The Beach, the Island . . . . and Places Far Away 7/2/17

Hi Everyone, and a huge Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

We’re nine days away from leaving for Michigan, with an arrival date on Mackinac penciled in on or about July 16.  Once we reach Michigan, we’ll be visiting family along the way, and our gang will be spending a few nights with cousins Dave and Diane Bennick near Grand Haven.. There’s also a family reunion where we’ll get to spend more time with cousins who visited us on the island last summer AND meet relatives we have yet to see face to face.  Dave assures us that Bodie and Maddie are welcome and that there are four Golden Retrievers in their neighborhood for Bodie to play with.  LOL – this should be very interesting!

Bodie says he sincerely hopes everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for teenage goofballs who always seem to find a way to get into trouble – even when they’re not trying.

SPEAKING OF MACKINAC

Bruce LaPine shared this and the next two photos toward the end of Lilac Festival week. A Shelper’s boat rounds the breakwall, framed by lighthouses and white lilac blossoms.

The flower beds outside Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor at Grand Hotel are flourishing!

More beautiful lilacs – overhanging a white picket fence and framing the Mackinac Bridge.

This is soooo cool . . . .

In honor of the 130th anniversary of Grand Hotel, David Lorch, PhD, LEGO designer, and engineer, created a 9 ft. replica of Grand Hotel made entirely out of LEGOS.

The details are impeccable and include people, horses, a Grand omnibus . . .

. . . . even the chess set on one end of the front porch and pots of geraniums!

I can’t wait to tell you about this . . . . . .

Mother and daughter team, Barbara Toms and Marcia Dunnigan (on the right), have joined together with artist Sharon Griffes Tarr (far left) to create the Mackinac Island Cottage Cookbook.  These three ladies held a book signing at the Island Bookstore last week.

The book is a compilation of Barbara and Marcia’s tried and true personal recipes. Their cottage (shown above on the book cover) is always filled with warmth and laughter, and these are two of my favorite “women of Mackinac”.  That front porch has been the scene of many an island party, and these ladies know exactly how to make everyone feel welcome.

Sharon’s illustrations of island locations are beautiful and add even more fun and enjoyment to the book’s charm.  The Island Bookstore will carry the books, but if you don’t have a trip planned, Jill says just give the store a call, and they will be glad to ship it out.  She has one tucked away for me already, and I am excited to get my hands on it in a couple of weeks!

FROM THE BEACH

We’ve had such a great week at the beach.  Jason and Blake flew in on Wednesday, and on Wednesday night Julie, Jordan and Matthew joined us for grilled burgers.

It’s so hard to get everyone together in one place at one time!  We hated that Matt was out of town and couldn’t join us, and Jen and Alex couldn’t come because Alex had a swim meet.

Jason flew back to Atlanta on Friday, and Blake will be with us until this Friday when he’ll return to Colorado.  In mid-August Blake will return to Ankara, Turkey for a two-year commitment teaching English at a local university there.  He is in the process of raising support.  Please keep Blake in your prayers for his safety and for his purpose there.  There is a need in that country, and work there can impact the regions surrounding it.

Please remember me too in your prayers during this time. This is hard.

FUN STUFF IN BEVERLY BEACH

Ted, Jason, Blake and I were at Turtle Shack Thursday night, and we ate outside. This huge crab sauntered across the sidewalk from behind the building, and when we got up to take a pic, he scooted behind the tire of one of the cars nearby. He sat there until we finished eating and was still there when we left. Biggest crab we’ve seen down here so far.  I guess you can grow that big when you’re wise enough not to cross busy highways during dinner  hour.

PRETTY STUFF AT BEVERLY BEACH

On my way to work last week this lone cloud was hovering over the ocean. I pulled over to get this pic ’cause I thought it was kind of spectacular.

Talk about spectacular! Sunset from our deck last night. I don’t usually like iPhone photos of sunsets because they tend to wash out the colors. But this one was perfect.

One more spectacular shot.  Blake took this panorama as he was walking the beach last night at sunset!

THE PASSING OF A HERO

Those of you who follow this blog often read comments by “Jason-the other one”.  Jason has read the blog for many years, drawn to it because of his love of the island.  Jason served in Afghanistan until 2010 with Ben, his military service dog and partner.  Ben returned to the states a month ahead of Jason, then went home to meet Jason’s wife and parents (Jason had applied to adopt Ben when he knew the dog was being retired).  Jason returned overseas, and Ben spent the rest of his retirement with Jason’s family.  Jason would see him when he’d come home on vacations over the years.

Ben crossed the Rainbow Bridge last week. Jason writes, “I’m writing to let you know my beloved partner Ben crossed oer the Rainbow Bridge last Wednesday. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we deal with his passing. If not for him I wouldn’t be here today. He saved many lives, allowing countless service members to come home safely to their loved ones. He served our country with honor and had a very blessed retirement. He passed away at 14 years of age. Even at 14, he loved to play and rough house. He was found at home asleep on his bed. We guess it was just his time.”  The photo above is from Ben’s retirement ceremony in 2010.  His service years were March 2004-June 2010.  His last patrol in Afghanistan was June 5, 2010.

Rest in Peace, brave Ben, and thank you for your service.

God bless.

 

 

 

 

Bring Your Own Sunshine! 4/9/17

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.  Anthony J. D’Angelo.

After complaining about how hot it already was in Florida last week, I shall now eat those words and say we’re in the middle of what the weather folks are predicting will be a good week-and-a-half of glorious spring-like days!  Just when I thought the 90’s had arrived to stay, it stormed for two days and then the wind blew like crazy for two more days.  On the other side of that . . . out popped SPRING.  For the next week we are looking at highs in the 70’s and lows at night in the 60’s . . . . PERFECT!

We’ve had a pretty busy week here . . .

Ted left Sunday morning for Augusta GA and the Masters.

Jason was already there . . .

. . . and he spent Monday morning (before the bad weather moved in) showing Ted and a great group of friends from Mackinac some of the sights.  The Masters practice rounds were cancelled for parts of Tuesday and Wednesday due to weather.

This was Jason’s 20th Masters. He attends each year to host clients.

Ted was going to stay for the Monday and Tuesday practice rounds, but decided to come home Tuesday morning to avoid driving in the anticipated horrible weather in north GA on Wednesday. The bad weather started for us here in Florida on Tuesday, but he didn’t hit it until the last hour of his trip home.

We accumulated over five inches of rain that day . . .

. . . . and this pic Ted took a few days later of one of the retention ponds in Sunset Inlet shows how much water accumulated.

The big retention pond at the front of our neighborhood was so full the dogs could have gone swimming in it.  You can see the “mud marks” around the sides.

We went to Java Joint Wednesday morning for breakfast and met this gentlemen as he was about to leave. We had noticed his bike outside and remarked about all the gear it held. Didn’t get his name, but he told us he had flown with his bike into Savannah from his home in Maine. He was biking from Savannah to Key West – said he was tired of winter and thought the bike ride would be a good way to get a start on summer.

Off he goes.  It seemed like quite the adventure to me!

In keeping with the great weather, Julie and her family went deep sea fishing today and just sent us these two pics. Here she’s just caught a good-sized amberjack . . .

. . . and Matt hooked this 8-foot shark!  He reeled him in twice, but he was fighting so hard Matt ended up cutting the line.  Julie said he was one mad shark!  She also said it was a beautiful porpoise day.  They had about 30 trolling along with the boat, jumping and swimming in their wake.  They went about 50 miles offshore.

Bodie and I chose a calmer way to spend this gorgeous Sunday afternoon  We went over to the St. Joe Walkway and strolled along the Intracoastal for a couple of miles.

It was shady most of the way, and I have to tell you that Bodie and I are most definitely on the same wavelength as far as our love for cool weather. He RACES past every sunny spot to get to the shady ones!

THE WEEK ON MACKINAC

April is a transition month on Mackinac.  The snowmobiles are being put in storage, and everyone is getting ready to begin another season.  Shop owners who don’t live on the island year-round will begin arriving to stock inventory and get ready to open for business.  Construction projects are winding down.  I can’t wait to see what this new season will bring!

On Friday Clark Bloswick snapped this photo of the beautiful blue waters of Lake Huron. The ice all seems to have melted, and it’s great to see the Straits ready for another season of visitors to Mackinac.

Love this pic from Max Jones of horses waiting on the ferry.

And speaking of horses arriving . . . . the annual parade back to the island has begun!  Thanks to Kaitlynn Bazinau for sharing this video!

One more video – NOT for the faint of heart!  Ed Gough’s visit to the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week to come and a joyful Easter Sunday on the 16th.  God bless.

 

 

 

An Uncle and Nephew Meet at Last 2/12/17

Ted’s trip to Albuquerque this past week to meet his 94-year-old Uncle Ken Lachmann (his birth mother’s brother) turned into two full days of story-telling, family history sharing, and a relationship – already established through hours of phone conversations – that was cemented by their face-to-face meeting.  

Cousin Heidi (Ken’s daughter) picked Ted up at the airport Tuesday evening, and the next morning Ted and Uncle Ken met for the first time over breakfast at the assisted living complex where he has an apartment.  The next two days were filled with stories from both men’s pasts and with a guided tour of the New Mexico city and surrounding area.  Ted has found it very interesting to discover that so many of his birth family (grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins) followed the road to education careers.  “It must be in our blood”, he keeps saying. 

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Uncle Ken and daughter Heidi, who also lives in Albuquerque.

Uncle Ken returned from World War II as an Army combat veteran and recipient of the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster.  When years battling the frigid winters of Michigan began to aggravate health conditions caused by combat injuries, his physician suggested a change of climate, and Uncle Ken moved his family to Albuquerque in 1966. He had an established career in education in Michigan, and was soon named principal to a school in Albuquerque. 

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During the Reagan administration he was named the National Distinguished Principal of the Year from New Mexico.

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What a surprise!  While going through a family album, Ted came across this photo of our condo on Mackinac Island, taken from a Carriage Tour wagon during a Lachmann family trip to the island in 1997 – 11 years before we bought there.

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Sightseeing!  San Felipe de Neri Catholic Church.  Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city.

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The Sandia Mountains divide New Mexico.  On the Albuquerque side, there is desert . . .

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. . . and via a tram system you can ride to and over the top of the Sandia Mountains and arrive at a ski resort!

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Sunset from the restaurant at the top of the Sandia Resort and Casino.  Ted joined Uncle Ken, Heidi, and Uncle Ken’s son Peter and his wife Lisa for dinner on his last night there.

Ted arrived home Friday afternoon, brimming with stories of his trip.  We’re both so happy this journey has continued to be one of happy “at-long-last” meetings.  Even though Ted’s birth mom is gone, her family has been welcoming in every way possible.  We look forward to meeting more of this wonderful group in the near future!

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Ted and his Uncle Ken.

MACKINAC NEWS

Another Bree’s Blog reader and friend, Yvonne Pitsch, spent part of last week on Mackinac.  I love that folks are going up during the winter!

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Yvonne in full snowmobile gear.  I think she has a “secret source” she grabs a snowmobile from when she’s there.  I’ll have to talk to her about that!

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And she chose a week where there was plenty of the white stuff!  (Photo: Yvonne Pitsch)

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From Jason St. Onge and the Mackinac Island Fire Department.  This was a practice session coordinated with the Detroit Fire Department.  Horn’s Bar and Grand Hotel provided the buildings for their drills, and the wonderful Windermere Hotel and Mayor Margaret Doud treated everyone in both departments to a prime rib dinner at Cawthorne’s Village Inn.  Love the dedication of these fire fighters – and the generosity of Mackinac Island residents and businesses! 

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A beautiful and ethereal panorama by Greg Main.

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Bobby Lee says he got soaking wet to get this shot, but it was sure worth it, Bobby!

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Peace, calm, quiet.  An almost Heavenly scene of the full moon over Little Stone Church.  Thank you, Gregg Neville, for sharing.

It seems everyone is loving the Throw Back Tuesday and Thursday features, so they’ll be continuing.  Wishing everyone a very happy Valentine’s Day on Tuesday!  Love you all!

God bless.

A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

As most of you already know, the 5 p.m. departure of the Huron last Thursday marked the last time a boat operated by Arnold Ferry Line would travel to or from Mackinac Island.  The historic ferry line (the oldest and longest-running), which began serving the island 138 years ago, has been purchased by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, which began 38 years ago as competition to Arnold and to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which was created in 1945.

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Arnold’s mighty Huron, as she is known by everyone with ties to Mackinac, has been the only winter ferry to the island since 1955.  Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter, abiding by Mackinac Island’s winter ferry passenger service agreement.

Star Line will also buy five other Arnold Line boats, the Arnold Boatyard and several docks.

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Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.

For hundreds of islanders, for thousands of  visitors whose memories of a Mackinac vacation began with an Arnold Line ferry boat ride, and for the hundreds of Arnold employees whose lives were tied to the company over those 138 years, this is the sad end of an era.  Especially poignant is the end of the mighty Huron operating as an Arnold boat.  It’s hard to comprehend for those of us who do not live year-round on Mackinac, but Arnold’s mighty Huron provided everything to the island after the close of the season – passenger service and freight service – until the Straits of Mackinac would freeze over and the ferry would have to stop running.  She alone was responsible for islanders receiving food and other staples for the grocery store and restaurants that remain open, for residents reaching the mainland if there were health concerns or if they just needed to have a day off-island, and for winter visitors trying out “Mackinac in the winter”.  Even though the mighty Huron will continue to run, it is a bittersweet transition from one company to another.

We wish Star Line a hearty congratulations on your new venture!  With only two lines providing transportation to Mackinac next summer, Star Line and Shepler’s, it will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  We know both these fine companies will continue to provide excellent service to and from our favorite island, and we look forward to a great 2017 season!

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A poignant farewell photo from Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on its last departure from the island: “It was a pleasure serving you.  Thank you for 138 years of memories.  This is your ATCO crew – signing off.”

NOVEMBER ON MACKINAC

Clark Bloswick has been busy documenting November on the island.  These next six photos are his.

A relatively calm day earlier in the month . . .

A relatively calm day earlier in the month.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers that these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday, Nov. 10. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a Lake Superior storm, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.

Friday saw the island awake to the first "gale of November" , , ,

Wind, waves and whitecaps.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

An early evening shot of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

An early evening shot tonight of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

I. Love. This. Photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

I love this photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

BODIE NEWS

I will not lie.  Having a teenage Golden Retriever who weighs  58 lbs. at seven months is a little harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been 12 years since we had a puppy in the house (that would be Maddie), and she was an amazingly easy girl.  And she was small.  Having a big dog puppy is totally different because he does everything . . . bigger!  Plays bigger, eats bigger, poops and pees bigger, chews bigger, walks bigger.  He is a daily challenge, but I love trying to stay one step ahead of him.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching him to greet people gently on our walks.  He wants to wiggle himself right into their space and get all mouthy with their hands.  It was wearing me out trying to pull him back.  So – I sent out a “please help me train Bodie” message to our entire Sunset Inlet community, giving suggestions on how to help Bodie learn to greet nicely.  Our neighbors have responded like the wonderful folks they are.  So far we’ve had encounters with two neighbors who ignored Bodie while I asked him to sit, waited for him to calm down, then asked him to “shake”, which he did.  Then they petted him.  And Bodie got a treat from me.  It was amazing how well it worked!

We have a trainer coming once a week for five weeks to offer tips and help me find the best ways to train him.  Two of our neighbors, Mark and Shauna, text “going to the dog park” when they head out with their two big dogs, Rascal and Ryder, so Bodie and I can join in the fun.  We have a big open area in our community we call the “dog park”.  It’s great for playing fetch and just letting dogs be dogs.

And – I will tell you something else big dogs do.  They LOVE big.  All I need to do to get some Bodie love is climb in his big bed with him.  He snuggles right in and we have some mom/Bodie love time.

Yes, he’s a challenge.  But he is remarkably smart, learns commands quickly, retains most of them well, and is quickly creating his own great big spot in my heart.

Bodie: "I know if I sit here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it."

Bodie: “Maybe if I stand here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it.”

"Hmmm . . . or maybe not."

“Hmmm . . . or maybe not.”

Catch-Up Sunday 8/7/16

Tomorrow begins our fourth week on the island, and Ted and I are having a hard time wrapping our heads around that.  Every evening we laughingly ask ourselves, “Where did THIS day go?”  On the flip side of that thought is the wonderful truth that it will be ten more weeks before we leave.  That makes us laugh also!

I was looking through the hundreds of photographs I’ve taken since arriving and came across a few that didn’t fit a particular blog, but still might be fun to see.  So tonight – it’s “Catch-Up Sunday”!

On our very first weekend we went out on an Arnold Line Sip 'n Sail Sunset Tour. Although the weather didn't cooperate, and we missed the sunset, we had an awesome view of the Mackinac Bridge - from UNDERNEATH!

On our very first weekend we went out on an Arnold Line Sip ‘n Sail Sunset Tour. Although the weather didn’t cooperate, and we missed the sunset due to clouds, we had an awesome view of the Mackinac Bridge – from UNDERNEATH!

Coming back across the Straits at night is always a beautiful experience - with the island

Coming back across the Straits at night is always a beautiful experience – with the island off the port side, and Grand Hotel illuminating the West Bluff.

Even approaching dock at night is an adventure

Approaching the dock at night is very different than during the day, when the entire area is teeming with passengers arriving and departing, luggage being transported off and on the ferries, and dock porters somehow making it all work seamlessly.

From the deck - a wedding carriage on the way to pick up a bride and groom.

From the deck – a wedding carriage on the way to pick up a bride and groom.

I love riding the ferry and picking out first time visitors to the island. They always sit in the front rows (especially if there are children). I remember doing exactly the same thing about the first 20 times I rode the ferry, but that first time can't be beat for excitement.

I love riding the ferry and picking out first time visitors to the island. They always sit in the front rows (especially if there are children). I remember doing exactly the same thing about the first 20 times I rode the ferry, but that first time can’t be beat for excitement.

Jan and Don Weir dropped by the condo to say hello one afternoon. They are blog readers who had come over on a day trip from Harbor Springs (their summer home) They spend their winters in Indianapolis.

Jan and Don Weir, blog readers who came over for a day trip, dropped by the condo to say hello one afternoon. Harbor Springs is their summer home, and they spend their winters in Indianapolis.

Leqving the Chippewa after dinner with Jordan and Matthew (at the end of the yacht races).

Leaving the Chippewa after dinner with Jordan and Matthew (on the last day of the yacht races).

Little Maddie - thinking about getting her feet wet (she didn't).

Little Maddie – thinking about getting her feet wet (she didn’t).

Downtown Mackinac in the evening is so peaceful compared to a busy summer day.

Downtown Mackinac in the evening is so peaceful compared to a busy summer day.

View through the back slats of an Adirondack chair on the Mission Point Resort lakeshore.

Lake view through the back slats of an Adirondack chair – on the Mission Point Resort lakeshore.

A close-up of Queen Anne's Lace (one of the few flowers I can always remember the name of)!

A close-up of Queen Anne’s Lace (one of the few flowers I can always remember the name of)!

On their last morning on the island, just after breakfast at the Chuck Wagon and before turning in the bikes, we all stopped by the Arnold dock to check out the Victory I, a Great Lakes cruise ship that had come in during the night. The ship holds 202 passengers and will begin cruises to Cuba in the Fall.

On Jordan and Matthew’s last morning on the island, just after breakfast at the Chuck Wagon and before turning in their bikes, we all stopped by the Arnold dock to check out the Victory I, a Great Lakes cruise ship that came in during the night. The ship holds 202 passengers and will begin cruises to Cuba in the Fall.

View from the top end of Franks Avenue in MIssion Point.

View from the top end of Franks Avenue in Mission Point.

Because the afternoon was really warm, we decided to walk Maddie up behind Mission House, which is where the majority of the State Park employees live during the summer.

Because the afternoon was really warm, we decided to walk Maddie up behind Mission House, which is where the majority of the State Park employees live during the summer. It was built in 1825 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Curving past Mission House and turning back down the hill you pass the Mackinac Island Center for the Arts, located in the former Mission Point Theater building.

Curving past Mission House and turning back down the hill you pass the Mackinac Island Center for the Arts, located in the former Mission Point Theater building.

On the way back from town and another "ice cream after dinner" run, we stopped for a moment to enjoy a few moments of a Music in the Park concert. The summer concert series takes place most Thursday evenings during the season.

On the way back from town and another “ice cream after dinner” run, we stopped for a moment to enjoy a Music in the Park concert. The summer concert series takes place most Thursday evenings throughout the season.

From the deck Friday evening.

From the deck Friday evening.

A beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron. (Photo by Ted, who is the only one up early enough to catch these in Michigan as well as in Florida).

A beautiful sunrise over Lake Huron. (Photo by Ted, who – just like in Florida – is the only one up early enough to catch moments like these).

Company’s coming Monday to spend a couple of nights!  Can’t wait!

God bless. 

Mackinac Arrival . . . and What I’ve Missed 7/19/16

We’re here!

When you top that little rise and see the Mackinac Bridge towers for the first time, you know you've almost arrived!

When we topped that little rise around 1 pm Monday afternoon and saw the Mackinac Bridge towers for the first time, we knew we were almost there!

A few minutes later, Ted and a Shepler dock worker began the process of unloading the mountain of luggage and supplies we’d brought, and I walked into the main office to arrange three months parking for the truck and purchase a book of tickets.  The young lady working the desk was new to me, but she started all the paperwork we needed quickly (so we could catch the 1:30 ferry), and Maddie and I watched the comings and goings of ferry passengers through the door. We’d only been waiting a moment when a Shepler employee I knew came through the door, gave me a big hug, and welcomed me “home”.  Then he proceeded to tell me how much he and his wife still enjoy the blog and how – just that morning – he’d given a passenger my blog address.  He said the lady was leaving the island and was upset she had to go.  It was her first visit, and she had fallen in love with Mackinac.  So he told her about Bree’s Blog and said, “Look it up.  You’ll find out all the news, and you’ll feel like you’re on the island again!”

I loved that!

We rode the new Shepler ferry, the Miss Margy, over to the island.  What an awesome boat she is, with all kinds of upgrades in seating and the ease of riding on the first level without descending any steps!  It was our first time aboard the Miss Margy, and we look forward to many more passages back and forth on her this year and for years to come.

My heart was about to sail out of my chest as we passed the bridge and turned toward the island.

My heart was about to sail out of my chest as we passed the bridge and turned toward the island.

Jill (and her brother Mark and niece Ashlynn, who are visiting) met us at the ferry dock.  After lots of hugs, we started toward Main Street, only to find Buz and Patty (the couple from Oklahoma who bought a unit in our condo complex after a chance meeting with Bear and I aboard a ferry years ago).  They had been on the island for a summer visit and had told us they were leaving last Friday to go home.  It turns out that was a little white lie.  They stayed to welcome us back and spend a few days catching up.  We were so excited to see them – I squealed like a 10-year-old when I saw Patty standing there!  The whole crowd came to the condo with us and stayed until all our luggage arrived on the dray.  Then they helped carry it inside and up the stairs.

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Thank you so much, Buz and Patty, for the great surprise!

Sweet Ashlyn took Maddie on a walk while we got all our stuff inside.

Sweet Ashlynn took Maddie on a walk while we got all our stuff inside.

Jill had to go to work, but Buz, Patty, Ted and I went out to dinner (the Pink Pony, of course) a little later in the evening.  Another splendid Mackinac Island welcome!

After dinner, as Ted and I walked home, we stopped to chat with a few folks and take in the beautiful evening..

All the boats in the Port Huron to Mackinac race were safely in and crowded into the marina. Such a colorful, exciting event, and next week it will happen all over again as the Chicago to Mackinac race begins!

All the boats in the Port Huron to Mackinac race were safely in and crowded into the marina. Such a colorful, exciting event, and next week it will happen all over again as the Chicago to Mackinac Race begins!

A beautiful array of clouds over Fort Mackinac as dusk settles over the island.

A beautiful array of clouds over Fort Mackinac, as dusk settles over the island.

We didn’t even turn the TV on after we got back to the condo – bed was the only thing on our minds.  We were TIRED.  We fell asleep to the sound of horses hooves clip-clopping down the street outside the windows, which were open to a lovely breeze.  Very peaceful sleep.

WHAT I’VE MISSED

We took our coffee out on the deck this morning and sat in the rocking chairs to watch the island awake.

We took our coffee out on the deck this morning and sat in the rocking chairs to watch the island awake.

I love the sounds of Mackinac.  I closed my eyes and just listened as I sipped coffee and rocked.  Here’s what I heard.

Birds – so many birds singing.  I’d forgotten how much music they can make (I love the cry of the gulls at the beach, but we don’t have song birds where we are – or at least very few), each species with a different melody.  Sometimes they sound like they’re in harmony, sometimes like they’re competing for the ear-piercing award, and sometimes their melody is so sweet and fragile it takes your breath.

Tires – Bicycle tires, burley tires, stroller tires, taxi tires, dray tires.  They all make different sounds as they either whir quickly along, or gently scratch the road as they pass.

Horses – hooves, jingling reins and harnesses, an occasional scuffing snort or a high-pitched neigh to an approaching horse.  Horses make this island work.  I love them.

Adult People – Visitors shuffling along on the way to breakfast somewhere close by, quietly chatting, ready for that first cup of coffee.  Island residents and workers, calling “good morning” across the street to each other, or as they meet on the sidewalk.  Taxi drivers and dray drivers clucking to their horses.

Children – The picture of happiness and gleeful laughter as they take in their surroundings and all the things they don’t normally see on the streets at home.

Ferries – Horns blowing as they approach the harbor.

Freighters – Blowing a salute to the island.

Bagpipes – Bagpipes? At first I thought I was imagining it, but Ted and I both definitely heard bagpipes!  And we had NOT doctored our coffee with anything stronger than half-and-half.

I heard all this – just rocking with my eyes closed this morning and sipping coffee.  And I realized, even more than before I arrived, how much I have missed it all.

The gentleman with the bagpipe. As we walked downtown later in the morning we heard his music again and found him walking up and down between the sailboats, playing beautiful Scottish melodies - both merry and haunting.

The gentleman with the bagpipe (in the middle of the group in foreground). As we walked downtown later in the morning we heard his music again and found him walking up and down the docks  between the sailboats – playing beautiful Scottish melodies, some merry and some quietly haunting.

Island beauty

Island beauty

In the next three months it’s going to be my pleasure to bring you stories and photographs from my “heart’s home.”  The magic of Mackinac awaits – I can’t wait to once again share it with you.

Thank you for each safe travel prayer you lifted.

God bless.

Days of Summer 6/12/16

Oh my gosh, it’s been a busy week!  It started off with Tropical Storm Colin roaring through (no damage – just a lot of rain) on Sunday night and all day Monday and was followed quickly by the arrival of Jason, Jennifer, and Jennifer’s little boy, Alex, from Atlanta on Tuesday.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a six-year-old in the house, and we’d all but forgotten how much fun it is!

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks) . . .

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland  (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks – which they instantly obeyed!)

. . . . he toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

He toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

Add to that boat time . . .

Add to that boat time . . .

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

 

It's always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! And the house seems WAY too quiet today!

Heading back to Atlanta on Saturday morning.  It’s always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! The house seems WAY too quiet today!

After three weeks of back-to-back visitors, it’s time to settle down and begin to mark off the calendar days until our trip north for three months on Mackinac Island.  The weather in Florida is getting hotter by the minute, but we’ve learned if you limit your outdoor time to the hours before 11 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m., you can pretty much enjoy part of each day.  But . .  we’re looking forward to the cooler temps on the island, as well as seeing all our friends there.

As I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, the island is gearing up for the 4:00 p.m. start of the Lilac Festival Parade.  I so hate that we’ve missing it this year, but I’m sure someone will share some pics for later.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I loved this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I love this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

Another view of St. Anne's - this one from the West Bluff. (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Another view of St. Anne’s – this one from the West Bluff. I mean, seriously – how perfect is this scene!  (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can't you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can’t you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

The island had a pretty impressive storm one night last week. Isaac Burrell's photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

The island had some pretty impressive weather one night last week. Isaac Burrell’s photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

I loved how Bobby Lee captioned this photo: "Sometimes Heaven finds you - right where you are."

I love how Bobby Lee captioned this photo he shot on a ferry trip across the Straits of Mackinac: “Sometimes Heaven finds you – right where you are.”

One of the things I'm missing most right now about Mackinac is its woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos - even in the woods. The lush, rich smell of damp soil heightened by green foliage and a base of last fall's leaves

One of the things I’m missing most right now about Mackinac is the woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos, and woods here are made up of trees and bushes that can only exist in salt air and sandy soil.  The lush, rich smell in the woods of Mackinac –  heightened by green foliage, wild flowers, and a pungent base of last fall’s leaves is not something Florida will ever replicate.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  When the luggage is unpacked and the groceries are bought, this is where you’ll find me when we get to the island . . . . maybe before the groceries are bought.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

INTRODUCING . . .  YOU!

I had three more readers waiting to be introduced when we lost Bear and my thoughts got taken totally away from everything but him.  I want to get back to those readers today!

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She's been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a "share" on Facebook.

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She’s been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a “share” on Facebook.  Beverly, besides sharing a home state, we also share a year of birth!

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle were married on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, "Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week realy immerses you with that 'Mackinac Magic'"

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle honeymooned on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, “Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week really immerses you with that ‘Mackinac Magic'”  Pat and Gayle will be celebrating their 45th anniversary this year.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.  Terry found the blog for the first time when Bear was doing a guest post several years ago.  Terry says, “I still miss our Golden Retriever, and the blend of Mackinac Island and a Golden jumped out.”  They visit the island a couple of times each year.  The photo above was taken as they celebrated their anniversary at the Grand last fall.

I think that brings us up to date on the “Introducing . . . You!” series.  Please continue to send in your photos, where you live, when and how you discovered the blog, and any other short comments you’d like to share.  I will get them on the blog as I receive them.  Send to: brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.

MOVING ON . . . . A DAY AT A TIME

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This photo pretty much sums up the last few weeks.  There’s a big space that remains empty in our house and in our hearts. We’re moving past the worst of the grief though, and each day draws us closer to being able to open our hearts to a new fur baby.  I still have my moments though.  The other day I was fixing Maddie’s dinner, and I swear I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned and just for a moment I saw Bear standing there . . . patiently waiting for his dinner too. Yes, I know I didn’t really see him.  But his spirit was so strong in that moment that I want to believe he was really there – letting me know he wasn’t too far away.  Even now.

I’ve begun to search.  At one point I even thought I had found what I wanted.  But – things didn’t work out, so I’ve filed that one away as “wasn’t meant to be” and moved on.  Right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to want an English Cream Golden Retriever.  At first I thought I couldn’t get another Golden because I would be constantly comparing him to Bear.  But the English Goldens are shaped differently – a little stockier and shorter than American-bred Goldens.  And they are a very light cream color.  Some are white.  At this point we’re thinking we won’t be getting it until after we return from Mackinac . . .  and we may even decide to get a puppy.

But – you know what.  You just never know when God is going to open a kennel door.  So we’ll see.

Have a great week!

God bless.