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.

On This Day . . . . . 9/11/16

There are very few citizens of our country who didn’t stop at some time today and reflect on what happened in New York City on this date 15 years ago.  We thought about where we were and what we first thought was happening.  And we thought about how we felt when we realized what really was happening.

There is an annual ceremony on Patriots Day on Mackinac, and this afternoon the ceremony was held at the island’s replica of the Statue of Liberty.  Our emergency vehicles, first responders, and American Legion Post 299 all took part in the remembrance program.

Tonight's Patriots Day ceremony. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Today’s Patriots Day ceremony. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Earlier today members of the Mackinac Island Fire Department, as well as firefighters from St. Ignace, Pickford and Topinabee took part in a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb to honor the New York City firemen who died on that fateful day.

Firefighters walked the stairs to Fort Holmes (141 steps) repeatedly until they made their goal of 14 round trips . .

Firefighters walked the stairs to Fort Holmes (141 steps) repeatedly until they made their goal of 14 round trips.  The original World Trade Center numbeed 110 floors.  There were 2,071 stairs from the ground to the top.  This would equal 14 trips up the Fort Holmes stairs. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

 

Participants in today's 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb (Photo: Joan Barch)

Participants in today’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb (Photo: Joan Barch)

Upon completion each Firefighter rang a bell attached to the top.

This afternoon I watched the movie Pearl Harbor, released in 2001, just a few months before the 9/11 attacks.  At the end of the movie, in a voiceover, Evelyn says, “When the action is over and we look back, we understand both more and less.  America suffered, but America grew stronger.  The times tried our souls, and through the trial, we overcame.”

I remember how America came together after 9/11, and I remember how we grew stronger.  I remember how we filled our churches and prayed for our country.

We need to continue those prayers.

God bless.

 

 

Photo Night! 9/23/15

Are you kidding me?!  We’ve been here almost SIX WEEKS?!  Are you kidding me?!

Oh. My. Gosh!  It’s just unbelievable how fast these weeks have flown by.  And we’ve been so busy I know I haven’t shown you nearly enough of beautiful Mackinac – and that’s why you come to this blog!!  So, I’m going to try to remedy that, because . . .IT’S PHOTO NIGHT!!

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve captured through my lens during the last couple of weeks.  There are a LOT of pics, but believe me, there were a LOT more I could have posted. But then you’d have been here when you should have been working – or sleeping – or eating!

Let's start with cuteness, with a capital "C" - for Chester! Chester belongs to friend Bart, who also happens to be a volunteer fireman on Mackinac. So . . . now the Mackinac Island Fire Department has an official Dalmatian fire dog mascot!!

Let’s start with cuteness, with a capital “C” – for Chester! Chester belongs to friend Bart, who also happens to be a volunteer fireman on Mackinac. So . . . now the Mackinac Island Fire Department has an official Dalmatian fire dog mascot!!

I wonder what we can get into today!

I wonder what we can get into today!

A walk to the ferry one morning took me by The Island House and its magnificent gardens . . .

A walk to the ferry one morning took me by The Island House and its magnificent gardens . . .

. . . . and Fort Mackinac, framed by newly mown grass and that incredible Michigan-blue sky.

. . . . and Fort Mackinac, framed by newly mown grass and that incredible Michigan-blue sky.

So excited to see good friend Frankie when we met a few days ago in Mackinaw City. We rode over to Petoskey and had lunch at Stafford's Bay View Inn. What a charming place and what yummy food!

So excited to see good friend Frankie and her friend Sue when we met a few days ago in Mackinaw City. We rode over to Petoskey and had lunch at Stafford’s Bay View Inn. What a charming place and what yummy food!  It was a great day, Frankie!

View that same day when I got back to the island - looking at the steeple of Mission Church from one of the high bedroom windows. A peaceful sunset on Mackinac.

View that same day when I got back to the island – looking at the steeple of Mission Church from one of the third floor bedroom windows. A peaceful sunset on Mackinac.

We FINALLY made it up to Fort Holmes last week! This is what it looked like the last time I was up there (two years ago) . . .

We FINALLY made it up to Fort Holmes last week! This is what it looked like the last time I was up there (two years ago) . . .

. . . and here it is now!!

. . . and here it is now!!

What an awesome job they did reconstructing this fort, both outside . . .

What an awesome job they did reconstructing the fort, both outside . . .

. . . and inside. The fort's history is told on placards around the wall.

. . . and inside. The fort’s history is told on placards around the wall.

As you top that last rise of the road past leading up past the cemetery and the structure comes into view, it just takes your breath away . . .

As you top that last rise of the road leading up past the cemetery, and the structure comes into view, it just takes your breath away . . .

. . . and so does that view from the "top of the island".

. . . and so does the view from the “top of the island”.

From Fort Holmes we walked to Lookout Point up one of my favorite paths . . .

From Fort Holmes we walked up one of my favorite paths to Lookout Point  . . .

. . . and even though there was very little "color change" looking out toward Sugar Loaf . . .

. . . and even though there was very little “color change” looking out toward Sugar Loaf . . .

. . . we did see a few leaves changing in the tops of a couple of trees.

. . . we did spot a few leaves turning red in the tops of a couple of trees.

This tree downtown next to the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Museum is always one of the first to show its fall colors.

This tree downtown next to the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Museum is always one of the first to show its fall colors, and this year is no different.

Even though summer is officially over on the calendar, Mackinac's flowers are still blooming their hearts out - like here at The Cottage Inn on Market Street.

Even though summer is officially over on the calendar, Mackinac’s flowers are still blooming their hearts out – like here at The Cottage Inn on Market Street . . .

And near Anne's Cottage on Main Street.

. . . and near Anne’s Cottage on Main Street.

The hanging baskets are still going strong.

The hanging baskets are still going strong and continue to grow more beautiful each day.

And these pink and green bikes . . .

These pink and green bikes . . .

. . . seem to match these pink and green baskets on the front of this downtown cottage.

. . . seem to match the pink and green baskets on the front of a downtown cottage.

A freighter passing . . . as seen between downtown condos.

A freighter passing . . . as seen between downtown condos.

So good to run into Pam and Mike Day (from Ohio) while out biking the other day. These two might love Mackinac as much as I do . . . notice I said "might" . . . it's pretty close though. They're on the island around this time every year and are two of the sweetest folks I've ever met!

So good to run into Pam and Mike Day (from Ohio) while out biking the other day. These two might love Mackinac as much as I do . . . notice I said “might” . . . it’s pretty close though. They’re on the island around this time every year and are two of the sweetest folks I’ve ever met!

As you may or may not be aware, last weekend the island was host to the Republican Leadership Conference, and five or six of the candidates in the running for the Republican Presidential nomination were here to speak. While waiting for Carly Fiorina to arrive, I ran into one of my favorite Mackinac Island photographers, Steven Blair. Steven owns Artistic Mackinac Gallery & Studio on Astor Street.

As you may or may not be aware, last weekend the island was host to the Republican Leadership Conference, and five or six of the candidates in the running for the Republican Presidential nomination were here to speak. While waiting for Carly Fiorina to arrive, I ran into one of my favorite Mackinac Island photographers, Steven Blair. Steven owns Artistic Mackinac Gallery & Studio on Astor Street.  If you’re ever in the market for beautiful photography of beautiful Mackinac, you need to stop into Steven’s shop.  Bet you don’t walk out empty-handed!

I managed to get a few shots of Fiorina - both arriving on the Shepler dock . . .

I managed to get a few shots of Fiorina – both arriving on the Shepler dock . . .

. . . and close up, as she walked down for a meet & greet at Mary's Bistro.

. . . and close up, as she walked down for a meet & greet at Mary’s Bistro.

This photo of me with Jeb Bush is from two years ago. He was on the island to speak at the Detroit Chamber of Commerce conference and was leaving just as I arrived from volunteering with Shepler's that day on the mainland. There were maybe three people standing around, and I don't think any of them realized who he was.

This photo of me with Jeb Bush is from two years ago. He was on the island to speak at the Detroit Chamber of Commerce conference and was leaving just as I arrived from volunteering with Shepler’s on the mainland that day. There were maybe three people standing around, and I don’t think any of them realized who he was.  He was carrying his own luggage.

What a difference two years makes! This is Bush's arrival last week! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

What a difference two years makes! This is Bush’s arrival last week! (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Being so close to town this year, I've spent more time out and about after dark. These next three photos are from an after sunset stroll to the condo from dinner at the Chippewa. Lady Liberty stands guard over the marina.

Being so close to town this year, I’ve spent more time out and about after dark. These next three photos are from a sunset stroll to the condo after dinner at the Chippewa. Lady Liberty stands guard over the marina.

The Island House . . .

The Island House . . .

. . . and Mission Church.

. . . and Mission Church.

We had lunch recently with Steve and Cindy, who bought our condo. They are so sweet and love the condo AND Mackinac a lot. They're from Atlanta and spend most of the summer up here - just like we did.

We had lunch recently with Steve and Cindy, who bought our condo. They are so sweet and love the condo AND Mackinac a lot. They’re from Atlanta and spend most of the summer up here – just like we did.

Things you never want to see on Mackinac - fire trucks! Last Sunday morning a piecing alarm went off just across the street from us, followed within two minutes with the arrival of our Mackinac Island Fire Department. Turned out a sprinkler system pipe had sprung a leak and set off the alarm. Geez - sure wouldn't wish THAT on anyone. But, so glad it wasn't a fire, and our firemen were on it in record time!

Things you never want to see on Mackinac – fire trucks! Early last Sunday morning a piecing alarm went off just across the street from us, followed within two minutes with the arrival of our Mackinac Island Fire Department. Turned out a sprinkler system pipe had sprung a leak and set off the alarm. Geez – sure wouldn’t wish THAT on anyone. But – so glad it wasn’t a fire.  Our firemen were on it in record time!

On the way off island for a final grooming appointment before going home. . . .

On the way off island for a final grooming appointment before going home. . . .

. . . and spreading "Bear love" wherever he goes.

. . . and spreading “Bear love” wherever he goes.

We ran into Mary Lou Peters, my favorite watercolor artist, in the Island Bookstore this afternoon. Love this lady!

We ran into Mary Lou Peters, my favorite watercolor artist, in the Island Bookstore this afternoon. Love this talented lady!

Here's a good one to end with! We stopped in at Sadie's this week so Ted could have a Jersey Mudd. Not to be outdone, I ordered their "special of the day", a Brownie Scotch sundae. Someone on Faceebook asked me if it was the camera angle that made my sundae look five times bigger than Ted's. No, it really WAS five times bigger!

Here’s a good one to end with! We stopped in at Sadie’s this week so Ted could have a Jersey Mudd. Not to be outdone, I ordered their “special of the day”, a Brownie Scotch sundae. Someone on Faceebook asked me if it was the camera angle that made my sundae look five times bigger than Ted’s. No, it really WAS five times bigger!

I can’t WAIT until tomorrow.  For some reason, this seems to be a week when a pretty good number of Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog readers are on the island.  Since I’m working at the Stuart House tomorrow, everyone I could get in contact with is going to show up at the Stuart House at 10:30 a.m. for a group photo, with Jill doing the photography honors.  IF you read Bree’s Blog and you’re on the island and want to join us – whether you’re from out of town or an island reader – please come on by Thursday morning and join in the fun!  10:30 a.m. at the Stuart House!!

Excited to see everyone!!!

Week One of Six! 8/23/15

Our first week on Mackinac has been a mixed bag of weather.  We’ve had sunshine and warm temps.  We’ve had rain and cool temps.  We’ve had nice breezes and some fairly brisk winds.  Whatever the weather though, the joy comes from being here, and you won’t hear any complaining from us – rain or shine!

What an awesome way to start each day - Good Morning, Mackinac!

What an awesome way to start each day – Good Morning, Mackinac!  Since our condo is at the Mission Point intersection, it’s a great place to people/dog/carriage watch all day.  On the weekends at night we can sit on the deck and listen to live entertainment at Bistro on the Greens!  Pretty cool!

I don't think I've ever seen Mission Point as colorful as it is this year.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mission Point as brilliantly colorful as it is this year.  Just love all the pinks, reds, and yellows spilling out of the tiered garden at the front and from every available terrace and pot.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and - like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill - I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits featuring the steeple of St. Anne's Church.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and – like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill – I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits, featuring the steeple of St. Anne’s Church.  Would love to know exactly how many photographs and paintings have been created standing in this spot.

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

This is another one - seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn't it?

This is another one – seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn’t it?  Notice the rain gear in the basket?  Always prepared!

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode down to the Mackinac Island Fire Department for the presentation of the check

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode downtown for the presentation of the check from Max Jones to the Mackinac Island Fire Department.  Max, with his father John, Dr. Stephen Humphrey, and Mark Chambers rode across the State of Iowa as a fundraiser (only Max collected donations) for the department.  Generous givers donated $4,783 to the fund, with another $300 pledged.  Way to go, Max!  (Photo l-r: Paramedic Rick Linn, Asst. Chief Sam Barnwell, FF Ron Langworthy, TF Johny Morris, Max Jones, Asst. Chief Jason St. Onge, FF Tony Brodeur, and SFF Travis Vartanian.

Max with his fellow riders - his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max with his fellow riders – his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max and his wonderful family - mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

Max and his wonderful family – mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages - this one from St. Anne's . . .

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages – this one from St. Anne’s . . .

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skills to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skill to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful Friesian. It turned out the driver was island friend Ann Levy who - with Michigan's Sugar Queen - had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island's fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that's worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful tuxedo-decked-out Friesian. The driver was island friend Ann Levy who – with Michigan’s Sugar Queen – had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that’s worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn't affecting the Marina - which was full.

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn’t affecting the Marina – which was full.

Doud's was dark inside, but it didn't seem to stop shoppers at all.

Doud’s was dark inside, but it didn’t seem to stop shoppers at all.

It was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way - with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

And it was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way – with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. Awesome job, Chippewa!

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington, and normalcy resumed.

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from our bedroom window. See those dark clouds . . .

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from a bedroom window. Those dark clouds . . .

. . . they blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going!

. . .  blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going and hope you have your rain gear packed in your purse!

It was wonderful to walk in the doors of Little Stone Church this morning!  We got to see many friends we hadn’t yet seen elsewhere and heard a wonderful message from our pastor, Reverend Fred Zobel, a retired U.S. Navy Captain. 

It’s almost 8 p.m. now, and the rain is gone.  The streets have been washed clean, the grass is even greener, and the only leftovers of the storm I see from my window are whitecaps in the Straits and waves crashing against the breakwater.  There was walkers and bikers on the lakeside trail at Mission Point, dogs are being walked, and folks are on the sidewalk heading into town. 

Ahhhhh . . . life is good!

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Don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but August 30-September 1 is the 3rd Annual Grand Garden Show, featuring the world’s #1 plant brand, Proven Winners.  Presenters will include Jamie Durie, host of HGTV’s show Outdoor Room, PBS talk shop host, gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, and our very own award winning garden designer Jack Barnwell.  Rooms at the Grand are sold out for the event, but tickets for the presentations and tours of some of Mackinac’s most beautiful private and public gardens are still available.  I’ll be covering one day of the event, and I’ll be so excited to share it with you through words and photographs.

See you back here soon!

God bless.

Lady Liberty Returns to Mackinac Island

On the 12th anniversary of that September day when all our lives changed forever, Mackinac Island’s own Statue of Liberty returned to her home and became part of the Island’s Patriots Day celebration.

The statue was originally donated to the Island in 1950 by the Boy Scouts of America, marking their 40th anniversary, which had the theme “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty”.  Over 200 of the statues were donated to communities in 39 states, but the statue here on Mackinac is the only one given to the State of Michigan.  The statues are about 8 1/2 feet tall – without a pedestal – weigh about 300 pounds, and were made by a company in Chicago.  Our statue’s big sister stands in New York harbor, is more than 305 feet tall from the ground to the top of her torch, and weighs more than 150 tons.

The Statue of Liberty replica on Mackinac Island has been used every fifth year to commemorate the attacks on 9/11/2001, and the Patriot Day services were conducted at that  location in 2006 and 2011.

Mackinac Island’s Statue of Liberty, as she stood near the marina from May 28, 1950, the date of her dedication, until November 28, 2012.

The replica withstood 62 years of harsh northern Michigan winters and was in need of the kind of repair work only a specialist could handle – dents in the copper skin, seams that needed to be ground out or filled in, and spikes on her crown that  needed to be replaced. Masons, excavating crews and landscapers all needed to be involved.

American Legion post 299 on Mackinac Island wanted to refurbish the statue and bring it back to its original form.  Post 299 Commander Paul Wandrie, said, “We are calling our drive to repair and relocate this statue, the ‘Save Our Statue’ or ‘S.O.S.’ Project.”  The City of Mackinac Island also supported the project, the cost of which was estimated at approximately $61,000.

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On November 28, 2012, the statue was removed from her pedestal, with Winberg Masonry, Belonga Excavating, Davis Construction and Venus Bronze Works, Inc. involved in the project. 

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The statue was shipped to Venus Bronze Works in Detroit for the winter, where she underwent a complete makeover.  

On April 1, 2013 myself and my 2 brothers visited with the Statue of Liberty Replica in Detroit.  Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works was our tour guide around his shop.  Getting to see the statue was the reason why we were there.  This picture shows some of the work done.  Since he is preparing to solder the sections back together he must insure that these sections are perfectly cleaned.  The bottom portion will be attached to a brand new base that will be made of bronze.

On April 1, 2013 Paul Wandrie and his two brothers checked on the Statue of Liberty replica in Detroit. Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, was their tour guide around his shop.  Wandrie stated, “Since he is preparing to solder the sections back together, he must insure that these sections are perfectly cleaned. The bottom portion will be attached to a brand new base that will be made of bronze.”

When Wandrie was contacted that the statue was finished (the pedestal still remains to be done), it all fell into place that the statue would return to the Island as part of the Patriots Day celebration on September 11, 2013.

Shepler’s Ferry donated the use of their freight boat, the Sacre Bleu, for the trip across the Straits, and boats from Arnold and Star Ferry Lines, the Mackinac Island Fire Department and the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks planned to join the boat parade accompanying the statue on her crossing.  Private boats were also invited to join in.

Paul Wandrie and Chris Shepler both granted me permission to come across on the Sacre Bleu with the statue, and that is how I came to be aboard when Lady Liberty returned to the Island.

Emotions were running just below the surface yesterday and kept threatening to emerge.  I boarded Shepler’s to travel to St. Ignace (where the statue had spent the night in a Shepler warehouse).  The statue’s Honor Guard, made up of Post #299 Commander Paul Wandrie, Mackinac Island Police Officer Ken Hardy, Mackinac Island Fire Fighters Jason Kladiva, Ron Langsworthy, and Jamie Bynoe, and EMT Mark Bielinski, were all aboard the same boat.  As I rode over I was thinking about the events of 9/11/2001 and remembering – as we all do – exactly where I was when I heard that breaking news broadcast when the first plane flew into one of the Twin Towers.  I was sitting at my desk in the Public Information Office of the Dougherty County School System in Albany, GA.  The morning was just beginning, and we had a day packed with assignments, paper work, and visits planned into several schools.  In the incredibly short time it took for a fellow worker to rush in from another office and shout, “Quick, turn on the TV!” (our office had the only TV in our 3-story building, as we were charged with keeping up with emergencies – weather or otherwise), all plans – and our entire world – changed.

When we walked into the St. Ignace warehouse and first saw Mackinac’s Statue of Liberty – refurbished, no dents, all spikes of her crown in place and sparkling clean, I began to feel tears welling up and a throat lump forming.

Yes - compared to her big sister in New York City, she was shorter and weighed less - but she was still the United States symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression

Compared to her big sister in New York City, she is shorter and weighs less; but she is still the United States’ symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression, and – even in a warehouse – she carries the dignity and power of what she symbolizes like the great lady she is.

The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .

The Honor Guard gently lifted the statue . . .

. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon she would rest on during her trip to Mackinac.

. . . and placed her on the flatbed wagon on which she would rest during her trip to Mackinac.

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The gentleman on the left is John Eagan.  It was John and his boss, Giorgio Gikas, President of Venus Bronze Works, who did all the meticulous work on Lady Liberty.  The statue was taken apart, dents were removed, and new cooper sheets were applied – followed by new layers of wax and a patina for a glossy finish.  Her old book and stand had been wood on the interior, and it had rotted.  The book and stand are now hollow and covered in copper and wax.  There are copper supports that run through the statue like tree branches for added support.  Eagan said, “The more we worked on it, the more it became a real labor of love.”

The statue was pulled outside . . .

The statue was pulled outside . . .

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

. . . and loaded onto the Sacre Bleu.

One of the firemen laid his helmet next to her

One of the firemen placed his helmet next to Lady Liberty’s face, and it was then the emotions of the massive loss of the 9/11 event coalesced into tears that spilled over.

Chris Shepler piloted us across the Straits as other vessels began to fall into place with the Sacre Bleu.

Chris Shepler piloted us across the Straits as other vessels began to fall into place with the Sacre Bleu.

We were joined by Arnold's Ottawa . . .

We were joined by Arnold’s Chippewa . . . 

. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft . . .

. . . the Mackinac Island Historic State Parks landing craft, captained by Robert McGreevy, with Myron Johnson as deck hand . . .

. . . and Star Line's new Anna May.

. . . and Star Line’s new Anna May.

As we sailed into the harbor, the Ottawa's fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace firemen, opened up with a huge spray . . .

As we sailed into the harbor, the Chippewa’s fire hoses, manned by St. Ignace Fire Department Lt. Matt Bowlby and Fire Fighter Nate Montie, opened up with a huge spray . . .

. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island fire boat.

. . . joined by the spray from the Mackinac Island Fire boat.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

Passengers aboard an outgoing Star Ferry all stood as we passed.

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

A Color Guard and a large crowd awaited the statue at the dock . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . where Lady Liberty was off-loaded . . .

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

. . . and began her trip through the streets of Mackinac to the Stuart House Museum.

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flat-bed . . .

The Honor Guard gently removed the statue from the flatbed . . .

. . stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

. . and stood her gleaming and straight back on Mackinac Island, her home since 1950.

Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.

Back home and surrounded by the people of Mackinac Island.

The Patriots Day program was filled with speakers who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the bravery of Americans, not only on 9/11, but during all the wars in which we've fought.  (Click on individual photos to enlarge.)

The Patriots Day program was filled with speakers who spoke eloquently and emotionally about the bravery of Americans, not only on 9/11, but during all the wars in which we’ve fought. (Click on individual photos to enlarge.)

After the program and time for photo opportunities, the statue was carried into the Stuart House . . .

After the program and time for photo opportunities, the statue was carried into the Stuart House Museum . . .

. . . where she will remain until funds have been raised to complete her pedestal.  (Photo: Steven Blair)

. . . where she will remain until funds have been raised to complete her pedestal. (Photo: Steven Blair)

When the remaining funds have been raised, the statue will be centered approximately 100 feet west of where she formerly stood, which will give her a more prominent location.  At this new spot, she will be seen by more people entering the harbor, and she will be more easily seen from the roadway.

 The project to refurbish this replica of a national treasure has in a few short months raised all but approximately $17,500 of the $61,000 needed.  Funds have come in from individual donations by  Island residents, by visitors to the Island, from the State of Michigan, and from across the country.  On September 11, 2013, Paul Wandrie said, “Thank you to everyone that has helped us along the way, and we look forward to receiving the rest of the funds so we can get Lady Liberty back to the marina. “

If you’d be interested in participating in this patriotic cause, donations can be sent to: American Legion Post 299, P.O. Box 1518, Mackinac Island, MI 49757 (checks should be made payable to American Legion Post #299).  Or, if you’re on the Island and would like to donate in person, that can be done at the DPW Office on the 2nd floor of the Community Hall (see Bruce or Ellen).  There is also a Paypal account where donations can be made.  Simply  go to the picture of the statue on the Legion’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AmericanLegion299?ref=br_tf), and click on it.  All donations are tax-deductible.

It’s on days like this that the magic of Mackinac can almost physically be seen winding its way along the streets and through the crowds.  The people of Mackinac Island have always been a close-knit, kind and compassionate community.  When something of theirs is in need of repair or replacement, they come together and find a way to make it happen.  So it’s been with the refurbishment of Mackinac Island’s replica of the Statue of Liberty, and so it will continue to be for generations to come.

Stand tall, Lady Liberty.  We look forward to you soon taking up your new post at the entrance to the harbor!

God Bless America!

Foggy Days on the Rock 5/22/2013

I’m such a klutz.  On Sunday afternoon I reinjured the foot I hurt when I gracefully fell on my face at a wedding a few weeks ago.  This time the pain was much worse, and I couldn’t put any weight on it at all.  I called our Health Care 24-hour nurse yesterday and asked about getting it X-rayed, but with what I described, she thinks I just strained a ligament and suggested rest and ice, which I’ve been doing.

It’s been a good few days to be out of commission because since Sunday we’ve had ran showers, rain storms, wind and fog.

Downtown on Monday. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Downtown on Monday. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Yesterday.

Yesterday. Showers and fog.

This morning.

This morning.  Mostly fog and misty rain.

A kayaker floats into Hildebrand Bay with the fog. (Photo: Great Turtle Kayak Tours)

A kayaker floats into Haldimand Bay with the fog. (Photo: Great Turtle Kayak Tours)

Ted left on the 10 a.m. ferry this morning for the first “big groceries” buying trip at Wal-Mart in Cheboygin – time to stock up on paper products for the next few weeks.

We’ve already had Jerry, our plumber, up for the annual “first week back” pipe problems.  It never fails that something is leaking, dripping, or flowing when we return and get everything turned on.  In fact, when we called him our second day back, he told us, “I was wondering  why you hadn’t called yet!”  I love being part of this little community where we see the same “fix-it” folks every year – and who we can have on “speed dial”.

PHOTOS FROM SUNNIER DAYS

RRRR

Bikes and golf carts at the Grand pro shop.

Wow!  This guy must have been collecting cans all winter!

Wow! This guy must have been collecting cans all winter!

New gear for our wonderful Mackinac Island Fire Department. (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

New gear for our wonderful Mackinac Island Fire Department. (Photo: Jason St. Onge)

The Pink Pony has a new Pink Pony!

The Pink Pony has a new pink pony!

All day yesterday I kept thinking something was missing, and it was driving me crazy!  I’d sit reading for a while, then look up and think, “What’s different?”  I’d wander a few feet from my chair, only to stop and try and figure out what was bugging me.  Finally, last night, as I was pulling down the blinds across the den and staring at the lights shrouded in fog, it hit me . . . . the fog horn wasn’t sounding.

When I awoke this morning to fog so thick we could barely see the Lilac bushes in our front yard – and still no fog horn – I went on a mission to find out why we weren’t hearing the lonely song normally played out on the Straits in this kind of weather.  I called the U.S. Coast Guard Station in St. Ignace, and the young man who answered my call gave me this answer: The horn is now activated only by the pilot houses of approaching vessels.  After activation, the horn sounds for 30 minutes, then automatically turns off.  This is the same process used at our airport on the island.  Instead of leaving the runway lights on all night, they can be activated by approaching pilots, then turn off when the plane has safely landed.  It’s all about saving money, and I understand that.  But I sure do miss that mournful sound – especially on foggy nights.

Everyone on Mackinac is eagerly looking forward to this Memorial Day weekend – the official start of the season for the Island.  Even though the temps will still be a little short of “warm”, the sun is supposed to be shining brightly, and the Rock is expecting people to start arriving in droves on Friday afternoon.  With the crowds we’ve been seeing downtown – even in the rain – I predict an awesome long holiday weekend for visitors to Mackinac.  Y’all come!

I’ll close with a photo that popped up on Facebook this week and is so awesome I just had to share it.  It was shot by someone at the Keyhole Bar & Grill in Mackinaw City, and it is pretty much beyond words.

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I Think I’ll Go Outside a While . . an jus’ smile 9/30/2012

It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh
I think I’ll go outside a while
An jus’ smile
Just take in some clean fresh air boy
Ain’t no sense in stayin’ inside
If the weather’s fine an’ you got the time
It’s your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day
Either way
It’s a beautiful mornin’ ahhh  – Rascals

Makes you want to sing along, doesn’t it!

We’ve had three days of beautiful mornings – and days – this weekend, and being outside is all I’ve wanted to do.  I LOVE Fall – wherever I am.  In the South, Fall usually continues past Christmas and New Year’s Day (I’m talking Fall temperatures – the trees lose their leaves before then).  Winter (meaning we might throw on a fleece layer over a long-sleeve cotton shirt) usually arrives sometime in January.  So, even though we’ll leave here after the beautifully-colored leaves have probably all been blown from the trees, we’ll arrive in Georgia in time for another Fall that could last two more months.  We are so blessed.

The ri’vah is calling me more strongly each day.  We’ve been gone a long time now, and I’m yearning to see family and our sweet friends and to sit on the sun porch, coffee mug in hand, and watch the birds at their feeder and the lake shimmering with sunlight.

But that’s five weeks away, and right now I’m planning on enjoying Fall on Mackinac in all its brilliant glory.

So much to talk about from the Island, but first . . . .

Ted’s Trip to Chicago and the 39th Ryder Cup

Ted was invited along on the trip with a group of guys he’s gotten to know well since we made Mackinac our summer home.

The group drove to Traverse City and flew to Chicago on a charter. Now I ask you – does this group look like they could have fun or what!

Beautiful homes they passed on the way to their hotel.

Along Lake Michigan, with the Chicago skyline in the background.  Ted loved the biking, walking and running trails, but said there was no time in their schedule for exercising.  Uh huh.

View from the 40th floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where they stayed the first night.

On Tuesday, they attended the first practice round of the Ryder Cup and the Pro-Am Celebrity Tournament.

Some of the celebrities they spotted playing were Michael Phelps, George Lopez, Bill Murray and Justin Timberlake (sorry, no close-ups).

The 17th hole. Golfers they watched practice were Phil Mickleson, Bubba Watson (go Georgia!) and Zack Johnson.

After a full day at the golf course, one of the guys gets in a little power nap on the train.

Since Ted had never been to Chicago, the guys took him to the Trump Tower Terrace bar, where you can look down the Chicago River to Lake Michigan.  What an unbelievable view!   They ate at Gibson’s Steak House on Monday night and at Topo Giogio’s Italian Restaurant in Old Town Tuesday evening.

Night in Chicago.

View of Lake Michigan Wednesday morning from the Embassy Suite.

In the Tribune Tower (home of the Chicago Tribune) there is a tangible piece of history from each of the 50 states embedded into the building. Ted found Michigan’s block, which held a bit of Fort Brady from Sault Ste. Marie.

The guys flew into Traverse City early Wednesday afternoon, drove to Mackinaw City and caught the 4:30 ferry to the Island.  I didn’t get to hear much about the trip until Thursday morning ’cause Ted went straight to sleep in his recliner after dinner.  What a great trip for everyone!

Fire Drill

The Mackinac Island Fire Department is one of the best-trained group of firefighters anywhere – they practice and drill constantly.  On Thursday evening our Fire Department conducted a training event at British Landing Dock, with the help of SEMCO energy.  The training involved burning propane tanks ranging from the “grill” sized tanks to the “home heating” style tanks, which are becoming more prevalent on the Island. 

Battling the flames are Assistant Fire Chief Jason St. Onge, Harold Jonas, Travis Vartanian and Ben Mosley.  The flames were visible from St. Ignace.  (Photo credit:  Dan Seeley)

Preparing to take care of their equipment, after the fire was out.  The lights of St. Ignace are visible across the lake.  (Photo Credit:  Dan Seeley)

The Weekend in Photographs

Friday morning’s sunrise. (Photo Credit: Patrick Conlon)

Maddie thought it was a good day to sleep in the sun (a fluffy fleece blanket only made it better)!

Jill and I hopped a ferry Friday afternoon for St. Ignace and hair appointments. All I did was get my boring gray covered, but Jill went crazy with a PINK streak!

Jeremy’s reaction to Jill’s PINK streak! Not to worry, by Sunday morning, she had washed it out.

A sign of the season. Our recent cold snap was hurtful to some of our beautiful summer flower baskets. These from Main Street Inn & Suites came down this weekend.

More Fall signs – the shops are decorated for Autumn. These mums and scarecrows are outside of Decked Out.

Little Luxuries has some great Halloween goodies. Hey! That pumpkin matches my backpack!

Ted and I popped in at Ella & Ivy’s in time to wish Anne’s mom a Happy 90th Birthday!  She had flown up from Florida to spend the week with Anne and commented it quite a bit chillier in Michigan!  What a sweet and beautiful lady.

Steven Kopacki closed his gallery at 6pm Saturday evening and took a fall hike to Fort Holmes where he took this picture. It was taken at dusk, no flash, no tripod, looking southeast, full moon and fall color. Did you see the freighter in the moon reflection in the water. Steven’s gallery is offering 20 to 30% off on canvases and prints thru Oct 14th: www.photosbyblair.com

The peacefulness and beauty of the water near Mission Point Resort on Sunday morning promised another wonderful day outside! (Photo credit: Mary McGuire)

Late this afternoon Ted and I decided to take the pups up to Lookout Point. The trees at the Carriage Museum are turning more golden each day, and Wednesday is the last day they will be open – no more doughnuts till next year!

One of my favorite trees at the back entrance of the Carriage Museum (that’s the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Exhibit over the dropoff there).

All paths to Lookout Point lead first through the cemeteries.  Today was a wonderful day for a Drive-it-Yourself buggy ride!

The trees at the cemeteries had much more color than Surrey Hill – just 1/2 mile away.

A canopy of gold.

The view from Lookout Point out to Lake Huron – so much change from when Ted was up here a week ago!

Lots of summer picnics have been enjoyed under this little shelter at Lookout Point!

The road not taken – at least not today. Next week we’ll go through here to Ft. Holmes.

We had started our walk late and then stopped to talk with several folks along the way. It was WAY past Maddie and Bear’s dinner time . . . .

“I wonder if this leads to Afternoon Snack Trail?”

Last wood path before home . . . what an awesome weekend!

I left out a very important part of Saturday.  A group of visually impaired children and teenagers visited the Island this weekend, and one of the highlights of their trip was a visit to Jack’s Livery Stable, where they were introduced to all things horse – including a ride!  I was so excited to be  invited to come with my camera, and I’ll have that story for you Wednesday.

The days will begin to fly by now, and I’m hoping I can give those of you who can’t come for Fall a real sense of what Mackinac is like during this season.  It’s a wonderful time to be here – maybe some photo will convince you to plan a trip in the next few weeks . . . everyone is offering specials!  And if not a photograph, what about a little movie – taken Saturday afternoon on my way home:  http://youtu.be/_RWwwSVYHRg

See you Wednesday!