Throw Back Thursday – The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/26 17

Personal Note:  I loved reading back over this blog, first published October 31, 2009.  Some of the businesses listed in this post are no longer open, and restaurants open all winter have changed since 2009.  So please remember, if you’re planning a winter trip to Mackinac THIS (2017-18) winter, you need to check what’s open and what’s not!

Header Photo by Jill Sawatzki. 

The Islanders Get Their Home Back

In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island.  Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’.  We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again.  I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”

Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 500) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski.

Yes, there are a few businesses still open.  The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup.  The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store.  The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!).  The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.

I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring.  One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint.  The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks.  Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.


La Galerie’s display windows, completely bare. The doors have special slanted mats in front of them to prevent melting snow from getting into the shop.


The sign on Goodfellow’s door.


Two empty shops on Main Street.


Shepler’s Ferry Dock – no boats, no people.


These workers were carrying the awnings from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop somewhere to put in storage. All the stores with awnings do the same thing. That’s easier that having to replace all those awnings that heavy snow would have broken during the winter.


Luggage carts from the ferry docks going to storage.


Decked Out, a very nice clothing store, empty and locked.


Murdick’s Fudge, getting a new coat of paint before the snow falls.


The lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.


The Pink Pony – two nights before this photo was taken, it was full of costume-clad goblins.


Sweet Anna. I finally got to photograph her somewhere besides in front of the Grand shoveling up horse poop. She was leaving the island, on her way back to college.


Jill took this shot early one morning this week, before she left. It’s boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles, waiting to be picked up for recycling.


Empty Main Street – Wednesday morning.


The other end of Main Street.


A new shop – opening in the spring!

It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m.  Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night.  About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again.  There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance.  We didn’t.  So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill.  We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere.  Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!

We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy.  We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away.  That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok.  So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather.


Downtown tonight – just as we got into town, the rain stopped.


The Village Inn tonight. They have placed a pool table in the middle of the floor where about 10 dinner tables were this summer.


On the way up the hill tonight, we stepped into the little entrance gazebo of the Jockey Club to get a little protection from the wind for a minute. Behind Ted you can see a snow fence. It has been placed all along Cadotte bordering the Grand’s property. It will prevent snowmobiles from crossing onto the golf course.

Time to go to bed.  We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean.  Sunday we leave.  Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season.  I can’t believe that day is finally here.  I   just   can’t   believe   it.


A Week Filled with Good Things 10/1/17

Hi Friends!

Last week was busy and so much fun!  Ted’s sister Sheryl and cousin Heidi came for a visit, and we spent three days doing lots of touristy things, as well as just spending time getting to know these newly found members of our family.   After two weeks of above average temperatures (I think we hit 85 one day!), we had a cold front come through the first night our company was here.  From that point on we had absolutely beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures, and the definite feeling of Fall in the air!

Sheryl and Heidi arrived on Tuesday morning, and I know they thought we were going to walk them all over the island before bedtime that night.

We started with lunch at the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac . . . .

. . . . which is absolutely one of the top five “view” spots on Mackinac!

We roamed around the fort, visited Sutler’s Store, and then walked back to the condo.  Later in the afternoon we walked over to the West Bluff, hiked Pontiac Trail, and walked around the Annex.  By the time dinner rolled around we were all starving, and we all turned in early that evening.

On Wednesday we had planned a special surprise for Sheryl and Heidi.  We started with lunch at Grand Hotel . . .

.. . . . and a visit to the Cupola Bar at the very top of the Grand.

Another one of those top five “view” spots on Mackinac!

We then went to the Grand porch and rocked for a little while, just watching people and enjoying the sunshine.

The big surprise arrived when Ben Mosley drove up in one of Grand Hotel’s vintage carriages and welcomed us aboard.  We spent the next hour touring several of the top tourist attractions on Mackinac, as well as just enjoying riding through the woods in a carriage drawn by two beautiful Hackneys showing off their footwork.

The tour started off with a ride through the Annex and out to Stonecliffe, followed by . . .

. . . riding up to Lookout Point via this wooded road which turns steeply upward at the cemeteries.

We took a few minutes to get off the carriage . . . .

. . . for a great view of Sugar Loaf, an expanse of wooded land, and Lake Huron in the distance.

Although those clouds looked a little menacing, we didn’t get a single drop of rain on our “parade”.

We next visited Fort Holmes, the highest spot on Mackinac . . .

. . . followed by a stop at Arch Rock.

It really doesn’t matter how many times we visit all these places. Each time is special, and I’m glad we made it to all these spots one more time this year.

Although Heidi and Sheryl both had been to Mackinac Island before, they saw a few places they’d never seen and really enjoyed the tour and the carriage ride!  We finished the day with dinner at the Chip and a taxi ride home.

Thursday was spent visiting with the current residents of an East Bluff cottage where Heidi and her family had past connections, lunch downtown, and then a visit with old friends of the family.

We were up early on Friday morning to take a taxi downtown and have breakfast at The Chuckwagon before the ladies caught the ferry off the island.  We were sad to see them go. We had spent Thursday evening at the condo, laughing and telling family stories.  It was just the best visit, and we hope Heidi and Sheryl both come back soon.  We DO have more places to show you because I promise you didn’t see everything (even though it may have felt like it).


A shady walk down Huron Street right after the street cleaner had gone through.

The condo’s backyard furniture arrived this week! Condo picnic soon!

We had two cruise ships at the island on the same day.  The ship anchored offshore is the Hamburg.  It has too deep a draft for the big dock, so it anchors off Mission Point and shuttles tourists in aboard her four small launches.

Friends and blog readers Kem Green and Yvonne Pitsch stopped by to visit me at the Stuart House this week!

What are they? Morning Glories? Whatever they are, they are as big as dinner plates and beautiful!

Sunrise from the Chippewa Hotel. (Photo: Kem Green)

“I’d like to come in now please.”

The parade ground at Fort Mackinac.

Mums the word at Doud’s Market!

Pontiac Trail in the mist. (Photo: Kem Green)

The view over the Hackney’s backs!

This great bunch of friends and relatives got together on Shepler’s dock Friday morning. Some were leaving, some were staying.  Left to right: Mike and Pam Day, me, Sheryl, Heidi, Kem and Ed Green, Ted and Jill.  Love you all!

“I think I see dad coming!”

I’ve got a great story to share next time about a birch bark canoe our Mackinac Island public school children helped to build.  It was launched yesterday.  Coming up in a few days!

God bless..

Back in My Happy Place 7/27/17

Hi Everyone!

We’ve been on the island now for almost two weeks, and I think we’re about settled in.  I’m a little surprised that the first week was harder than usual for me – physically I mean.  I knew I hadn’t been exercising much in Florida since it had gotten so hot (short walks with Bodie just don’t equal “in shape” on Mackinac).  The first walk up the hill to our condo left me breathing hard and thinking, “Geez, what the heck is this?”  But, it’s amazing how fast that climb got easier each time I did it, and yesterday Bodie and I covered over two miles of trails – up and down hill – and came back to the condo feeling great.  It makes me feel better that Bodie is having to get in shape too, but for some reason, I think he’s having a lot more fun than I am during the process.

Weather – what can I say?  We came from over 100 degrees heat index in Florida to here where the temps haven’t gotten out of the 70’s for highs since we arrived.  Shorts and t-shirts during the day, a jacket at night for the last dog walk, and a lap blanket out on the porch in the mornings while we have coffee.  We’ve had a couple of days of rain, but that’s ok.  We’re on the island.  We just pull on the rain gear and keep on truckin’.

Bodie has amazed us by how well he’s taking the island busyness in stride. From the time he stepped off the ferry . . .

. . . and jumped right into the taxi, he’s handled it all with a maturity I really didn’t think he possessed yet. He’s been surrounded by horses, carriages and people and is amazingly calm about all of it.  Maybe Maddie’s “so what” attitude has rubbed off on him!  Still very excited though when he meets new folks one-on-one.  We continue to work on that!

The island is beautiful in July, and we were so excited when we got to the condos to find all the landscaping done, flowers blooming, and butterflies floating from bush to bush.

And, we’re excited that we’ll be right here in this same place until we leave mid-October!


We celebrated our first evening on Mackinac with dinner at the Chippewa (a tradition). The second night we went out with friends Buz and Patty from Oklahoma. They’re here until the middle of September, and we’re so excited we’ll be seeing lots more of them before they leave. I think it was the third night we finally ate at the condo, and then walked down to Sadie’s for ice cream.

One of those stormy days. It’s amazing how quickly I forgot how dirty a golden retriever can get on the wet streets of Mackinac Island! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

One thing all that rain produces are lush gardens all over the island, like this one of the west bluff.

As I was leaving the reunion, one of Ted’s newly-found cousins, Diane Caruso, gave us this wonderful pillow she had made because she knew of our love for little Maddie. It’s wonderful to have something “homemade” in the Mackinac condo, and when we leave we’ll take it to Florida, and it will find a home there.

You all know Ted and I have a morning coffee ritual – wherever we are. Maddie in Ted’s lap . . .

and Bodie guarding the front porch seems to be the theme for this summer.

One of cousin Dave and Diane’s sons, Scott, and his wife Tina and their boys spent the day on the island the week we arrived. They stopped by to say hello and added another “personal” item to the condo . . .

. . . . this great candid shot of their family on vacation!

Ran into artist Mary Lou Peters in Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island this week. Love this sweet lady!

Backtracking some now – I know most of you saw this on Facebook, but just in case you didn’t, Ted and I stopped in to see Lowell and Faye for a few moments as we passed through Olivet. It was storming and we had to leave the pups in the car, so we didn’t get to visit nearly long enough!

And one day while we were at Dave and Diane’s, I met Mary Saul and Frankie Thill in downtown Spring Lake for a girls chat session. So happy to see these two sweet friends.

I dropped by Mackinac Mud Pottery this afternoon and was just in time to watch owner Jay Barch creating at the wheel. Love this shop filled with original items. Ted and I use coffee mugs from Jay’s shop on Mackinac and in Florida.

Heading down Fort Hill this afternoon. There it is – that Michigan blue water and sky!

Pretty zinnias at the Grand!

Fort Mackinac on a gorgeous July day!


You’re just going to have to indulge me now for this section.  I’ve taken about 352 photos of Bodie since we arrived, and if left up to me I’d force you to look at each and every one. But I’m going to take pity and try and just put up a few of the best ones.  I promise, promise, promise I will NOT do this in every blog this summer, but for this one . . . well, please indulge me.

Mackinac, as seen through Bodie’s eyes his first week:

First of all, the cars here are pulled by animals called horses. Horses are much bigger than me, so I leave them alone. I don’t even bark at them. I have to admit riding around in a carriage is pretty cool stuff!  Would you believe there are people here who sweep up after the horses when they poop in the street.  I sure am glad, cause I don’t think they make poop bags big enough for horse poop!

Out my window I get to see horses in a corral. Seriously, I do.

Mackinac has woods, and being in the woods means I can be off-lead. That makes me very, very happy!

Mom makes me practice my Sit/Stay command all the time here (so she can take photos of me).

Mom said we didn’t have room in the truck for both my crate AND my bed. I’d rather she brought my bed. Maddie shares hers sometimes, but it’s not quite as big as mine.

Mom and I go on long, long walks – usually twice a day, and I’m really getting a full tour of Mackinac. Mom LOVES to take my photo at the different places we visit. Like the gazebo for Somewhere in Time . . .

. . .this place called Anne’s Tablet . . .

. . . . and in the Grand Hotel gardens!

Today we were in Turtle Park and this guy was kicking a soccer ball around. I figured he needed help.

I ran out to help him with the ball, and he stopped what he was doing and gave me great pets!  I thought that was pretty cool, but since he didn’t have treats in his pockets, I ran back to mom when she called.

This is absolutely the best place I’ve ever been so far in my life. It’s summertime, but it’s cool. There are miles and miles of trails to run on. Just about every person I meet wants to pet me. Everyone of you should seriously pack up all your pets and bring them to Mackinac!  They will thank you forever!


Jill and I sat downtown at Marquette Park this afternoon people-watching and drinking our Arnold Palmer Lite Ice Tea (99 cents at Doud’s).  I have it on good authority that Friday, July 28, is Jill’s birthday, so everyone feel free to wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY right here!  Yes, she’s going to kill me for doing that, but that’s the way it is with good friends.  We can get away with stuff!


See you back here in a few days!  God bless.

A Shady Corner on Mackinac 3/26/17

Hi Friends!

The island has been relatively quiet this week except for one bit of news which really lit up the “Mackinac Island Dockporters Association” Facebook page a couple of days ago.  Long-time friend Josh Carley posted this photo of State Park maintenance workers trimming limbs off the beautiful old elm tree that has stood for decades at the corner of Marquette Park across from Doud’s Market.

I still don’t have any definite news on whether the tree was being taken down completely, or whether it was just a trim of dead limbs, but since that photo appeared there have been dozens and dozens of comments lamenting the loss of the tree (if, indeed, it is being removed completely) or the potential loss at some time in the future.

Because it’s a slow news week, I’m just going to put my two cents worth in.

I love that tree.  It’s been there ever since I first set foot on the island in 2000 and for many decades before.  That little oasis of shade, stone wall, and benches is the perfect place to people watch, chat with friends (and strangers), eat a quick lunch from the Doud’s deli, or rest for a moment after traipsing around the downtown area all morning. It’s a much sought-after spot to watch parades or wait on a private carriage tour to begin.  I’ve sat on that stone wall with many island friends over the years – Jill, Frankie, Joe Plaza, Snapper, Chief Duck, Richard Pasco, Candy Smith . . . the list goes on and is made more poignant in knowing that Joe and Snapper are no longer with us.  I’ve eaten ice cream there, sat with Bear and Maddie at my feet waiting on Ted to come out of Doud’s, and met more than one blog reader – either on purpose (“let’s meet under the tree on the corner of Marquette Park”) or as a total surprise when I’d be walking by and someone would yell, “Bree!”

I. Love. That. Tree..


Just as we all thought it was practically the end of the world when the beautiful old trees that lined Cadotte leading up to Grand Hotel had to be removed – life did go on.  Young trees were planted to replace them, and now – even though they have only been there a few years, they are already beautifully blazing a path in the Fall.

The way it was when we first starting coming to Mackinac. This is from October, 2005. (Photo: Mike Forrester)

And now. (Photo – Mackinac Revealed)

If and when the Marquette Park corner tree comes down, I will miss it as much as everyone else.  But . . . trees get old and become diseased.  They have a life expectancy and, although Mackinac trees probably live well past that life expectancy because they are so well cared for, eventually the end comes.  Or – because of age and disease and the danger of heavy limbs falling on people or horses or buildings – sometimes they must go before they succumb on their own.

When the tree is gone, I have no doubt in my mind it will be replaced by something beautiful . . . another tree maybe – young and healthy and full of life and potential and promise.  I trust the city fathers and mothers to do what is best.

And as for all of us who have spent so much time whiling away the hours in the shade of that old elm, we will mourn her passing.  But after we’ve mourned, let’s celebrate the gift she gave us by living out her life on that corner.  Let’s celebrate the memories we created under her leafy branches and picture in our minds the show she put on every fall when her leaves were the most brilliant of any tree on the island.  She’s a grand old tree.  And in our memories she always will be.

God bless.

The corner before the tree. Somewhere between 1902 and 1905. (Photo found by Roger Priebe)



News from North to South 3/5/17

Hi Friends!

The big news from Mackinac is one of my favorite four-letter words . . . . . . SNOW!

Over 8″ of the white stuff fell this week, and residents are happily off their bikes again and zipping everywhere on their snowmobiles!

This awesome photo from Mel Bunk (taken from St. Ignace shows a snow squall sitting directly over Mackinac Island.

This awesome photo from Mel Bunk (taken from St. Ignace) shows a snow squall sitting directly over Mackinac Island.

Anything sitting for any length of time was soon wearing a thick layer of snow - like these snowmobiles parked along Main Street. (Photo: Doud's Market)

Anything that sat stationary for any length of time was soon wearing a thick layer of snow – like these snowmobiles parked along Main Street. (Photo: Doud’s Market)

Eugenia Murray was downtown duringall that snow and took this beautiful photo of Market Street as the snow fell.

Eugenia Murray was downtown and took this beautiful photo of Market Street as the snow fell.

When Patrick Conlon left work at Grand Hotel, he headed up into the island interior to capture this great shot . . .

When Patrick Conlon left work at Grand Hotel, he headed up into the island interior to capture this great shot . . .

.. . . and Stefanie Congdon shot this one as she was leaving Stonecliffe.

.. . . and Stefanie Congdon shot this one as she was leaving Stonecliffe.

Hmmmm - sweet 9-year-old Kaylee (Tracy and Gabe;s daughter) sold 39 8 cases (that's 464 boxes) of Girl Scout cookies this year. Thank goodness the snow fell, and they can deliver all these by snowmobile!

Sweet 9-year-old Kaylee (Tracy and Gabe’s daughter) sold 38

cases (that’s 464 boxes) of Girl Scout cookies this year. Thank goodness the snow fell, and they can deliver all these by snowmobile!
A rare capture. A sun pillar

A rare capture by Robert McGreevy during sunrise on March 4 – a sun pillar.  Amazing!

So glad the islanders got a big snowfall, even if it did come late in the winter months.  I don’t think there’s any way now there’s enough time for an ice bridge to form, so this will mark the first time in I don’t know how many years the island has had ferry service the entire winter.  I may be wrong on that, but it seems as though last year there were maybe two weeks when the ferry couldn’t get through.  Someone let me know if I got that wrong.

Here’s a date to put on your calendar as you’re thinking about future trips to Mackinac – the 2017 Lilac Festival is June 9-18,and here’s a link that will give you all the details:

One last Mackinac note: Many of you have written me about what’s happening on the Mackinac Island News and Views Facebook page.  If you go there, you will see a notice that the page has been archived.  I haven’t been able to find out what’s going on, but I just can’t imagine the page will no longer be maintained.  It’s a fountain of information about what goes on day to day on the island (not to mention the incredibly beautiful photographs that are posted), and there are literally thousands of followers who LOVE that page – including yours truly.  Hope it’s back up soon!


We were so excited Kel (one of Ted's newly-found cousins) and his wife Gwen stopped overnight with us last week. They were headed down to Cocoa Beach from Michigan for two weeks of Florida fun! We first met them when we spent a day showing them around Mackinac last summer. Hoping to see them on the island again this summer!

We were so excited Kel (one of Ted’s newly-found cousins) and his wife Gwen stopped overnight with us last week. They were headed down to Cocoa Beach from Michigan for two weeks of Florida fun. We first met them when we spent a day showing them around Mackinac last summer. Hoping to see them on the island again this summer!

Our view of the sun setting from the top deck was pretty impressive that evening!

Our view of the sun setting from the top deck was pretty impressive that evening!

Thought this was a cute pic of the three of us - four if you count the turtle!

Thought this was a cute pic of the three of us – four if you count the turtle!

That’s it for now.  See you on Tuesday with a “throwback”!

God bless.


Visiting Mackinac in the Winter 2/5/17

You all know how I love visiting Mackinac during the winter.  I’ve gotten that opportunity three times, and if there was a way I could go every year, I’d be there in an instant.  With our Alaska trip in May already on the books (and the penny-saving in full swing), I knew a trip this winter was out of the question.  But I’ve just visited vicariously through Kem and Ed Green, and now you can do the same through their photos. 


Kem and Ed are friends we met through Bree’s Blog. They’re from Iowa, and of all my readers, they would rank right up there in the top five as “almost” loving the island as much as we do. Kem has wanted to spend a few days on the island during the winter for several years now, and this week her dream came true.  They arrived on Sunday, and since the winter ferry takes that day off, they also got to fly over to the island for the first time.  They loved all seven minutes of the flight!


When I got their visit details, I immediately texted friends Eugenia Murray and Pam Day, who are on the island during the winter.  I sent them a photo of Kem and Ed and asked them to be on the lookout to say hello.  Kem was in Doud’s on Monday and she said, “There was this woman who kept looking at her cellphone and then looking at me, looking at her cellphone and looking at me. She finally came over, showed me a photo of Ed and I and said, ‘Is this you?’ It was Pam Day!”  They just missed meeting Eugenia the night before in Cawthorne’s Village Inn. I had to confess to having them stalked.  Hmmm – maybe next time I should mention it to the “stalkees”!

Bless Kem’s heart, she came down with a bad cold the second day she was there and didn’t get in nearly as much hiking as Ed did.  But Kem’s dream of just nestling in, reading while watching the snow fall, and soaking up the quiet and calm of a Mackinac winter was thoroughly satisfied.  Ed took most of the pics that follow, as he roamed around the island for the next several days.


The weekly street hockey game.  The Mackinac Wings won against St. Ignace 7-1!


As usual, there is a lot of construction going on during the winter.  With very little snow and temps staying in the teens and 20’s, everything is moving along at a rapid pace.  Next summer Martha’s Sweet Shop will be replaced by a market and deli owned by Andrew Doud.


And the Leather Corral will be a new shop – owner to be announced soon.

The Greens also report the Chippewa has new floors and a new bar, and Twist N Sprouts is relocating. 


Ed got this great shot after snow arrived the night before.  The Scout Barracks building is on the left, and that’s the back of Fort Macknac in the center, with Lake Huron beyond.


Love that Ed trekked up Cadotte to get this photo of our old condos. And yes, the one we owned is now on the market.


Ice on the West shore.


Cupola suites are being added on the east side this winter at Grand Hotel.


The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.


The highway on the east side of the island.


One item of Kem’s wishlist for their winter visit was to go to the island library and read in front of the fireplace.   When she arrived she walked to the back of the library to see a very different view from when she’d been there this past summer. 


She was delighted to find a huge jigsaw puzzle set up in front of the window, waiting for anyone who wanted to while away an afternoon.

But . . . . what she didn’t find was a fire in the fireplace.  Kem and Anne St. Onge, the librarian, were the only ones in the library that day.  She and Anne struck up a conversation, and Kem mentioned she was so looking forward to curling up with her book in front of the fire, but she understood why there  wouldn’t be one with so few people there.  And then one of those things happened that makes Mackinac so magical.


Anne opened the grate, and built a fire.  And Kem’s wish came true. 

Thanks so much, Kem and Ed, for sharing your winter adventure with all of us!


This was Winter Festival Weekend, so the island was buzzing with visitors.  Among many other activities, folks got to participate in the opening of the Mackinac Ice Rink near the corner of Arch Rock Road and Huron Road. 


Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.


The Bailey family (Mary, Jeri-Lynn and Nora – Brian was the photographer) also took part in the second Twilight Turtle Trek of the winter season.  Islanders and visitors were able to ski and snow-shoe for two hours along almost two miles of groomed, track set trails, lit by lanterns.  The final Twilight Turtle Trek will be March 4.


Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival



Beautiful St. Anne’s Church on Friday.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)


A Clark Bloswick sunrise (did you spot the bunny)?



Bodie turned 10 months old this week and added counter-surfing to his repertoire of tricks.  I turned my back to grab a drink from the frig, and he helped himself to the pimento-and-cheese sandwich I’d just made.  Oh, the mischief in those eyes!



Visitors Dale and Jean, Spring Lake MI neighbors of newly-found cousins Dave and Diane Bennink, dropped by the Visitor’s Center at Fort Matanzas to meet Ted.  They were in St. Augustine for a few days of vacation in a warmer climate.

Speaking of newly-found family, Ted is flying to Albuquerque NM on Tuesday to spend a few days with his birth mother’s brother, his Uncle Ken.  Uncle Ken is 94 years old, and he and Ted have spent many, many hours on the phone since Ted discovered his birth mother’s family.  They can’t wait to meet in person and share stories, and I can’t wait to hear them when Ted returns on Friday. 

Have a great week!

God bless.

Throw Back Thursday – “Big Groceries” 2/2/17

Personal Note: Today’s Throw Back Thursday is again from 2009.  I promise I’ll jump around more as I continue to post these, but the blogs from our first whole season on Mackinac bring back such great memories for me – AND they’re informational!

Header:  Thanks once again to Kem and Ed Green for this photo from their winter trip to Mackinac this week.  It shows the East Bluff from the ferry dock.


First posted: 5/28/09:  Today was a yucky day – yes, they DO occasionally occur on Mackinac Island.  It was cold, it was raining, and worst of all, I had to go buy “big groceries” on the mainland (I think buying “big groceries” is a southern term.  You go to the store to “pick up a few things” or you go after “big groceries”).  We had put it off for 10 days.  Now we have company coming in on Friday, and the trip HAD to be made.

I love the two grocery stores on the island.  There is Doud’s Market downtown, and there is the Harrisonville Grocery up in the Village (the Village is where the majority of the year-round residents live).  The Harrisonville Grocery is about three blocks further up the hill from us (yes, you can go even further up that hill).   If you wanted, you could get by without going off the island all summer for groceries by frequenting those two stores – and the drug store next to Doud’s (NOTE:  The drugstore is no longer there).  But, sometime you just have to buy those 12-roll packages of toilet tissue and paper towels, and the two local stores don’t stock that kind of thing.

I had a few things on my list I could not entrust Ted to figure out – a new shower curtain for the day-glo yellow bathroom, a new kitchen rug, a new lamp for the guest room, etc.  So I volunteered to go, and Ted was excited he didn’t have to (until I came home 7 hours later with a receipt list from Wal-mart’s that stretched all the way down our hall (I think I went a little overboard on the home decor).

IMG_0602Going to the grocery store off-island is a little different from going at home (at least getting there is different).  I called the taxi office at 10 a.m. and said I needed to be at the docks for the 11 o’clock ferry to Mackinaw City.  Then I put on all my wet/cold weather gear, grabbed my lists and Ted’s lists, and went out to wait.  As I watched people walk by in big coats and rain hats, I thought, “Every day on the island can’t be colorful and beautiful.  There have to some gray days, and this is one of them.  Just relax and go with the flow.”

The taxi came, and I asked Ted to get a picture of me climbing in.  This is not exactly what I meant. IMG_0607

This does give me the opportunity though to comment on one of the essential accessories for the island – the backpack.  I know not everyone reading this is as old as wood like I am, but I learned last year if you walk this island like we do and carry a shoulder purse around with you, you are going to end up as lopsided and hunchbacked as that Notre Dame guy.  So you get a backpack and keep yourself all evened up (Everyone asks me if my backpack is a Vera Bradley.  It does kind of look like one, but I actually bought it for $.99 off a bargain shelf at Walgreen’s).  Nobody believes that, but it is the truth.

I rode down to the ferry docks with one of my favorite drivers, Janeen.  Janeen loves Bear, and when I told her Bear had written a blog yesterday, she told me that the next time he writes an episode she wants to be in it.  On IMG_0610the taxi with me was Aaron, who I introduced myself to and asked his life story (when you write a blog, you cannot be shy).  He told me he was from California, and this was his second summer on the island as a bartender at the Grand.

When we got to the docks, I paid Janeen and carried my cold food container into the ferry office to wait with the other poor souls who had to leave on this dreary day.  The bad part was most of them would not be coming back after buying groceries.  They were off to other parts of the country, continuing vacations or going home.  As soon as the 11 o’clock ferry had unloaded its passengers for the island, there was a mad dash to the door to see who could be first in line to wait in the rain to get on the ferry.  I know better now.  That line IMG_0617isn’t going anywhere for at least 10 minutes.  They are just going to stand there and get wet.  How can you tell a local from a tourist?  A local is going to stand around and talk until the last minute and jump aboard the ferry as the gangplank is being pulled up.  A local is also going to go onto the ferry and sit at the back (to get off first), and read a book or a newspaper during the crossing (or take a nap).  A local would not be caught dead taking a picture of the Mackinac Bridge or the Round Island Lighthouse through the windows of a ferry (I’ll give you more of these tidbits as the summer goes on.)

When I boarded I gave the dock worker my parking ticket number.  When you are on Mackinac all season, you can buy a valet parking ticket.  The ferry line keeps your car in storage on the mainland. Then when you are coming across, you give them your number, they call ahead, and your car is magically waiting for you when you get off the ferry.

It was raining and cold on the mainland too.  I made the drive to the Cheboygan Wal-Mart in under 20 minutes.  It was raining there also – only harder.  I shopped from 11:45 until 3:30, spending maybe the last 20 minutes of that time in the grocery aisles.  I told the checkout lady that I needed everything bagged for the island, which was her cue to call the produce department for some banana boxes, the best box made for hauling groceries.  NOBODY wants to get on a ferry with 50 little plastic sacks.  She got all my stuff into two boxes, 3 plastic bags, and my refrigerated stuff went into the bag I had left in the truck.  You have to plan every trip around the ferry schedules, so I was eyeing the 4:30 ferry back to the island.

I got lost getting out of Cheboygan because of detours.  I pulled into a auto repair shop and asked a man who was working on a car how to get to the Mackinaw City highway.  He looked at me very strangely and pointed to the stop sign three feet from where we were standing.  He said, “At that stop sign, take a right and you are ON the Mackinaw City highway.”  He asked where I was from (both Ted and I get a lot of that-something about our accents).  I said south Georgia, and he said, “Lady you really ARE lost!”  He found that extremely funny – I didn’t.

IMG_0624I arrived back at the ferry docks with about 400 Detroit Chamber of Commerce people who were going over to stay at the Grand for a few days.  A porter loaded a cart with my stuff and groceries another lady was taking over.  They shrink-wrapped the whole cart, then covered it to keep it dry on the trip over.

I sat down in the back row with some other islanders and leaned back to observe.  All the passengers except the back row were conducting business.  I started to go ask the captain if he would make an announcement that all cell phones, iphones, and blackberries must be tossed overboard halfway across.  I mean, why come to Mackinac Island if you are bringing all your worries and work with you?  The person I had the most empathy for though was a beautiful blonde lady.  She really could have been a model, and she was dressed beautifully.  Only one thing wrong – white stiletto heels and white slacks.  Hello?  Rain. . . . horses . . . . wet streets . . . . horses . . . . not a good mix with white.

IMG_0627I finally made it home around 6:30 – with so many people arriving, the taxis were mega-busy (they are expecting a total of 1700 Chamber people to arrive tonight).  I rode up the hill with a group of island residents and their children.  One busy mom of three had been on the mainland all day with her kids and was planning on taking them to a play on the island tonight.  I was in awe of her patience and good humor, and then I remembered I used to do that too – a long, long time ago.  Janeen was in the taxi behind us, bringing other folks home.  We happened to be in the handicapped taxi – that’s why you see bars.  That bar thing lets down into a ramp so wheelchairs can be loaded.

Ted was waiting at the boardwalk to unload the groceries (and other stuff).  He pretended he had been busy all day, and I just gave him a look that said he couldn’t have been as busy as I had been.  “Sweetie, all you did was go to the grocery store,” he said.

And he was right – that’s all I did.

P.S.  Bear read all your comments and emails about his blog yesterday, and was very pleased that you enjoyed it.  I told him that many of you had requested that Maddie write one also.  Bear said, “Why?”

View from the Deck

One of the livery carriages you can rent and drive yourself.

One of the livery carriages you can rent and drive yourself.

Saying Bye 10/14/16

It’s that time again.  The day before we leave Mackinac, and my emotions are all over the place.  I’m sad to be leaving.  I’m excited to be picking up Bodie.  I’m anxious to get home and see what our precious little neighborhood will be like post-Hurricane Matthew.   I’ve been tottering on the verge of tears all day, but I know I don’t have time for a melt down. So – I’m going to quickly toss up some of the photos I’ve taken over the last few days and ask that you be ok with that for now. 


The steady stream of horses leaving Mackinac is down to a tiny trickle.  The big barn is nearly empty now, and the majority of these gentle giants are happily munching pasture-land grass and hay on big farms in the U.P.  No more work for them until the spring.  Their only job is to get fat and sassy over the winter.


When I walked by Grand Hotel earlier today the front flower bed was already empty, and folks were busily pulling up the flowers in the bed in front of Sadie’s.  In the next few days the soil will be prepared and thousands of tulip bulbs will be planted for a spring blooming.


It seems as though Fall just can’t totally break through this year.  There are patches of beautiful foliage here and there, but only very few places where the color is rampant.  I think anyone coming up for the next two weeks will be the lucky winners of the “perfect time to see the best leaf show” award!


The hillside leading up to Fort Mackinac will be solid red in a few more days.


Downtown work is being done on the Stuart House . . . .


. . . and on Trinity Church.



Jill and I had what we thought would be our last lunch together on Thursday at Mary’s Bistro Draught House . . . but we managed to sneak another one in today with Ted at the Chuckwagon.  We have not been able to get together NEARLY enough this summer!


The case of the mysterious cameraman.  What a bunch of equipment these guys had!  We  THINK they were doing some filming for Original Murdick’s Fudge.


I’ll just call this one “Shady Fall Street”.


It’s always a sad day when they take down all the beautiful hanging baskets from the city lamp posts.


Workers are busy cutting back greenery on the hill leading up to the fort. 


I’ve discovered that Fort Hill is by far the easiest way to get home now.  One steep incline to the top, then cut across behind the Governor’s Residence and the Jewel Golf Course.  Now that I can finally do it without stopping and without huffing and puffing, it’s time to leave.  Oh well – I’ll work on it again next summer.


View from the top of Fort Hill right next to the Governor’s Summer Residence.


Signs of Fall in the woods.


One of the best places to see lots of fall color right now is Point Lookout.  Thank you, Orietta Barquero, for this up-to-date look from the top of the stairs leading down to Sugar Loaf . . .


. . . and this one from the cemeteries.


From Point Lookout today – thanks, Jill Sawatzki!



Doud’s is all decked out for Fall and Halloween.


A gorgeous shot from Orietta Barquero of Fall reflected in a clear lake up toward the middle of the island.



A beautiful sunrise shot from Patrick Conlon on his commute to the island this week.

Ted was able to meet another cousin today when she arrived this afternoon for a church conference at Grand Hotel . . .


Meet Marilyn McNitt from downstate Michigan. 

Lunch on our last day on the island at the Chuckwagon! Have a great winter, Donnie and Sharon!

Lunch on our last day on the island at the Chuckwagon! Have a great winter, Donnie and Sharon!

My head is just filled with things I want to say, but if I get started I might still be here at midnight writing, and Ted will not be happy with me.  We’re meeting friends for dinner later on, but we’ll make it an early evening and be on the taxi when it arrives at 7:15 Saturday morning.  And so begins the trip home.

What a crazy, amazing, emotional, happy, sometimes-frustrating, topsy-turvy summer we’ve had.  We’ve been so blessed to have met several of Ted’s biological cousins on his mom’s side of the family.  It’s so strange to think about this journey and realize that Ted began this year as an only child and will end the year with siblings, uncles and an aunt, and dozens of cousins.  Some of these folks will be in Florida over the winter, and we’re hoping to reconnect with them there.

Besides new cousins, it’s been a summer filled with visits with other family and friends.  From grandkids Matthew and Jordan right after we arrived, Jason, Jen and Alex just before we’re leaving, and friends from Georgia – R.D. and Kim and Glen and Debra – in between, we’ve been happily sharing Mackinac all summer.  And I’m pretty sure we have several among all those folks who will be returning to this magical spot!

This was the summer of a lot of moves.  We won’t be doing that again next year as we’ve already committed to being right here at Cedar Hill Condos for at least three months.  And by the way, if you’d be interested in renting the condo we’ve been in at any time (except when we’re here, of course), email me at and I’ll get you the contact information.  It’s only available on a monthly basis – 3 bedrooms, 2 baths.  We love it!

One of the best parts of the summer was our Bree’s Blog get-together in September at the Chippewa.  So much fun!!  Hoping we can do it again next summer – only with even more people!  Heck, maybe we’ll have to rent out a whole dining room!

Bodie.  Oh my gosh – I’m so excited.  I’m also scared and anxious.  I have to keep preparing myself that he won’t be “just like Bear”.  He will be a 6 1/2 month old teenager.  Oh my gosh . . . . what a ride this is going to be (and I don’t mean the ride home, although that might get interesting also)!  We’ll pick him up south of Atlanta on Monday morning and drive straight to Beverly Beach – truck full of luggage, Maddie in the front seat, and Bodie in the back seat.  Geez, I hope the big fuzzy guy has a sense of humor!

As always, I’ve had so much fun sharing this beautiful island with all of you this summer.  I’ll be back on line once we get home, but I’m sure I’ll have something up on Facebook on Monday about Bodie – even if it’s just a pic or two! 

Till then . . . . . .

I love you all . . . . God bless.

Another Week is Gone 9/25/16

Another great week has come and gone, leaving us only three more weeks on Mackinac.  I just can’t believe we’ve been here over two months, but I can tell from all those “X’s” marked on the calendar that our days here are dwindling rapidly down.

No big story to tell today, so I’m just going to post photos I’ve been saving up this week.  With cooler weather arriving a few days ago, I’ve been throwing on jeans and long-sleeved tops – and occasionally another layer like a vest or sweater – and just going wherever a road takes me.  Fall is absolutely my favorite season on Mackinac!


Visitors to the island this week saw more motorized vehicles on the street than they’ve probably ever seen before, regardless of how many years they’ve been coming. Main Street is being repaved from the boardwalk to the water treatment plant beyond Mission Point.  This work really needs to be done, and completing the project before the snow flies meant starting just after Labor Day.  Vehicles are not something any of us want to see, but the work neeeds to be done, and the project will mean a much nicer Main Street next season!


While the paving is going on, all the street corners are being converted to handicap-accessible.  That work is already completed (after this photo was taken), and the corners look awesome.  (This photo and one above by Jill Sawatzki.)


Jill also ran across the Michigan State Tennis Team one day up at Turtle Park.  They were enjoying a game of disc golf!


Walking to the condo at dusk – just after the streetlights came on.  Can you tell how quiet the island is becoming now that Labor Day has passed?  Still busy downtown during the day, but after the 6:00 ferries leave, you know Fall is upon us, and the huge crowds won’t return until next spring.


I have to introduce you to Susan and Keith Miller.  They arrived on Mackinac on Monday, the afternoon of the blog dinner.  They didn’t know if they’d get to the island in time to eat with us (their home is in Phoenix, Arizona), so they didn’t RSVP the invitation to dinner.  They DID arrive in time and were in the Chippewa lobby when that group photo was taken – but they didn’t want to interrupt since they hadn’t made a reservation.  Jill discovered all this and talked to them later in the bookstore. Susan has been a blog reader for many years, and I’m so sorry I missed meeting them!  Next year, Susan and Keith!


Yvonne and Tony stopped to talk to the Greens, Jill, the DaVanons, and me as we sat and rocked on the porch at the Lake View Hotel on Tuesday.  Later we  all walked down and saw them off on the ferry.


Lowell wanted to walk up to Grand Hotel’s shade garden, so we headed that way.  We’d stop and rest occasionally, like here at the corner of Cadotte and Market . . .


. . . and here, after we’d made it to the shade garden.  That beautiful cane Lowell is holding was a gift from Hilde and Bud.  Lowell loved it and used it the rest of his time on the island.  I have a feeling he’s using it at home too!


Sweet Hilde and Bud in the shade garden.


Another late afternoon walk home past Grand Hotel.


We were up early Wednesday morning to see Lowell and Faye off on the 8:00 ferry . .


. . . . always sad to see friends go home.


Hilde, Bud,Ted and I rewarded ourselves for getting up early by stopping by the Chuckwagon for breakfast.  Love sitting at the counter and watching Donny work his magic on the grill!

On Friday morning we were up and off to town again . . .

On Friday morning we were up and off to town again . . .

. . . to see off Pam and Denise (with the bikes) and Kem and Ed (in the blue jackets). They left on the 11:00 Arnold ferry.

. . . to see off Pam and Denise (with the bikes) and Kem and Ed (in the blue jackets). They left on the 11:00 Arnold ferry.

Going back home up Fort Hill, I stopped to watch groceries going by conveyer belt from a dray into the supply room of Doud's Market.

Going back home up Fort Hill, I stopped to watch groceries going by conveyer belt from a dray into the supply room of Doud’s Market.

At Trinity Church, I took the path toward Turkey Hill. The fenced road above me is Fort Hill and the blockhouse against a beautiful Michigan blue sky.

At Trinity Church, I took the path toward Turkey Hill. The fenced road above me is Fort Hill and a Fort Mackinac blockhouse against a beautiful Michigan blue sky.

There were several apple trees along Turkey Hill (Spring Street) - all full of ripe fruit!

There were several apple trees along Turkey Hill (Spring Street) – all full of ripe fruit!

View across the Jewel Golf Course from the top of Turkey Hill.

View across the Jewel Golf Course from the top of Turkey Hill.


Almost to the condo, I spotted a little tinge of rust in a few trees near the road.


On Friday afternoon we walked up to the cemeteries, looking for fall color.  We didn’t find that much . . . .


. . . but we sure enjoyed walking the trails – like this one leading from the cemetery to Turtle Park . . .


. . . and this one from Turtle Park to the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum (more visions of Bear).



How have I missed this giant butterfly created with colored rocks around two trees at the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly House at Surrey Hill?!


Walking through Grand Hotel’s stable late in the afternoon, we came across two buses, parked for the night and ready to go as soon as the sun comes up the next day.  There’s even a top hat resting on the bus lantern.

As I end this post, I turn for a moment to look out the kitchen window.  Two Hackneys are standing in the corral, and I rise and tap on the window.  They both look up at me . . . .

. . . and as much as I feel myself beginning to prepare to leave in three weeks, I know part of my heart will stay here on Mackinac.

. . . and I know – as much as I feel myself beginning to prepare to leave for home in three weeks, and as much as I’ve missed our beautiful Florida home and wonderful friends, and as much as I know I can’t wait to pick up my Bodie-boy – I also know part of my heart will be staying here on Mackinac.

God bless.

49757 Postcard #10 9/12/16

Dear Friends,

Ted flew off the island with a bunch of buddies to play golf for two days on Drummond Island, so I went to church solo yesterday.  After joining the rest of the Little Stone Church congregation for lunch at the Gatehouse (a farewell gathering for our wonderful pastor Fred Zobel and his wife Mary), I decided to walk on downtown to Doud’s to pick up a few items I needed. We (the folks who have so far moved into the new condos) were planning a “thank you” grill-out for the condo construction workers we’ve all gotten to know so well this summer.  I thought my corn salad would be a good contribution. 

There are three ways to get back to the condo from downtown.  The easiest hill to climb is the one by the Grand Hotel, but that would have meant walking all the way back down Market Street to make that turn up Cadotte.  The other two ways were the much closer (and much steeper) Turkey or Fort Hills.  With a purse and a pretty heavy grocery bag, I decided to bite the bullet and climb Fort Hill – the steepest, but the shortest route. 


The Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence sits at the top of Fort Hill.  That’s where I was heading.


Totally amazing what a grocery bag with only two cans of corn and a few other items can weigh!  My first stop – looking down on my alternative route, Turkey Hill – not as steep a climb, but longer.


Fifty steps later – an official rest stop under a great big, shady tree!


Almost to the top!


At the summit I walked about 50 more steps over to the top of Turkey Hill – in time to say hello to some horse riders!


A few steps later I turned at the sound of horses behind me, and a friendly driver called out, “Hey! I know you!  Hop on board!”  Thank you very much, I sure will!  I was dropped off at the corner of our condos, as he made the turn up to Surrey Hill.  I love it when that happens!



The grill-out today in the backyard.  Craig manned the grill, and his wife Meredith helped workers Joe and Ken fill their plates.


Another of our favorite workers is Steve.  He’s from Jamaica, and we all wonder when in the world he ever sleeps.  He works around the condos all day, then works downtown until three in the morning.  Superman!  That’s neighbor Eugenia sitting with Steve.

The weather is going to be great the next couple of weeks – highs in the 60’s, lows in the 50’s!  There’s a crispness to the air, and I can’t wait to experience another Fall on Mackinac!

Grand Hotel cupola in the fog a few days ago. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Grand Hotel cupola, in the fog a few days ago. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Sunrise from Windermere Point. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Sunrise from Windermere Point. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Wish you were here!