Late Thursday afternoon, Maddie and Bear went into the frenzy of barking they save now only to announce something really unusual. They no longer utter a peep when horses, taxis, drays, electric scooters or Grand Hotel buses approach. Maddie will still bark at any dog that gets within a mile of the condo, but at least she do longer barks at little children, which is nice because we live in a neighborhood full of them!
What set them off that afternoon was the arrival of our new downstairs neighbors – Janice Blankenburg and her two daughters, Vika and Anna – from Wisconsin. With them was Tom Boy – a black lab, Hunter – a yellow lab (Bear wrote a new post to introduce you to them. I’ve put The Dog-Eared Page on my Blog Roll on the right-hand side menu of this page so you can easily access it), and two Guinea Pigs – Checkers and JoJo. Yep – Maddie and Bear were in Heaven welcoming these new folks.
We actually met this family last fall when they closed on their condo. When we arrived this spring, we peeked in their windows to see all the work that had been done since then. Wow – their place looks wonderful! Earlier on Thursday, all their kitchen appliances and lots of furniture arrived on the dray, and the taxi they came up the hill on pulled a luggage cart behind it, packed to the brim with luggage, boxes, blinds, a Guinea Pig cage, and lots of other “daily living” necessities.
Getting ‘er done on Mackinac! Two horses + 1 taxi + 1 luggage cart = a new family on the Island!
Next step in the process – take off the wrap holding everything on the cart, bundle that up into a tight ball and put in trash (before it gets away from you and scares the horses), unload cart, then pull the cart out to the edge of the road, to be picked up by a passing buggy on Friday morning. All extremely efficient, without a single motorized vehicle involved!
I can so remember the excitement of getting our condo “fixed up” when we first bought it. Heck, we’re STILL fixing it up!
We kept hoping we would get rain on Thursday night. Michigan is so dry, and wildfires are burning in the U.P. Like so many other areas in the United States, we need lots of rain. We heard on Thursday there were evacuations near Tahquamenon Falls State Park (I wrote a blog about the Falls a couple of years ago), and the park itself is closed because of the fire. Not good. We slept Thursday night with the bedroom door open, hoping to hear rain through the night. What we heard instead was wind, and it is the high winds we are experiencing that is hampering firefighters from getting the fires under control.
The winds have kept the temperatures cool though, and Ted and I decided Friday afternoon to take our first official bike ride of the season (we’ve been on our bikes before this, but only on “business”, like downtown shopping and post office runs.
We decided to go through the middle of the Island to British Landing, and our first stop along the way was the Community Stable. The 4-H program horses and ponies have arrived on the Island for the summer, and some familiar and some NEW faces were eager to have their photos made. This is Prancer.
New to the program this year, Gal was sporting some spiffy hoof gear. Gal hadn’t worn horseshoes before coming to the Island, and the green “covers” are to prevent her back shoes from striking the shoes on her front feet and knocking them off. They’ll be removed when she gets use to not going “barefoot”.
New girl Gal is becoming fast friends with Fiona, who has come to the Island for several summers now. Children on the Island spend the summers taking riding lessons on the 4-H horses and ponies, mucking out stalls, and learning about horse care. Great fun!
Ted is always looking for caves, so once we got on the road again, we pulled over several times so he could explore “promising” sites. After walking through a heavily wooded area at one spot, the forest suddenly opened up onto this beautiful meadow.
Thousands of yellow flowers ran along the edge of the meadow, and the ground was soft and boggy. It’s amazing how many hidden places this tiny Island holds secret – until you stumble upon them.
Next stop – the Cannonball at British Landing. This is the rest stop for everyone who bikes – or walks – around the Island. It’s almost exactly half-way the distance to town and has plenty of cold drinks (warm ones on cold days) and hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and snack foods of all kinds. Picnic tables in the shade allow you to eat in comfort, then . . . .
. . . walk down to the water, which today – on the southwest side of the Island – was choppy, with whitecaps.
This seagull had picked out some prime real estate between the picnic tables – where someone might drop some crumbs – and the lake – where a quick dip might net him a minnow or two.
Back to the cave hunt. We made a U-turn at British Landing and went back the way we came. At the top of the first rise, we swung left on Scott’s Cave Road, a wooded path through beautiful spring-green trees. It was along this path we saw two of my favorite wildflowers . . .
. . . Lady Slippers, which are in the Orchid family . . .
. . . and Columbine. Columbine is also known as “Granny’s Bonnet”, because the flowers resemble the mop hats worn by elderly women in colonial times. We also saw some still-white Trillium, but most were beginning to fade into pink.
Our path through the woods brought us in behind Silver Birches – an abandoned rustic lodge and cabins.
This is a beautiful property – sure wish someone would reopen it.
We took the short, gravel Scott’s Shore Road over to Lakeshore Blvd. On this side of the Island, the water was calm . . . .
. . . and I’m always in awe of how clear the waters of Lake Huron are. The large rocks that line the lake bottom can easily be seen.
At one spot, we left our bikes a little off the road and walked out on the rocky “beach”. This photo was taken where the beach met the water – looking back toward shore. It’s a reminder of how low the Great Lakes water level is when you realize that rise of rocks in the distance is the former lake level. Of course, there is not this much beach everywhere around the Island – far from it – but where the water was the most shallow, there is now land.
We passed Arch Rock at the perfect time of day for a photograph, without the sun’s interference . . .
. . . and came into town through Mission Point Resorts “avenue of trees”. Beautiful!
By the time we stopped at the bookstore to pick up a paper, the post office to pick up the mail, Doud’s to pick up something for dinner, and rode home, we had clocked a little over nine miles. Not bad for our first “official” bike ride!
Everything is blooming!
Mahoney Avenue is gorgeous right now with lilacs. Mahoney is the street that turns off Cadotte Avenue, down to the lake, just before the block where Somewear On Mackinac and the Gate House are located.
White lilacs on the west end of Market Street.
Lilacs aren’t the only blooming plants on the Island. Everywhere we look there are gardeners and landscapers mulching in topsoil and oh-so-rich horse manure, planting annuals, dividing perennials, and setting up sprinklers. Soon every square inch of unpaved area will either be green or some brilliant color of the rainbow.
Just liked the way all this looked together.
Tulips in front of the Lakeview Hotel on Main Street.
My favorite horse, Teddie, was a little lonely after a few days by himself in his new digs. But then . . . .
. . . one of the Island’s best-known horses, McGuyver, returned and is in the corral that ajoins Teddie’s. Here Neil, McGuyver’s new caretaker, gets him all harnessed up for his first outing. This photo doesn’t show it very well, but all of McGuyver’s bridle and harness had been shined up to almost a mirror finish. He was sparkling!
In a beautiful carriage, Neil and his wife drove McGuyver off into the mellowing sun of a lazy afternoon.
I think I’ll stop right here for the day, as this is already pretty long (don’t want my “read-it-with-coffee-before-I-dash-off-to- work” bunch to be late)!
After only 14 days on the Island, I’ve already changed my mind about two blogs a week. I will definitely add another one on Wednesday (there’s just too much to write about right now), and I already have plans for the one this Wednesday!
- More photos from the weekend, including Memorial Day observances.
- A new Mystery Spot
- A few of my readers’ own favorite and most spectacular Mackinac Island photographs! Keep those coming, by the way, so we can make that a weekly feature. Just email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A little feature about nature’s “Circle of Life” – straight from the shores of Mackinac Island!
- . . . and who knows what else!
Before I close, I have to take care of one more mission . . . .
When I retired in 2008, Ted bought me a Canon PowerShot A530 digital camera. As Public Information Director for a 16,000+ school system in south Georgia, I was used to using a Canon that belonged to the system and wanted one like it. I probably snapped maybe 50 shots with it that first year. We bought our condo that year, but arrived in late June to close on it, and I spent most of the summer shopping for our “summer place”. Photography was not on my priority list. Then three weeks before we left for the island the second summer, the blog idea erupted like wildfire in my brain. That little Canon became a constant companion, and I can honestly say I’ve taken hundreds of thousands of photographs with it. It never let me down – even after I’d dropped it too many times to count on Cadotte Hill as I was biking downtown.
The end came our first day back this summer – holding the camera, with the lens already out, and trying to take a photo and talk on the phone at the same time. Camera drops on fireplace hearth, lens bends into sickening angle. Even though I could straighten the lens, it no longer worked.
I’ve often talked about my camera search on this blog – knowing that eventually my little Canon would sigh and say “enough”. I knew there were no more Canons with viewfinders in the “point and shoot” category for less than $600 – and, besides that, those definitely did not fit in my jeans pocket.
A chance comment by someone at the Pink Pony a couple of weekends ago turned into the solution. I was admiring this gentleman’s camera and told him the story of my search. He said, “Why don’t you try to find one like your old one on eBay or Amazon?” Eureka! I almost ran home to get on the laptop.
Yes, there were used Canon PowerShot A 530’s for sale, but none in better than “good” condition. So I went up a few notches. There was a “like new” Canon PowerShot A700 – almost the same size, more features, AND A VIEWFINDER. These were first made in 2006, and I have no idea when they quit making them or how old this particular camera is. I paid less than half of the original camera cost. It arrived two days later in the original box with owner’s manuals, cables, and an unused SD card.
My sweet old camera on the left, my “like new” camera on the right.
All the photographs on this post were taken with the new camera, and I’m pretty pleased. There are a couple of things I haven’t figured out yet, but I will eventually, AND additional lens can be attached to this camera for more photography options. Those are available on eBay and Amazon also.
Brooks Atkinson said, “The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to tranform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep on looking.” That is exactly the way I see it also. Having a camera in my hand automatically sets my brain on “search” and causes me to look at the simplest object in countless ways. What fun it is to see how many ways a flower, or a horse, or a tree, or a dog, or a barn, or a fence can be photographed!
See you Wednesday with more news from Mackinac!