that the cave originally was much bigger, but the limestone from the cave was quarried to build the walls of the fort – I had never heard that!

We passed Rifle Range, where the soldiers from the fort used to practice firing their muskets for accuracy and distance.  I learned that the phrase “Get the lead out!” was first used right here on Mackinac Island on the Rifle Range.  Seriously, this is a true story – but to hear the whole thing, you will have to take the tour!

IMG_5380

We went on to Arch Rock, the Avenue of the Trees, and then stopped at the fort to let out anyone who wanted to go in and explore or eat lunch.  Those remaining on board had the option of getting off at the Governor’s Summer Residence and walking down Fort Hill to town, or returning back to the Carriage Museum.  From there they could get back on a 2-horse hitch carriage and go to Grand Hotel or back to town.

We pulled up for our second group, and while they loaded, Judy sprayed the horses with bug spray to keep the biting flies at bay.  On the front row of the second group was the cutest little baby (remember that statement a few blogs ago about 6-month old babies always making you smile?).  This one had to be about that age, and she was a doll!

IMG_5430

IMG_5431

IMG_5444

At Arch Rock, the carriage stops for “7 minutes” – according to Justin.  Everyone gets off the carriage and walks over to take pictures from the lookout point, which overlooks the beautiful blue waters of Lake Huron.  While pictures are being taken, the horses get buckets of water to drink.  From left to right, that’s Grub, Megan, and P.K..  All three are Belgian draft horses.

IMG_5447

IMG_5391

When the tour stops at Fort Mackinac, there is an interpreter waiting to tell the group a brief history of the fort and what is available inside to see.  The interpreters are always dressed in period costume and address you as if it is still the 1800’s.

IMG_5491

OK – here’s another question/answer that will make you seem very smart on this tour – and this one is serious.  At the post cemetery, you will notice that the flag is flying at halfstaff.  It is always like that at the Mackinac Island Post Cemetery, where there are many graves of unknown soldiers.  Here’s the question.  Where else on U.S. soil is the flag always flown at halfstaff?  Have you thought about it?  They are:  Arlington, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, and Normandy.  Yes, Normandy.  France gave the United States land to bury our soldiers, and that cemetery is considered to be on U.S. soil.

We headed back to pick up another load of passengers (the third trip of the day) at around 12:30.    I asked Justin when he “does lunch”.  He doesn’t.  Not in the traditional sense anyway.  Like the taxi drivers, carriage drivers eat on the fly.  When we returned to the Carriage Museum, we were three back in the lineup.  So Denise came and sat in Justin’s seat and held the lines while he ran inside to grab something to eat (he was back in 3 minutes with ice cream).  Also like the taxi drivers, the carriage tour drivers cannot leave their horses unattended.

Our third group loaded.  At several points along the tour, Justin stops his narration and gives his passengers time to ask questions.  This group liked to ask questions, and listened attentively to everything Justin said.  I think he could have given a quiz after the tour, and they would have all made an “A”!

IMG_5463

IMG_5483

IMG_5484

 At the Avenue of the Trees, which is a bike riding and walking path that does not allow horses (hence, no horse poop on this one), there is at least one of every tree that grows on Mackinac Island.  They were not planted, but grew there naturally.

At some point in each of the three tours, Justin allowed me to stand up and tell the story of my bike wreck.  I emphasized how crazy we all were to be passing a carriage on such a narrow road, how crazy we were to not be wearing bike helmets, and how fortunate I was that the horses I fell in front of were being driven by Justin.  Every group gave “my hero” a big round of applause.

Ok, here is your last tip for the tour if you take it one day.  Question:  Which U.S. President lived in the Boy Scout barracks on the island and worked there for a week in the summer when he was a Boy Scout?  If you know your Presidents’ home states, you know this one.  It was Gerald Ford.

The third trip of the day was over around 2 p.m.  Justin would be on the job until around 7:30, then he would go back to the barn and wash and stable his horses before heading home around 9 p.m.  His day began at the barn at 7:30 a.m.  I asked if he had a day off.  He said all the drivers have one day off a week, but he usually doesn’t elect to take his.  He prefers to work.  And if he does take a day, he will usually sleep late, then end up either at the barn or up at the Carriage Museum.  This young man truly loves his job.

I had a great time riding with Justin, and my admiration for the job that all these drivers do grew even stronger today.  They have to be aware of everything going on at all times – their passengers, people around them, bikers, horseback riders, dogs, and other carriages.  They are sitting behind 3,000 lbs. of powerful, intelligent creatures who trust that young man or woman on that high seat to guide them safely through town and through the woods.  And, once in a great while, a driver is alert enough to pull those great animals back  by the lines and prevent them from stepping on some clutzy blogger who fell off her bike in front of them.  Thank you, Justin!

IMG_5493a

 

Advertisements

The Grand Garden Show – Part I 9/6/15

Imagine this.

You’ve been coming to Mackinac as a visitor for years . . . or it’s your first time ever on the island.  As your ferry navigates the Straits and the island comes into view, you see Grand Hotel and the Victorian summer cottages strung along the bluffs like beads on a beautiful necklace. You step off the ferry, and your eyes are once again drawn up to those homes. And – for just a moment – you imagine what it would be like to spend the summer season on Mackinac in one of those beautiful cottages.

Your imagination is sparked even more as you tour the island – either walking, biking, or in a carriage behind a team of horses.  As you stop at a gate in front of one of the bluff homes to snap a photo, you wonder what it must be like to stroll across those yards and inhale the sweet scent of the hundreds of varieties of flowers displayed before you.

Now imagine that gate swinging open, and the owner inviting you in for a closer look . . .

The Grand Garden Show swings open that gate, and for several hours – over two afternoons – you get to tour the splendid gardens the cottagers enjoy every day. It’s a heady experience.

But don’t take my word for it.  Come on along now . . . I’ll show you!

First of all, it’s not all about touring the gardens.  The Grand Garden Show (presented by Proven Winners) is a two-day event that just completed its third year.  It includes presentations by celebrity gardeners, break-out sessions on all kinds of gardening (shrubs, annuals, perennials, etc.), and the most “give-aways” I’ve ever seen at any conference I’ve ever attended (and I’ve attended quite a few).

The first morning the keynote speaker was P. Allen Smith, an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert.

The first morning the keynote speaker was P. Allen Smith, an award-winning designer, gardening and lifestyle expert.

Besides authoring several best-selling books on gardening, he is the host of the PBS series Garden Home. He designed and created the set for the series by turning a bleak 650-acres piece of land in Arkansas into The Garden Home Retreat - a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out.

Besides authoring several best-selling books on gardening, he is the host of the PBS series Garden Home. He designed and created the set for the series by turning a bleak 650-acre piece of land in Arkansas into The Garden Home Retreat – a place that blurs the lines between indoors and out.

Allen was an outstanding speaker – witty and knowledgeable.  I’d love to hear him again.  After a short break, we went into a break-out session. . .

. . . where Stacey Hirvela, a Proven Winners Shrub Expert, gave an informative talk on the Big Impact of Shrubs on Small Spaces.

. . . where Stacey Hirvela, a Proven Winners Shrub Expert, gave an informative talk on the Big Impact of Shrubs on Small Spaces.

The morning flew by, and when we weren’t listening to speakers, we were admiring the dozens of Proven Winners NEW plant and flower varieties that were visible everywhere – inside and out . . .

. . . or watching magic tricks performed by Jamie Andress (Chief "Duck" Andress' son).

. . . or watching magic tricks performed by Jamie Andress (island resident and Chief “Duck” Andress’ son).

Lunch was on our own, and then it was time for the first garden tour.  We had a choice of biking, walking, or taking a Carriage Tour two-horse hitch buggy ride.  We chose to take the carriage the first day because we’d be covering both the East and West Bluffs, deciding to save the downtown gardens for the next day and to do those by bike.

Out of respect for the privacy of the cottage owners, I won’t be using cottage names, but if you’re familiar at all with Mackinac, I’m sure you’ll recognize most of them!

Here’s the Day One tour.  Come on!  The gate is open!

House One.

We started on the East Bluff. At each cottage a tour guide was available to point out garden designs, name flowers, and answer questions. All of you KNOW I'm not going anywhere near "flower names", and we took in so much information there's no way I could remember it all. So . . I'll provide a few words when I remember something, but on some of the photos, I'll just let the picture itself tell the story.

We started on the East Bluff. At each cottage a tour guide was available to point out garden designs, identify flowers, and answer questions. All of you KNOW I’m not going anywhere near “flower names”, and we took in so much information there’s no way I can remember it all. Proven Winners flowers were used in all of the gardens pictured, and Jack Barnwell of Barnwell Landscape and Garden, Inc. was the garden designer.

I love the front of this cottage, with its sweeping front porch sitting lazily under the branches of old trees.

I love the front of this cottage, with its sweeping front porch sitting lazily under the branches of a big old tree.

Here's something you may or may not know about "the bluffs". On the West Bluff, a service road runs between the cottages and the barns or stables behind the homes. On the East Bluff, the service road runs behind the stables/barns. This, of course, means the East Bluff backyards are much larger.

Here’s something you may or may not know about “the bluffs”. On the West Bluff, a service road runs between the cottages and the barns or stables behind the homes. On the East Bluff, the service road runs behind the stables/barns. This means – in most cases – the East Bluff backyards are larger – like this one, which stretches up and over several tiers.

The herb gardens have been raised to keep out bunnies who like to harvest the crop before the owner can.

The herb gardens and some flower beds have been raised to keep out bunnies, who like to harvest the crop before the owner can.

Behind the cottage is a beautifully landscaped pool. And behind that . . .

Behind the cottage is a beautifully landscaped pool. And behind that . . .

. . . is the owner's putting green!

. . . is the owner’s putting green!

Just before the service road is their stable. We weren't lucky enough to see their horses that day.

Just before the service road is the stable. We weren’t lucky enough to see their horses that day.

House Two.

A huge curving expanse of flowers has replaced what was once just a hedge of shrubbery.

A huge curving expanse of flowers has replaced what was once just a hedge of shrubbery.

I wish I'd had something to give you a perspective on how large these flower heads are. This one was as large as a person's head.

I wish I’d had something to give you a perspective on how large these flower blossoms are. This one was as large as a person’s head.

Gorgeous purple blossoms against blue sky and water!

Gorgeous purple blossoms against blue sky and water!

These are Supertunias - I remember because there are about a dozen new varieties, and they are growing all over the island. I loved these with the green edges and purple middles.

These are Supertunias – I remember that name because there are about a dozen new varieties, and they are growing all over the island. I loved these with the green edges and purple middles.

A fairy garden path within that swath of flowers. The owners' grandchildren love this.

A fairy garden path within that swath of flowers. The owners’ grandchildren love this.

House Three:

We hopped the carriage and landed next in Hubbard's Annex. Like the majority of the summer cottages on the tour, it's over 100 years old, and I've photographed it many times in the Fall when those front windows are ablaze with the reflection of gold leaves on trees across the street.

We hopped on the carriage and landed next in Hubbard’s Annex. Like the majority of the summer cottages on the tour, this one is over 100 years old.  I’ve photographed it many times in the Fall when those front windows are ablaze with the reflection of gold leaves on trees across the street.

This garden is all about the shade and the splendor of old trees. You enter the side yard through a beautiful pergola . . .

This garden is all about the shade and the splendor of old trees. You enter the side yard through a beautiful pergola . . .

. . . and then pass through an archway carved through the

. . . and then pass through an archway carved through the manicured hedge.  Soon, that circular garden will encompass a fountain.

The side porch looks out on . . .

The side porch looks out on . . .

. . . a shade garden of ferns, ground cover, and foliage so green you can literally smell the richness of the earth it covers.

. . . a shade garden of ferns, ground cover, and other foliage so green you can literally smell the richness of the earth it covers.

House Four:

This beautiful blue cottage in the Annex is very grown-up in the front, but in the backyard . . .

This beautiful blue cottage in the Annex is very grown-up in the front, but in the backyard . . .

This cottage garden is all about the kids!

. . . it’s all about the kids – and straight out of Harry Potter!

What fun this family must have out here! There's a teepee for overnight camping . . .

What fun this family must have out here! There’s a teepee for overnight camping . . .

. . . tree trunk seating arranged around a firepit

. . . tree trunk seating arranged around a firepit (with a giant turtle looking on) . . .

fff

. . . painted trees that wander alongside a brook, and there’s a bridge for crossing.

The entire back and side yard is a whimsical delight, filled with arches entwined with greenery . . .

The entire back and side yard is a whimsical delight, filled with arches entwined with greenery . . .

. . . and a life-size chess board!

. . . and there’s even a life-size chess board!  If I was a kid, I’d sure want to live here!

House Five:

Now we've traveled to the West Bluff. I wish I could tell you the complete story behind the transformation of this cottage, but it would require a blog of its own. Both the cottage and the yard has recently been enlarged and transformed.

Now we’ve traveled to the West Bluff. I wish I could tell you the complete story behind the transformation of this cottage (it was already beautiful), but it would require a blog of its own. Both the cottage and the yard have recently been enlarged and transformed.

It really doesn't matter where you're standing - at the side . . .

It really doesn’t matter where you’re standing – all you see is a kaleidoscope of color.

Looking across the white picket fence to Lake Huron.

Looking across the white picket fence to Lake Huron.

A side tier with half-hidden Adirondack chairs for enjoying the view.

A side tier with half-hidden Adirondack chairs for enjoying the view.

The backyard is a series of tiered gardens framed in huge boulders. I feel the need here to remind everyone that all of this is done with materials brought over on ferries and transported by horse-pulled drays. This was not done with heavy equipment. This was done with good old-fashioned hand labor.

The backyard is a series of tiered gardens framed in huge boulders. I feel the need here to remind everyone that all of this is done with materials brought over on ferries and transported by horse-pulled drays.

Looking up the tiered garden path.

Looking up the tiered garden path . . .

Looking down the side of the house toward the water.

. . . and down the side of the house toward the water.

House Six:

A beautiful fountain is a focal point in this back yard.

A beautiful fountain is the focal point in this back yard.

This has nothing to do with the gardens, but I just love that they have painted the ceiling of the porch blue . . . and added fluffy white clouds!

This has nothing to do with the gardens, but I just love that they have painted the ceiling of the porch blue . . . and added fluffy white clouds!

Flowers curve around the side of the house . .

Flowers curve around the side of the house . .

. . . and spread around to the front.

. . . and spread across the front.

The Monarch Butterflies were everywhere that day and seemed to really like the flowers at this cottage.

The Monarch Butterflies were everywhere that day and seemed to really like the flowers at this cottage.

So did I!

So did I!

House Seven:

Another West Bluff cottage . . .

Another West Bluff cottage with magically beautiful gardens and flower beds!

ggg

How many different varieties of flowers and plants can you get in one bed??  Wow!

From the lush gardens in the back of the cottage toward the lake.

From the lush gardens in the back of the cottage toward the lake.

The carriage house at the back of the property.

The carriage house at the back of the property.

House Eight – Last One for Today:

This is actually a park shared by the owners of two West Bluff homes. It is filled with beautiful gardens and whimsical creatures that have been added by both owners - like these frogs.

This is actually a park shared by the owners of two West Bluff homes. It is filled with beautiful gardens and whimsical creatures that have been added by both owners – like these frogs.

A beaver with a fresh stick to chew.

A beaver with a fresh stick to chew.

A chubby kitty.

A chubby kitty.

And my personal favorite - a little hedgehog hiding in a flower pot.

And my personal favorite – a little hedgehog hiding in a flower pot.

The gardens are spectacular as they move from the park to the cottage . . .

The gardens are spectacular as they move from the park to the cottage.

A view across the park.

A view across the park.

The park's front entrance . . .

The park’s front entrance . . .

. . . and the stream that runs through it.

. . . and the stream that runs through it.

Peeking around the cottage at the Grand.

Peeking around the cottage toward the Grand.

You have to know the photographs do not do justice to how all this looks in person – how it looks, how sweet it smells, how enchanted you feel as you walk through each of these fabulous landscapes.  I wish you could all come next year to experience it for yourself.  Promise me you’ll think about it!

Day Two will be coming up in a couple of days!  Come on back – there are a few more gates to open and walk through!

It’s All About the Lilacs 6/11/2013

Mackinac Island is expanding as the ferries lower their gangplanks and discharge thousands of visitors – here this week for one thing – the Lilac Festival.  Each day of the Festival is filled with activities, and there is guaranteed to be something of interest for everyone.  As you walk the sidewalks downtown you’ll notice groups here and there listening attentively as they follow experts assigned to discuss the history of our Mackinac Lilacs.  After you know everything there possibly is to learn about Lilacs, you’ll have many, many choices on how to spend your time the rest of the week.  You can:

  • Go to a concert in Marquette Park
  • Take an Architectural Walking Tour
  • Watch a Street Hockey Tournament at Windermere Point
  • Go to the Movies at Mission Point Resort
  • Attend a Grand Hotel History Lecture
  • Attend an Author Luncheon at Hotel Iroquois’ Carriage House Dining Room
  • Walk along on a Nature Tour
  • Play Lion’s Club Bingo at the Community Hall
  • Listen in on Jazz Night at the Gate House
  • Tour the Governor’s Summer Residence
  • Take a Harbor Cruise on the Ugly Anne
  • Learn some Irish Dance steps at Windermere Point
  • Attend “A Taste of Mackinac” at Harbour View Inn
  • Sample the fruit of the vine at a Wine Tasting at Hotel Iroquois’ Carriage House Dining Room
  • Attend the Feast of Epona Blessing of the Animals at Little Barn at Mission Hill.
  • Go on a Cannonball BBQ Hayride to British Landing
  • Attend the Market Street Art Walk
  • Go to a Pooch Party at Mary’s Bistro
  • Watch the Pet Parade from the Public School to Windermere Point
  • Attend the Dog & Pony Show at Windermere Point
  • Cruise around the Island with the Star Line Ferry
  • Become a Captain for a Day at the Shepler Ferry Dock
  • Attend the Lilac Festival Parade in downtown Mackinac Island

Each day this week the crowds get a little larger, and as we approach Sunday, June 15, and the culminating event –  the Lilac Festival Grand Parade at 4 p.m. – our little island is rocking with happy visitors enjoying the beauty and scent of the Lilacs, the taste and aroma of freshly made fudge, and the unique and historic excitement of touring Mackinac at one of the Island’s prettiest times of year.

Monday morning I walked downtown past Carriage Tour wagons bringing visitors up toward Surrey Hill and opened the Stuart House Museum.

Monday morning I walked downtown past Carriage Tour wagons bringing visitors up toward Surrey Hill.  As I said, the crowds are growing!

Blog reader Yvonne, her husband Tony and their nieces and nephews dropped by from Iowa.  I met Tony and Yvonne last year (with their dog Bear), but this year they left Bear behind and brought these lucky young folks instead.  What an awesome aunt and uncle they are!

It wasn’t long after the Stuart House Museum opened that blog reader Yvonne, her husband Tony, and their nieces and nephews dropped by from Iowa. I met Tony and Yvonne last year (with their dog Bear), but this year they left Bear at home and brought these lucky young folks instead. They’re staying at Park Place Suites on Market Street and loving it!

Another blog reader, Joan from Shelby Township, dropped by also, but I forgot to get my camera out.  She’ll be back later in the summer though – I’ll take some photos then!

My friend Frankie and sweet Chocolate Lab Hershey were visiting for a few days, and I dog-sat Hershey while Frankie went to lunch.  She was staying just across the street at the Lilac House, so she dropped Hershey off and walked over to Main Street.

Hershey watched Frankie leave . . .

Hershey watched Frankie leave . . .

. . . then took up her vigil by the door until she returned.

. . . then took up her vigil by the door until she returned.  She sure got lots of loving by visitors to the Museum while she waited for Frankie!

Frankie was leaving the Island today, so a few of us met at the Chuckwagon this morning for breakfast to see her off.  We wanted to sit at the back table so we could chat, so we waited outside – sitting on the steps of the Haunted Mansion – until the table emptied, and we could run inside and grab it.  There’s always a crowd at the Chuckwagon – because the food is ALWAYS good!

ff

Frankie, Bonnie, Judy, me, and Jill.  Frankie and Hershey left on the 12:30 boat, going home to Grand Rapids.  See you again soon, Frankie!

LILACS, LILACS EVERYWHERE!

Even with the crazy Spring we’ve had here on Mackinac, it looks as though the Lilacs are right on schedule and will be in full bloom this week and next.  There is no way we could have planned for that to happen, but it sure is nice when it works out like that for the Festival!

vvvvv

Different varieties are blossoming at different times, but this year I think every Lilac bush and tree will be in full blooming splendor by the weekend.  This was taken from the porch of the Lilac House, where Frankie was staying.

Over near the Marina, we found this horse tie-up nearly covered in Lilac blossoms.

Over near the Marina, we found this horse tie-up nearly covered in Lilac blossoms.

These next few photos are of he same bush.  We unofficially named it "the most beautiful Lilac bush on the Island" - at least for today.

These next few photos are of the same bush. Jill and I unofficially named it “the most beautiful Lilac bush on the Island” – at least for today.  I think these blooms are as dark a purple as I’ve ever seen on a Lilac.

14

15

Sorry, I just couldn't get enough of it.

Sorry, I just couldn’t get enough of it.

vvvvvv

Lilacs in Marquette Park . . .

. . .

. . . and hanging baskets contrasted with the white of the Jane & Richard Manoogian Art Museum.

Lilac/lavender/purple just seems to look good anywhere, doesn't it!

Lilac, lavender and purple just seem to look good anywhere, don’t they!  This flowery bathtub sits in the yard of the Lilac House.

FOGGY HARBOR

nnnnnn

The fog didn’t burn off until shortly after noon today, turning freighters into ghost ships – passing nearly unseen through the Straits.

Moored sailboats

Moored sailboats in the marina, as the fog began to slip away.

As the fog cleared,

As the fog cleared, the Iroquois Hotel appeared, and people began to be seated at their beautiful waterside tables . . .

. . . and soon

. . . and soon the entire east side of town was visible.  First the fort, then Anne’s Cottage, Brigadoon, the Yacht Club and the Island House.

There’s lots more to come this week, and I’ll be back in a day or two with more news.  In the meantime, if you’re in Michigan, why not think about hopping up to the Island for the rest of the week – or at least the weekend.  The fun has just begun!

A Little Catching Up . . .

With the busy Labor Day weekend all talked out, I’m still left with several photographs I haven’t used.  So . . . I’m declaring this Leftover Photo Day!  Settle back and enjoy some miscellaneous pics snapped by me and a few friends during the last several days.  I hope they transport you right to the Island – in spirit, if not in body!

Remember that blue moon last week? Shepler’s had a Blue Moon Cruise that night – which we missed –  but Misty Martinchek shared this fabulous photo she took as the boat headed out that evening.

Anne Stanard (from Ella & Ivy) rode over to work the other morning with Sandy and Larry (Anne is hoping she remembered the names correctly)! They started talking, and it turned out they were Bree’s Blog fans! Wish I’d gotten to meet you also!

I LOVE this photo from Chris Ann (who is the only person I know who gets up before the sun and goes to the bakery in Mac City). The sun is rising here over the Shepler dock and was reflected in her car’s side mirror as she left the bakery.

Somebody’s moving to the Island! These mattresses were loaded onto a dray with lots and lots of other household items. I didn’t stay around long enough to watch which direction they were going, but they have to be lucky folks to be starting a new phase of their lives on Mackinac!

Let the Sun Shine IN!

After Ted went to work Thursday morning, I walked into the bedroom and let the blinds up. I’ve said about a million times to my hubby that if something ever happened to me, he would probably live in a cave because having shades down and curtains drawn doesn’t bother him a bit – even in the middle of a beautiful day! Then I got to thinking about all the light we get streaming into our condo and decided to take pics of all the windows . . .

. . . and the bedroom French doors – with the shades UP!  The sun comes in and . . . we can see a smidgen of water over the tree tops and watch the horses in the corral below us.

Den doors let in sun and . . . the sight of Carriage Tour wagons slowly making their way up to the Carriage Museum next door.

Our bay window opens to the shaded light of a beautiful tree, which will begin to put on her Fall clothing very soon. Also through those windows come the sounds of horses clip-clopping up and down the street and neighing to each other in greeting.  And, as of Tuesday, every morning and every afternoon, we get to hear the happy sound of children going to and coming home from school.

Oh, you might have noticed from the pic above that I collect turtles.  I mentioned that to Chief Duck across the street sometime this summer, and a few days later he called to me in the backyard as I was getting on my bike. 

“I’ve got something for you!” he shouted. 

I walked over to the little shed in his backyard, and he presented me with a turtle he had carved and painted just for me.

I don’t carry many decorative items back and forth from the house here to the lake house, but this little guy will be going to Georgia in November – and back up here in the spring.

I love my kitchen window! No matter if there is not a single leaf stirring on the trees, somehow – somehow – there is always a breeze slipping under and around this window. When I’m standing at the sink, I can see Chief Duck’s house and yard and his two sweet pups, Gizmo and Sugar. And from there I’ve watched bike wrecks, run-away horses, summer sweethearts walking arm-in-arm up the hill, and chipmunks, rabbits, and the neighborhood cat run back and forth between our backyard and Duck’s place.

The window in the guest bedroom looks out to the backyard and the bike racks. Whenever Bear hears Ted or I return and begin to lock our bikes, he high-tails it into this room and barks greetings out the window.

Top floor bedroom, where we can see a little more than a smidgen of water. Had to take this through the screen, but you can see it pretty clearly. I’ve always wanted to have a really comfortable chair in this little nook and sit up here and read. Maybe one day.

Glimpses of Fall

Magically, and literally over-night, fall flowers are showing up among the still beautiful summer blossoms in the Grand Hotel gardens.

The pumpkins down by the big barns are already B I G!

There aren’t many places you can stand on the Island now and turn in a 360-degree circle and not see some glimpse of fall – whether it just a few leaves on one tree . . .

. . . or on a group of trees like the young Maples lining Cadotte.  Fall’s coming.

A Few More Pics – Sorry, I Keep Finding Them!

Yes! That is a BAT flying straight at you! Brian Hellis captured it a few weeks ago as he and Barbara were walking toward the back of the library at dusk. Unbelievable photograph!

The morning of the last formal ride I was wandering around in the Grand Hotel herb garden (waiting for the horses and riders) and shot this through the back portico.

One of my favorite Bluff homes!

I think I’ll end this photo post with two fabulous sunrises.  As fall approaches and the air cools, we all know we have many of these spectacular sunrises – and sunsets – to look forward to in the near future. 

Tuesday’s sunrise. (Photo credit: Patrick Conlon)

Last Friday’s sunrise over the Marina. (Photo Credit: Abby Holstrom)

Just One More Little Thing . . .

Below is an email I sent out yesterday to everyone on my contact list.  And – since I’m shamelessly begging for votes – I wanted to include all you blog readers also!  Please read the message below, and if you’d like, just follow the instructions.  And yes – it looks like you can vote more than once!

Hello everyone!  I’ve entered one of my favorite photos in a contest on-line.  The Friesian in this photo is owned by my friend Mary Stancik, and I call him my god-horse because I’m owning him vicariously through Mary.

If you get a moment – and would like to –  could you please go to this website, and click on “vote”.  In the “search” box, enter: I’ve got to start eating more oats!  When the photo comes up, please vote for it! 

The web address is:  http://www.doversaddlery.com/photocontest.aspx?TID=12086167KNotSP&EID=X180863&utm_source=Dover&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PhotoContest&/sp_rid/MjgwNDg4OTk1NjAS1/sp_mid/7489971/

P.S. Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who might like to vote!  Thanks!

See you back here on Monday (or Sunday night).  God bless.

Yachts and Yachts of Fun 7/19/2012

Ahhhhhh . . . . we’ve returned to normal-for-Mackinac-Island temperatures.  The cool air was ushered in with a few showers two nights ago, and since then it’s been perfect weather – except we still could use more rain.  Yeah for the cooler weather though!

The Bayview to Mackinac Yacht Race has ended, and the Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race will begin on Saturday, July 21.  Two full weeks of sleek, beautiful sailboats racing madly toward Mackinac, then tying up in the marina for a few days of fun and relaxation for the crews.  Unfortunately, we’re going to miss most of the action on this second one because we’ll be in Canada – more on that later.

Ted had a particular interest in one of the boats in the Bayview to Mackinac race, following it online for much of the race.  He was so excited about it I asked him to write a “guest” piece for this post, and he agreed.  So here’s the story of a boat called the Bernida, and her trip through racing history – in Ted’s own words . . .

Several years ago, I read an article in the Town Crier about Emory Barnwell’s efforts to restore the yacht Bernida, a historic sloop that had won both the inaugural Bayview Yacht Club Race in 1925, sitting out a year, then winning again in 1927.  After that 1927 win, the Bernida dropped out of sight until Toby Murray rediscovered it almost 75 years later (in 2000) in a warehouse, and Bart Hathwaite of Mackinac Island purchased it in 2004.  Through the efforts of these gentlemen and many more, the Bernida made what might be its final appearance in this year’s Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race.  (An article on the complete history of the Bernida will be available free online in four weeks in the July 14-July20, 2012 issue of the Mackinac Island Town Crier  www.mackinacislandnews.com.)

Brenda and I went down to the Arnold coal dock several times after the boat was brought to the Island to watch the progress Emory was making on the restoration, and to say he did a great job would be a huge understatement.  The finished Bernida was a true masterpiece, and our hats are off to Bart, Toby, Emory, and all the others who saw this project to completion.

I had been tracking the race progress of the Bernida this week on the Bayview web site, and when it was about three miles from the Island, I went down to Windermere Point for the historic finish.  From what I could tell from the tracking information at that time, she was first in the Division II shore course and also first in her class, and that’s how she finished – with a corrected time of 41 hours 34 minutes 42 seconds.

That tiny red dot in the extreme left of this photograph is the Bernida.

After crossing the finish line at Windermere Point, the Bernida sails back past the lighthouses to dock in the Mackinac Island Marina.

The beautifully restored Bernida.

Congratulations to Al Declercq, present owner and skipper of the Bernida, and his crew for a great job sailing the oldest boat in the race into sailing history.

More Race Photos

A happy group of sailors cruises into the harbor.

Sails fill the cut between the breakwater and the Passage Light.

The Jalapeno and her crew.

Looking back toward the marina from the coal dock – a sea of masts.

Wish I had this lady’s camera lens! Talk about close-ups!

Random Photos from This Week

“Hey Rex! Don’t you just love that Carriage Tours has given us our own personal AC unit here at Surrey Ridge?”

One of my favorite yards on the West Bluff. Magnificent flowers!

A beautiful Friesian, almost hidden in the trees.

Our condo neighbor Judy, with Maddie. So glad she’s back with us this summer!

Wednesday’s sunset by Shepler cast member Kollin Currie.

Other News

If you haven’t checked on the Dog-Eared Page lately, Bear has a new post you might like: http://mackinacislanddogearedpage.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/tours-by-bear-7-18-2012/

On Sunday after church, we’ll be leaving for three nights in Canada with Georgia friends Donna & Brad Prudden.  The camp where we’re going has been in Brad’s family for many, many years, and Donna and Brad try to get up there for a few weeks each summer.  They stayed with us a couple of nights last summer on their way up and invited us up this year.  It’s near Little Current in Ontario and is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from the border.  We always bring our passports with us to Michigan because we’re only about 50 miles from the border, but we’ve never used them.  We also always bring Maddie and Bear’s Rabies Certificates, which is good because they’ll need them to cross the border.  Yes!  They were invited too!  We are excited and looking forward to this adventure into the north woods of Canada.

I’m trying to find out if I’ll have internet service, and if I will, I’ll take the laptop along and try to post once from there.  If you don’t hear from me, you’ll know service wasn’t available.  In that case, I’ll be posting again next Friday, July 27 (or Thursday night).

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here either at the first of next week from Canada or next Friday, back on the Island.

God bless.

Woman’s Prerogative 7/12/2011

I changed my mind!  No vintage baseball game pics tonight – I’ll get them up eventually, but  I took a lot photos today, and I want to share those with you instead.

About 10 minutes before I should have been walking down the hill to work this morning I checked the radar on weather.com and saw a big blob of red and yellow closing in on the island.  I hurriedly got all my stuff together and walked over to the Carriage Museum where I begged Denise for a ride downtown on one of the empty wagons, and she said, “Sure!”  I climbed on with Josh and talked his ear off all the way down the hill.  As we turned off Cadotte onto Market, the skies opened, and when he let me off at Astor St., I made a mad dash for the Stuart House – not anywhere close to as wet as I would have been walking down.  Thank you Denise and Josh!

Josh, coming back by the Stuart House a little later.

I have no idea who these folks were, but I filed this photo under "where not to stand in a thunderstorm".

For about two hours the rains came down. Several people who were only on the island for a day trip came into the museum. I always feel so bad for those folks. I kept telling them the rain was supposed to be over by noon . . .

. . . and around 12:30 the clouds began to part, and the sun came out!

Frankie and Hershey came by to visit, as did Marge (she and husband Rich are innkeepers at the Cottage Inn) and their dog, Joe Cocker (who was so anxious to get inside to visit with Hershey he looked like he was about to fly out of Marge's arms).

After the rain stopped, Cathy ran inside the museum to tell me she and Charlie were downtown shopping.

A little after two, I met up with Cathy at the rest area across from Little Stone Church - then we walked up to the Grand's flower shop, Margaret's Garden.

After checking out the garden shop and finding a dozen things we wanted to buy - but didn't - we sat down outside in the shade and waited on Charlie to come up the hill.

This haywagon was just ahead of Charlie on the Red Ryder . . .

It's always good to know a guy with "saddlebags" when you're loaded down with packages!

We went out to dinner at the Seabiscuit and soon Patty and Buz came in.  Then Joyce (a blog reader) and her family arrived.  We all ended up sitting at almost touching tables and having a great time talking and laughing with each other.  Life in this small community is just so much fun!

Tomorrow we have plans to get out on the backroads and really give the Red Ryder a try-out.  Charlie’s looking forward to seeing all the places we’ve been telling him about for the last two summers – back tomorrow night with pics of all the fun!

Note:  Lowell’s cataract surgery went spectacularly well.  He was home and resting by noon and is thankful for all the prayers.

P.S.  Don’t you love how I’m only posting a photo or two during the week!

Mackinac Island Springtime Memories 3/7/2011

One day last week I decided to go through all my camera cards from Mackinac Island and delete photos I knew I’d never use.  Big, big mistake.  The first card I inserted into the slot on the laptop just happened to be the first one I filled upon arriving on the island last May.  I was suddenly so homesick for my favorite rock that I almost lost my breath.  Scrolling through those photos was like taking that first week on the island each year and compressing it into a little mini-album of memories.  The wonderful thing is, of course, we will be going back in 10 weeks – good Lord willing – to begin another summer there.  But for that one day last week, I was back on the island during spring, and I began to think ahead to what awaits us there – come May. 

So please indulge me this one week.  No snow photos today . . . it’s all about springtime memories. 

First taxi ride up the hill after getting off the ferry. If I remember correctly, we took up the whole taxi that day - with luggage, boxes, groceries, dogs, a grill, Ted's golf clubs, new linens, and a beautiful oil painting done by our grandchildren that we couldn't wait to hang in the condo. We should have put everything on the dray, but we somehow managed to get it all on the carriage.

We opened our home, knowing that a couple of days later all the furniture we had bought with our condo was going to be replaced with something more "homey".

Two days later the new stuff arrived on the dray. Our original furniture found a new home with a neighbor . . .

 

. . . and a few hours later the condo "as I dreamed it" was filled with comfy recliners for Ted and I, a new couch, some new tables and lamps, and - our favorite - an electric fireplace with a flame that looks almost real.

First morning on the island. Maddie in her daddy's lap, Ted and I having one or two or three cups of coffee on the balcony, Bear lying at our feet with his nose poked out between the white spindles of the porch railing . . .

. . . all of us waiting to spot the first Carriage Tours buggy filled with tourists - coming up the hill to the Carriage Museum . . .

. . . where they disembarked, enjoyed looking at the antique carriages, had some refreshments, then loaded onto a three-horse hitch carriage to start the second part of their tour of the island.

When we arrive back on the island after months away, it takes me several days to get past the feeling that I'm seeing everything for the first time. Even though I pass each house and flowerbed hundreds of times each summer, it's all different each year. I can remember almost to the hour when I walked by this fencerow of tulips our second day back and saw the dove on the ground next to them. The way the sun was shining through the tulips was so unusual that day, and I remember thinking "someone should paint this".

Our first trip to town included a stop at Doud’s Market. Andrew and his workers had completed all kinds of renovations during the winter months.  We couldn’t get over all the great, fresh produce.  And it continued like that all summer.  We could walk in there and pick up fresh veggies for dinner, and the meat market and deli were to die for.  Doud’s announced this week that Doud’s would have 150 new items in the store this summer.  Can’t wait to see what they are!

 

First time of the season meeting Ted at the Pink Pony for a drink before dinner. That's Jacob and John, two of our favorite bartenders.

 

 

For the life of me I don't remember where I could have been to take this photo. I don't remember using it on the blog last year either - probably because my intent was for the church to be in focus and the trees to be out of focus . . . not vice versa. Anyway, I like it, and it's in that first week of photos. Hmmm . . . maybe at the top of Turkey Hill?

The Grand Hotel tulips were already in full bloom when we arrived last year. Each year the tulips are planted in a different design, and different colors are used. Can't wait to see what Mary and her crew have planned for this spring.

 

The lilacs bloomed early last year also.

 

Walking back up the hill that second day on the island, I was lucky enough to catch one of the barn workers washing down one of the carriage horses, before putting him in his stall for the night.

 

Sometime during that first week, Ted talked me into getting out of bed and going with him and the pups on an early morning walk, which included Pontiac Trail . . .

 

. . . a chance to capture the Straits of Mackinac in the beautiful morning light . . .

. . . and a May flowerbed already teeming with promises of what we'd have to look forward to over the summer months.

 

Lilacs at the Grand, the porch at the Grand, the flags at the Grand, the rocking chairs at the Grand. Ahhhhh . . . the Grand!

 

And just like coming home to the ri'vah, the best part of going home to Mackinac is seeing our friends. Jill was waiting for us when the ferry docked that first day, and Bear and I stopped off to see her at the Island Bookstore about 50 times that first week back.

 

We saw Anna every time we walked up the hill or down the hill. I wonder if she'll be back this spring.

 

I ran into Joan a few days after we arrived, as I was turning the corner at Cadotte heading home. She was pushing grandson Jordan downtown in his stroller. THIS is what I love most about Mackinac . . . the people, the small town atmosphere, meeting friends on the street.

 

Some hadn't arrived our first week back. Vince and Molly, who live here in the Little Stone Church parsonage, didn't get to the island until a week after we did. And I might not have run into Leanne, or Frankie, or Candy, or Mary, or Chris Ann, or Jennifer, or Tamara, or Nicole, or Bonnie until a few days after we arrived. But that's ok. I eventually saw them all downtown that first week at either the post office, or in Doud's, or on the street or walking up the hill home. And we stopped and chatted and caught up on a winter's worth of news. And it was is if we'd never left.

First freigher of the week - coming through the pass - and blowing his horn to the harbor master.

Bear - doing one of his two favorites things on the island. #1: Playing ball under the shade trees in the big yard below the Carriage Museum . . .

. . . and #2 - posing for photographs. I truly think he knows that on the island when I "pose" him somewhere for a photograph, there are tourists all around me taking the same photo of him. I have a feeling there are people all over the world with a photo of Bear on one of their camera cards. He LOVES it!

Hope you enjoyed this little walk down nostalgia lane.  Ten weeks from today (Sunday, March 6) we’ll be heading north – that’s only 70 days – that’s only 1,680 hours . . . but, who’s counting.

Have a wonderful week, and God bless.

P.S.  Ok, ok . . . . . . ONE announcement and ONE snow pic:

You can now buy Mackinac Associate memberships for Mackinac State Historic Parks online! Membership includes a seasonal pass, discounts on museum store purchases, and newsletters (and more depending on your level)! For more information follow this link:  http://www.mackinacparks.com/mackinac-associates/

The photo is from Nicole of Little Luxuries on Mackinac.  Nicole and Andrew live year-round on the island (a little further up the hill from us), and they have the pleasure of enjoying the beauty that is Mackinac 365 days a year.  She took this a couple of days ago, while out romping in the snow with their four-legged babies, Charlie and Penny Lane.