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.

 

 

 

 

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Mackinac June Visit – Monday Afternoon/Tuesday 6/18/15

 

Being on Mackinac for a few days refueled my engines in so many ways.  First, it got me away from the oven that Florida has become in the last week or two.  Although the thermometer just topped 90 today for the first time this summer, the humidity makes it feel infinitely hotter.  Bear and Maddie can’t even take their normal walks out to the intracoastal dock anymore because the wood on the walk-over is too hot for their paws.  They just put on their brakes and refuse to move.  So – I was more than delighted to dig out a sweater and jacket for the island highs – only in the 60’s!

Second, it was wonderful to see so many island friends!  On Mackinac you can hardly turn a corner without seeing someone you know, so we spent a lot of time catching up on a year’s worth of news.

And third – for me – it was a homecoming.  No matter where else we go, I believe Mackinac is always going to be my ultimate destination on this earth. The island recharges my spirit in some unfathomable way that defies explanation.  I feel energized when I’m there – able to climb hills, walk miles and miles, leap small buildings in a single bound – well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift.

After meeting with Stefanie on Monday morning and getting a tour of beautiful Stonecliffe, I grabbed the shuttle to town, planning to meet up with Ted, who had already borrowed a Stonecliffe bike and was out exploring.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been having some back issues for a couple of weeks, so biking was out of the question for me on this trip.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Cadotte Avenue over a horse's back!

Cadotte Avenue over a horse’s back!

My first stop was the Island Bookstore.  Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there - all smiles!

My first stop was The Island Bookstore. Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there – all smiles!  Coming into that store is like opening a door to a favorite room in your home . . . familiar, comfortable, cozy – and filled with folks you can’t help but love.

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort).  The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he'd walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe.  There was music playing we were walking through Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on)

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort). The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he’d walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe. There was music playing in Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on).  This lady was videoing her husband dancing in front of the lilacs.  The man had some serious moves . . . so cute!

5

A broader view of Marquette Park and all the lilac trees.

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One good thing about living in a two-story house is that you get a good dose of aerobic activity each day, and that comes in handy on Mackinac!  I usually have to stop several times going up the ramp in front of the fort, but this time it was a relatively easy climb – and the higher you go, the better the view!

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac,

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac, looking across Marquette Park out to the Straits . . .

. . . and another looking straight up Main Street.

. . . and another looking straight down Main Street.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park offices, where we picked up Ted's bike.  Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground on familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park office, where we picked up Ted’s bike. Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground so familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

. . . . where nothing had changed.  Carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack.  Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island's main tourist attactions.

. . . . where carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack. Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island’s main tourist attractions.

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation.  Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation. Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather.  I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town.  The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo).  Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I'd get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather. I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town. The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo). Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I’d get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge.  Sure enough she was there, and we had a great visit!

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with so many of our friends from the "Village" - where our condo was located.

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with many of our friends from the “Village” – where our condo was located.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off walking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we'd use practically every day.  I'd stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off hiking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we’d use practically every day in our summers there. I’d stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.  I love the Mackinac woods more than any other part of the island. It’s in those woods I find the peace that makes the island so special to me.

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

 . . . and the horse corral nearby - larger now than it was when we lived there in the summers.

. . . and the horse corral nearby – larger now than it was a couple of years ago.

And . . . for the first time since we sold  . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.  Well, maybe just one or two.

And . . . for the first time since we sold . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.   Ok, ok . . . maybe just one or two.

Our last full day on the island was Wednesday, and that story is coming soon.  But first, tune in Sunday for one more post about Stonecliffe – its hidden nooks and crannies and what goes on behind the scenes to ensure your stay is perfect!

God bless.

Weekly Wonders! 6/3/2011

WE HAVE A WINNER for the “Mystery Spot” contest at the end of this post.  The winner is Susan, who lives in Colorado now, but is a Michigan native.  Her correct response was “the Post Cemetery”.  Scroll to the bottom for the full photo of the Mystery Spot.

What a busy week it’s been so far! 

It’s taken me a while to get into the swing of the slight change in formats this summer.  As you know, I haven’t been posting only one photo each day, but I promise that some days I will.  But, as I always find on the island, there is just so much going on it’s hard to stop with one pic.  When I find a spare moment at the condo, I sit down at the laptop and start “sketching out” what happened that day.  By doing that, when Thursday and Sunday evenings roll around, I’ve practically gotten these in-depth posts written, AND I haven’t forgotten half of what we did!  It’s working out well for me, and I hope it is for you as well.

Ted and I were up early on Monday to take the short walk through the back trails to the Post Cemetery for the Memorial Day service there.  We somehow timed it a little wrong and arrived just as the service was ending, so I stood to the side of the road and watched as the fort interpreters left the cemetery and started back to Fort Mackinac. 

I hate that we missed the ceremony, which is always so moving. There was a really good crowd gathered for so early in the morning - it seems to grow a little each year.

 

As we approached the Post Cemetery, we heard Taps being played by one of the soldiers and then the rifles firing in salute. The interpreters represent the U.S. Army's 23rd Regiment of Infantry, who served at Fort Mackinac in the 1880's.

 
 

As in years past, one of the lady interpreters laid a wreath at the grave of a soldier buried there.

 
 

A fun surprise! Attending the service were Elaine and Paul, blog readers from Yale, Michigan, whom I met last summer for the first time. They come to the island often, and it was good to see them again.

 
 

We had intended to go straight back home, but started walking and talking to someone (we seem to do a lot of that) and ended up going on into town. Fog hung over the Straits Monday morning, but even in the fog, Mackinac is beautiful.

 
We picked up a newspaper while in town, then went back to the condo.  A couple of hours later we walked back down for the 11:30 Memorial Day service at Veterans Park.
 
 

This official city service is so impressive - hosted by local veterans. Here, Mayor Margaret Doud is speaking.

 
 

Talk about a crowd! All the seating was filled, and the crowd overflowed into the streets. By the way, the gentleman in the Naval uniform is Dr. Vincent Carroll, the minister at Little Stone Church. He offered one of the prayers that morning.

 
 

One of the special parts of the ceremony is the presentation of a wreath to a Mackinac Island mother whose son or daughter has served in the military.

 
 

Mackinac Island veterans are members of the Chapman St. Onge Dankowski American Legion Post 299.

 
 

As the service was drawing to a close, the first group of Boy Scouts for the season arrived on the island. Having reached the location of the service, they stood in silent attention as the final prayer was offered by Ste. Anne's priest Fr. Jim Williams.

 
 

At the end of the service, all the flags on the island were simultaneously raised once again to full-staff. At the Veterans Park, the U.S. flag flies with the POW/MIA flag, and flags for all six branches of service are displayed.

 
 

Before we left town, we checked out the bike auction behind the Stuart House Museum. There were some really nice bikes up for auction, and they all seemed to be surrounded by some serious looking bidders. All of these bikes were collected throughout the previous summer (lost bikes that were found by someone else and turned in, but never claimed by their owners, bikes bought by island summer workers and then abandoned when they returned home, etc.). It's a great place to pick up a nice second-hand bike.

 
 
We ended the day with another walk late Monday afternoon – this time with Maddie and Bear – to the West Bluff.
 

We passed this horse corral filled with wildflowers on the way down Cadotte. There have always been a couple of horses kept here in years past, but maybe they just haven't made it back from their winter R & R.

 
 
 

We reached the West Bluff just as a newly married couple was riding off into the sunset - followed closely by their wedding photographer. Awwwww . . . .

 
 

Of course we walked Pontiac Trail while we were up on the bluff. New owners have been renovating this beautiful cottage for a couple of summers, and it looks as though they are just about finished - another grand lady restored to her original beauty. Are you wondering what the view is like from up there . . . .

 
 

. . . . here it is from Pontiac Trail directly below the house. From higher up on that porch, you could see even further. Wow! Talk about a place to drink coffee! Full views of the ferry traffic back and forth from Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, full views of the freighters coming through the cut . . . awesome!

 
On Tuesday we rested, and watched the weather all day.  Reports of severe thunderstorms, high winds, and hail were forecast to move in around 5 p.m., and we were supposed to go over to Mackinaw City for a party on the 6 p.m. ferry.  Shepler’s hosts a cast and crew party for their employees once a month during the season, and as “honorary cast members” Chris Ann and I and our hubbies were invited – and you know we never turn down free food!  We were seriously afraid we wouldn’t make it because of the weather, but when we started down to catch the ferry, the weather still looked ok except for the wind, which was blowing like crazy. 
 
The party was set up under the big white luggage tent on the Shepler dock, with grills going strong cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs and all the trimmings.  I dove into my handbag for my camera, and guess what . . . . no, I didn’t forget the camera . . .  I forgot the camera CARD . .  which was still in my laptop at home.  Do you see me kicking myself?  So – no pics of the party – but let me just say that it was so much fun!  We met a bunch of Shepler folks – both immediate family and their huge extended family of friends and workers.  The food was great, and the fellowship was wonderful.   We crossed back to the island on the 7:30 ferry – again in strong winds, but no rain or hail.  I think the big storm went north and south of us – seeming to split into halves, with the Straits and Mackinac Island in the relatively calm center.
 
We had nothing planned for Wednesday.  Ted was scheduled to start working his volunteer job at the Mackinac State Historic Parks Visitors Center on Thursday, so we just hung around the condo, except for the required doggie breaks outside.  In fact, I was at my laptop working on this post when my cell phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, and almost didn’t answer – but thank goodness I did!
 
It was Dennis Bradley, Assistant Manager of the Mackinac Island Airport.  Last summer I asked Dennis to please give me a call if there was a day when the airport was having lots of traffic.  And he had remembered!  Arriving on Wednesday were government leaders, business owners, and others to attend the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference at the Grand Hotel, and it seems like most everyone arrived by plane.  Our little airport was hopping!
 
I rode my bike out to the airport (about a 10-minute ride), and when I got there one of the Grand Hotel carriages was waiting under the portico.
 
Ben, who has spent so much time this week exercising the hackneys, finally had them harnessed up to one of the wagons they are intended to pull – a Grand VIP carriage.
I walked into the airport lobby just as a family was entering from the plane parking area.  Dennis told me the gentleman was Robert Schostak, Chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.  Being my usual shy self, I followed them out, introduced myself, and asked if I could get a photograph for the blog.  Mr. Schostak asked me where I was from (the accent always gives me away), and I told him Georgia.  He graciously agreed to be photographed.
 
 
 
 Back inside, Dennis said, “Before someone else arrives, you’ve got to go out and get a photo of a couple of planes.  One is probably the largest we’ve ever had land here, and the other one is just a really neat plane.”   (Remind me to go back out to the airport this summer for an in-depth story on how the airport actually operates, but today I was there for the planes!)
 

East apron. On a busy summer weekend, it's not uncommon to find the airport apron filled with private planes owned by island residents who fly in and out during the year. But these are not those planes. These are all corporate, state, and chartered planes which had arrived carrying VIP's for the Detroit conference.

 
 

West apron. A few of the planes would be staying at the airport for the 3-day conference, but some simply landed, delivered their passengers and their luggage, and immediately flew out again.

 
 

Dennis was pretty sure this was the largest jet to ever land at Mackinac. Airport . . .

 
 

. . . but the one that really caught my eye - and his - was this one!

 
 

As I was snapping photos, the pilot walked up - ready to take off . . . and asked if I'd like to go inside and take a look around! Are you kidding me!!

 
 

Well geez! Talk about cushy comfort! The pilot explained this was a Piaggio P180 Avanti - made in Italy. I'm standing in the door and shooting toward the rear of the plane. You can see the pilot (who's really up front) reflected in the mirrow at the back.

 
 

Looking into the cockpit . . .

 
 

OK, Frog . . . this one's just for you! (Frog is my adopted brother-in-law who is a retired Delta pilot.)

 
On Thursday Ted went to work from noon to 4, and I walked downtown to pick up the mail and do a little shopping.  And that about covers the week except for these random notes:
 

The lilac blossoms are beginning to open! They have a ways to go before every bush is blooming, but each day more and more beautiful color is being seen. The Lilac Festival is June 10-19. I predict it's going to be a glorius one, with the lilacs at their peak.

 

The mystery of the "small horse" is solved! After taking this photo Wednesday evening of someone leading her across our lawn, I made some inquires today, then went directly to the owner. It's the Ben Mosley family (you remember Ben is the Grand Hotel stable manager and our condo caretaker). His wife fell in love with the pony a few weeks ago, and now she is a permanent resident of the island. And a "pony" is what she is - a registered Hackney pony (a smaller version of the Grand Hotel's Hackney horses). They are calling her Miss Minnie, although her official name has "Mackinac" in it. She is three years old, about two years from being full-grown. Ben says she will only grow "up" another two inches, but she will become much more muscular. She is already trained to harness, and the Moseley's are planning to refit the family's antique pony cart for her to pull. And now we all know!

 
Have you finished that second donut yet?  I’m almost done, but I have a new feature to preview tonight.  Each Friday I will be posting a photograph of something on the island.  Some will be relatively easy to recognize – some not so much.  The object is to be the first to identify where the object is located.  When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.  I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing.  Is there a prize for the winner – yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners.  To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess.  This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to!  
 
I’m going to start off with an easy one . . .
 

Where on Mackinac Island is this tree growing through this fence?

Again, please email your answers to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.  PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.

All righty then!  The coffee has to be cold and the donuts eaten!  See you back again on Monday morning with all the weekend happenings, and I’ll have a pic or two for you on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Whew!  My fingers are tired!  Have a safe and fun weekend.  God bless.

MYSTERY SPOT ANSWER

The fence surrounds the family graves of one of the Fort Mackinac commanders in the Post Cemetery.