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.

Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 11 – 2/15/2012

Happy Valentine’s Day, and hello from the . . . . . fairly cold South!  We’ve had a few days of early morning 20’s (even had a fire in the stove one morning) and high temps in the 50’s.  In other words, it’s felt like wintertime down here since the weekend, and that’s a good thing!

Ya’ll will have to forgive me tonight, but I’m going to kind of throw together this post.  It’s been a crazy week here.  I was summoned for jury duty on Monday, and even though I haven’t been called yet, I spent Monday AND Tuesday at the Americus courthouse, have to go back on Wednesday, and now I’m trying to get out the door with my Sweetie for Valentine’s dinner at my favorite ri’vah restaurant, Daphne’s.

Sooooo . . . . . here’s a little news and some great photos and links for you to check out!

  • You know that little shop I talk about and shop in all summer on the Island – Little Luxuries?  Well, oh my gosh, Nicole (the owner) now has her store online, and you can shop till you drop from the comfort of your home (but ONLY if you’re not on the island – if you’re ON the island, for sure GO TO THE STORE!).  Nicole says she’s a little short on merchandise right now, but by the time the store reopens May 1st her web site will be filled with all kinds of goodies you can order online.  Some of my favorite things are already available!  You can get started by going to the link below the logo.
  • This isn’t specifically about Mackinac Island (but it IS about Michigan), and some of you might have already seen this on the NBC news the other night.  We all know that this winter we’ve been getting some spectacular Northern Lights displays.  If you think they’re beautiful from earth, you should see them from the International Space Station!  The very first video on the link below clearly shows Detroit and Chicago and the outline of the state of Michigan in the night sky.  Jaw-droppingly (is that a word?) awesome!
  • Hurray for Tony Lucca, a Michigan musician who has performed on Mackinac Island many, many times.  He’s been chosen on The Voice!  Video here of his story and his appearance on a recent Today Show:
  • There’s a great new video out on the Festival of the Horse, with footage from the 2011 festival.  Watch it here:
  • OK – This is HUGE!  Remember the photos and video from Vera Bradley posted a couple of weeks ago?  Didn’t think it could get much better than that?  Well, it did!  Vera Bradley is giving away a trip to Mackinac Island.  The Grand Prize winner will win a trip FOR FOUR to the Grand Hotel for a three-night stay.  Included is airfare FOR FOUR from anywhere within the continental U.S., ferry tickets, and selected meals.  OH.  MY.  GOSH!!  Deadline to enter is March 10, and you can only enter once . . . . hurry and get your name in!  Also – FOUR 1st Prize winners will receive a Vera Bradley Grand Traveler ($118 value) in the Spring color of your choice.

Island Photos

The only way to and from the Island now that the ferries aren't running is via Great Lakes Air. (Photo: Mary Slevin)

The lighthouses sure look small from way up here! (Photo: Mary Slevin)

Sunset. (Photo by Mission Point)

The setting sun sets homes and ice aglow. (Photo: Heather May)

A recent cloudy, cold morning. (Photo: Sonnet Quinn - a.k.a. Mackinac Mommy)

Same morning - different view. (Photo: Sonnet Quinn)

Full moon over Shepler dock in Mackinac City. (Photo: Shepler Ferry)

The Welcome, Shepler's smallest ferry, is getting a facelift while in dry dock for the winter. Can't wait to see the "new" Welcome! (Photo: Shepler Ferry)

These last two photos (one of which is the beautiful header photo today) are from good Island friend Liz Burt, who teaches at the Mackinac Island Public School.  Her blog is

She captured this one on her way to school early one morning. Liz, hope you enter this in the calendar contest!

No words needed.

That’s it for this week.  Hope everyone is doing well and getting just the right amount of snow.  God bless.

Mackinac Island Off Season Update – Volume XX – March 21, 2011

Header:  Thanks to Steve and Tami Fridley for the amazing photo of Market Street at night.  They were on the island in October and took some beautiful photos. 

Hi Friends!  Lots and lots of good stuff to talk about this week, including a really amazing video I’ll give you a link to at the end of this post.  You will love it!

It’s all about the end of winter on the island these days.  The ferries were set to start running this past Monday, but there was still too much ice.  The Coast Guard was called in, and they’ve been busy all week cutting through what was left of the ice bridge and opening the passageway between St. Ignace and the island.  I’m thinking ferry service to the island is only a few days away. 

The Shepler Ferry photographer took an amazing photo this week that shows a phenomenom that appears occasionally on the Straits.  Shepler’s explained it this way, “A few times a year, the light hits the ice just right to cause this optical illusion.  It looks like there is a waterfall between the islands, and the islands themselves look taller than they actually are.  It sometimes happens in the summer as well.”   When I first looked at the photo, I thought I was looking at the Mackinac Bridge.  But that is actually Mackinac Island and Round Island.

Pretty cool, huh?

Molly, who is a friend of ours on the island (she’s an EMT and also drives a private tour carriage) returned to the island last week after several weeks in New York state visiting her dad.  When Molly travels, her dogs travel with her, and returning to the island in the winter – with no ice bridge – means one way across.  They all fly.  Great Lakes Air is VERY dog-friendly, and there’s no “size and weight” limitations.  Pets travel “first class”, just like all the passengers on the little 6-seaters.

This is Morgan, Molly's German Shepherd. Morgan was born on the island and has lived there all her life. She's a 13-year-old and enjoyed her flight going home, sitting just behind the wing. That other "furball" you see to the left of Morgan is Molly's 16-month old Dutch Shepherd, Mieke.

A super letter from Greg Main (WHAT would we have done without his wonderful reporting all winter!):

“Bust it up!  The first item (not on the agenda) at Wednesday’s special City Council Meeting was the Mayor informing everyone that she will ask the Coast Guard to begin breaking up the ice which remains in the area – as of this morning, it remains all around us as far as one can see – which may . . . . may mean ferry service before the end of this month.  As yet, however, no franchises have been issued to any of the three boat companies currently in the mix.  At this special council meeting, the revised ferry boat ordinance language, ferry boat franchise application and the franchise agreement were all discussed with all of these items being accepted by unanimous vote.

We woke up one week ago today to find the island covered with the most snow we’ve had at any time this winter season.  Unfortunately, by late that afternoon, the melting had already begun, and one week later snowmobiles are scraping along bare pavement around town (although, a good deal of snow remains in those areas not prone to sun), and bikes now outnumber gasoline engines downtown.  Given that rain is a good possibility for a day or so, St. Urho’s Day may have been the beginning of the end of our winter season this year.  Of course, anything can happen at this latitude during these transition months, but the feeling I’m hearing lately is that we’re all ready to get rid of the ice and move on to all things Spring.

The Coast Guard cutter, Mackinaw, has passed through the Straits the past couple of days, slicing a path along the shipping channel.  Evidence of how soft the ice is becoming became clear today as, after the cutter passed by in an easterly direction early this morning, a vast area of open water appeared by noon, reclaiming the lake from just outside the break walls over to Round Island.  Overviews from Arch Rock and Pontiac’s Trail show several open ‘holes’ in the ice sporting brilliant blue water.  From past experience and continued breaking up of what ice remains, it should not be long before the ice cover will be history.  One thing some of us look forward to with the break up are the piles of ice which accumulate along our shoreline.  With a bit of wind, broken slabs of ice have, in the past, created some unusual natural masterpieces as they’re pushed, prodded and shoved onshore.  Something to look forward to over the next couple of weeks . . . . maybe.

Last Saturday, the island community came together, as it often does, to remember, pay tribute to, and simply celebrate the life of Bob Roach.  Food was available by donation at the Village Inn during the day (all donations went into a fund set up in Bob’s name), and a huge bonfire was lit around 3 p.m. on the beach at the end of the boardwalk, with an appropriate piece of ’fuel’ being part of it.  It seems, from what I’m told, there was a piano in the basement of the Island House which was one on which George Stella used to play all those many years ago.  Bob, who worked for the Island House, expressed an interest in burning it someday.  Well, it was only natural that those who knew of his wish would include this piano as part of the bonfire.  Around 6:30 that evening, the island’s Fire and Rescue vehicles gathered at the fire for a brief time for photos before heading out on a circle tour of the island, lights flashing the entire time, sirens sounding out at intermittent intervals.  Following them on snowmobiles, despite the lack of snow on the road in many places, were many of Bob’s friends.  (Greg posted two videos on YouTube showing parts of the ride around the island.  The link to the second one is, which shows the emergency vehicles and snowmobilers coming back into town after the ride.  The link to the first video, which shows the processional riding past Devil’s Kitchen, pops up after you watch this video).

Shortly before the fire was extinguished at midnight, a special wine bottle, appropriately decorated for Bob, filled with written messages from a lot of people and sealed, was blessed by Father Jim.  It was placed in a hole in the ice just off-shore from the bonfire and pushed under the ice with the hopes that the current will take it to places we can only guess.  An email address . . . . email address, NOT a website, was established so anyone can access it to read messages or view photos.  The email address is: and the password is: bobbyroach.

Not much more to pass along this time.  The sloppy commute of late has curtailed much of my wanderings around the island, but I’m hoping that will change very quickly with continued warmer weather.  I do have one interesting note (interesting to me, anyhow) to end this email with. The Northern Cardinal, generally heard here year-round, has appeared in greater numbers recently, which prompted me to head up to the East Bluff yesterday to ‘play’ with them.  The Lenfestey family has a bird book which contains various melodies from 250 different birds of North America. Recording number 115 is the Northern Cardinal.  According to the text associated with this entry in the book, the recording is that of a territorial nature, telling others in the area to stay away.

Anyone who knows me would not be surprised to see me walking around in front of Wood End cottage, book in hand, repeatedly pushing the play button.  As previously experienced in years past and expected to happen at that time, two males began answering ’me’ almost immediately.  For the better part of half-an-hour, I moved around just enough so the birds would expose themselves, flitting from tree to tree, apparently trying to figure out where this trespasser was.  I know, it doesn’t take much sometimes to amuse me.  I’ll blame it on cabin fever which will hopefully have passed by the next time I write.  Until then, I hope all is well with you.”  Greg

Greg helped solve a mystery for us this week also.  Barbara Metting, an avid blog reader and fan of the island, sent me two photos she had “grabbed” off the Horn’s Bar webcam.  One was shot in 2009, and the other one is from last week.  Amazingly, both photos show a “mystery object” on the left side of the photos.  Barb thought both objects were owls. 


The 2009 photo - shot in November.

The photo from last week – shot on March 17.

Greg thinks the object in the second picture is definitely an owl – probably a Boreal Owl, as they are common on the island.  Not so sure about the first picture, but definitely something big and winged.  Greg and I both thought it was unbelievable that Barb happened to grab these two amazing photos. 

Last, and certainly not least, that video I told you about earlier!  For those of you who have visited Mackinac Island in years past, you might remember swatting a lot of flies.  You might also remember the horses being constantly agitated by the pesky insects.  BUT . . . if you’ve visited lately, you’ve probably noticed that the problem no longer exists.  And why IS that, you might ask!  Here’s the answer – a fascinating video about a natural remedy to a big problem on the island.  Mayor Doud is one of the narrators, and the star of the show – in my opinion anyway – is Doc Al, our wonderful island veterinarian.  The video is almost 15 minutes long, so open it when you have a few moments to relax and enjoy.  Not only is it a wonderful travelogue of the island, but there’s a really good science lesson involved also.  Take my word on this . .  you will LOVE this video!

That’s it for this week.  Hope all my readers up north are beginning to see the snow melt and the bulbs breaking through the cold ground.  Spring is on the way.  For a little look at what’s happening in the south with the weather, you can click here for today post on the Lake Blackshear blog:

Have a wonderful week, and God bless.

Weather, a Wedding, and a Wee One 9/29/09

Rain – high winds – cold.  That was the forecast for today and Tuesday on the island.  So far, all we’ve gotten is the rain.  There is a high wind advisory on the Mackinac Bridge, warning all motorists preparing to cross to proceed with extreme caution.  The maximum speed limit for motorists during the caution is 20 mph, and they are asked to use the outside lanes, permitting high profile vehicles to use the inside lanes as an extra safety precaution.  If the winds get too high, they will close the bridge, effectively cutting the lower and upper peninsulas off from each other.

I canceled a lunch date with Judy downtown today because I thought the weather would be too bad, and canceled a “spa” day for Bear in Cheboygan for Tuesday.  Then the sky turned blue, and the temp was a balmy 60.  So I called Judy back and rescheduled lunch.  She was already downtown, and we met at the Mustang Lounge.  Neither of us had ever eaten there, and we wanted to finally try it out.  The Mustang is famous as the “locals” bar and restaurant, staying open year-round.  In winter pictures, there are always a lot of snowmobiles parked around the “Stang”, as it is called on the island.

Ted had gone to Cheboygan on a last minute, spur-of-the-moment grocery run, so after Judy and I had lunch, I decided to run some errands and hang around long enough to ride the taxi up with him, when he returned on the 2:30 ferry.  I ran to Sticky Paws, a dog/cat store having a great sale – everything in the store 1/2 off.  I got all the family and friends’ dogs and cats Christmas gifts at great prices.  Kim and her husband, who own the store, have a beautiful English Golden Retriever, who is white.  His name is Midas, and we’ve watched him grow up from a puppy to the almost adult dog he is now at two. 


Midas’ mom and dad stay on the island for the winter, and they say Midas loves the snow.  When he’s out running in it, all you can see are his black eyes and black nose!

Leaving there, I went to the post office.  Last week I spent several hours going through all the photographs I have taken this summer (thousands).  I picked out the ones of people I now know on the island (or their pets), and had prints made.  I ordered 199 prints, and today they came!  Tonight I will have the best time going through them and sorting them out.  I’ll carry them all with me when I go out from now on, and as I see each person, I’ll give them their picture.

I met up with Jill at the post office.  She was on the way to work, and I walked there with her and sat on a bench outside the store, going through the photos.  I gave Jill all the ones I had taken of her, plus some of Barb at the island school.  I know Jill will see her before I do.

We ran in to see Nicole, who opened a new store on the island this year, Little Luxuries.  She carries all kinds of special items, and I have bought a lot of birthday gifts there this summer.  Nicole and Andrew (from Douds) are planning a summer wedding next year, and the whole island is excited and wants to help plan it.  Jill dropped off a new Bride’s magazine for her.


I headed for the ferry dock, after calling a taxi to pick up Ted and I (and the groceries).  Ron, another of our favorite taxi drivers, got there before the ferry arrived.  I put all my packages in the taxi and climbed aboard because it had started drizzling rain.  Ted arrived and packed the “trunk” of the taxi with groceries.  Then we discovered that there were two more people getting on with lots of packages.  Since we would be getting off first, Ted and that guy repacked the trunk.  Then another lady was added to our group – with several more boxes. 

Ron said, “Ok, we have one more stop at the Shepler Line to pick up two more people.  I  hope they don’t have any packages or luggage!”  When we got to Shepler’s, a young couple was waiting, carrying their newborn baby boy.  I don’t mean newborn, as in a month old.  I mean newborn, as in 3 days old!  Of course, they also had three diaper bags, 2 pillows, and various other packages they were bringing with them from the hospital. 

This couple was just precious, and of course I had to hear the “birthing story”.  It seems they had plenty of time to make it to the hospital in Petosky, because they had planned everything so well.  With the first signs of labor, they called Great Lakes Air to send a plane over from St. Ignace.  A horse-drawn taxi ride to the airport, a five-minute flight off the island to the mainland, then an hour’s drive to the hospital left them with lots of extra time before the baby was born. 

So today, these year-round island residents came home with their baby boy on his first horse-drawn taxi ride.  What a special story these parents will have to tell their son when he is older!




By 5:30 we had the groceries unloaded and put away, and that’s when the rain really started, falling in great sheets outside the condo.  One lone bike rider, who must have had a very important appointment in town, braved the deluge and rode down the hill in full rain gear.




It’s now 8:15 p.m., and the strong winds still have not arrived, although they are forecast to blow in during the night with gusts up to 40 mph.  The highs will be in the 50’s this week, the lows in the 40’s.  By Friday, I think we will definitely know it is fall in Michigan.  Time to get out the flannel p.j.’s and stock up on hot chocolate!