Slowing Down 10/24/2013

Hi friends!

Mackinac Island – the tourist destination – is shutting down.  When the Grand Hotel rings its closing bell on Monday morning and hundreds of Grand employees fill the ferries with their accumulated summer gear, the season will officially be over.

TUESDAY

Ted and I have been

Tuesday was “cover the gray day” at my St. Ignace hair salon – Leroy’s.  Returning to the island, I took a few minutes to wander the almost empty streets and pop in and out of a few shops.

October is sales month on Mackinac, and shops like Nephews - packed full of beautiful ladies and mens' clothing

October is sales month on the Island, and shops like Nephew’s on Mackinac – packed full of beautiful ladies’ and mens’ clothing in the summer months – are down to bare or almost bare shelves.

Market Street

Market Street was pretty empty also . . .

. . . and The Town Crier box awaits a refill.

. . . and The Town Crier box awaited a refill.

Our skies have pretty much looked like this for the last few days.

Our skies have pretty much looked like this for the last few days . . .

. . . but my camera loves this kind of light

. . . but my camera loves this kind of light.

As I topped the hill at Four Corners, I got lucky.  Some of the last horses were leaving the big barns.

As I topped the hill at Four Corners, I got lucky. Some of the last horses were leaving the big barns.

ggggg

These three and their leader appeared to be in a celebratory mood as they made their way to the ferry.

A lot of the taxis are already off the streets, and next week we'll be down to only one.

Many of the taxis are already off the streets, and next week we’ll be down to only one.

As I watch the few taxis still working move through the streets lined in

Is there any other place where horse-drawn taxis, moving down roads lined in colorful trees, can bring such a strong sense of bygone days . . .

or where a solitary buggy sitting beside an empty corral can look so lonely.

. . . or where a solitary buggy, sitting beside an empty corral, can look so lonely?

Even the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Exhibit sign at the end of our yard has been removed.

Even the Wings of Mackinac Butterfly Conservatory sign at the end of our yard has been removed.

WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday, Ted and I went down the hill to ship more boxes.  Somehow Ted strapped three HUGE boxes onto a small rolling cart and managed to get them all the way to the post office without tipping it over.  After that we ran a few errands and ended up at the Seabiscuit for lunch.

Our favorite "hostess with the mostest" - Nancy, the cutest little lady I have ever met!

Nancy, our favorite “hostess with the mostest,” is the cutest and most energetic little lady I have ever met!  We love her!

We walked home via the boardwalk

We walked home via the boardwalk . . .

. . . and watched the clouds roll in

. . . and watched the clouds roll in.

IMG_9417

IMG_9422

We decided to walk past our normal turns and walk to the end of the boardwalk, then a little further to turn into the woods and come out at the poolhouse of the Grand Hotel.

Walking past our normal turns and past the end of the boardwalk, we turned into the woods and came out at the pool house of the Grand Hotel.

Needless to say, the Grand Hotel pool looks a little forlorn with no water.

Needless to say, the Grand Hotel pool looks a little forlorn with no water.

gg

The storm clouds had moved behind the Grand by the time we arrived there.

These look like two trees of the same species to me.  But how can they be when one has turned a beautiful buttery yellow and the other remains green

These look like two trees of the same species to me. But how can they be when one has turned a beautiful buttery yellow and the other remains green as a grasshopper?

Workers were just finishing planting tulip bulbs.

Workers were just finishing the planting of tulip bulbs . . .

ddd

. . . and by the time we got a couple of hills from our condo, it started hailing.

These little pellets really sting when they hit your face!

These little pellets really sting when they hit your face!

THURSDAY

Jill and I left on the 11 a.m. boat today.  Bear had a grooming appointment, and then we were meeting Sue Conlon in Petoskey for lunch.  Poor Bear.  He never gets any attention on Shepler's ferries!

Jill and I left on the 11 a.m. boat,.  Bear had a grooming appointment in Alanson and then we were meeting Sue Conlon in Petoskey for lunch. Poor Bear. He never gets any attention on Shepler’s ferries!

The three of us spent two hours laughing so hard we could barely find time to eat.  Oh my gosh, we had fun!

The three of us spent two hours at The Side Door Saloon, laughing so hard we could barely find time to eat. Oh my gosh, we had fun!  Here we were trying to take a photo of ourselves with my iPhone.  Jill is holding it at arms length, and we can see ourselves in the screen, which for some reason we found hilariously funny.

After picking Bear up from the groomers, we hightailed it back to Mackinaw City to catch the 5:30 boat.

After picking Bear up from the groomers, we hightailed it back to Mackinaw City to catch the 5:30 boat.

Jill was riding shotgun so she was able to take some photos out the windows.  Although the rain and wind we've had all week have stripped away a lot of the leaves, it was still a beautiful ride.

Jill was riding shotgun so she was able to take some photos out the windows. Although the rain and wind we’ve had all week have stripped away a lot of the leaves, it was still a beautiful ride.

I wish we'd had time to turn down this dirt road and explore.

I wish we’d had time to turn down this dirt road and explore.

In between rain showers, a huge rainbow appeared . . .

In between rain showers, a huge rainbow appeared . . .

. . . stretching for what seemed like miles across the fields.

. . . stretching for what seemed like miles across the fields and over the trees.

A FEW EXTRAS

Molly, a tour driver for Gough's, took this photo through the back window of her carriage this week.  The plastic flap made the photo look more like a watercolor than a photograph.

Molly, a tour driver for Gough’s, took this photo through the back window of her carriage this week. The plastic flap made the pic look more like a watercolor than a photograph.  Scary looking sky!

First Shepler ferry of the morning.  (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

First Shepler ferry of the morning. (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

In the week before the Grand closes, an air of anticipation begins to grow among the true Islanders, the men and women and children who live here year-round.  When the last seasonal employee has been ferried across the Straits of Mackinac, the 400 or so folks who have resided here for generations breathe a contended sigh and go back to a way of life few non-islanders will ever known.  The island is all theirs then, a beautiful paradise where they will enjoy whatever the winter brings.  If the weather is bad enough, they can live for days isolated from the mainland.  It is a hard life, but one they would never dream of leaving.

I envy them the peace they find on this island in the winter.  One day, good Lord willing, I’d still love to share that peace with them.

Walk With Me 10/29/2011

Thursday and Friday have been surreal.  At times the hours spiraled past so rapidly I had no awareness of the work I was doing – until I’d stop for a moment and see the result – bags packed, linens washed, beds remade, two boxes shipped home – and much more.  I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot, but Ted has worked three times as much, and what he’s done is the really hard, messy stuff – carrying his kayak back up the hill on his bike (wish I’d been around to photo that), cleaning and forcing four bicycles up two flights of stairs to the top floor, taking the first load of luggage over to the truck – and much, much more (and all on a bad leg he’s not had a single chance to rest).  We still face a day of general cleaning (on Saturday), but the hard part is behind us.  We’ll mop and vacuum and dust and clean bathrooms.  Piece of cake.

At other times these last two days the hours slowed down – creeping by in slow motion – my senses aware of every moment, every scene I passed, every word someone spoke.  With the exodus of the Grand employees, the island takes on a completely different feel.  Except for a few workers who will continue to come to the island as long as they can get here on the ferries, it’s mostly the islanders who are left- that hearty, almost 500-strong group who will hunker down and pray for lots of snow (so snowmobiles can be used) and really cold temperatures (so the Ice Bridge will make, allowing them to travel by snowmobile from the island to St. Ignace).

In the midst of the packing and cleaning, we’ve found time to walk around a couple of hours – both Thursday and Friday – and what I saw through my camera lens is what I offer for Saturday and Sunday.  It’s a different Mackinac than you’ve been seeing all summer and fall.  Come on . . . walk with me.

Even though the Island Bookstore sign reads "Closed" . . . .

. . . . Tam will still be working a few more days - doing inventory and boxing books.

At the Pink Pony, all the chairs are piled on top of the tables . . . . .

. . . . and the bar is empty (I think Brian is going to have that second chair from the middle inscribed with a plaque that reads: "Reserved for Ted" before next season).

Ted - outside the closed Pony, talking with Bobby and Roy.

Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island is closed, but I ran into Nicole a little later, and she said her store would be open some during the winter - for Christmas Bazaar weekend, during Christmas, and during Winter Festival.

Thunderbird Gifts is all locked down. Someone asked today why the windows are papered, and I asked that question downtown. Two reasons really - 1) if merchants leave stock in the stores, the sunlight through the windows could fade themerchandise, and 2) if work is being done on the inside of the store during the winter, it makes for a good "surprise" in the spring when the paper comes down.

Remember me saying the Grand moves its administrative offices downstate during the winter? These two Budget rental trucks (which came over on a freight ferry) are being loaded from drays filled with everything the Grand will need to operate during the winter.

Two of a few businesses which will be open and always busy during the winter are the Post Office . . . .

. . . and the bank (where the flag is flying).

Last day open at Nephew's on Mackinac . . . . still some bargains to be had.

And - oh my goodness - last day sale at Joann's Fudge - $4.00 per slice!

Jesse's Chuckwagon was already done . . . . .

. . . and so was Martha's Sweet Shop.

Walking toward the boardwalk, we passed the closed Lakeview Hotel. The only person on the street was a man sweeping up, after smoothing out a spot of uneven sidewalk . . . .

. . . . which is being done in many places all over downtown.

The lovely Iroquois Hotel is closed . . . .

. . . . and the gardens leading to The Carriage House Restaurant are accented by a giant pumpkin.

Through the windows of the Windermere Hotel, the white sheet-shrouded furniture is visible. I wonder if they painted the hotel to blend with that gorgeous tree!

The Round Island Passage Light looked close enough to touch from this angle at Windermere Point.

We made a stop at the library (open during the winter Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.). We had a ton of books we'd read this summer that we added to the used books the library sells.

Another shot of the empty streets from the west end of Main Street.

The beautiful old McNally Cottage. Unless a miracle occurs, this building will be torn down beginning November 1. Planned to replace it is a three-story hotel.

Cindy's Livery Stable is closed. It's strange to go by there and see the door closed and no saddled horses waiting in the side lot.

The Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast, closed and ready for winter.

Looking down Market Street through the empty windows of La Galerie.

When I stopped to take this pic of Doc Al, our island veterinarian, I asked him (again) if I might write a story about him next summer. He just smiled and said, "We'll see." He's a shy one, our doc.

At the closed Gatehouse, they were having an impromptu hamburger cook-out for the employees - that's one way to clean out the freezer!

Snowmobiles are returning on ferries from St. Ignace, where some are stored during the summer.

One place absolutely not closed is the island school. Lots of bikes there by the playground.

I wonder if the famous island ghosts play tennis during winter nights, while ghostly spectators watch. Remind me to go on the Midnight Ghost Tour next summer. THAT should be an interesting post!

The last time I will photograph the big trees further down the hill. They were removed the next day - so beautiful and regal - but old, diseased, and a danger to people and horses whenever the wind blew. They'll be replaced by the same beautiful Maples planted last fall when the first of the diseased trees were removed. Pics tomorrow of the new, wide-open boulevard leading to the Grand.

All the Grand horses have left the island, and I walked inside the old stable one more time . . . .

The Grand omnibuses were parked and polished, and the antique carriages were lined up side by side. By the time we return in the spring, the new stable up near us will be open.

The horse barns - all closed up.

Are you tired yet?  I hope not!  Join me tomorrow, and we’ll do a little more walking!