Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 5

Note on Header:  No, you didn’t go to sleep and wake up on Christmas Eve.  But I bet you’re wondering, “What the heck is THIS about?”  You’ll find out . . . later.


Oh. My. Goodness.  Where do I even begin?

News from the Island is arriving on a daily – sometimes hourly – basis now, and it’s hard to believe there will only be one more Spring Update after this one before we are back there ourselves!  Our “go” date is Saturday, May 12, and barring any problems, we’ll arrive sometime on Monday, the 14th.

It seems by this time each year I’ve usually started packing, so I keep thinking I’m behind . . . maybe I just feel more confident now about getting everything done in a shorter amount of time.  Jason and Blair will be here for the weekend, so packing plans will be put off until after they leave.  With our kitchen completely torn apart with a slower-than-pouring-molasses kitchen remodel, I just couldn’t face a bedroom filled with half-packed suitcases too.  The granite countertops arrived from Atlanta Monday – and went BACK to Atlanta Monday.  Snafu on the cabinets (not level).  Cabinet man coming tomorrow.  My fingers and toes are crossed that the kitchen is finished by this Friday.  PLEASE, Lord!

Newsy News

  •  As reported earlier, the Mackinac Island Lilac  Festival is June 8-17 this summer. The Tourism Bureau wants everyone to please remember the Island is surrounded by very cold water and is not having the same bloom season as neighboring states or even counties. Mary McGuire at the Bureau says, “So many people are calling from points south thinking our lilacs are blooming…but gratefully, they are not.”
  • Fort Mackinac opens May 3!  It’s a really special year as the fort (and the entire island) will be celebrating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.  The very first skirmish of that war took place on Mackinac Island when British soldiers surprised and captured the American outpost on July 17, 1812.
  • The Grand Hotel began “going green” several years ago, and this week the “Detroit Free Press” featured an awesome article on the Grand’s usage of good old American ingenuity to handle problems the “green” way.  Click here    for the article, which includes 23 behind-the-scenes photos of “eco-friendly initiatives that include recycling, composting and reducing the use of paper.”
  • While we’re on the subject of green living, here’s a link to a slideshow of six places in the world where cars are banned.  Bet you can guess where one is!
  • Starline Ferry will begin passenger service from both Mackinac City and St. Ignace to the Island on Friday, May 4.
  • Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island is now officially open for the season.
  • Mackinac Island’s Finest will open Friday, May 4.
  • If you’ve visited Mackinac Island, I ‘d guess one of the things you did for entertainment was stand and watch a fudge maker in one of the many Island fudge shops.  But, just in case you missed it, here’s a short little video of fudge being made at one of the Ryba Fudge Shops:

New Places

It seems hardly a day has gone by for the last week-and-a-half that I haven’t heard of another new shop/restaurant/happening place opening on the Island this summer.  It’s always good to have new places to check out, and these sound pretty darn special!

  • The Huron Street Pub & Grill.  This is the old Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub, and this year it’s under new ownership.  During the winter the inside was renovated, and the outside’s been given a facelift.  It’s open and already getting great reviews!

Photo by: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau

  • Mackinac’s Little Gallery.  This is located on Market Street in the building occupied for years by Wolfgang’s Gallery.  The accent here will be “everything Mackinac”, with a special emphasis on the Island’s horse culture.  From the looks of some of the art I’ve seen online, it’s going to one of my first stops after we’re settled in.
  • TwistN Sprouts.  Don’t you love that name!  This eatery will feature yummy, HEALTHY goodies – like make-it-yourself salads, a signature Chicken Salad, and a yogurt bar with toppings sold by the ounce.

Good-for-you frozen yogurt with fruit medley. A wonderful alternative to one of your rations of fudge each day!

TwistN Sprouts is on Main Street. If I’m not mistaken, it’s right next door to Alford’s Drug Store.  Opening mid-May!

  • ella & ivy.  Imagine my surprise and delight when one of my readers, Anne Standard (she worked on the Island during the summer “back in the day”, and I met her and her mom for lunch one day), emailed that she was opening a new shop on the Island.  A two-hour phone call followed, and although I don’t have pics yet, I can tell you that Anne’s shop (named for Anne’s little Maltese “Ella” and a dear friend’s dog “Ivy”) sounds as though it will be another favorite on the Island.  It’s located in the Horse Corral Mall right behind Martha’s Sweet Shop.  Anne plans to carry really nice home decor and gift items along with note cards, candles, pillows, throws, doggie items, etc.  Anne’s retiring the end of June and will come up from Florida a few times before then to work on the shop.  She hopes to open by mid-June.  More to come later!

New Note Cards

Don’t you just love to discover something brand new from the Island . . . something no one has seen yet, and you have a chance to own before most anyone else does!  My Georgia/Mackinac Island friend, Jane Winston, has completed just such a project, and I think you are going to love this!

Jane is wonderfully creative – she’s a published author, she’s a college professor, she’s an actress – shall I go on?  One of her more recent ideas was to produce a set of Mackinac Island specific Christmas note cards.  She thought including a Santa on each card would be great fun for a souvenir purchase and for folks wanting to jot a few lines to a friend at Christmas.  One thing Jane professes not to be is an artist.  So she mentioned her project to a group of friends in Georgia, and Margaret Mathews said, “Sounds fun!”

Jane and Margaret looked at hundreds of Mackinac Island photographs – some of Jane’s, some on Goggle – I think they might have even looked at a couple of mine.  Margaret created the watercolor art for five different scenes.  Here’s a quick look at two of them and a mini-look at the set:

Jane will be marketing the cards on the Island this summer, and one of the places you will be able to find them is the Island Bookstore (I’ll let you know other shops soon).  A set of ten cards (two of each scene) with envelopes will be $12, or Jane can ship them to interested folks for $10 + shipping (contact Jane at

I am so excited about this project!   I think they’re going to sell like hotcakes on a cold Mackinac morning!

Photos, Photos,Photos

Our wonderful friends, Chris Ann and Burton Nelson, are back at their beloved cottage on Cobble Beach in Mackinac City. This was Sunday’s sunrise from their backyard. Welcome home, you two!

The new Grand Hotel stable near our condo. Friend and blog reader Joyce Kozlowski, who was on the island for the Geo-caching Weekend, snapped this photo. Love the colors!

A busy Main Street – as the town of Mackinac Island readies for another season. (Photo:  Barbara Metting)

Daffodils are blooming at the Grand Hotel, which welcomed its first guests of the season April 27!  (Photo:  Barbara Metting)

The Island Freight and Garbage drays are sporting a new look – nice! (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

Miranda, with Martha’s Sweet Shop, is busy baking this week. Have I mentioned that Miranda is our favorite brownie-maker on the Island?

One of my favorite ways to view the Island is over the back of a horse. Barbara Metting took this photo of Cadotte as they approached the Grand Hotel in a taxi.  I’m still getting used to the huge trees being gone, but by the time the new ones put on their spring clothes, the avenue will take on its fresh “new normal” look.  And those trees will grow fast!

Barbara also took this photo of our condo. I see the lilacs in our front yard are just beginning to get some spring leaves.

Barnwell Landscape and Garden Service has filled the window boxes outside Doud’s Market with pretty young plants and flowers.

Robert McGreevy shared this photo of the Wildred Sykes passing through the Straits on April 19. The Wildred Sykes is a favorite freighter of Mackinac Island residents.

Frankie Thill and sweet Hershey arrived on the Island this week. Frankie is busy opening up the house in the Mission District where she is house-mom to Ryba Bicycle Rental employees. Hershey will definitely be one of my first featured “Dog-Eared Page” celebrities (news on that later in this post)! (Photo: Barbara Metting)

Someone’s in the kitchen at the Grand! Six bakers baking . . .! (Photo: Grand Hotel)

Horses are still arriving daily – all fat and frisky from a winter off-island. (Photo by: Steven Blair Kopacki from his new gallery – Artistic Mackinac Gallery and Studio)

A shot by Shepler’s Ferry, where business is booming at the Mac City dock. Hmmm . . . there’s two of my favorite Pat’s –  taking care of business.  The “Pat” on the left, Patrick Conlon, . . .

. . . caught on camera this other-worldly sunrise Tuesday morning off the Mac City dock.

One more breath-taking sunrise. This one’s by Steven Blair Kopacki of

Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog News

I’m trying to spruce up my blog a bit and will be testing some new themes over the next couple of weeks.  Consequently, if you’re subscribed to the blog, you might get a notice that a new post has been published, when really all that has happened is I’m goofing around with the page.  Please be patient with me as I am not a techie, and all of this will be trial-and-error.  By the time we get to the Island, I’ll either have a new look online – or I’ll go back to the old tried-and-true.

A new page.  Some of you may have already noticed there is a new “tab” in the post header called “The Dog-Eared Page.”  This will be a new item on the blog this season and will feature the lucky dogs who live on the Island year-round and the lucky ones who come to visit with their humans.  It is Under Construction right now, but you can click there and give me your opinion about the page.  It will be a mostly pic and caption page – no stories (unless warranted).  I’ll post there as often as I find an owner who’d like to have their four-legged companion’s photo on Bree’s Blog.  By the way, decades ago I dreamed of one day owning a little bookshop where I’d bring my dogs to work everyday and spend my time reading and sharing books and stories with my customers.  I didn’t have a clue where this bookshop might be located or how that dream might come true – but I DID already have a name picked out – The Dog-Eared Page.  I’m finally using the name – but for a totally different reason!  It’s funny, but the first time I walked into The Island Bookstore, that dream came to mind again.  If my Dog-Eared Page had ever become a reality, I would have wanted it to be just like The Island Bookstore – but with dogs.

WHEW!  That was quite a bit of news tonight, wasn’t it!  Countdown has begun . . . see you back here next Wednesday . . . over and out.

Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 3 – 4/11/2012

It’s the middle of April, and the weird weather continues.  The forecast was for snow on the Island today, and a friend who lives there said it sounded like “the gales of November” outside this morning.  It seems Mackinac is having its usual March weather in April this year.  I can’t imagine what this is doing to the lilac trees (they’re already blooming in Detroit), but since most of them are over a hundred years old, they can probably survive most anything Mother Nature sends their way.

Speaking of spring, the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau has a nifty little page on their web site that explains everything you want to know about spring on the Island.  That address is:

Newsy items:

  • I can’t remember if I mentioned this little new store last summer or not, and I never did get down to visit it, but it’s going to be one of my first stops this spring.  The name is Mackinac Island’s Finest, and it was opened to support the Mackinac Island Fire, Police, and EMS Departments.

The store is located at the front of the Arnold Dock, just off Main Street.

Inside, you'll find all sorts of items bearing the names of these three very important Island departments.

They've renovated the store over the winter and added more clothing and decor items. What a great way to support these services that none of us could get along without!

  • Take a good, long look at this photo and see if you can figure out where on the Island it is . .

If you guessed British Landing Road, you are correct!  In this vintage photo, the land was the location of the Early/Dousman farm, and it yielded approximately one hundred tons of hay yearly.  The farm is now the site of the Mackinac Community Equestrian Center and the oldest continuously run golf course in Michigan, Wawashkamo.

  • Our Easter weekend was packed with family and five special visitors from Michigan – the Bailey family.  Brian is the general manager of the Chippewa and Lilac Tree Hotels on the Island, and we’ve become great friends with him and wife Jeri-Lynn over the years.  With their three children, they stopped by overnight Friday on their way back home from spring break in Florida.  What fun!

  • Jeannette Doud’s column in the St. Ignace News this week was full of updates on store owners returning to the Island to ready businesses for the season.  She mentioned that Horn’s Bar will be opening on Friday, April 27.  She also reported the front porch of the Grand Hotel is being painted in preparation for its soft opening on April 27 and the big opening Thursday, May 3.  Hart’s Haven, Metivier Inn, and the Cloghaun are all being prepared for their near future openings.
  • The Pink Pony is opening Thursday, May 10.  The next day, May 11, both the Chippewa Hotel and the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa will reopen for the season.  And that’s straight from the horse’s (sorry Brian) mouth.
  • The St. Ignace News reported that more bones have been found on the Island, marking the second time in five months downtown excavations have revealed bones.  They were discovered when construction workers were digging to lay a water line under Frank Shama’s Gifts on Main Street.  The first bones (human) were found during excavation of the former McNally Cottage, site of the new Bicycle Street Inn.  The proper authorities were contacted, and tests will determine if indeed these bones are also human remains.  Sault Tribe repatriation specialist Cecil Pavlat said, “It’s unfortunate, but that island was a burial ground for our people, so anytime digging is involved, there’s a chance that bones will be found.”  If the bones are human, they could either be included in the proposed burial mound at Ste. Anne’s Cemetery or be reburied under the gift shop.  “Whenever possible,” Pavlat said, “the tribe would prefer to keep the remains at rest where they were discovered, so long as the location is safe.”

That catches up all the news for this week.  I have a few photos to post, and let me once again thank all of you who, over the winter, have made it possible for me to continue to share Island life with my readers.  You are awesome!

A photo of tulips and a passing freighter from last spring. (Photo by: Mission Point Resort)

It's not often we see Round Island Light from this perspective. Ben Horn was ON Round Island when he snapped this shot. In the background, the West Bluff homes, the Grand Hotel and the homes along the Boardwalk are visible.

I was so hoping I'd be able to share a photo this week of the Mackinac Bridge ablaze with blue lights for Autism Awareness Month, and here it is. A huge thank you to Dave Black of Mackinac Straits Photography in St. Ignace for allowing me to use this stunning photo. The swan in the foreground is a striking touch.

Hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend.  See you back here next Wednesday . . . the countdown begins!  God bless.