Visiting Mackinac in the Winter 2/5/17

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


Ice on the West shore.


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


The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.


The highway on the east side of the island.


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


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

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


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

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


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


Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.


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


Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival



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


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



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



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

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

Have a great week!

God bless.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he was right – that’s all I did.

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

View from the Deck

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

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

Crossing Paths and Small World Magic 1/22/17

Hi Friends!

Don’t you just love when a story that began days or weeks or even years in the past reappears – and turns into an even better story?

Here’s what I mean:

In 2013 one of my readers, Lori Kittinger – who lives with her family in Michigan – contacted me about helping out with her daughter’s (Brittany) Senior pictures.  She had the photographer all lined up, but Brittany had dreamed of the pictures being taken on Mackinac Island.  My assignment was to scout out locations and maybe use a few “connections” to go beyond the normal touristy places.  I immediately signed up, thinking what a fun way to spend a day . . . and it was perfect!

We covered that island like the dew that day. I don't even want to think about how many times we climbed "the hill". But photos like this one on Grand Hotel's porch . . .

We covered that island like the dew that day. I don’t even want to think about how many times we climbed “the hill”, but photos like this one of beautiful Brittany on Grand Hotel’s porch . . .

. . . . and this one on Maryanka Alexander's gorgeous Friesian Regina

. . . . and this one on Maryanke Alexander’s gorgeous Friesian Regina made all the effort worthwhile.

Brittany’s Godmother, Lisa, a professional photographer, got beautiful images of Brittany at Anne’s Tablet, at the Somewhere in Time gazebo, at the Grand Stable (where we just happened to catch Ben leaving with a vintage buggy – one wish we thought we’d miss), and at Grand Hotel.  It was a wonderful day!

Lori, Brittany and I have remained Facebook friends ever since, and that’s how I knew Brittany, who is now a Junior in Education at Spring Arbor University in Arbor MI, was arriving in St. Augustine with a group of fellow students for a month of diversity training, visiting elementary and middle schools across this section of Florida.

I immediately contacted Lori and asked her to give Brittany my cell number in case she needed something a “mom” would normally handle.  I was only 30 minutes from where they’d be in St. Augustine, and Lori was almost 1300 miles away.  I could get to her at lot faster!

That was almost a month ago.

Brittany and I texted several times over her first weeks in Florida (it was also her very first time visiting the Sunshine State, and she loves it).  And we finally worked out a time we could meet for a short visit.

Last Thursday these six students (Brittany is on the top row, far left) and two others not picgtured arrived at the Fort Matanzas Visitors Center to meet Ted (as a former educator, he became part of their diversity training) and me.

Last Thursday these six students (Brittany is on the top row, far left) and two others not pictured arrived at the Fort Matanzas Visitors Center to meet Ted (as a former educator, he became part of their diversity training) and me.

While two of the group took off at a very fast pace to fulfill the requirements of becoming Master Junior Rangers, the rest of the group and me saw the fort (from a distance - still no ferry) and hiked the nature trail.

While two of the group took off at a very fast pace to fulfill the requirements of becoming Master Junior Rangers, the rest of the group saw the fort (from a distance – still no ferry) and hiked the nature trail.

Swearing in of Master Junior Rangers!

Swearing in of Master Junior Rangers!

Now here’s where it gets downright crazy!

This amazing group of young women (and one man) are standing in the Visitors Center talking to Ted and me, and Ted notices that one girl (Melanie) is wearing a Coopersville Athletic Department t-shirt.  He says, “I just recently discovered my birth mother’s family, and some of my cousins live in Coopersville.”

“What are their names?” she asked.

“Bennink,” says Ted.

“No way!  I live next door to Steve Bennink!”

Who just happens to be one of Ted’s newly-found cousins!

It turned out that Melanie's grandmother was Dave Bennink's(another cousin) 4th grade teacher!

It turned out that Melanie’s grandmother was Dave Bennink’s (another cousin) 4th grade teacher!

Can you believe it!?

The entire group left yesterday for the trip back to college, and Florida is a little less sunny today since they took back all their smiles. 

I just love young people!!


The U.S. Coastguard heavy ice breaker Mackinaw sails through the fog one morning last week. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The U.S. Coastguard heavy ice breaker Mackinaw sails through the fog one morning last week. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A lone coyote comes off the west end ice. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A lone coyote comes off the west end ice. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A pretty pic of Pam Day's new snowmobile parked near British Landing.

A pretty pic of Pam Day’s new snowmobile parked near British Landing.

A perfect "pre" sunrise photo. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

A perfect “pre” sunrise photo. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)


—A magical image of our neighborhood with the moon reflected in both the ocean and our inlet. (Photo: Neighbor Bob Hewit - from his drone)

—A magical image of our neighborhood, with the moon reflected in both the ocean and our inlet. (Photo: Neighbor Bob Hewit – from his drone)

Same drone - taken from the A1A side of the neighborhood.

Same drone – taken from the A1A side of the neighborhood.  You can even see the intracoastal back there in this one.

Mr. Bodie - looking pleased as punch with himself.

Mr. Bodie – looking pleased as punch with himself.

Everyone have a great week!  Love and hugs, 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!


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.


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


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



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”?


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!


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.


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.


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.



A Clark Bloswick photo from this morning at British Landing.


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


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!


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.

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.


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)


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)


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.


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


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


Main Street . . .


. . . Market Street . . .


. . . 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!


A gorgeous sunrise captured by Patrick Conlon.


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.


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


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.


From Point Lookout, overlooking Sugar Loaf.


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.


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


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



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. 


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!


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.

With the Closing of the Grand . . . . 10/30/16

This is Grand Hotel’s final weekend of the season.  I remember well (when we owned our condo and arrived on Mother’s Day weekend and left at the end of October or the first week in November) popping down the hill on this weekend to get my final “fix” of Grand Hotel-ness.  After all, it had to last me till the following Spring!

Of course, the Grand can turn anything into a party, and they offer a “Close the Grand” special that begins today and ends tomorrow, when Dan Musser III, President and owner of Grand Hotel, rings the bell and declares “the season is officially over.”  The package includes a casual dinner buffet on Sunday evening and a continental breakfast Monday morning.  There’s a laid back atmosphere as the Grand cleans out the pantries and wine cellar.  Bob Tagatz (love him), the hotel’s historian and concierge, will do a presentation explaining the process they use to close the hotel, as well as give fun facts from the 2016 season.

Before the closing, there is the official “running of the chairs”, when hotel employees line up and walk briskly out to the long porch, each grabbing a rocking chair or a table or a bench and walking it back inside through a corridor formed by other hotel employees and guests.  Each item on the porch is deposited in perfect rows inside the Grand Ballroom, and there it remains until just before the hotel reopens in the spring.

If you hang around after the closing and wander through the halls, you might get a peek inside the Presidential Suite or one of the First Lady Suites, as the Grand’s staff works rapidly to make up each room and leave it spotless.  Jill and I have wandered those halls on many a closing day.  We even got inside Masco Cottage one year, and there’s only one word to describe it – DECADENT!

My friend Pam Day, who I introduced to you on Thursday, shared some pics she took this week.  You’d think with the close of the season, and all the flower beds pulled and the tulip bulbs planted, there wouldn’t be much in the way of color.  Well, don’t you believe it for a minute!


Maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen this color combination used at the Grand for fall color gardens . . .


. . . but, oh my gosh, isn’t it beautiful!  Every shade of lilac with some white and a splash of the palest yellow mixed in.  Love, love, love!


The trees that line Cadotte took their sweet time dressing for fall this year, but it was well worth the wait!  Those leaves are about as close to red as they can get!


I don’t even know what to say about this photo by Clark Bloswick – except that I could just sit and stare at it all afternoon.  I don’t think you’d ever find a photo that more accurately defines a perfect Mackinac Island Fall afternoon than this one.  Just stunning, Clark!

On the years we’d stay on Mackinac for a day or two after Grand Hotel closed, we got to witness the island for a treasured moment in time the way the year-round residents do.  The Grand closure is the last ritual of the season, and with the closing of its doors, hundreds and hundreds of seasonal employees leave the island, either that same day or the next.  The streets are shockingly empty, business doors have signage like “closed for the season” or “see you in the spring”.  Only one ferry line is running, and the schedule is sparse.  Islanders use this time to stock up for winter, knowing that an extremely cold and snowy winter could mean times when the ferries can’t run and the plane can’t fly.  They have to be prepared for anything.

On the other hand, it’s a time of true community on Mackinac.  The folks who live on the island all year are a close-knit group, most of whom have called the island home for generations.  I love this group of islanders, and it’s still – even after all these years – a dream of mine to spend at least part of a winter there.  I just have to figure out how to make it happen.

I’m sitting here at my laptop with this stupid grin on my face thinking about spending a month on the island in the dead of winter – with snow measured by the foot, winds howling, and nothing to keep me entertained but writing, photography, books, a big red/blonde dog, and maybe – if I’m lucky – a fireplace.  Where’s Ted in this picture?  He’s here in Florida, because THERE IS NO WAY ON GOD’s GREEN EARTH HE’D EVER CONSIDER SUCH A SCENARIO.  But if he did, well – that would just make it perfect!

Maybe not even a month.  Two weeks?

Oh well, that’s my fantasy for the day.  Maybe I got on that subject because I just came in from walking Bodie and “glow” drops are running down my face.  Oh wait!  That’s sweat.  Cause it’s still hot in Florida!

Have a great upcoming week, and God bless.

What Would I Do Without . . . . 10/27/16

Each year when we leave Mackinac for the summer I’m already wondering about the coming fall and winter.  As I transition from being a part-time Michigander back to being a full-time Floridian (still can’t get used to saying that), I  begin to ponder who among the island year-round residents may be willing to share their photographs of “the hidden season” – so I can pass them on to you.  There have been so many generous folks in the past – Clark Bloswick, Tom Chambers, Patrick Conlon, Robert McGreevy, Stefanie Congdon, Greg Main – to name just a few.  Without you the winter version of Bree’s Blog wouldn’t exist.  As always, thank you so much!

Being added to that list this year is a sweet, sweet lady I had the pleasure to call neighbor for too short a time this summer.  Her name is Pam Day, and she’s been a long-time reader of Bree’s Blog.  I actually have TWO Pam Days who are blog readers – Pam Day from Ohio, and THIS Pam Day, who is from Michigan (both are equally as sweet).  The Michigan Pam Day did something this summer that so many of my readers have dreamed of – she bought a condo on Mackinac Island.  Her new semi-permanent address is Cedar Hill Condos, where Ted and I stayed the last part of this summer and where we’ll be staying for three months next year.  I’ve already discovered that Pam has quite an eye for photography, and she’s agreed to share her talent with us.  I’m hoping that other full-time residents at Cedar Hill will also be snapping winter photos and forwarding them on to me.  How ’bout it, Eugenia Murray and Meredith and Craig Mclellan?

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a couple of Pam’s photos, followed by others from several island contributors:


This morning at the post office.  The air was chilly, and the streets and bike racks were empty.  (Photo: Pam Day)


The view across the Jewel Golf Course from Huron Road and out across the Straits.  (Photo: Pam Day)


A little different angle on Grand Hotel.  Oh my gosh, I love those gold trees! (Photo: Tom Chambers)


A walk in the woods in the Fall with your dog.  What could be better?!  Photo by Lisa Brock with pooch Penny Lane.


Yes, they’re electric golf carts.  But on the way to winter storage, they travel by horse-drawn dray.  (Photo: Eugenia Murray)


The end of the sailing season.  Dave Rowe took this final view of the island as he sailed his boat Wild Honey to the mainland for winter storage. 


A great capture of Pure Mackinac by Clark Bloswick.  A lone dray, a lone taxi, a lone maintenance worker on otherwise empty Cadotte Avenue.  Great fall colors!


The trees of the Jewel Golf Course were a favorite subject this week!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)


I had to save this one for last.  A stunning October sunset over Mackinac.  (Photo: Jason Kladiva)


This week’s Top 10 Things Bodie Likes That Get Him in Trouble:  1.Pulling up long strands of grass from a backyard that doesn’t have enough grass to spare to puppies who want to play with it 2)  Anything that dangles 3) Plastic of any kind – dry cleaning plastic, newspaper plastic sleeve, garbage bags (full and empty) 4) Shoes 5) Socks 6) Welcoming visitors by chewing on their hands 7) Paper towels 8) Sea shells 9) Paper 10) Wood 


But . . . . here I am finishing this post, and there he is sound asleep in Bear’s bed.  I wonder as I type when I will begin to call it Bodie’s bed.  I can glance at him sometimes (like now), and he looks so much like Bear it’s eerie. 


But then he wakes up and moseys over to say hi (like now).  And he sticks out that cute tongue with the black spot, and looks up at me with those eyes that have a slightly oriental slant to them at this point in his development, and I think, “No, he’s all Bodie.” 

And I grin at him and tell him what a good boy he is, and his butt instantly hits the floor because he already knows when I say “good boy”, it’s going to be followed by the “sit” command and a treat is going to magically appear in my hand.

Yep.  He’s all Bodie And I wouldn’t have it any other way.