Happy, Happy New Year! It seems as though I haven’t written about Mackinac Island for two months instead of two weeks, but one good thing came from not hearing from me for so long – I’ve stored up a LOT of news and photos from the island!
What better way to start this update than with a newsletter from Greg Main. Greg penned this one on December 22, and it’s filled with all kinds of good stuff AND what sounds like a good story we might add to past ghostly happenings at the Island House Hotel!
“A glance at the calendar hanging above my laptop notes that today is the first day of winter. A quick glance out the window offers evidence to the contrary. Although the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees early this afternoon – from an early morning thermometer reading of 35 – it is the temperature alone which is the only indication that winter is upon us. If I were to make a list of five things I would be engaged in as far as outdoor activity on the 20th of December, in this part of Michigan, in any year, raking and bagging leaves would not be one of them yet, there I was.
Sunday morning, we awoke to the skimpiest dusting of snow, just enough to barely cover paved areas and roofs, yet nowhere near enough to hide the grass or deter anyone from biking. One good thing to come of this pathetic attempt from Mother Nature to pacify the snow lovers was that it provided an ideal opportunity to begin setting out our ski trail markers and track critters at the same time. Needless to say, rabbit tracks, of varying sizes, dominated the scene. I would like to say I saw fox tracks also, but they seemed to be quasi-following some human footprints, crisscrossing the road, heading slightly into the woods, emerging back onto the pavement, staying in line for several paces before bounding off to the other side of the road. The freshness of the tracks indicated they were made at or near the same time, and since I did not take time to look for distinguishing clues, it may have been a dog.
The snow-starved natives are getting restless. I listened to one person lament how much snowmobiles cost to buy in relation to the limited amount of time one gets to use them here on Mackinac Island during a typical season and how he thought it would be nice to be able to ride 4-wheelers during the allotted snowmobile season when there is insufficient snow. Personally, I would hate to see that happen and also offer that the odds of that happening would be one of the best long-shot bets of all time. Snow. We need a lot of snow. It‘s time for a good stomping from Heikki Lunta . . .after we’re all done traveling for the holidays, of course.
There was a bit of excitement Wednesday afternoon. While I wasn’t present during this event, my boss was, and he explained that there was a smell of propane emanating from the Lakeview Hotel, apparently inside the building as doors were propped open and fans were in place, blowing the odor out. Soon after the smell was detected, Main Street was closed off from the Windermere Hotel to Marc’s Double Oven, the construction project at the former McNally lot was halted and evacuated, one fire truck was positioned on Main Street, near the Lakeview, and another was on Market Street. People were told to stay away, yet the Village Inn, mere watermelon seed-spitting distance from the Lakeview and a building which sits between said hotel and the evacuated McNally lot, was allowed to remain open. Hmm. Anyhow, as it was told to me, less than an hour later, whatever was causing the problem was taken care of, and all was well again on the relatively quiet thoroughfares of off-season Mackinac Island. Our lack of snow is something we can deal with, like it or not, but if cold weather sets in for any stretch of time, and the ground remains bare, shallow water lines could be easily frozen. Snow. We need snow. We need a good stomping from Heikki Lunta.
While I make my way through every room in the Island House Hotel, I’m offered varying views from high and low, views which present a slightly different perspective of the island and its surroundings. Even though the sights are not new, the angles are, and that has helped make this winter work even more enjoyable. Being the only one working inside the hotel, other than Ryan from h.r. working down in the laundry room (the annual, temporary winter office), it took some time getting used to the creaks, groans and oft-times unidentifiable noises I hear most every day. The building and rooms are as cold as outdoor temps, and the hallways are dark but for the occasional exit sign, glowing eerily red. Even heating the rooms while painting only goes so far because the cold air, having invaded every breathable space, only relinquishes so much square footage, allowing everything from waist-high and up to become comfortably warm while maintaining a firm grip on the lower regions. It’s far from uncomfortable, just interesting to note the distinct temperature difference, especially in the tiled bathrooms. Cold floors, indeed.
While on the subject, I thought it wise to begin this winter work at the room farthest away and work my way down to the first floor, figuring by the time I was tired of climbing several flights of stairs, several times each day, I would be finishing on the first floor, only 10 steps up from the laundry/break room and maintenance shop. As such, I was farthest away from any human contact most of the first few weeks on the job, and any noises I was hearing could not be contributed to Ryan, way down in the laundry room. All was fine until I began moving furniture in what’s known as “the parlor” on the fourth floor, east wing. From the street, this room is above the dining room.
“As in nearly all the rooms, it was necessary to move most of the furniture away from the walls in order to paint baseboards and windows. After moving a small sofa-sleeper a couple feet from the front windows and spreading a drop cloth onto the floor, I knelt down to begin painting, and my right knee immediately “came alive” with a sharp pain, reminiscent of a rap on your funny bone, only worse . . . . and not funny. Moving the drop cloth aside, I found the source. A blue M&M, hard as a rock. Giving it little thought, I tossed the candy onto the bed, which was covered with old sheets for the winter (as was all the furniture in all the rooms) and resumed painting. A short time later, it was off to lunch. Returning to the room, it was time to push some furniture back to their respective places in order to make space in the middle of the room for more furniture to come away from the walls.
A much larger sofa-sleeper was moved next and, much to my surprise, I see another blue M&M on the floor. My first thought was kids tossing them at each other or some such nonsense, and a couple of them disappeared under the furniture, away from the housekeepers vacuum. Picking this one up, my thought was to toss it onto the bed alongside the other one. However, the other one was no longer on the bed. Nor was it under the bed. How odd. Holding the ‘second’ candy in my hand, I looked everywhere in the room. The more I looked, the more I wanted to keep looking as there was no way the M&M I tossed onto the bed, the one I saw land on the sheet covering the bed, the one which was still on the bed as I left the room for lunch, could have rolled off the bed and across the room, stopping six feet away underneath another piece of furniture. I had no explanation. I wasn’t imagining things. It was on the bed, now it was gone, and I had another one in my hand. Side note: despite the television commercial and the marketing slogan, if you hold an M&M in your hand long enough, it will melt.
This incident happened a few weeks ago, and in the following weeks there have been some more odd noises now and then for which I also have no explanation, but I choose to not dwell on such things, preferring to simply to chalk it up as another page in my book of Mackinac Island experiences. I hope everyone has a great Christmas and I wish you all a prosperous New Year!”
If you keep up with Island happenings on Facebook or Twitter, you already know that the Island FINALLY received enough snow to talk about just before New Year’s Eve, and they’ve been getting more the last couple of days. I know the Islanders are silly happy and having a ball on their snowmobiles – snow was a long time coming this year! Friends who live on the Island year-round and friends who returned for the New Year’s Eve festivities have shared photos, and they are good ones! Here we go . . .
Christmas morning sunrise after a dusting of snow. (Photo: Mission Point Resort)
A friend of ours, Brad Conkey (you might remember him from this summer – Brad, his sons and Ted went cave exploring together), arrived on the Island with his family on December 30 to celebrate New Year’s Eve Island-style. The next six photos are his – thanks, Brad!
Islanders were enjoying a game of street hockey the day before New Year's Eve. It was cold and wet, with the beginnings of the snow that was to come in the next few days.
Sun rising over the Straits on New Year's Eve morning.
Downtown - and the horses are working. Wonder if they know the next day is the beginning of a new year.
The Grand Hotel porch - no rocking chairs, no flags, no geraniums - just a little snow.
Stone Cliffe looks frozen in time.
Round Island Light. And is that ice along the shoreline?
There was a brand new celebration event on the Island this New Year’s Eve. Instead of dropping a huge ball like they do in Times Square, there was a “Great Turtle Drop”. The brainchild of Rich and Marge Lind, innkeepers at The Cottage Inn, the idea came from their wish to “come up with something fresh, new and fun for New Year’s on the Island”. The giant fiberglass turtle was a loan from the Grand Hotel (it was originally part of a Mackinac Island Community Foundation fundraiser which auctioned off the decorated turtles). Marge constructed a green felt jacket covered in green LED lights for the turtle to wear. The turtle sat 30′ in the sit on top of a lift provided by the Chippewa Hotel. As the seconds were counted down, the lift gently lowered the turtle to the ground. Man, I would have loved to be there for that!
This photo of all the action was captured by the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Looks like a great crowd!
Here's another view from our friends Rich and Marge at the Cottage Inn.
New Year's Day, and the snow was really coming down. This pic is from the Lilac Tree Hotel Facebook page.
A friend's home up near the airport.
The community stable. (Photo: Mackinac Horses Facebook page)
Looks like big, fat, wet flakes. So pretty. (Photo: Doud's Market Facebook page)
A winter wonderland. (Photo: Brad Conkey)
In the days since January 1, more snow has fallen, and the Island is finally looking like it should this time of year!
Hoban Street at dusk. (Photo: Jennifer King)
Snow behind an Island friend's home.
Mission Point. (Photo: Mission Point Facebook page)
Main Street in front of the Chippewa Hotel (Photo: Island Bookstore Facebook page)
Harbour View Inn. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)
St. Anne's Church. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)
Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as Mackinac Island in the snow? I look at these pictures over and over again and daydream about being there. I bet you do too!
One other important news item: In a story in The St. Ignace News by Matt Mikus, it was reported that the Mackinac Island City Council voted to “dedicate a plot of land at the Ste. Anne Cemetery for the reburial and memorial of the bones unearthed from the Bicycle Street Inn construction site this fall.” According to the story, the bones, contained in seven truckloads of earth, may be buried at the site relatively soon because the ground remains unfrozen. The article went on to say “the burial mound will be in the shape of a turtle, and a memorial will also be constructed.”
See you back here next Wednesday with more from our favorite Island. God bless.