Throw Back Thursday – The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/26 17

Personal Note:  I loved reading back over this blog, first published October 31, 2009.  Some of the businesses listed in this post are no longer open, and restaurants open all winter have changed since 2009.  So please remember, if you’re planning a winter trip to Mackinac THIS (2017-18) winter, you need to check what’s open and what’s not!

Header Photo by Jill Sawatzki. 

The Islanders Get Their Home Back

In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island.  Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’.  We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again.  I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”

Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 500) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski.

Yes, there are a few businesses still open.  The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup.  The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store.  The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!).  The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.

I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring.  One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint.  The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks.  Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.

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La Galerie’s display windows, completely bare. The doors have special slanted mats in front of them to prevent melting snow from getting into the shop.

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The sign on Goodfellow’s door.

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Two empty shops on Main Street.

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Shepler’s Ferry Dock – no boats, no people.

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These workers were carrying the awnings from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop somewhere to put in storage. All the stores with awnings do the same thing. That’s easier that having to replace all those awnings that heavy snow would have broken during the winter.

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Luggage carts from the ferry docks going to storage.

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Decked Out, a very nice clothing store, empty and locked.

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Murdick’s Fudge, getting a new coat of paint before the snow falls.

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The lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.

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The Pink Pony – two nights before this photo was taken, it was full of costume-clad goblins.

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Sweet Anna. I finally got to photograph her somewhere besides in front of the Grand shoveling up horse poop. She was leaving the island, on her way back to college.

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Jill took this shot early one morning this week, before she left. It’s boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles, waiting to be picked up for recycling.

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Empty Main Street – Wednesday morning.

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The other end of Main Street.

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A new shop – opening in the spring!

It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m.  Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night.  About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again.  There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance.  We didn’t.  So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill.  We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere.  Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!

We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy.  We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away.  That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok.  So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather.

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Downtown tonight – just as we got into town, the rain stopped.

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The Village Inn tonight. They have placed a pool table in the middle of the floor where about 10 dinner tables were this summer.

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On the way up the hill tonight, we stepped into the little entrance gazebo of the Jockey Club to get a little protection from the wind for a minute. Behind Ted you can see a snow fence. It has been placed all along Cadotte bordering the Grand’s property. It will prevent snowmobiles from crossing onto the golf course.

Time to go to bed.  We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean.  Sunday we leave.  Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season.  I can’t believe that day is finally here.  I   just   can’t   believe   it.

 

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Through the Eyes of Fudgies – Part II 8/30/16

On Sunday you read about Kim and R.D.’s first-time visit to Mackinac.   Today it’s all about Debra and Glen!

Debra and Glen Phelps

As someone who came to the island for the first time over 15 years ago and has cried like a baby as I’ve left each year since then, I can recognize a total convert to Mackinac-ism in an instant.  Debra learned about the island from reading this blog and has wanted to come up here for years.  She came, she saw, she fell in love  – hook, line and sinker.  When she tried to book a room for next summer before they had even checked out from this visit, I knew I had a true-blue Mackinac fan on my hands!  Debra’s husband Glen is “almost” as Mackinac-in-love as Debra, and that will make for a very happy family over the coming year, as they plan their next trip.

Debra’s beautiful photographs have captured a vast segment of Mackinac’s beauty, and her words from her Facebook page tell the story of her island trip much better than I could.  From this point on, I’ll use Debra’s words:

Debra and Glen Phelps

Debra and Glen Phelps

"Mackinac Island is as beautiful and unique as I expected! It is like going back in time with the town, 'cottages', horses, carriages and bicycles (no cars allowed).

“Mackinac Island is as beautiful and unique as I expected! It is like going back in time . . .

. . . with the town, "cottages", horses, carriages and bicycles (no cars allowed)."

. . . with the town, “cottages”, horses, carriages and bicycles (no cars allowed).”

"The gardens and Lake Huron are gorgeous."

“The temperature today only reached a high of 70 degrees.”  (Spoken in amazement by a true Georgia girl!)

 

"And the temperature today only reached a high of 70 degrees." (Spoken in amazement by a true Georgia girl!)

“And the gardens and Lake Huron are gorgeous.”

"We toured the one and only opulent Grand Hotel today."

“We toured the one and only opulent Grand Hotel today.”

Many famous people have stayed hee since it opened in 1887. Somewhere in Time was filmed here. The pool is named after Esther Williams because she swam in their pool in a movie that was filmed here."

“Many famous people have stayed here since it opened in 1887. Somewhere in Time was filmed here. The pool is named after Esther Williams because she swam in their pool in a movie that was filmed here (This Time for Keeps).”

"The pictures don't do it justice. The porch is the longest in the world (660 feet). Glen liked the rocking chairs on the porch best."

“The pictures don’t do it justice. The porch is the longest in the world (660 feet). Glen liked the rocking chairs on the porch best.”

"More pictures of Mackinac Island . . . the cottages . . .

“More pictures of Mackinac Island . . . the cottages . . .

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. . . flowers . . .

. . . flowers . . .

. . . the Grand carriages . . .

. . . the Grand carriages . . .

. . . Lake Huron . . .

. . . Lake Huron . . .

. . . and the beautiful Arch Rock formation. Everything is truly beautiful."

. . . and the beautiful Arch Rock formation. Everything is truly beautiful.”

 

"Today the Hortons (who are in very good shape), the Harters (who can ride a tandem bike in total unison) and Glen and I (who are very out of shape) rode bikes on the 8.2 mile bike/horse road that completely circles the outer edge of Mackinac Island."

“Today the Hortons (who are in very good shape), the Harters (who can ride a tandem bike in total unison) and Glen and I (who are very out of shape) rode bikes on the 8.2 mile bike/horse road that completely circles the outer edge of Mackinac Island.”

"The sin was shining, the wind was blowing and the gorgeous lake waves were rolling in." We stopped for a photo at Devil's Kitchen."

“The sin was shining, the wind was blowing and the gorgeous lake waves were rolling in.  We stopped for a photo at Devil’s Kitchen.”

"Exercise is fun in this weather and when surrounded by such beauty."

“Exercise is fun in this weather and when surrounded by such beauty.”

"Yesterday we visited Grand Hotel where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. On the bike ride today, Ted showed us the tree from the scene where Elyse first saw Richard and she said, "Is it really you?" Here Glen and I are standing in front of that tree."

“Yesterday we visited Grand Hotel where the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed. On the bike ride today, Ted showed us the tree from the scene where Elyse first saw Richard and she said, ‘Is it you?’ Here Glen and I are standing in front of that tree.”

"Brenda took me to the staircase at Grand Hotel that Richard ran down to meet Elyse when she was calling him."

“Brenda took me to the staircase at Grand Hotel where Richard ran down to meet Elyse when she was calling him.”

"As I was walking Tessa this evening I noticed that the city building and churches are historic in keeping with all else on Mackinac Island. This is Little Stone Church where Brenda and Ted attend."

“As I was walking Tessa this evening I noticed the city buildings and churches are historic, in keeping with all else on Mackinac Island. This is Little Stone Church where Brenda and Ted attend.”

"Notice that even police and firefighters ride bikes!"

“Notice that even police ride bikes!”

"Today it rained on Mackinac. But it did not keep anyone from continuing to enjoy this paradise. Glen and I went on the "once a week" tour of the Governor's Cottage this morning. Because of the rain and the very steep hill that it sits on we took a taxi which is a horse drawn carriage."

“Today it rained on Mackinac. But it did not keep anyone from continuing to enjoy this paradise. Glen and I went on the “once a week” tour of the Governor’s Cottage this morning. Because of the rain and the very steep hill that it sits on, we took a taxi which is a horse drawn carriage.  Glen and I are standing on the porch of the Governor’s Cottage, which has been used by Michigan governors and their dignitary and presidential friends for many years.”

"Later in the day when the rain broke, I walked up and down "our street" and took some more pics. This is the rental horse stable, 'Cindy's'".

“Later in the day, when the rain broke, I walked up and down ‘our street’ and took some more pics. This is the rental horse stable, ‘Cindy’s'”.

"When we got back to Park Place Suites, Tessa and I were sitting in our courtyard and the 'garbagemen' came in a horse drawn dray! I do love this place!"

“When we got back to Park Place Suites, Tessa and I were sitting in our courtyard and the ‘garbagemen’ came in a horse drawn dray! I do love this place!”

"Tonight's walk took me to the end of our street that runs into Lake uron and gave me the opportunity to admire the Mackinac Bridge at night."

“Tonight’s walk took me to the end of our street that runs into Lake uron and gave me the opportunity to admire the Mackinac Bridge at night.”

"Then off I went to get some delicious Moomer's Ice Cream (at the No Name Café), followed by Taps at the fort.

“Then off I went to get some delicious Moomer’s Ice Cream (at the No Name Café), followed by Taps at the fort.

"Today Ted, Glen and I visited Fort Mackinac that overlooks beautiful Marquette Park where I let Tessa play."

“Today Ted, Glen and I visited Fort Mackinac that overlooks beautiful Marquette Park, where I let Tessa play.”

"I feared that it would just be old buildings. I was wrong! The many buikdings were filled with period furnishings, historical information and activities for children."

“I feared that it would just be old buildings. I was wrong! The many buildings were filled with period furnishings, historical information and activities for children.”

"There were also gun and cannon demonstrations. And there was an outdoor restaurant with the best view in town!"

“There were also gun and cannon demonstrations. And there was an outdoor restaurant with the best view in town!”

"After the fort, Ted took Glen and me for a walk on Anne's Tablet Trail (one of many trails) through a beautiful wooded area. The tablet seen on the trail honors the memory of a local author from years ago."

“After the fort, Ted took Glen and me for a walk on Anne’s Tablet Trail (one of many trails) through a beautiful wooded area. The tablet seen on the trail honors the memory of a local author from years ago.”

"Ted led us through the woods to the East Bluff where more pretty vintage cottages were lined up with million dollar views and beautiful flower gardens."

“Ted led us through the woods to the East Bluff where more pretty vintage cottages were lined up, with million dollar views and beautiful flower gardens.”

"I loved our walk so much that I immediately went a second time showing it to Tessa!"

“I loved our walk so much that I immediately went a second time, showing it to Tessa!”

"Bittersweet picture of Shepler's Ferry that took us away from the island."

“Bittersweet picture of Shepler’s Ferry that took us away from the island.”

"I am leaving a piece of my heart here and am sad to leave. But how blessed I am to have experienced this paradise! Glen and I love Mackinac Island so much that we plan to visit again next year. I hope all of you who have followed this trip with me will visit the island too."

“I am leaving a piece of my heart here and am sad to leave. But how blessed I am to have experienced this paradise! Glen and I love Mackinac Island so much that we plan to visit again next year. I hope all of you who have followed this trip with me will visit the island too.”

A few more of Debra’s photographs. . . .

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Ted and I had a blast showing Kim, R.D., Debra, and Glen Mackinac Island.  To paraphrase the slogan from the former Atlanta Journal, “We covered Mackinac like the dew.”  We tried our best to wear them out each day, but they were real troopers and just kept on going – even in the rain!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the island through the eyes of these four fudgies!

God bless.

 

Through the Eyes of Fudgies – Part I 8/28/16

Writing about and photographing Mackinac Island has been one of my main passions for a lot of years now.  Sometimes I feel there can’t be a single blade of grass I haven’t held in my lens or a single adjective I haven’t used to describe my happy place.  I go through periods of feeling as if I have nothing new to offer and no story left to tell.  And then something happens, or somebody encourages me, or I see something differently – and suddenly all is right in my world again.

That happened this week, and through these next two blog posts I want to share how seeing the island through the eyes of four people visiting Mackinac for the very first time had me seeing the island as a “fudgie” again.

Two couples, Debra and Glen Phelps and Kim and R.D. Harter, visited this week from Albany, GA.  We’re all connected through the Dougherty County School System where five of the six of us spent a lot of years working in the business of educating children.  Kim and R.D. arrived last Saturday by plane and stayed with us at the new condo.  Debra and Glen arrived the next day by car, after three days of driving, and stayed at Park Place Suites on Market Street with their precious furbaby Tessa.  Both couples filled their Facebook pages with photographs and words describing their week here, and I want to share some of their photos and some of their words.

Tonight – Mackinac through the photographs of Kim and R.D.

KIM AND R.D. HARTER

From Kim’s Facebook post after they got home:  “A few things we learned on Mackinac Island this week: 1)  Taxis aren’t always cars.  2)  Horses always have the right of way. 3)  Bicyclists can be ticketed for speeding or blocking sidewalks.  4)  Hills can hurt going both up and down.  5)  Great Lakes water is salt free, shark free & quite chilly.  6) People help one another.  7)  Wind jackets are for wind, not rain.  8) August isn’t always hot.  9)  Customer service still exists some places.  10) Farewells are painful.  11)  Friends are appreciated.”

Now I could write a story about how Kim arrived at each of these  statements, but in the interest of time, I’ll just pick a couple.  Number 4 – A truth learned after your hosts have you – on the very first day – hike around for over eight hours up and down hills.  The next morning it hurts just as much to go down a hill as it does to go up one.  And Number 6 – Learned after watching a dray drop off several rooms of furniture and large appliances, and then watching any and every man in sight converge and work the next few hours carrying every bit of it into a neighbor’s condo.  Not paid workers, just men who happened to be around and saw the need.

Here are some of the Harters’ photographs – in no particular order . . .

Kim and R.D. at Arch Rock

Kim and R.D. at Arch Rock

When you leave south Georgia at 6 am, and it's already in the 80's and wake up the next morning in Michigan to 55 degrees, it's quite a shock - but a very welcome shock!

When you leave south Georgia at 6 am, and it’s already in the 80’s and wake up the next morning in Michigan to 55 degrees, it’s quite a shock – but a very welcome shock!

Through special permission from Grand Hotel our group loaded on a beautiful carriage drawn by gorgeous Hackneys and driven by friend Ben Mosley for a whirlwind tour of Mackinac.

Through special permission from Grand Hotel management, our group loaded on a beautiful carriage, drawn by gorgeous Hackneys and driven by friend Ben Mosley, for a whirlwind tour of Mackinac.

A little rain has to fall to make you appreciate the sunshine more! But this group was a foursome of troopers who kept going whether through sun or rain or fog or wind.

A little rain has to fall to make you appreciate the sunshine more! But this group was a foursome of troopers who kept going whether through sun or rain or fog or wind.

Mission Point - across a grassy lawn.

Mission Point – across a grassy lawn.

A yellow beauty from Grand Hotel's Rose Walk.

A yellow beauty from Grand Hotel’s Rose Walk.

The view out the front door of the new condo.

The view out the front door of the new condo.

The Island House's magnificent flower gardens

The Island House’s magnificent flower gardens.

A busy day in front of the Iroquois Hotel.

A busy day in front of the Iroquois Hotel.

Well, of course we took them to the Pink Pony!

Well, of course we took them to the Pink Pony!

All the shots in the rain were taken the same day - it was beautiful the rest of the time. This is looking down Mission Hill.

All the shots in the rain were taken the same day – it was beautiful the rest of the time. This is looking down Mission Hill from the East Bluff.

Trying to take a nap while waiting on the girls to arrive to tour Grand Hotel's gardens.

Trying to catch a nap while waiting on the girls to arrive to tour Grand Hotel’s gardens.

Amazement at the blue, blue water!

Amazement at the blue, blue water!

Bikes in Grand Hotel's bike lot.

Bikes in Grand Hotel’s bike lot.

Looking down from the top of Fort Hill.

Looking down from the top of Fort Hill before the Michigan Governor’s Summer Residence tour.

Approaching Grand Hotel.

Approaching Grand Hotel.

Dessert at Woods Restaurant.

Dessert at Woods Restaurant.

Crabapples in Grand Hotel garden.

Crabapples in Grand Hotel garden.

Girl Scouts raising the flag at the Governor's Summer Residence.

Girl Scouts raising the flag at the Governor’s Summer Residence.

The doors to St. Anne's.

The doors to St. Anne’s.

Mission Point lodging - through a screen and through the rain.

Mission Point lodging – through a screen and through the rain.

The Chippewa Hotel hot tub.

The Chippewa Hotel hot tub – overlooking the marina.

Kim and R.D. at Woods Restaurant bowling alley . . .

Kim and R.D. at Woods Restaurant bowling alley . . .

. . . and later at dinner.

. . . and later at dinner.

The Little Stone Church parsonage.

The Little Stone Church parsonage.

Last day goodbyes . . .

Last day goodbyes . . .

. . . came too quickly.

. . . came too quickly.

Leaving us with Numbers 10 and 11: Farewells are painful, and friends are appreciated.

Leaving us with Numbers 10 and 11: Farewells are painful, and friends are appreciated.

We’re hoping these sweet friends will return to Mackinac again soon.  And remember, next time we won’t call you fudgies!

Stay tuned for the next installment from fudgies Debra and Glen!  Their story and photographs are coming on Tuesday!

God bless.

 

It Sure Is Quiet Tonight 8/2/16

When you’re senior citizens (like us), and your children have been off, gone, and busy with their own lives as long as ours have, it’s hard to remember how full your house can seem having teenagers around.  Laughter-filled, chatter-filled, always-in-motion-filled, siblings-good-naturedly-fighting-filled . . . . . just FILLED. 

And then they leave. 

I’m typing this around 6:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.  Jordan and Matthew are somewhere in the air between Detroit and Atlanta.  From Atlanta they’ll fly into Daytona Beach after dark.  The house is quiet.  I can once again hear bike tires and lawn mowers and ferry horns.

I miss them already.

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It’s a pretty special day when your grandchildren invite you to dinner at the Woods Restaurant  . . . . THEIR treat!  That’s what happened Sunday.  We took the Woods shuttle from downtown.  Actually GETTING to the Woods is part of the delight of eating there.  The trip up Cadotte . . .

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. . . then out through the Annex, on roads lined with rail fences and hardwood trees, makes for a beautiful appetizer . . . even before you arrive at the restaurant..  From town it takes about 30 minutes (depending on how many folks you pick up at the Grand), and it’s worth every minute!  And then you get to dine at one of the greatest restaurants on the island.  It was a very special evening! 

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On Monday we rode our bikes around the island, stopping to peek at the progress at Silver Birches.

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Late afternoon on Monday we took Maddie on a long walk along the shoreline at Mission Point.

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It had been such a beautiful day we didn’t want it to end.

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Had to snap a pic of this flower.  I think it’s a weed (someone correct me if I’m wrong), but it sure was a beautiful weed!

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Jordan, Maddie, and Ted – walking back to the condo.

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. . . while Matthew practiced his putting just across the street.

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A daylily in a Mission Point garden.

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The island grapevine went crazy over the weekend when this yacht, owned by Jimmy Johns, pulled into the bay.  The rumor on the streets was that Kid Rock was aboard.

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And, sure enough, later that evening he was spotted in the Pink Pony. (Photo: Pink Pony)

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Monday night ice cream at the No Name Café.  We’d say we’re probably part-owners in Moomers Ice Cream now!

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Ted and I were sad when we realized this morning would be the last time we had four bikes in the racks at this condo.  We rode them into town . . .

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. . . had breakfast at the Chuck Wagon, then turned in Jordan and Matthew’s bikes to Mackinac on Wheels.

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Too soon we were on Shepler’s (Matthew and I rode up top) and heading for the airport.  We got a close-up look at the American Integrity as we turned out of the harbor.

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Last glance going through security (Ted saw them onto the plane with a special pass) . .

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And then they were away.

It’s sad when we look back and think Jordan and Matthew are 16 and 14, and this is the first time they’ve spent this long with us without their parents.  Many of their “growing-up” years were spent in Arkansas, and we only saw them once or twice a year.  One of the big reasons we moved to Florida was to get to know our grandchildren (and have them get to know us) before they were “off and away” –  just like our children are now.  It was a good move.

Jordan and Matthew, when your mom  and dad asked where you’d like to spend a week’s vacation, we thank you for both saying “with BeBe and G-Daddy on Mackinac!”

Our hearts are full tonight.  We love you, and we miss you.  You are both awesome beyond words, and you make us so, so proud every single day.

Hold things together in Florida until we get back.

God bless.

Introducing . . . . You! 4/7/16

Wow!  I have LOVED opening my email inbox this week!  Your photos are pouring in, and I’m hoping that will continue over the next few days.  I know some of you may be bashful about appearing on a blog, but I’m hoping – after this first set of pics – you change your mind and decide to “personally” introduce yourself (and your family, if you’d like) to me and the other blog readers.

Oh – here’s something interesting.  At least half of the photos I’ve received so far have been from my “silent readers”.  Oh my gosh, how I am loving that!  But . . . that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from those of you who comment often, or who I’ve met in person on the island.  I mean, just because I’ve met you doesn’t mean other readers have.  And this is an equal opportunity project!  Everybody gets to meet everybody!

Here are the first 15 photos – in no particular order!

gail and ray kalnajs

Meet Gail and Ray Kalnajs from Chicago, IL!  Here they are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary at The Inn at Stonecliffe last summer (they decided on the Inn after reading my Stonecliffe blogs last June). Gail found Bree’s Blog while surfing the Internet on a day she was “longing for Mackinac” and has been a reader for 4-5 years.  P.S.  They LOVED Stonecliffe and plan to return.

 

traci and bill rackley

Traci and Bill Rackley from Palaski TN.  Photo on Mackinac Island in June, 2013 (they came by the Stuart House while on this trip to say hello).  Traci found Bree’s Blog 5-6 years ago while Googling “Mackinac”.

Jayne and Ken Murdoch - Cedar Lake MI. Jayne and Ken have been visiting Mackinac at least once a year since 1975. She found the blog in 2010 while researching a coming trip to the Island. They met Ted in the Pink Pony one night (imagine that) a few years ago and were his partners in Trivia Pursuit game. Too funny!

Jayne and Ken Murdoch – Cedar Lake IN. Jayne and Ken have been visiting Mackinac at least once a year since 1975. She found the blog in 2010 while researching a future trip to the Island. They met Ted in the Pink Pony one night (imagine that) a few years ago and were his partners in a Trivia Pursuit game. Too funny!  Hoping I get to meet them too this summer!

Ann M. is from Kentucky, but originally from Michigan. She says she was bored at work one day and was Googling Up North and Mackinac Island, and she landed on Bree's Blog. That was 5-6 years ago.

Ann M. is from Kentucky, but originally from Michigan. She says she was bored at work one day, Googled “Up North” and “Mackinac Island”, and landed on Bree’s Blog. That was 5-6 years ago.  Glad you’re still aboard, Ann!

Meet Jason and Sirena Bergeron from San Antonio TX. Jason found Sirena were married on the island, but he found the blog 4-5 years ago while stationed in Afghanistan. Jason and Sirena are huge fans of the island and hope to visit again soon.

Meet Jason and Sirena Bergeron from San Antonio TX. Jason and Sirena were married on the island, and he found the blog 4-5 years ago while stationed in Afghanistan. Jason and Sirena are huge fans of Mackinac and hope to visit again soon.  Wow!  Only 4-5 years?  It seems as though I’ve been corresponding with Jason for a lot longer than that.  Jason was in charge of all the  working dogs serving in Afghanistan for several years.  He’s back in the states now, and I know Sirena is happy about that!  And so are all of us who prayed for his safe return.

Arnie and Karen Strasz - Red Wing MN. This photo is from Mackinac where they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary last June (looks like during the Lilac Festival)! They found the blog after their 2015 trip. Arnie and Karen honeymooned on the island in 1965 and have been back 8 times over the last 10 years.

Arnie and Karen Strasz – Red Wing MN. This photo is from Mackinac, where they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary last June (looks like it was during the Lilac Festival)! They found the blog after their 2015 trip. Arnie and Karen honeymooned on the island in 1965 and have been back 8 times over the last 10 years.

James H. (husband of blog reader Cheryl) and their beloved Tiki, who they lost last October. They've from Plainfield IL and found the blog 4-5 years ago while researching the island after their first visit.

James H. (husband of blog reader Cheryl) and their beloved Tiki, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last October. They’ve from Plainfield IL and found the blog 4-5 years ago, while researching the island after their first visit.

Hilde and Bud DaVanon from Minooka IL and who I love, love, love! Hilde's been a reader since 2010 when she Googled "Mackinac Island" and I popped up. They visited the island the first time in 2008, missed in 2009, but haven't missed a year since. Ted and I have spent some really special times with this sweet couple enjoying "our" island together.

Hilde and Bud DaVanon from Minooka IL.  I love, love, love me some Hilde and Bud! Hilde’s been a reader since 2010 when she Googled “Mackinac Island”, and Bree’s Blog popped up. They visited the island the first time in 2008, missed in 2009, but haven’t missed a year since. Ted and I have spent some really special times with this sweet couple enjoying “our” island together.  I think the bench they’re sitting on is right outside the Chippewa Hotel – or maybe the Pink Pony!  Looking forward to seeing you guys during your September trip to Mackinac!

Meet Karen Snyder from Niles MI. Karen had a hard time finding a photo of herself because she's always BEHIND the camera. I can sure relate to that, Karen! She discovered the blog in 2010 from ANOTHER Mackinac Island blog written by our good friend, Mike Forrester, from Atlanta. After she found the blog she spent the rest of the winter going back and reading every post from the very beginning!

Meet Karen Snyder from Niles MI. Karen had a hard time finding a photo of herself because she’s always BEHIND the camera. I can sure relate to that, Karen! She discovered the blog in 2010 from ANOTHER Mackinac Island blog written by our Atlanta good friend, Mike Forrester. After she found Bree’s Blog she spent the rest of the winter going back and reading every post from the very beginning!  Wow – back in 2010 that would have been 400+ blog posts!  FYI – THIS is the 798th post to Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog!

Sweet friends Kem and Ed Green from Des Moines IA. Hey! I recognize that window behind you guys! Kem discovered the blog in 2011 and is another one who went back and read from the beginning. We love getting together with these two when they're on the island, which is at least once a summer. See y'all in September!

Sweet friends Kem and Ed Green from Des Moines IA. I recognize that window behind you guys! Kem discovered the blog in 2011 and is another reader who went back and read from the beginning. We love getting together with these two when they’re on the island, which is at least once a summer. See y’all when you’re up in September!

Mike and Pam Day - Ohio. AKA Nana and Poppy! I love these two, who Ted and I see almost every summer on Mackinac. Friend and artist Mary Lou Peters told Pam about the blog in 2011, and she's been a reader ever since.

Mike and Pam Day – Ohio – aka Nana and Poppy! I love these two, and Ted and I see them almost every summer on Mackinac. Friend and artist Mary Lou Peters told Pam about the blog in 2011, and she’s been a reader ever since.  See y’all this summer!  P.S.  Frequent readers may recognize that wicker bike basket between Pam and Mike.  Yep – I cropped my tired, sweaty, windblown self right out of this photo.  LOL. Sorry, Pam!

Two of my favorite people ever - DeAna and her son Trace, who just became a fireman (like his dad) in their homem of Commerce Township MI.

Two of my favorite people ever – DeAna and her son Trace, who just became a fireman like his dad.  They all live in Commerce Township MI.  DeAna found the blog through Facebook about 6 years ago.  The whole family came by to meet me at the Stuart House several years ago (before Trace even had his driver’s license)!  They toured the Mackinac Island fire station that day – if I’m remembering correctly.  DeAna prayed me through some scary hours when Blake was in Turkey – her heart reaching out to mine as only another mother could.  Love you, my sweet friend!

Sterling Slaven and his beautiful family - Glenpool OK.

Sterling Slaven and his beautiful family – Glenpool OK.  This photo was taken at Sterling and wife Tina’s daughter’s wedding last year.  Children are Savannah, Sawyer, Sumner, and Sadie (in age order).  The family visited Mackinac for the first time in 2012, and the kids said, “This is the best place ever!”  Sterling has been a blog reader for several years, and I have to share this: Sterling said he and the family spend a week or two each year at the beach, and they love it.  For their anniversary he borrowed my idea for a “beach sand garden”, made one himself, and presented it to Tina!

Had to share it! Great job, Sterling!

Had to share it! Great job, Sterling!

Monica Stafford (Parma MI)and her precious Ginny, a miniature dachshund. Ginny was 14 when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge in July. Monica found the blog on Google over 5 years ago. She visit the island as often as possible.

Monica Stafford (Parma MI)and her precious Ginny, a miniature dachshund. Ginny was 14 when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge last July. Monica found the blog on Google over 5 years ago. She visits the island as often as possible.

Beth Loesch in her unbelievable garden in Britton MI (I asked Beth if she used Mackinac Island horse poop to grow a garden like that. She laughed and said, "No, but it got some help from our sheep"). Beth tells me we met on a Shepler's Ferry three years ago, and we struck up a conversation (imagine that - me, talking to someone!). I told her about the blog, and she looked it up as soon as she got home. She's been a reader ever since. She's visited Mackinac for many years and tries to go each August.

Beth Loesch in her unbelievable garden in Britton MI (I asked Beth if she used Mackinac Island horse poop to grow a garden like that. She laughed and said, “No, but it got some help from our sheep.”) Beth tells me we met on a Shepler’s Ferry three years ago, and we struck up a conversation (imagine that – me, talking to someone!). I told her about the blog, she looked it up as soon as she got home, and she’s been a reader ever since. She’s visited Mackinac for many years and tries to go each August.

And there you go – the first 15!   Right now I have 15 more ready to post on Sunday, and I’m hoping everyone gets busy and sends me TONS more photos.  Come on – I want this to break the record we set with the “Places You Live” posts (there were 63 of those).  I will continue to post them for as long as you send them in!

I LOVE MY READERS!!!

God bless.

 

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!

______________________________________________________________________

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.

A Grand Hotel Visit and More Fun at Black Lake 8/9/15

Oh my goodness!  It’s been a week since I’ve written, and the days have been so full it seems more like a month!  Over the last eight days, Ted and I (and Bear and Maddie, of course) have enjoyed fun days at Black Lake with Sue and Terry (and Brinkley and Ruby), spent two nights on Mackinac, eaten well (with not nearly enough exercise to make up for it), and slept like babies.  The weather has been AWESOME, with daytime temps in the 70’s and nights in the high 50’s and low 60’s.  Sleeping with all the windows open is SO peaceful, and the few times it’s rained during the night the sound of raindrops on our little cabin’s roof is like having someone sing us a lullaby.  Dreamland!

When the Grand Hotel invited me to write a guest blog about the Woods Restaurant, the invitation included an overnight stay at the Grand – something Ted and I had never done.  When the Woods blog is published on their website, I’ll make sure everyone gets a link; but in the meantime, I’m excited to share our stay at the Grand and the rest of our island visit!

I can always count on Jill to meet the ferry when we arrive on Mackinac!

I can always count on Jill to meet the ferry when we arrive on Mackinac!

We arrived on the island a day early so I could attend a girls only porch party.  After checking into the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa, our first stop was the patio at the Chippewa for lunch.

We arrived on the island a day early so I could go to a fun “girls only” porch party on Tuesday night. After checking into the Lilac Tree Suites and Spa (our first stay there also – highly recommend!), our first stop was the patio at the Chippewa for lunch.  I’ve always loved that “Real World/Mackinac Island” sign – makes me know I’ve arrived at a place where worldly current events can be temporarily ignored!

After the porch party I met Ted back at the Pink Pony (imagine that) to listen to Myk Rise for a while.

After the porch party I met Ted back at the Pink Pony (imagine that) to listen to Myk Rise sing and play guitar.  The Pony is always THE spot to be for an entertaining evening.

On Wednesday morning we slept in (no dogs to take out and feed!), then just walked around downtown – chatting with friends we’d see on the street, checking out a few new shops (and favorite old ones), and waiting for check-in time at the Grand.

As many times as we've ridden up this hill, it was never with the purpose of checking into the Grand - but on Wednesday it was!

As many times as we’ve walked or ridden up this hill on our bikes or by taxi, it was never with the purpose of staying at the Grand – but on Wednesday it was!

We checked in and followed the bellman to our room . . . .

. . . and what a room it was!

. . . and what a room it was!  When Carlton Varney, president/owner of Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc., one of the oldest established interior design firms in the United States, was commissioned to totally redecorate the Grand Hotel in the 1970’s, he vowed to incorporate every color in the magnificent Grand Hotel gardens into his design.  The hotel, whether public spaces or private rooms,  is a testament to how Varney – also known as “Mr. Color” – fulfilled and continues to fulfill that design.

Our room was spacious and beautifully decorated, and we drew back the drapes across one side of the room . . .

Our room was spacious and beautifully decorated, and when we drew back the drapes across one side of the room . . .

. . . this was our view!  A screen door opened onto our second floor balcony . . .

. . . this was our view! A screen door opened onto our second floor balcony, and when we stepped outside . . .

. . . and thewonderful view of the Straits of Mackinac and the West Bluff expanded.

. . . the wonderful view of the Straits of Mackinac and the West Bluff expanded.

As I began to unpack what I planned to wear that evening, a knock on the door sounded, and there stood a Grand staff member with a beautiful bouquet of flowers  . . .

As I began to unpack what I planned to wear that evening, a knock on the door sounded, and there stood a Grand staff member with a beautiful bouquet of flowers . . .

. . . and a gift basket of wine, wine glasses, fruit, cheese and crackers - compliments of the Musser family.  Talk about making a girl feel special!

. . . and a gift basket of wine, wine glasses, fruit, cheese and crackers – compliments of the Musser family. Talk about making a girl feel special!

Our evening at the Woods was fantastic (more to come on that in the future on the Grand Hotel blog page), and we were back in our room early enough to watch the last rays of sunset from our balcony.

A group of late-night diners head out to the Woods on the shuttle.

A group of late-night diners head out to the Woods on the shuttle . . .

A lone ferry approaches the turn toward St. Ignace.

. . . and a lone ferry approaches the turn toward St. Ignace.

Breakfast (or lunch or dinner) in the Main Dining Room is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!

We were up early for breakfast, served in the Main Dining Room, and  a treat for the eyes as well as the palate!

After breakfast, with a couple of hours to spare before we were to check out, we walked through the parlor and out onto the porch.  Carlton Varney's touch is seen everywhere, and the colors he incorporates make for that "WOW" factor wherever you turn.

After breakfast, with a couple of hours to spare before we were to check out, we walked through the parlor and out onto the porch. Carlton Varney’s touch is seen everywhere . . .

. . . and the colors he incorporates makeforthat"WOW" factor wherever you look.  This is the entryway to the Grand Hotel Ballroom where an orchestra plays nightly for dancing.

. . . and the colors he incorporates make for that “WOW” factor wherever you look. To the left is the entryway to the Grand Hotel Ballroom where an orchestra plays nightly for dancing, and to the right is the entrance to the Audubon Wine Bar.

No matter how many times we've stood or walked or rocked on the Grand front porch, it never fails to impress!

No matter how many times we’ve stood or walked or rocked on the Grand front porch, it never fails to impress!

At 660 feet, it still holds the world record for front porch length . . .

At 660 feet, it is still the longest front porch in the world, and every inch is lined with flowerboxes filled with live, brilliantly red geraniums.

We truly hated to check out Thursday morning, but leaving was made easier when I got to visit with sweet friend Molly McGreevy, who rode her bike down to the Grand to say hello.

Molly looked awesome!! In her own words: "I'm almost halfway through chemo. If I hadn't been delayed by the staph infection and subsequent kidney failure brought on by antibiotics, I would have been done with chemo last month. But, I have to count my blessings as I did get better and so far I've had relatively mild side effects. Other than fatigue and being short of breath sometimes, I feel pretty good."

Molly looks awesome!! In her own words: “I’m almost halfway through chemo. If I hadn’t been delayed by the staph infection and subsequent kidney failure brought on by antibiotics, I would have been done with chemo last month. But, I have to count my blessings as I did get better and so far I’ve had relatively mild side effects. Other than fatigue and being short of breath sometimes, I feel pretty good.”  So glad to share this happy news!

It was going to be 5:30 before we could pick up Bear and Maddie at the kennel, so after ferrying back to the mainland, we took a chance and rode by Burton Nelson’s place in Mackinaw City.  Burton’s wife, Chris Ann, was a dear, dear friend who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer on March 4, 2013,and the last time we saw Burton was at her memorial service that summer.

It was wonderful to see Burton, who is living fulltime now in their little cottage by the bridge.  Although he's had some heart problems in the last couple of years, he's doing great now, and we had a wonderful visit reminiscing about Chris Ann and chatting about what he's been doing.  LOVED seeing him!

Burton is living fulltime now in their little cottage by the bridge that Chris Ann loved so much.   Although he’s had some heart problems in the last couple of years, he’s doing great now, and we had a wonderful visit reminiscing about Chris Ann and chatting about what he’s been doing since we last talked. LOVED seeing him!

FUN AT BLACK LAKE!

We have another eight days here at Black Lake with the Conlons, and we’re looking forward to each of them.  Whether we’re reading in the swing by the lake, floating off the sandy beach,

. . . taking the pooches for walks through the woods . . .

. . . taking the pooches for walks through the woods . . .

. . . enjoying 5 o’clock Happy Hour, or just hanging out in the cabin, the last two weeks have been filled with relaxation, fun, good food, and great people!

Oh – Terry and Ted have been on a couple of memorable kayak adventures, but that’s a story for another day!

Leaving the Red Bridge on the Black River and hoping to find their way back to Black Lake.  Three hours later they did!

Leaving the Red Bridge on the Black River and hoping to find their way back to Black Lake. Three hours later they did!

See you back here soon!  God bless.