Lilacs and Storms and Fun Galore! 6/15/17

So happy to be writing about Mackinac again!  I feel as though our two weeks in Alaska (and then two weeks spent writing about it) pulled me far away from the island, but our trip to Alaska is something I will remember and cherish forever. It was awesome, but now it’s time to switch back into my favorite gear and get caught up on what’s been happening up north!

The Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is in full swing!  As happens most years, the lilacs are blooming at exactly the right time, and thousands of visitors a day are walking off ferries into that enchanted “back in time”  land of lilacs, fudge, horses, beautiful homes and flower gardens.

This beautiful young lady is Amelia Balinski. I met her along with her mom (Theresa), dad, and brother Mike at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor several years ago. The whole family had been reading Bree’s Blog for years, and it was a real treat to meet this wonderful group face to face. Amelia is spending her second (I think it’s her second) summer on Mackinac as a Dock Greeter for Mackinac State Historic Parks, and she also is a Ticket Agent and Tour Guide for Haunts of Mackinac. I just wanted to introduce you because many of the photos you’ll be seeing today are Amelia’s, and maybe if you’re on the island and spot her, you can say hello!

A close up of lilacs in two different shades. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

I can just imagine what the air smells like along this white rail fence on Main Street near the Marina! (Photo: Sandi Steensma)

Along that same white fence  – lilacs bend in the breeze as a horse team pulls a shuttle toward Mission Point.  (Photo: Grace Reimer)

Lilacs, lighthouses, and lamp posts – beautifully framed by Katy Rise.

St. Anne’s – through the lilacs. (Photo: Dan Denardo)

Main Street is definitely playing a starring role in this year’s Lilac Festival! (Photo: Sandi Steensma)

Lilacs aren’t the only flowers blooming on Mackinac. These tulips are bright and happy at Mission Point Resort. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

On Sunday, June 11, a storm hit Mackinac during the afternoon.  Thank goodness the damage it did was much less than it could have been.  The ferocity of this storm’s appearance was really terrifying, but except for one tree down and limbs breaking here and there, the island fared well.

This photograph was shown on WZZM-TV as a shelf cloud built over the Mackinac Bridge. . . .

. . . and Sandi Steensma captured the cloud just before the storm broke over the island.

Before the bridge was closed for a short time, this trailer, being pulled behind a truck, was tossed on its side.


Beach flowers can find a way to bloom even through stone. This cheery yellow face appeared among the rocks on the island’s east side.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The Pearl Mist, a Great Lakes cruise ship, arrives on Wednesday morning. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Runners pass through downtown during the Lilac Festival Race. (Photo: Katy Rise)

Grand Hotel continues to add wildflowers, lilacs and milkweed to their lawn in an effort to attract and sustain Monarch butterflies, whose numbers have decreased on the island in recent years. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

Jennifer Sorrentino spotted this baby owl on the island this week. How cute is that!

Friend Pam Day took this shot from the porch of her condo across from the Grand Golf Course one morning this week.   Ted and I will be in those same condos the middle of July, and I hope to join Pam for a cup of coffee!

A just for fun shot by Jill Sawatzki. Jill found a whole dolly full of Moomers Ice Cream containers sitting unattended near the Island Bookstore. Glad I wasn’t there, or we might have tempted each other into arranging for at least one of those containers to end up in the condo freezer!  FYI: All that goodness was on its way to the Good Day Café on Main Street!

Something hard to see and harder to get a close-up of on Mackinac – a baby bunny. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

And the sun sets on another beautiful Mackinac day . . .

. . . both photos by Amelia Balinski.


Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to my daddy, Leonard Sumner. He loved my mama . . .

. . . and me with a love that was unconditional and never ending. He gave me, his only child, the kind of childhood every little girl should have. I love you, daddy, and Imiss you every day. Till then . . .

See you back here soon for more Mackinac news and what’s happening at the beach!

God bless.



A Week of Flowers and Good Company 6/16/2011

WE HAVE A WINNER for the “Mystery Spot” contest at the end of this post. The winner is Maggie, and she’s from Brighton, MI.  Her correct response was “the old French Outpost, which is now the Gatehouse Restaurant”.   She answered at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday evening.  Scroll to the bottom for the full photo of the Mystery Spot.

Our company left on the taxi this morning to catch the 8 a.m. Shepler’s Ferry.  As we watched the taxi horses take them down the hill, I felt the lump in my throat I always get as I watch friends depart. 

On our lake in Georgia, our good neighbors are a senior couple two houses down from ours – Joe and Kay.  They are the ages my parents would be if they were alive (that’s why I can call them “senior”), and I feel a special bond with them because they remind me so much of my mom and dad.  In Ted’s absence, it was Joe who I called screaming the day a snake dropped out of some bushes in our yard – right on my feet. 

“Joe! Come with your gun – there’s a snake!”  He was down the street in a flash, and the snake was dispatched a few seconds later.

It was also Joe I called when Shotzie – the little dashchund we had before Maddie – was dying, and Ted was out of town.  Joe rushed to our house in his truck, picked up Shotzie and I, and talked me through the longest 10-mile ride ever to the vet in Cordele.  Then he stayed, strong and silent, in the waiting room as Shotzie went peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge, cuddled in my arms.  Afterward, he drove us home and listened silently to me sobbing, occasionally reaching over to pat my hand.  I just love Joe and Kay.

It was one of their daughters and her husband (Donna and Brad), and Joe and Kay’s 13-year-old great-grandson (Cain) who spent two nights with us this week.  Brad’s family has owned a summer “camp” in Canada for over 70 years, and they were on the way to spend two months there.  We heard that news from Joe and Kay during the winter, and after talking to Donna and Brad, we found out that they stayed close to us on one of their nights on the road.  We immediately invited them to stay with us, and they arrived on the 4:30 ferry on Tuesday afternoon.

After dinner, Cain loved the idea of a walk downtown for an ice cream cone.  After two days of riding in a car, Donna and Brad needed to do some leg stretching also.

Donna and Brad could not have picked a more perfect time to visit. You don't have to get this close to smell the lilacs, but like everyone else in town, Donna couldn't resist getting an up-close whiff of these beautiful flowers.


We stopped at Joann's and got Cain his ice cream cone and some fudge, then did some window shopping before we grownups bought our icre creams. Would you believe these are CANDY shoes - completely edible and available at Sanders. I honestly don't think I could bear to mess up these beauties by eating them, although I guess I could eat the stilettos and still have a pair of flats.


We walked out the boardwalk on the west side of Main Street, just as dusk was falling, bathing everything in a pink glow.


Ted and I are seldom downtown at this particular time of day and didn't realize how many people walk down the boardwalk to watch the sun go down . . .

. . . but now I know why.
We cut through the school yard and came out below the Grand Hotel.  At the Jockey Club, we stopped and looked back down Cadotte just as the street lamps came on . . . .

. . . forming miniature versions of the almost-full moon hanging over the trees.


Ten minutes later we were at home, and the moon was hanging over our peaceful front yard. I went back and looked to see what time I took this photo - it was 9:49 p.m. Still plenty of light.

Over breakfast Wednesday morning, we planned a full day of activities.  Cain’s two wishes were to see the fort and ride around the island.  He got them both.

Both Brad and Cain are big history buffs, and Ted was so excited to have two interested guys to talk with about historical facts.


A beautiful old crabapple tree stands just outside the back entrance to the fort.


Inside the fort, we toured all the historical buildings and watched the fort interpreters draw the crowds into reliving how things were done in the early 1800's. Here, one of the lady interpreters is leading a group of children into a quiet corner of the parade ground to play Victorian-era games.


I never can get enough of the views from the fort - whether from the hills within the walls . . . .


. . . the gun ports that frame a different picture with each location . . .


. . . or looking down from a table at the Tea Room, where we had lunch (a great chicken salad sandwich).

By this time, Cain was really ready to ride bikes, but we forced him to wander through Sutler’s Store before we left the fort.  He found a magnet he liked (he collects them), and Donna and I both bought matching rings with horses on them.

With our Mackinac Associate membership discount, I spent an outrageous $2.70 + tax on this beauty. Love it!

We headed home via Anne’s Tablet and a quick look at the East Bluff.

Added to the peace and tranquility of the hidden location of Anne's Tablet, the view makes it a perfect spot to just sit down and breathe deeply. After doing that for five minutes, pamper yourself and do it for another five. You will feel so much better.


A beautiful East Bluff cottage.

From the East Bluff, we walked to the cemeteries.

Brad, Cain, and Donna - leaning against the old cannon in the Post Cemetery.


As we were leaving, I spotted our newest horse additions to the island. They are two huge draft horses with "paint" markings (the two outside horses). They are helping to pull one of the three-horse hitch Carriage Tour wagons, and they are magnificent!


A quick stop at Skull Cave for Cain to tie his shoe.

We have three bikes, so after a little rest, our company too off to make sure Cain got his second wish.  I confess openly that Ted and I took a nap while they were gone.  We finished off the day with dinner downtown and a walk home up Fort Street, wandering through the wood trails and arriving at the condo late . . . but before dark once again.
The graceful lilacs of Market Street – looking toward Marquette Park.
And now Ted and I and our four-legged children are alone once more.  Ted worked today, and I stayed home and did some laundry and starting writing this post.  It’s so hard to put down in words how much we love visitors – showing them Mackinac Island and its well-known landmarks, as well as some of its lesser-known special nooks.  Even going strong for a day-and-a-half, we probably covered only about 1/4 of all there is to see and do. 
This will be the last weekend of the Lilac Festival – culminating with the Lilac Parade on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.  If you’re nearby and can come up, it looks like another dazzling few days are in the forecast, and a lot of hotels are offering last-minutes specials.  Check ’em out!
Time for the Mystery Spot Contest for this week!  The object is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing, AND I’ll post the full photo of the mystery spot at the bottom of the blog with the answer. Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is . . . .

Where is it?


Again, please email your answers to me at PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.
See you on Monday with all the weekend happenings.  Have a wonderful weekend, and if you get to spend Sunday with your dad, give him a big hug, and tell him how much you love him.  If your daddy is in Heaven, tell him how much you love him anyway.  That’s what I plan to do . . . and I know he’ll be listening, and I know he will smile.  God bless.

The turtles sit atop a post at the old French Outpost, now the Gatehouse Restaurant.



Lilac Festival – Day 6 6/15/2011

We’re got company from Georgia, and we are having so much fun with them!  They’re only here for two nights (one full day) so I won’t even begin to tell you about their visit until Friday morning’s blog.  Let me just say though that there haven’t been more than two 30-minute rest breaks since they arrived (not counting a good night’s sleep, of course). 

So . . . today you get more lilac photos.  I’ve got a million of ’em – I have never, never, never seen the lilacs like they are this year – too beautiful to describe with mere words, so I point, aim, and shoot – thank goodness for digital cameras!

I learned from several readers that these are Sensation Lilacs. They are THAT - Sensational!


Taken from the porch of the Stuart House Museum. The lavender bathtub and the lavender lilacs in the yard of The Lilac House B & B blend perfectly


Hugh lilac trees frame the Lenox building on Market Street.


Lilacs and geraniums against the golden yellow of a home across from the Boardwalk. Can you get more "Mackinac" than that!


Lilacs growing along the Lake Huron shore.


Nope - they've not lilacs. These are flowering crabapple trees - photographed at dusk just below the Grand Hotel.


A few of the Marquette Park lilacs.


And just for fun . . . . . the Ladyslippers are blooming all over the woods!

See you on Friday morning with tales from this week with our company, lots of really pretty photos, AND . . . a new Mystery Spot!