One Week Home 10/22/17

The Hortons have been back in Florida for almost a week now.  The bags are all unpacked, the dirty clothes from the road trip are washed, and I’ve pressed all the clean stuff that came home in the luggage and just couldn’t be worn until the travel wrinkles were removed.  We are glad to be home.

I love our house here.  And I love our neighborhood, our friends, and knowing Julie and Matt and the grandkids are just a 20-minute ride down the road.  Before we head back to Mackinac next summer, our beautiful Jordan will graduate from high school.  How can that possibly be?

Jordan and Matthew on Homecoming night. It was Jordan’s last Homecoming before she graduates and Matthew’s first as a Freshman this year.

Our trip home was different this year.  We went a different route because Jason’s house in Atlanta is still being reconstructed after Irma dropped two trees on top of it.  We saw some different scenery, but we kind of missed the “tried and true” routine of our normal route.  I think we were most disappointed that the fall leaves were just not yet in full splendor in the mountains.

Jill captured our early morning departure from Shepler’s dock . . .

. . . . and our departing ferry. What a beautiful sunrise that day!

We loved West Virginia. It reminded us a lot of the farmland in Georgia . . .

. . . . except there were more hills!

We crossed into Virginia through a tunnel through a mountain . . .

. . . . and enjoyed some spectacular mountains vistas through that state as well as North and South Carolina.  But the colors – they just weren’t there yet.

The sunset from our deck our first night back was beautiful . . .

. . . . and dinner out the next evening with some of our neighbors made us feel like we’d finally arrived home.

As Bodie stated so eloquently our first evening back, “There’s just nothing like sleeping in your own bed.”

MEANWHILE, BACK ON MACKINAC

In the week we’ve been gone, Mackinac Island has been dressing for Fall in a big way and showing off as only Mackinac can!

A beautiful view of the village of Mackinac Island and the Straits beyond. (Photo: Steven Davenport)

Trinity Church steeple against an awesome orange sky. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)

Cadotte Avenue and its gorgeous Maples. (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

The Cadotte Avenue trees again with Little Stone Church’s steeple shining through.  (Photoe: Tom Chambers)

A brilliant sky highlights the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The Round Island Passage Light against God’s magnificent artwork. (Photo: Steven Davenport)

Just an unbelievable photo from high up in Grand Hotel of Cadotte, the Grand golf course, and the Straits!  (Photo: Patrick Conlon)

AND A FEW MORE

Dinner out our first night back at Breakaway’s. Eating outside right across the street from the Atlantic . . .

. . . . and watching a lady lead her pet turtle around with a weed eater. I kid you not. She says she takes him for a walk about once a month by cutting the grass with the weed eater.  He will follow her anywhere – lured by the sweet grass smell! She walked off down the sidewalk with him following right behind her.

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed and Breakfast – all decked out for Halloween. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

A group of horses walk up Spring Street below Fort Mackinac (after coming down Turkey Hill), headed for the ferry and a few months of rest and relaxation in the UP. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)

There’s been a few days of rough ferry rides since we left. Jim Mishler captured waves crashing on the Mackinac shore during one storm.

8,000 tulip bulbs being planted in Grand Hotel’s garden so we can all enjoy the tulip display in May!  (Photo: Orietta Barquero)

Maddie: “Just what I’ve been waiting for – Bodie’s head on a platter.”

One of my favorite spots to leaf peek – Mackinac Island cemeteries. (Photo: Pam Day – Ohio)  That’s Pam’s husband Mike on the bike.

A vintage postcard, discovered by Roger Priebe, of the Chippewa Hotel Restaurant in the late 60’s.

Good morning from Grand Hotel. (Photo: Bob Decker)

A beautiful rainbow over the homes of Sunset Inlet. (Photo: Cat Brooks)

WHAT’S NEXT?

A good question – and one I’ll be thinking about a lot between now and the end of the year – and have been thinking about most of the summer.  Until then, I’m going to take a break from writing, but I’ll be back here at least once a week with some of my earlier posts.  Everyone seems to enjoy those, and I’ve sure got plenty to share.  So, stay tuned for Throwback Thursdays!  And, of course, you can always keep up with us on Facebook!

You all continue to be a source of great happiness for me, and I love each and every one of you.  You can’t imagine what it means to me to have you in my life. 

God bless.

 

 

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Company and Canoes 10/7/17

Hi Friends!

We’ve had such a great week on Mackinac.  It feels like Fall again, and today (Saturday) is one of those rain-all-day, blustery times when you want to pull on a sweatshirt, and a pair of sweatpants and fleecy socks and just sink into the sofa with a good book.

Fortunately, the rain held off until our company, Dave and Diane Bennink, had come and gone. They were only able to be here for one night, but we sure enjoyed them while they were here!

There were a few places we didn’t hit when Dave and Di visited last summer, and one of those was the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac. It has one of the best views of Mackinac’s downtown and marina area, and even though it was windy we chose to sit right out there on the edge of the cliff and enjoy the sunny day and the activity down below.

Di visited with the horses that were in the turn-out corral next door (this is one of Grand Hotel’s Hackneys). It’s been SO HARD not to sneak carrots and sugar cubes out to these beautiful creatures all summer. But – we’ve faithfully abided by the rules.  They did tell us we could bring horse treats up to the barn and they’d mix it in with their regular food. It’s not what we might feed them that’s the problem – they just don’t want anyone to get fingers nipped in the process.

We had dinner with Dave and Di at 1852 Grill Room at Island House Hotel, where the food and the sunset were fabulous.

Ted and newly found cousin Dave – walking ahead of Di and I on the way back from the fort.

We’re hoping y’all come back next summer for a longer visit!

A CANOE

One of our sweet condo neighbors, Craig Harris, texted me a couple of weeks ago to share that a birch bark canoe was being constructed at the Mackinac Island Public School, and students were taking part in the process.  Unfortunately, that was the week I was off-island for appointments every single day – so I missed the construction part.

But – I was on hand last Saturday when the canoe was launched!

Howard Kimewon (far left) of Manitoulin Island, Ontario taught the students how to complete a birch bark canoe and also taught them terms from Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Anishinaabe people – also known as Ojibwa. Our neighbor Craig (to the right of Kimewon) volunteered to help with the project after hearing about it while taking a Ojibwa language class that Kimewon offered on the island last winter.

The skeleton of the canoe (made of white ash Kimewon harvested, sawed, and milled) was constructed in the Mulcrone Car Wash in St. Ignace and brought to Mackinac Island by ferry.  Kimewon was commissioned to build two canoes by the Michilimackinac Historical Society.

The canoe is 14.5 feet long. Sheets of paper birch bark line the outside and are affixed with straps and clamps to form them into shape.

Fibers from American basswood trees that are soaked in water to be malleable are used to stitch the bark together. The materials were all harvested from the forest by Kimewon.

The canoe was launched off Windermere Point by Kimewon and John Perault . . .

. . . and the two men paddled for about 10 minutes within sight of the West Breakwall and the Round Island Passage Light . . .

. . . before coming back to shore.

The canoe was loaded on a dray for transport by to the school and will eventually be paddled to St. Ignace.  What a fantastic experience for our island school children!

(Some material for this story from the 9/21/17 edition of The St. Ignace News article written by Stephanie Fortino.)

A FEW PICS

A huge load of luggage (for this late in the season) lined up and awaiting transfer to a Shepler Ferry for transport back to the mainland.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Hmmmm. What’s missing from this picture?

The hanging baskets!  All the gorgeous baskets that were hung in one day in the spring are removed in one day in the fall. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

A not-so-often-seen view across to the Iroquois Hotel.

The parade ground at Fort Mackinac late in the season. As you can see, the fall colors have not arrived yet.  Those three weeks of very warm temps seem to have stopped the colors from appearing except in bits and pieces around the island.

So glad these four sisters (and blog readers) introduced themselves last Saturday when the canoe was being launched. They come to Mackinac every year and stay at the Windermere. Glad Jill was there to be in the pic also!

A new kid in town. This “pretend” coyote has appeared in several areas around the island as a deterrent for those pesky – and messy – Canadian geese. Don’t know what affect he’s having on the geese, but apparently the squirrels and bunnies have figured out he’s not real! (My apologies for not saving the photographer on this photo. Bruce LaPine? Tom Chambers? Jason St. Onge? Greg Main?

The ending of a lovely night with Dave and Di. A drop off at the condo under a partially-obscured-by-clouds  full moon.   I do love this place.

By this time next Saturday we’ll be on our way back home.  It’s not nearly as much fun to pack up for the trip back as it is when we’re heading north.  But – we’re ready to get back to Julie, Matt and the grandkids, our Beverly Beach friends, and our home.  They’ve all endured the wrath of Irma while we’ve been gone, and even though our house had very little damage, others in our neighborhood were not so fortunate.  Also, Flagler Beach sustained much more property damage from Irma from storm surge than it did last year from Hurricane Matthew.  It’s going to be hard to see our little old Florida beach town so changed.

Hope to have one more post before we leave, but if not, I’ll let you know when we’re safely home.  Love you all.

God bless.

 

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 FEW MORE PICS

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!

OUR FIRST TWO WEEKS IN PHOTOS

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!

INDULGE ME – PLEASE

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!

ONE MORE THING

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!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JILLSKI!!

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

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!”

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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”!

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 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!

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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Ice on the West shore.

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

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The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.

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The highway on the east side of the island.

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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. 

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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.

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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!

MORE MACKINAC NEWS

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. 

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Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.

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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.

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Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival

A FEW MORE FROM THE ISLAND

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

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

BODIE NEWS

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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!

AND FROM FLORIDA . . . .

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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.

Winter Mackinac Magic and Bodie’s First Writing Attempt 1/15/17

Hi All!

Winter has come and gone in Florida!

Winter has come and gone in Florida!

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  We had a couple of REALLY COLD days and nights – it even got into the thirties a time or two.  But, not to worry.  We’re now in the 70’s again, and I have to say it’s pretty darn perfect weather right now!

It was even nice enough to some of the Sunset Inlet ladies to eat outside at a great little restaurant we discovered recently - Hammock Organic Café and Boutique. Can't beat getting to eat and shop in the same place! Yummy!

It was even nice enough for some of the Sunset Inlet ladies to eat outside at a great little restaurant we discovered recently – Hammock Organic Café and Boutique. Can’t beat getting to eat and shop in the same place!

On Mackinac it’s 29 today, and for the next two weeks it looks as though 35 or 36 may be the high temp.  All the photos below are compliments of Clark Bloswick except for two.

Tuesdays are trash days downtown, and a little snow storm doesn't stop these hard and hardy workers and horses from completing their route!

Tuesdays are trash days downtown, and a little snow storm doesn’t stop these hardy workers and horses from completing their route!

On Saturday morning the Mighty Huron was cutting through swome surface ice as it arrived early in the morning.

The Mighty Huron plowed through some surface ice as it arrived early one morning this week.

Yesterday marked the end of seeing the 1,000 foot freighters until at least March. The Soo Locks closed today.

Yesterday marked the end of seeing the 1,000 foot freighters until at least March. The Soo Locks closed today.

A sunset earlier in the week - perfect lighting. How can Clark continually be in the right place at the right time?

A sunset earlier in the week – perfect lighting. How can Clark continually be in the right place at the right time?

Sunday morning serenity.

Sunday morning serenity.

Those hard working horses have to eat. A hay wagon heads for the barn after loading at the ferry dock.

Hard-working horses have to eat. A hay wagon heads for the barn after it was loaded at the ferry dock.

Full moon hangs over a blockhouse at Fort Mackinac.

Full moon hangs over a blockhouse at Fort Mackinac.

Looking across Lake Huron toward the bridge in the distance. Looks like the shore ice is setting up.

Looking across Lake Huron toward the bridge in the distance. Looks like the shore ice is setting up pretty well.  (Photo: The Island House)

Loved this pic of two friends, Pam and Meredith, leaving for a day of fun on snowy Mackinac!

Loved this pic of two friends, Pam and Meredith, leaving for a day of fun on snowy Mackinac!  (Photo: Craig Harris)

BODIE’S FIRST WRITING ASSIGNMENT

Hey!  It’s me – Bodie.  Mom said I could try and write a very short blog today.

I only have two questions. What's a blog, and what's writing?

I only have two questions. What’s a blog, and what’s writing?

So.  Mom tried to explain it to me.  She said a blog is where you tell someone out in space about something that is interesting to you or about something you like doing.

I got this.  I like food – dog food (dry and canned), people food (when I can steal it), trash can food (dry and wet), street food (little pieces of paper, bugs, smashed water bottles, lizards (after Maddie kills them), rocks, twigs, dried up chewing gum, bird seed.  You get the picture.  Oh, and poop – but Mom says I don’t like it as much as Bear did – not yet anyway.  I’ll have to work on that.

What else do I like?

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My crate!  I sleep in here at night, but I also grab naps here when Mom’s working or watching tv in this room.  I also stay in here when Mom and Dad leave the house.  I think that’s because they are worried I’d un-stuff the couch if they left me free.  And I can’t say that I wouldn’t.

What else.  I LOVE dryer sheets!  I stand in front of the dryer when Mom gets the clothes out, and we have a race to see who can spot the dryer sheet first.  Mom usually wins because she can see INSIDE the dryer.  I have to wait and see if mom doesn’t spot it.  In that case it just falls out of the dryer on the floor, and I’m on it like a wolf.  I’ve only managed to swallow two so far – because Mom is pretty good at prying my jaws apart.  She was worried after I swallowed the first one, but something called “Google” told her they weren’t very dangerous if they’d already been through the dryer.  And – like most things I swallow – it all came out ok in the end.

I love being outside! Last night we were out on the deck and our neighbors next door had their little 8-mon-old granddaughter out on their third floor deck. She was trying to talk to me so hard! I loved watching her!

I love being outside! Last night we were out on the deck and our neighbors next door had their 8-month-old granddaughter out on their third floor balcony, and she was talking to me through the rails.  I don’t know why the grown-ups couldn’t understand what she was saying.  I understood her perfectly!

Mom is saying “that’s enough for the first time, Bodie”, so I will end for now.  Mom just read what I wrote and said it looked like I was going to do pretty good as a blog writer – especially for a kid!  I didn’t know she was serious though until she hugged me and said I was a good boy.  I really, really, really like when she calls me “a good boy” – because that is usually followed by a treat, which is the BEST kind of dog food EVER!

Did I mention I like food?

Ok, ok, Mom.  I’m stopping now!

Mom also says I’m a little too chatty at times.

Who, me?

Who, me?

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Personal Note:  I received the following notification from Feedspot Blog last week:

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I hope some of you out there will know more about this than I do!  When I opened the link, I learned that Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog was listed as the 14th most popular ISLAND blog among the thousands of island blogs Feedspot holds in their index.  The rankings change by the week and are based on Google reputation and Google search ranking, influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter, and other social media sites, quality and consistency of posts, and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review.

As I said, I don’t really know what any of that means, but I say a very big “Thank You” for the designation!  And a huge thank you to all my readers who encourage me daily to keep writing!

Love you all, and God bless.