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

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

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

FIRST PUBLISHED AUGUST 27, 2009

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

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

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

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

Denise and Judy

Denise and Judy

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

IMG_5359

IMG_5363a

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

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

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

IMG_5373

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

IMG_5448

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

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

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

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

IMG_5380

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

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

IMG_5430

IMG_5431

IMG_5444

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

IMG_5447

IMG_5391

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

IMG_5491

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

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

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

IMG_5463

IMG_5483

IMG_5484

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_5493a

 

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. 

img_3810

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!

pamdaykemdouds

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.

16473200_10210426992284572_3269361514503600317_n

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

oldmarthasweetshop

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.

oldleathercorralnewshopkem

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. 

kemgreenacoldsnowyday

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.

kemgreen

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.

westshore

Ice on the West shore.

eastsidecupolasuitesbeingadded

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

bayviewkemgreen

The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.

eastsidehighway

The highway on the east side of the island.

outlibrarydoor

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. 

kemgreenpuzzleinlibrary

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.

kemgreenfire

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. 

img_3844

Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.

img_3843

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.

img_3845

Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival

A FEW MORE FROM THE ISLAND

tomchambersstannefriday

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

clarksatsunriserabbit

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

BODIE NEWS

img_3835

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 . . . .

img_3829

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?

img_3715

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?

______________________________________________________________________

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

img_3725

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.

Busy Week Everywhere! 11/20/16

We didn’t have to worry about time dragging by this week!  Ted and I (and Maddie and Bodie) were busy with work, doctor appointments, and a wonderful visit from friends.  And every time I checked on things on Mackinac, there was something else going on up there – including the first snow of winter!

img_3197

Our Oklahoma friends (who also own a condo where we were at Surrey Ridge), Buz and Patty Wierwick, visited us for three nights this week as part of their three-week driving tour of the south.  They had never been to Florida or Georgia, and I think they fell in love with both states!  Their children are “doing” Thanksgiving at other relatives this week, so Buz and Patty are going to be having Thanksgiving dinner in Mobile, AL on their way back home.  We spent a few hours touring St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States, on Thursday.

img_3189

Stops included the oldest wooden school house in the U.S. . . .

img_3207

. . . . and we just had to stop in for refreshments at St. George Tavern, which claims to be “The Oldest Pub in the Oldest City.”

 

img_3212

On our way out of St. Augustine, we rode by the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S.  At over 315 years old, it’s the oldest structure in St. Augustine.  Have you noticed that every sentence about St. Augustine contains the word “old”?

img_3226

Ted finally got our boat out of storage last week, so we took our guests out for a ride on the Intercoastal on Friday – a gorgeous Florida November day!  We’re so glad we got to see these great friends for a few days during the winter, and we can’t wait to get together again on the island next summer!

WINTER ARRIVES ON MACKINAC!

The calm before the storm - near sunset. Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac by Tom Chambers.

The calm before the storm – near sunset earlier in the week. Grand Hotel and Fort Mackinac by Tom Chambers.

Sunrise from the water on November 17 by Stephanie Fortino on her way to the island.

Sunrise from the water on Thursday – by Stephanie Fortino on her way to the island.

And a sunrise on Friday from Clark Bloswick.

A sunrise on Friday from Clark Bloswick.

jasonstongejamesbarker

Ahead of the snow came a gale warning.   Jason St. Onge, who posted this pic of the freighter James Barker, said it was in the 60’s with calm waters earlier on Saturday.  Saturday night and Sunday’s forecast included gale warnings with gusts up to 50 mph for the Straits of Mackinac and the island.  The James Barker was setting anchor to take refuge between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace.  Peak winds were to arrive around 4 pm Saturday.

img_32671

Molly McGreevy posted this pic from a Marine Traffic App, showing the James Barker wasn’t the only vessel to take cover in the St. Ignace “parking lot”.  For those interested, the green icons from bottom to top are the freighters James Barker, Cuyahoga, Edwin H. Gott, Algoma Enterprise, and Calument.  The light blue icon are tugs.  From top down The Michigan, The Rebecca Lynn and The Anglian Lady closest to land.

 

img_3265

A Clark Bloswick photo from this morning at British Landing.

img_3266

Clark’s view of the town this morning.  He said the island got a couple of inches overnight.

POOCH NEWS

Bodie had his first official grooming last week, and I'm so happy to report it went very well. Raina, our wonderful groomer, said he was good on the table. What was even better was his trainer taught me how to load him in my car the day before our grooming appointment. With a couple of simple instructions, Bodie now jumps right into the back seat and seems content to either lay down or sit in the back and take in the scenery. Please, Lord, let this last! As much as you all know how much I loved my sweet Bear, he was a terrible traveler.

Bodie had his first official grooming last week, and I’m so happy to report it went very well. Raina, our wonderful groomer, said he was good on the table. Even better – his trainer taught me how to load him in my car the day before our grooming appointment. With a couple of simple instructions, Bodie now jumps right into the back seat and seems content to either lay down or sit in the back and take in the scenery. Please, Lord, let this last! As much as you all know how much I loved my sweet Bear, he was a terrible traveler.

How Bodie sleeps at night. Cracks me up!

How Bodie sleeps at night. Cracks me up!

We took Bodie and Madde out to Washington Oaks State Park this afternoon for a little adventure. Bodie discovered his shadow . . .

We took Bodie and Maddie out to Washington Oaks State Park this afternoon for a little adventure. Bodie discovered his shadow . . .

. . . and loved running free up and down the trails!

. . . and loved running free up and down the trails!

My sweet fur babies. . . .

My sweet fur babies. . . .

So darn cute!

So darn cute!

A FEW EXTRA

An awesome sunrise over our Flagler Beach pier by friend Linda Brendlinger.

An awesome sunrise over our Flagler Beach pier by friend Linda Brendlinger.  We lost a portion of the end of the pier to Hurricane Matthew.

Some beautiful shots of last week's super moon from blog reader Cheryl Haddon from Illinois. Wow!

Some beautiful shots of last week’s super moon from blog reader Cheryl Haddon from Illinois. Wow!

The Bodster. Gotta love that face!

How can you not smile with these two characters around!

Who let the dogs out?! We have this big holding pond in our community, and it is usually dry. It makes a really fine dog park! From the front, that's Maddie, Bodie, Ryder (an English Golden Retriever), little Joey (a MinPin), and Raschal (an Australian Shepherd). They LOVE playing together out there!

Who let the dogs out?! We have this big holding pond in our community, and it is usually dry. It makes a really fine dog park! From the front, that’s Maddie, Bodie, Ryder (an English Golden Retriever), little Joey (a MinPin), and Raschal (an Australian Shepherd). They LOVE playing together out there!

I had to end with this one. This photo from Greg Main shows a very unusual vertical cloud. If God was choosing to show us what His angels must look like, I think this cloud is a great representation.

I had to end with this one. This photo from Greg Main shows a very unusual vertical cloud. If God ever chose to show us what His angels must look like, I think this cloud is a great representation.

Personal note:  As all of you who have been readers over the years know, I usually take the month of November off from blogging.  I didn’t want to do that this year, because of course I wanted to share our first month with Bodie with you.

So, I’m going to take a little breather now until the first of January.  Per doctor’s orders, I’m starting physical therapy again on my neck, and I just need some time to recharge my jets.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us, and I know we’re all going to be extra busy.  It’s a good time to take a break from writing!

I’ll still be around on Facebook, so we can always say “hi” from there!

In advance, the Horton household wishes all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings and a very Merry Christmas.  We’ll see you back here during the first week in January, 2017.  It promises to be an exciting year for us.  We have an Alaska cruise coming up in May, three months on Mackinac again during the summer, and lots of fun with a growing Bodie and our sweet little Maddie girl.

Sending much love and hugs from our house to yours!

God bless.

Grandkids for the Weekend! 11/6/16

One of the main reasons we moved to Florida was to see our grandkids more often, and this was one of those weekends we got to reap the rewards.  Julie and Matt were out of town, and we had the great fun of Jordan and Matthew spending a couple of nights with us! 

Jordan had babysitting jobs lined up, and since she now can drive, she handled all the back and forth travel from babysitting duties to our house.  Matthew brought tons of fishing gear and was out casting from the seawall as soon as he arrived.  The weekend was relatively quiet – Jordan babysat, did schoolwork, and read.  Matthew fished and took Bodie out for runs (Bodie LOVED that)!

In fact, Bodie and Matthew formed quite a bond this weekend.

img_3100

When Bodie got put in “time-out” for stealing Matthew’s socks, Matthew climbed in the crate with him to keep him company.  I have a real concern that this “punishment” did nothing to keep Bodie from stealing socks again!  In fact, it might have encouraged it!

A FEW FALL PICS

tomchambersjamesrbarker6

The freighter James R. Barker passes by the golden shoreline trees.  It was 60 degrees and sunny on Mackinac today.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

img_3106

A spectacular Clark Bloswick photo through one of the Fort Mackinac’s gun ports! 

img_3105

Love, love, love this pic of a chipmunk against a blurred background that includes St. Anne’s.  Clark, who took the pic, says the chipmunks are staying visible a lot longer than usual due to the warmer than normal fall.

When next we chat the election will be over, and America will have a new President.  Please join me in lifting a prayer for this great country of ours. 

God bless.

More Fall Beauty From Mackinac 11/3/16

I thought Sunday’s blog post would be the best of the best of “Fall on Mackinac” photos.

I was wrong.

tomchambers

Every time someone shares one of these pics of this year’s gorgeous trees I tear up a little.  Sure would love to be there to see them in person – to stand in the road and stare, or sit on a leafy knoll and just breathe it all in. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

pamday

I can’t get enough of the maple trees on Cadotte!  These trees were only planted six years ago.  Can you imagine their WOW factor in another decade!  (Photo: Pam Day)

mi5

The folks at Metivier Inn shared this and the next five photos – showing just how empty downtown becomes after most everything has closed.  Here a lone person walks a bike toward St. Anne’s on Main Street.

mi6

In the summer this row of benches would be overflowing with visitors awaiting their turn to board a Carriage Tour.

mi3

Ferry docks usually teeming with people at any hour of the day stand empty until just before the arrival or departure of a ferry.

mi2

Main Street . . .

mi

. . . Market Street . . .

mi4

. . . and the marina are empty.  November is quiet on Mackinac.  It’s a time when year-round residents give a sigh of relief that another season of hard work has come to an end, men enjoy hunting season, and families travel to see friends and relatives.  Thanks for sharing, Metivier Inn!

sunrisepatrickconlon

A gorgeous sunrise captured by Patrick Conlon.

dalepetersonoct31

And that’s a wrap.  From Dale Peterson, this photo of the last group of horses leaving the island for the winter.  A few horses will remain for the winter taxi and for the work drays.

clark

THIS end of Main Street was a beehive on this particular day.  Getting the work done before the snow flies!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

blp5

This photo and the next four are from friend and wonderful photographer Bruce LaPine.  Love this one from the Peace Garden, showing the bronze statue, “Be Still”.  The garden is dedicated to the 200 years of lasting peace between Canada and the United States since the War of 1812.  The garden is at the east end of Marquette Park.

blp3

From Point Lookout, overlooking Sugar Loaf.

blp

I guess it’s strange to say that one of my favorite island spots is a cemetery, but it is – and especially in the fall.  It’s then that the sound of your feet crunching through the fallen leaves is usually the only sound you will hear as you walk among the gravestones.  Such peace for those who rest here.

brucelapine3

The Grand Lady on the Hill – almost hidden by those maples.

brucelapine2

And there are just no words that would do this one justice.  It is perfect.  Awesome photos, Bruce!  Thank you for sharing!

A FEW BODIE THOUGHTS

img_3006

I pulled out an old photo of Bear this week (he was about 1 1/2 years old in that one) and compared him to Bodie.  I had forgotten how much lighter Bear had become as he’d aged.  When we first got himhe was almost the exact shade Bodie is now. 

img_3029

Bodie is alternately a teenage terror, an obedient angel, and a big puppy who is scary smart.  I taught him to shake the other day in about 10 minutes, and he instinctively knew to alternate paws –  without being taught that – depending on which one I asked for.  You can just see his mind whirling at times.  Gotta be on my toes with this one!

img_3062

He and Maddie are bonding.  That means she puts up with him until he crosses a line.  Then she pushes him back across to his side.  Bodie is more assertive than Bear, but Maddie handles him like the Queen she is.  I caught them grooming each other one morning – Bodie washing her face, and Maddie cleaning his ears.  Sweet moment.

Y’all won’t believe this, but I stayed up until 1 am this morning watching the Cubs win the World Series.  First baseball game I’ve watched in at least 10 years (and probably the last one for the next ten).  I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, but that game last night was sports at its greatest.  Congratulations to all the Cubs fans out there! 

Have a great weekend, and we’ll meet back here in a few days. 

God bless.

First Week Back 10/23/16

HURRICANE MATTHEW

We’ll have been back from Michigan a week on Monday, the 24th, and I have to admit to still being somewhat discombobulated.  Although Flagler Beach and Beverly Beach community services are working like Trojans to get our little beach communities cleaned up and everything open again, it’s sad to ride up or down A1A and see the destruction that some subdivisions and towns even smaller than ours suffered.

Ted and I rode up to Fort Matanzas this afternoon (where Ted volunteers), and the destruction to homes and trees and dunes is just devastating.  All along the highway there are piles of debris – some of it is just rubbish from downed trees, but way too much of it is furniture, appliances, clothes and artwork from houses that were once someone’s “dream homes”.  In some areas the ocean came across the dunes and highway and went into neighborhoods and houses on the other side of the road.  Vegetation both east and west of the highway looks as though it’s been sprayed by weed killer.  Such is the destruction of salt water on plant life.

As many times as you read of these kinds of things happening other places, you can never fully grasp the reality until it happens close to you.  In Sunset Inlet, homeowners whose houses sustained damage are struggling to get roofing and siding companies’ attention when there are so many other people needing the same services.  Since we first got home, we’ve learned more about what happened here in our neighborhood, and we now know that several homes suffered pretty substantial damage – mostly from water intrusion from roof damage, windows and sliding doors.  We had sustained winds here of nearly 90 mph for several hours, and that is a terrible force against anything man-made.

But – everyone is pulling together – sharing information, being there for each other, and lending helping hands.  For those in the community who got here a day after the storm passed (one couple actually rented kayaks and came in that way before the bridges opened) – a huge thank you to those who came in and emptied our frig and freezer while the electricity was out and moved it into storage where there were generators.  And thank you for coming – not once, but twice – to check our home for water damage around our doors and windows.

Each day more highways are opened, detours are cancelled, and businesses are opening.  Two of our favorite places – Java Joint and Turtle Shack – were off limits to cars because of a detour, but they opened within days and you could still get there by walking down the side walk.  Today the highway was opened, and we had breakfast at Java Joint for the first time since we’ve been back.

Our Flagler County communities depend on tourism – both summer and winter – for jobs and a good economy.  We are rapidly rebuilding, and I predict by January, when most of the snowbirds arrive, and by next summer, when the beaches will fill with vacationers, this little coastal town will once again be going strong.  We may be small, but we are mighty!

MACKINAC ISLAND

I KNEW I would miss the peak week for Fall colors, and I did.  Thank you to Jill for sharing the first seven pics below (except the one from the Chippewa) from her final week on the island.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha's Sweet Shop.

Jill found me on our last morning grabbing a cup of coffee from Miranda at Martha’s Sweet Shop.

One of my favorite places for Fall color - Surrey Hill!

One of my favorite places for Fall color – Surrey Hill!

There's no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween.

There’s no Halloween anywhere as happy as a Mackinac Island Halloween!

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, who pass out goodies to every trick or treater.

Children fill the streets for a giant parade past the downtown businesses, where owners pass out goodies to every trick-or-treater.

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

After dark the streets belong to the adults, and costumes range from cute and clever to . . .

. . . over the top scary!

. . . over the top scary! (Photo: Chippewa Hotel)

A sure sign of season's end - today the Chuckwagon closed for the season. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

A sure sign of season’s end – today the Chuckwagon closed. Have a great winter, Donny and Sharon and the crew!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at the Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason) happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

The day after we left I saw this Mackinac Revealed LLC photo on Facebook. This has always been one of my favorite vistas, and in this pic our neighbors at Cedar Hill Condos, Meredith and Craig (and dog Mason),  happened to be walking down the hill. Such a perfect photo!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

Shepler Ferry Captain Pat Springate captured this great photo today, showing exactly how HUGE a freighter is!

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The east end of town from Fort Mackinac this afternoon. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

 

And earlier today - from Clark Bloswick - a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac on a beautiful fall morning.

And earlier today – from Clark Bloswick – a glance toward the Chippewa and Fort Mackinac from the Arnold Dock bike racks.

A CHANCE TO LIVE ON MACKINAC

For anyone who may be interested, I’m mentioning again a condo for sale on the island.  I have a special place in my heart for this condo because Ted and I used to own it!  Yes, our former condo at Surrey Ridge is being sold by the folks who bought it from us.  Improvements to the condo since we owned it are: 1) personal storage units for each owner; 2) new decks and railing; and 3) new landscaping.  The condo has three large bedrooms and two baths, a living area, kitchen, and a loft area that could be used as an office or TV room.  The condo has three levels – entrance on the first floor, living area, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, and guest room and bath on second floor, and loft and third bedroom on third floor. The price is $315,000 FIRM.  Interested folks should contact Steve Gould at (678) 521-3165.  It is for sale by owner.

BODIE

Eventually Bodie will take his place with Maddie as “one of our dogs”, but just for a little while I have to talk about him pretty much constantly.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second. Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present position. Negatives: He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn't care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point - I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANYTIME he disappears suddently, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie - I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.

You remember how you felt when your baby(s) started crawling and you could no longer take your eyes off them for one second?  Take that feeling and multiple it by four legs and you get my present life.

Negatives: 1)  He loves to put things in his mouth and couldn’t care less if they are safe or dangerous. Case in point – I was loading the dishwasher tonight when he disappeared behind me and headed for the bedroom. I know to follow him ANY TIME he disappears suddenly, and thank goodness I did. He had pulled a steak knife out of the dishwasher and was trying to figure out how to chew it! Oh dear Gussie – I almost had a heart attack! Thank goodness no harm was done, but I spent five minutes with his mouth pried open looking for blood and cuts.  2)  Hmmm . . . I seem to have run out of negatives.

Positives:  1)  He’s settling down more for longer periods of time.  2) He’s good in his crate at night and when we leave the house. 3) He has SIT and DOWN mastered (as long as there’s a treat involved), knows LEAVE IT and OFF (because he hears it every two minutes), and definitely knows his name.  4)  He and Maddie are learning to share, but Maddie has met her match in “toy snatching”.  For the first time in her life, she gets HER toys stolen as often as she steals Bodie’s. 5)  Did I mention he’s a mama’s boy?  6)  He is so curious about everything.  He will sit and watch an airplane cross the sky and cock his head like “What IS that?”

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds.

He loves walking out to the dock on the Intracoastal and watching birds, but the first time a fish jumped out of the water he almost came out of his skin he was so scared.

Several days after we lost Bear I took all the covers off his huge orthopedic dog bed and washed them.  When I was putting it all back together, I said to Ted I was going to see if anyone in the neighborhood would want the bed, and he immediately said, “No you’re not!”  I asked why not, since we’d both talked about getting another small dog when something happened to Bear.  “Because,” he said, “We’ll have another big dog one day who will need that bed.”  Of course I cried on his shoulder that day, thinking to myself I couldn’t ever love another big dog.

I was wrong.

I was wrong.

One of my readers last week commented that Bodie would never fill the spot in my heart that Bear filled, but that Bodie would create his own spot.

And that’s what he’s already doing.

God bless.