A Week Filled with Good Things 10/1/17

Hi Friends!

Last week was busy and so much fun!  Ted’s sister Sheryl and cousin Heidi came for a visit, and we spent three days doing lots of touristy things, as well as just spending time getting to know these newly found members of our family.   After two weeks of above average temperatures (I think we hit 85 one day!), we had a cold front come through the first night our company was here.  From that point on we had absolutely beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures, and the definite feeling of Fall in the air!

Sheryl and Heidi arrived on Tuesday morning, and I know they thought we were going to walk them all over the island before bedtime that night.

We started with lunch at the Tea Room at Fort Mackinac . . . .

. . . . which is absolutely one of the top five “view” spots on Mackinac!

We roamed around the fort, visited Sutler’s Store, and then walked back to the condo.  Later in the afternoon we walked over to the West Bluff, hiked Pontiac Trail, and walked around the Annex.  By the time dinner rolled around we were all starving, and we all turned in early that evening.

On Wednesday we had planned a special surprise for Sheryl and Heidi.  We started with lunch at Grand Hotel . . .

.. . . . and a visit to the Cupola Bar at the very top of the Grand.

Another one of those top five “view” spots on Mackinac!

We then went to the Grand porch and rocked for a little while, just watching people and enjoying the sunshine.

The big surprise arrived when Ben Mosley drove up in one of Grand Hotel’s vintage carriages and welcomed us aboard.  We spent the next hour touring several of the top tourist attractions on Mackinac, as well as just enjoying riding through the woods in a carriage drawn by two beautiful Hackneys showing off their footwork.

The tour started off with a ride through the Annex and out to Stonecliffe, followed by . . .

. . . riding up to Lookout Point via this wooded road which turns steeply upward at the cemeteries.

We took a few minutes to get off the carriage . . . .

. . . for a great view of Sugar Loaf, an expanse of wooded land, and Lake Huron in the distance.

Although those clouds looked a little menacing, we didn’t get a single drop of rain on our “parade”.

We next visited Fort Holmes, the highest spot on Mackinac . . .

. . . followed by a stop at Arch Rock.

It really doesn’t matter how many times we visit all these places. Each time is special, and I’m glad we made it to all these spots one more time this year.

Although Heidi and Sheryl both had been to Mackinac Island before, they saw a few places they’d never seen and really enjoyed the tour and the carriage ride!  We finished the day with dinner at the Chip and a taxi ride home.

Thursday was spent visiting with the current residents of an East Bluff cottage where Heidi and her family had past connections, lunch downtown, and then a visit with old friends of the family.

We were up early on Friday morning to take a taxi downtown and have breakfast at The Chuckwagon before the ladies caught the ferry off the island.  We were sad to see them go. We had spent Thursday evening at the condo, laughing and telling family stories.  It was just the best visit, and we hope Heidi and Sheryl both come back soon.  We DO have more places to show you because I promise you didn’t see everything (even though it may have felt like it).


A shady walk down Huron Street right after the street cleaner had gone through.

The condo’s backyard furniture arrived this week! Condo picnic soon!

We had two cruise ships at the island on the same day.  The ship anchored offshore is the Hamburg.  It has too deep a draft for the big dock, so it anchors off Mission Point and shuttles tourists in aboard her four small launches.

Friends and blog readers Kem Green and Yvonne Pitsch stopped by to visit me at the Stuart House this week!

What are they? Morning Glories? Whatever they are, they are as big as dinner plates and beautiful!

Sunrise from the Chippewa Hotel. (Photo: Kem Green)

“I’d like to come in now please.”

The parade ground at Fort Mackinac.

Mums the word at Doud’s Market!

Pontiac Trail in the mist. (Photo: Kem Green)

The view over the Hackney’s backs!

This great bunch of friends and relatives got together on Shepler’s dock Friday morning. Some were leaving, some were staying.  Left to right: Mike and Pam Day, me, Sheryl, Heidi, Kem and Ed Green, Ted and Jill.  Love you all!

“I think I see dad coming!”

I’ve got a great story to share next time about a birch bark canoe our Mackinac Island public school children helped to build.  It was launched yesterday.  Coming up in a few days!

God bless..

Lighthouses, Trails, Spooky Houses, and Newlyweds 7/12/09

Once a year Round Island Lighthouse is open to the public.  One of the best known lighthouses in Michigan, Round Island Light nearly collapsed from neglect and the effects of a storm in 1972.  The original lighthouse was built in 1895, complete with a keeper’s apartment, and it was used continuously for 52 years.  In 1947 it was replaced by the “space-age” white automatic beacon that now guides freighters through the Straits of Mackinac.  The picture below shows the state of disrepair the lighthouse had fallen into before a group of dedicated individuals took on the task of restoring it to its original beauty.


Today was the day that the lighthouse was to be open.  Private boats had been recruited to ferry people over, and Freeland Boy Scout Troop 323 would be on hand to conduct the tours.  We were excited!   Ted, Jordan and Matthew had ridden downtown Saturday morning and found nearly 200 people in line to go over to Round Island.  They came back to the condo and reported that the best thing to do would be have lunch and then go back and get in line.  Or, if we were lucky, maybe the line would have gone down by that time, and we could go right over.  The Heikkila’s, friends from the condos (Laurie, Matt, Kelly, Megan, and Dana), were going with us.  We met outside at 12:30 and walked downtown. 

Unfortunately, this is the closest we got to the Round Island Lighthouse (that’s it between Ted and Julie as it appears today, after renovation).  By the time we got to the boat dock, the wind had come up, white caps had formed on Lake Huron, and it was considered too dangerous to cross the straits in small boats.  Boy, were we disappointed!




gdaddybalanceSo we had to come up with Plan 2 for the day.  After a family conference, we decided to go back home, unload some of the gear we had brought with us for the lighthouse tour (coats, backpacks, water bottles, etc.) and take everyone on a walk over to Pontiac Trail.  Neither the kids nor Julie had been on the trail, and the views are so beautiful.  We just had to show it to them.  On the way back to the condo, Matthew wanted GDaddy to try walking across a log people sit on in the open space behind the island school.  He took a few steps, and then got tickled at Matthew and fell off.  The picture looks like he is walking on air. 

Sometime on the way home, we decided to take Maddie and Bear with us since we were only planning to be gone an hour. 

We changed into shorts and walking shoes, leashed up Maddie and Bear and left again.  Little did we know that our hour-long walk was going to turn into a 3-hour hike on trails even Ted and I had never seen before.

Isn’t it great watching children in the woods.  Those little imaginations start taking flight, and suddenly logs are balance beams, and weeds become beautiful flowers for the picking.




Ted asked Julie if she had ever been to Sunset Rock.  Her answer was no, so Ted said we would just take a little detour by there.  But instead of the usual path we take, Ted found a “new way to go” we hadn’t noticed before.  Jordan and I said we thought we were on private property, since we entered this “new way to go” through some iron gates (they were open). But Ted said, “No, it’s fine.”  We walked down this long, woody trail until we came to an old house that had fallen in on itself.  You had to crawl around fallen trees and underbrush to get to it.  A foundation stone read 1909.  We all had a hundred questions.  Whose house was it?  What had happened to it?  How long ago had someone lived in it?  Why was there a huge hole outside of the house that looked like what we call a sink hole in Georgia?  Jordan peeked in the door and didn’t like what she saw.  She said it was “spooky”.






We left the house and walked on through the woods a little further before coming to a sign that said “Private Property” (Jordan and I didn’t comment).  GDaddy said he thought he knew a shortcut from there to Sunset Rock, so we went even further into the woods.  When we came to a fence that we couldn’t cross with the dogs, we finally turned around and went back out the way we had come in.  This time we went to Sunset Rock the way we knew, passing Stonecliffe Inn.  We stopped in the inn’s beautiful yard and took pictures of Jordan and Matthew. 


We finally made it to Sunset Rock, and Julie and the kids couldn’t believe they had never been there since this was their 6th visit to the island.


By this time, we had been walking two hours, and we weren’t anywhere close to Pontiac Trail, although every different path we tried out, Jordan or Matthew would ask, “GDaddy, is this Pontiac Trail?”  Bear was tired out and found a shady spot he could take a little rest. Maddie, of course, was loving all the new places to explore.


Matthew and Jordan walked down the steps leading up to Sunset Rock – not on the steps, of course, but on the rocks BESIDE the steps.    The kids let GDaddy know that they were ready to find Pontiac Trail, and then they were ready to go home!






The long walk turned out to be worth the wait.  After only a few minutes on Pontiac Trail, we came upon a bride and groom and their wedding photographer taking advantage of the gorgeous views from the bluff for some special wedding memories.  We slipped by them and stopped to take a few pictures of the view ourselves.   When we came out at the end of the trail, we found a wedding carriage and its driver patiently waiting for the newlyweds to return so he could take them to their reception.

viewpontiac trail



As we made the last turn for home, we stopped to pet some horses who were out of their stalls, enjoying the sunny weather in their corral.




We arrived back at the condo at 5 p.m. – tired, happy and hungry.  Maddie and Bear immediately dropped on the floor and practically went into comas.  Jordan was asleep on the couch in five minutes and didn’t wake up until supper.  Matthew had seen a horseshoe outside by the trashcan that some horse had thrown during the day.  I told him he should go get it, and tomorrow we would clean it up so he could take it back home with him to Arkansas.  He wanted to know if he could take it to his school’s next “show and tell”, and I said I thought that would be an excellent idea.  That led to a discussion on horses and how and why they wear shoes, and how often are they changed, and does it hurt to put them on.  I found myself rattling off the answers to all his questions, based on information I had learned riding around with Jeanine on our taxi day.  I even told Matthew that tomorrow we could visit a real, working blacksmith and watch him shoe a few horses. 

Mackianc Island offers so many unique experiences to share with children and grandchildren.  Yesterday we had all leaned over a half-door down at the horse barn while I introduced Jordan and Matthew to Thunder and Andy, the two horses I had gotten to know when I rode the half-day with Jeanine for the “Day in the Life of a Taxi Driver” story.  Tonight, Julie walked them down to the same barn so they could visit the horses again.  One of the barn workers talked to them for ten minutes about how to be safe on the Mackinac streets, emphasizing the importance wearing their helmets when riding their bikes or riding horses.  Tomorrow, we plan to ride our bicycles the length of the North Bike Trail, a beautiful, winding path through acres of woodland that will take us by Sugar Loaf.

It will be a full week, including a special day on Tuesday, Matthew’s birthday.  We have a surprise gift for him that I will tell you about on Wednesday.  I’ll give you a hint – it will happen at Fort Mackinac.

So, even though we didn’t get to tour Round Island Light today, we certainly made up for it – and their visit has only just begun!


I Wonder . . . 6/29/09

SATURDAY NIGHT.  It’s raining. I wish I had a way to add audio to this blog.  The fog horn has been blowing for an hour out on the Straits.  Sometimes it blows all night long.  It is possibly the most lonely sound I have ever heard.  I wonder . . . what that horn must sound like in the winter, when the snow is measured in feet and giant shards of ice float in the Straits.  There would be no other sound – no horses’ clip clopping (except for the one winter taxi and an occasional dray), no stream of people coming up the hill talking, no crowd of people riding bikes down the hill – just the fog horn.  I’d love to be here then.

IMG_0758Ted and I both volunteered on the island today – he was back at the Welcome Center, I was at the Stuart House Museum.  I felt completely unprepared when I sat down, but Sylvia, who is a regular worker and who was born and raised on the island, and Karen, who had recruited me, gave me some tips and a large folder on the house’s history.  I would love to get a copy of the contents of that entire folder, because not only does it hold the Stuart House history, but the entire island’s history – beginning in the 1600’s.  I have never been a history buff – that is Ted’s subject.  But, after reading through that folder off and on for 2 hours in between welcoming people to the museum, and getting them started on the self-guided tour, I was hooked.  Several people had questions about the museum – some I could answer and some not – but a lot of folks, once they knew I lived here in the summers, wanted to talk about nothing but that.  Those questions I could answer, or at least direct them to the right spot in get an answer.  I wonder . . . if they will ask me to work again. 


I left the Stuart House and treated myself to an ice cream cone.  Judy from the condos was downtown and asked if I wanted to share a taxi home – sure did.  As we were sitting at the taxi stand, Lisa from JoAnne’s Fudge came by.  Since Judy knew Lisa well, and Judy knew I wanted to write a story about a fudgemaker, she introduced us.  Lisa gave her approval, so all I have to do is give her a call when I am ready, and she will set me up with a fudge cook.  I wonder . . . if I can scrape the bowl?



SUNDAY MORNING.  It’s still raining, with no letup in sight.  I got an email from Jeanine this morning congratulating me on getting approval for my “Day in the Life Of” series.  Jeanine is the taxi driver that I hope I will be able to job shadow.  She suggested that I also be on hand to help harness up the horses.  Me?  Harness a horse?  I wonder . . . if Jeanine doesn’t like me. 

I have another blog for you to check out.  Kathy lives in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and made a 365-day commitment to explore the great outdoors.  Her photographs are amazing.  You can reach her at http://centria.wordpress.com, and she is also on my blogroll.  I wonder . . . what in the world will I do with my spare time when our summer on Mackinac is over, and my commitment to record our life here this year is completed.

Islanders have a “sweet” name for tourists.  They are called fudgies.  Fudgies nearly always have a camera around their neck and a pound of fudge in their hands.  If you are visiting the island and want to look more like a local and less like a fudgie, here are a few tips:  1)  Hide your camera and your fudge; 2)  Never look up at the fort when they shoot the cannon; 3) Carry a backpack or a fanny pack, but never a purse.  Now so far I’m good on only one of those – I have a backpack.  The very nature of a blogger requires a camera (although mine is usually in my backpack); if we are out of fudge at the house, you can bet there will be another pound or two in that bag I’m carrying; and – I can’t help it – I not only look up at the fort when the cannon goes off, but I usually jump a little also.  I wonder . . . does that make me a local tourist or a touring local?

SUNDAY AFTERNOON.  The sun is out, it’s 70 degrees, and a cool breeze is blowing.  I walked downtown to get some shots of the inside of Trinity Church (I’ll post them this week sometime).  While I was there, I heard from a VERY reliable source (didn’t know I had spies on the island, did you) that actor Robert DeNiro and his wife had just arrived at the island airport and would be staying somewhere for a few days.  I could tell you where they are staying, but then my spies would never tell me anything again.  So, mum’s the word.  I wonder . . . . nope, can’t go there.

When I got back to the condo, Ted and I took the dogs and walked up to the West Bluff by way of Pontiac’s Trail.  We hadn’t been up there in about three weeks, and the difference was amazing.  What three weeks ago were newly planted summer gardens are now wildly blooming flowerbeds.   I wonder . . . if I can get this amazing Mackinac Island compost shipped to Georgia.


A riot of yellow and purple and blue in this beautiful summer garden

Looking across the top of a flower garden to the Straits
On a windy day, the waves were breaking along the shore at the boardwalk.  I caught a seagull in flight just to the right of the lighthouse.

It was a windy day, and the waves were breaking along the shore at the boardwalk, across the street from the island school. That’s a seagull in flight just to the right of the lighthouse.


What better way to end our walk than to see a bride and groom leaving The Grand Hotel in one of the wedding carriages.  Their photographer was riding ahead of them, hurrying to the next photo site, but the newlyweds were enjoying a leisurely ride along the West Bluff.




I hear a lot of couples renew their wedding vows on the island.  I wonder if Ted . . . .