A Sad Goodbye to Arnold Ferry Line 11/13/16

As most of you already know, the 5 p.m. departure of the Huron last Thursday marked the last time a boat operated by Arnold Ferry Line would travel to or from Mackinac Island.  The historic ferry line (the oldest and longest-running), which began serving the island 138 years ago, has been purchased by Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry, which began 38 years ago as competition to Arnold and to Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, which was created in 1945.

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Arnold’s mighty Huron, as she is known by everyone with ties to Mackinac, has been the only winter ferry to the island since 1955.  Star Line will continue to operate the Huron for passenger and freight service during the winter, abiding by Mackinac Island’s winter ferry passenger service agreement.

Star Line will also buy five other Arnold Line boats, the Arnold Boatyard and several docks.

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Star Line’s Marquette II arrives on Friday morning – her first trip ever as the winter ferry to Mackinac.

For hundreds of islanders, for thousands of  visitors whose memories of a Mackinac vacation began with an Arnold Line ferry boat ride, and for the hundreds of Arnold employees whose lives were tied to the company over those 138 years, this is the sad end of an era.  Especially poignant is the end of the mighty Huron operating as an Arnold boat.  It’s hard to comprehend for those of us who do not live year-round on Mackinac, but Arnold’s mighty Huron provided everything to the island after the close of the season – passenger service and freight service – until the Straits of Mackinac would freeze over and the ferry would have to stop running.  She alone was responsible for islanders receiving food and other staples for the grocery store and restaurants that remain open, for residents reaching the mainland if there were health concerns or if they just needed to have a day off-island, and for winter visitors trying out “Mackinac in the winter”.  Even though the mighty Huron will continue to run, it is a bittersweet transition from one company to another.

We wish Star Line a hearty congratulations on your new venture!  With only two lines providing transportation to Mackinac next summer, Star Line and Shepler’s, it will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  We know both these fine companies will continue to provide excellent service to and from our favorite island, and we look forward to a great 2017 season!

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A poignant farewell photo from Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on its last departure from the island: “It was a pleasure serving you.  Thank you for 138 years of memories.  This is your ATCO crew – signing off.”

NOVEMBER ON MACKINAC

Clark Bloswick has been busy documenting November on the island.  These next six photos are his.

A relatively calm day earlier in the month . . .

A relatively calm day earlier in the month.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers that these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down.

A typical fall wind storm hit the island on Thursday, Nov. 10. It always amazes me the size of the waves generated on the Great Lakes. Clark remembers these waves were nothing compared to those on November 10, 1975, the day the Edmund Fitzgerald went down during a Lake Superior storm, with the loss of the entire crew of 29.

Friday saw the island awake to the first "gale of November" , , ,

Wind, waves and whitecaps.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunset on Saturday evening.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

Sunrise over Bois Blanc this morning.

An early evening shot of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

An early evening shot tonight of geese flying into Mission Point, backlit by that gorgeous full moon.

I. Love. This. Photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

I love this photo! A beautiful fall image of the steps leading from Sugar Loaf to Point Lookout. (Photo: Patti Carpenter McGreevy)

BODIE NEWS

I will not lie.  Having a teenage Golden Retriever who weighs  58 lbs. at seven months is a little harder than I thought it would be.  It’s been 12 years since we had a puppy in the house (that would be Maddie), and she was an amazingly easy girl.  And she was small.  Having a big dog puppy is totally different because he does everything . . . bigger!  Plays bigger, eats bigger, poops and pees bigger, chews bigger, walks bigger.  He is a daily challenge, but I love trying to stay one step ahead of him.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching him to greet people gently on our walks.  He wants to wiggle himself right into their space and get all mouthy with their hands.  It was wearing me out trying to pull him back.  So – I sent out a “please help me train Bodie” message to our entire Sunset Inlet community, giving suggestions on how to help Bodie learn to greet nicely.  Our neighbors have responded like the wonderful folks they are.  So far we’ve had encounters with two neighbors who ignored Bodie while I asked him to sit, waited for him to calm down, then asked him to “shake”, which he did.  Then they petted him.  And Bodie got a treat from me.  It was amazing how well it worked!

We have a trainer coming once a week for five weeks to offer tips and help me find the best ways to train him.  Two of our neighbors, Mark and Shauna, text “going to the dog park” when they head out with their two big dogs, Rascal and Ryder, so Bodie and I can join in the fun.  We have a big open area in our community we call the “dog park”.  It’s great for playing fetch and just letting dogs be dogs.

And – I will tell you something else big dogs do.  They LOVE big.  All I need to do to get some Bodie love is climb in his big bed with him.  He snuggles right in and we have some mom/Bodie love time.

Yes, he’s a challenge.  But he is remarkably smart, learns commands quickly, retains most of them well, and is quickly creating his own great big spot in my heart.

Bodie: "I know if I sit here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it."

Bodie: “Maybe if I stand here long enough, Maddie will get tired of that Kong and I can get it.”

"Hmmm . . . or maybe not."

“Hmmm . . . or maybe not.”

Photo Day! 6/26/16

This has been one of those slow news weeks.  I do have one little story to tell, and then the rest of tonight’s post will be a “Photos and Captions.”  I’ve got some great pics to share from both the beach AND our favorite Michigan island!

THE SEA TURTLE PATROL

Ted and I went down to the beach around 7:30 one morning and happened to arrive in time to watch the Sea Turtle Patrol in action!

This volunteers hit the beach early each morning of turtle season to look for tracks and new nests.

These volunteers hit the beach early each morning of turtle season (May-October) – at first to look for tracks and new nests, and then later on to check that nests haven’t been disturbed or to see if turtles have hatched.

We were very lucky that morning, because we spotted the new nest at almost the same time they did?

We were very lucky that morning, because we spotted the new nest at almost the same time they did!

I took this after they had staked out the nest. You can see the tracks of the "mama turtle" (obviously a very BIG mama turtle) leading up the the

I took this AFTER the volunteers had staked out the nest. You can see the flipper tracks of the “mama turtle” (obviously a very BIG mama turtle) leading up the mound of dirt where she covered her 80-120 eggs.  The sign on the nest gives the nest number and states the date it was found.  The eggs will hatch in approximately 60 days, and on day 45 the volunteers will place a red flag on the right rear stake and begin to check the nest on a daily basis.  Lights on the beach (even flashlights)are restricted during turtle season as they may confuse turtles coming to the beach to mate or lay eggs.  Lights also could confuse young hatchlings on their dangerous trip across the beach to the ocean.  So far we have about 20 sea turtle nests along the one-mile stretch that is Beverly Beach.

BEVERLY BEACH PHOTOS

Arriving on the beach after sunrise.

Arriving on the beach just after sunrise.  On this day the wind was churning the waves up pretty good.

An amazing shelf cloud forming over the beach early this morning. (Photo: Neighbor Kevin Freedman)

An amazing shelf cloud forming over the beach early this morning. (Photo: Neighbor Kevin Freedman)

That same cloud coming from the beach over our house in Sunset Inlet. As ominous as it looks, it blew right over us, and we didn't get a drop of rain. (Photo: Neighbor Lisa Mordecai)

That same cloud coming from the beach over our house (2-story on the left) in Sunset Inlet. As ominous as it looked, it blew right over us, and we didn’t get a drop of rain. (Photo: Neighbor David Mordecai)

MACKINAC ISLAND PHOTOS

KathyJo Strukel, who won the Mackinac Island coloring book, is making good progress on the first page!

KathyJo Strukel (Oldsmar FL), who won the Mackinac Island coloring book, is making good progress on the page she chose to tackle first!  She’s using colored pencils.  Good job, Kathy!

The Lilac Festival Parade! A great pic from Clark Bloswick of the Seabiscuit Café float, part of the crowd, and Fort Mackinac in the background.

The Lilac Festival Parade! A great pic from Clark Bloswick of the Seabiscuit Café float, part of the crowd, Marquette Park, and Fort Mackinac in the background.

A simply stunning photo by Steven Kopacki of Artistic Mackinadc Gallery and Studio of the strawberry moon rising

A simply stunning photo by Steven Kopacki, Artistic Mackinac Gallery and Studio, of the “Strawberry Moon” rising over the Straits of Mackinac.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Can’t wait to get back on the island and check out what Steven has new in his studio!

Blog reader Jan Weir and her husband Don (Harbor Springs MI and Indianapolis IN) visited the island for several days a week or so ago. This photo and the next six are from Jan.

Blog reader Jan Weir and her husband Don (Harbor Springs MI and Indianapolis IN) visited the island for several days a week or so ago. This photo and the next five are from Jan.

Lilacs blooming along the boardwalk

Lilacs blooming along the boardwalk bordering Lake Huron.  What a wonderful (and romantic) spot to settle in for a chat.

The hanging baskets are up, and from now until Fall they will grow and grow and grow. When they are taken down, their leaves and flowers will be almost touching the sidewalk. Oh - the former Weber's Florist is now

The hanging baskets are up, and from now until Fall they will grow and grow and grow. When they’re taken down, their leaves and flowers will be almost touching the sidewalk. Oh – the former Weber’s Florist is now Vintage Glam, a new salon offering hair care, nail care, and makeup services.  They specialize in wedding parties!

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast - always an oasis of gorgeous flowers, and breathtaking landscapting - not to mention an awesome place to spend a few nights! Friend Aretha Jansen is the Cloghaun's new Manager this year, taking over from the wonderful Marti Gmazel Carey who retired at the end of last season.

The beautiful Cloghaun Bed & Breakfast – always an oasis of gorgeous flowers and breathtaking landscaping – not to mention an awesome place to spend a few nights! Friend Aneta Jansen is the Cloghaun’s new Manager this year, filling the shoes of the awesome Marti Gmazel Carey, who retired at the end of last season.

Silver Birches! The renovation of the wonderful lodge is on schedule! Looking forward to riding out there and checking it all out!

Silver Birches! Renovation of the wonderful lodge is on schedule! Looking forward to riding out there soon and checking it all out!

Pontiac Trail, along the West Bluff.

Pontiac Trail – along the West Bluff.

A dreamy shot from one of our favorite taxi drivers - Jim Gillespie. He had stopped to rest his horses a moment at Mission Point and took this great photo.

A dreamy shot from one of our favorite taxi drivers – Jim Gillespie. Jim had stopped to rest his horses a moment at Mission Point and took this great photo, looking across the resort’s expansive yard.  Someone asked Jim recently if working on the island – after 30 seasons driving taxi – ever gets old.  His answer was a resounding “NO”!

A great catch of interesting clouds over Grand Hotel. (Photo: Max Jones)

A great catch of interesting clouds over Grand Hotel. (Photo: Max Jones)

A view of the Pink Pony patio and part of downtown from an interesting perspective. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A view of the Pink Pony patio and part of downtown from an interesting perspective. (Photo: Tom Chambers)  Hmmmm . . . . . where were you, Tom?

The Round Island Lighthouse is rarely illuminated. But one night recently, it was. And Clark Bloswick was around to catch the moment.

The Round Island Lighthouse is rarely illuminated. But one night recently, it was. And Clark Bloswick was around to catch the moment.

Friend Steve Fridley and his family love Mackinac almost as much as I do. When they're on the island, Steve has a way of being at the right place at the right time. Like last week - when this rainbow appeared to arch across the sky.

Friend Steve Fridley and his family love visiting Mackinac and do so often. When they’re on the island, Steve has a way of being at the right place at the right time. Like last week – when this rainbow appeared and seemed to arch across the Straits from Mackinac to Bois Blanc.

I. Love. This. Photo! Mary Bailey, the beautiful teenage daughter of friends Jeri-Lynn and Brian Bailey, snapped this shot one recent afternoon. In the way of all teenagers, Mary and her friends were looking for something to do and decided to haul their hammocks all the way up to Anne's Tablet and hang them among the trees. What a way to spend a fun - and leisurely - afternoon on Mackinac!

I. Love. This. Photo! Mary Bailey, the beautiful teenage daughter of friends Jeri-Lynn and Brian Bailey, snapped this shot one recent afternoon. In the way of all teenagers, Mary and her friends were looking for something to do and decided to haul their hammocks all the way up to Anne’s Tablet and hang them among the trees. What a way to spend a fun – and leisurely – afternoon on Mackinac!

With heat indexes in the triple digits here in Beverly Beach, I am counting down the days before we leave for Mackinac.  Right now the plan is to arrive on the island on Monday, July 18, so we’ll be leaving a few days before that.  It will be so strange to pack the car without all of Bear’s paraphernalia (he had his own suitcase), and then there was also the 30-lb bag of dogfood.  Maddie only eats 2/3 of a cup a day, so a 5-lb. bag lasts her a very long time.  I was so hoping we’d have a new furbaby to take with us, but it just hasn’t worked out . . . haven’t found the one who speaks to my heart yet.  So we wait.

Hoping you all are doing well and wishing you a great week ahead!

God bless.

Enough Already! 11/8/15

I love both of my volunteer jobs – each for different reasons.  At the Flagler Humane Society I snuggle with, pet, and photograph kitties to my heart’s content.  At Florida Hospital Flagler my ER buddy and I keep 31 ER rooms stocked with gowns, sheets, pads, washcloths, hand towels, blood pressure cuffs, heart monitor “stickies”, specimen cups, socks, Kleenex, gloves, etc.  Occasionally we’ll wheel patients to their rooms or deliver them to their cars when they’re discharged.  We provide chilly folks blankets straight from the warmer and do any other chores we’re asked to do by the nurses or administration.

While I’m mostly working alone at the Humane Society, at the hospital I work with a great group of displaced Northerners from New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.  Mike, who is my volunteer buddy in the ER, is the only true Floridian in the bunch.  The rest moved down here years ago to get away from the harsh Northern winters.  They LOVE Florida’s weather and are quite vocal during our breaks when I start talking about going to Mackinac in December.  They usually look at me aghast and shake their heads, wondering – I’m sure – why anyone in her right mind would voluntarily go north in the wintertime.

But – when we settled into our chairs around the break table in the cafeteria last Thursday (each of us bringing coffee or soft drinks and one of the fabulous muffins left over at breakfast and offered free on the food line to us volunteers), I distinctly heard one of my Northern friends say – quite loudly – “Enough already!”

“Enough of what, Mary,?” I asked.

“This hot weather!” she said adamantly.  “I moved down here for the warm weather, but almost 90 in November is ridiculous!”

I soooo agree!

By this time last year, we were in the 60’s during the day and having some 50’s at night.  We’re still in the 70’s at night, and I don’t even want to talk about the daytime (ok, I will talk about it – it reached 90 here one day last week).  It might as well be July!  The nor’easter that was supposed to blow in this weekend, lowering temps and bringing rain, must have made a U-turn somewhere and become a sou’wester.  No rain.  No lower temps.  Just hot, with tons of humidity mixed in.

Enough already!

It's hard to believe that a year ago this week Ted and I closed on our house and moved in with just a blow-up bed and two beach chairs. We made do for almost a week until our furniture arrived from Georgia.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago this week Ted and I closed on our house and moved in with just a blow-up bed, two beach chairs and a coffeemaker.

We made do for almost a week until our furniture arrived from Georgia.

We made do for almost a week until our furniture arrived from Georgia.  It was quite the adventure, and we loved every minute of it.  Well, except that first morning when we discovered we’d brought the coffeemaker but no coffee.

Over the last year we've sometimes wondered if we'd ever feel we weren't living in a construction zone. But one night this week, as I was turning down our street from a dog walk, I noticed that - for the last few houses on our block at least - we were almost looking

Over the last year we’ve sometimes wondered if we’d ever feel we weren’t living in a construction zone. But one night this week, as I turned down our street from a dog walk, I noticed that – for the last few houses on our block at least – we are almost looking “finished”.

Our little house looks all snuggled in and protected by those big guys on either size.

Our little house looks all snuggled in and protected by those big guys on either side. 

Weather on Mackinac Island has been unnaturally warm also for November.  They’ve had some pretty gusty November winds a few times, but so far the really cold stuff hasn’t shown up – and snow hasn’t even been mentioned in a forecast.  I’m beginning to think my Christmas Bazaar visit the first weekend in December may be snowless.

A scene from Market Street by the folks at Metivier Inn. November is probably the slowest month of the year on Mackinac. A lot of the men are off-island at hunting camps, and many women are off the island visiting friends and family. It's a relaxed month after the super busy summer season.

A scene from Market Street by the folks at Metivier Inn. November is probably the slowest month of the year on Mackinac. A lot of the men are off-island at hunting camps, and many women are off the island visiting friends and family. It’s truly a time for relaxation – after the super busy summer season.

While Mackinac remains snowless for now, the island has hosted some rainy days and nights . . .

While Mackinac remains snowless for now, the island has hosted some rainy days and nights (Photo: Greg Main) . . .

. . . mornings when fog rolled up from Lake Huron to tickle Fort Mackinac's ramparts (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

. . . mornings when fog rolled up from Lake Huron to tickle Fort Mackinac’s ramparts (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

. . . blustery days when a ferry ride should have included sea sick pills (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

. . . blustery days when a ferry ride might have included some sea sick pills (Photo: Clark Bloswick) . . .

. . . and one morning when there was just a hint of frost on the rooftops at Mission Point. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

. . . and one morning when there was just a hint of frost on the rooftops at Mission Point. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

For the most part though, November has been a beautiful continuation of October. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

For the most part though, November has been a beautiful continuation of October. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

And the sunsets continue to dazzle. (Photo: Greg Main)

And the sunsets continue to dazzle. (Photo: Greg Main)

It’s strange to me how slowly October passed this year and how rapidly November seems to be flying by.  Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and the week after that I’ll be heading north.  I sometimes wonder if the love and passion I feel for my time on Mackinac will ever change, but I can’t really imagine that happening.  In Joan Chittister’s wonderful book, The Gift of Years, she writes that “the beauty of the later years is that if we have learned through life to trust our own insights at least as much as we trust the insights we have been taught, we find ourselves at the end of a very long life with a very young soul.”  For me, returning to Mackinac turns on my “young soul” so quickly I’m almost dizzy with it when my foot touches down on the ferry dock.  I know many of you feel exactly the same way.

Thanks to everyone last week who added a comment about what you were up to in October.  I so enjoyed reading every one, and I know everyone else did too.

See you back here soon!

God bless.

Back to a Happy Normal and . . . the Weeks Ahead! 7/12/15

Don’t you just hate it when your “normal” life gets interrupted by something different?  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not talking about disrupting normalcy with a cruise to Bermuda or winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Giveaway.  I mean a disruption that throws your whole mind and body into turmoil . . . like a fire extinguisher head being set off (when there’s no fire) and flooding your house!

But – as much as I hate to give it up and say this – even those “bad” interruptions can bring good things.  You just have to get over the turmoil, say “thank you, Lord”, and go looking for them.

Our “good things” are these:

The house is back to normal - rooms have been cleared and things put back in their place.

Our house is back to normal – rooms have been cleared and things put back in their proper place.

The downstairs bedroom and closet now has brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

The downstairs bedroom and closet now have brand new carpet instead of carpet that is nine months old . . .

. . . so does the stairs.

. . . so does the stairs.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage place under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into the storage area.  I can't show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door.

In addition, the downstairs bedroom closet (where they had to cut a hole in the wall to mop up water) now has a great big storage space under the stairwell, with a very nice custom door leading from the closet into that area (I can’t show you that because the stuff we put back in the closet hides the door).

What’s even more amazing is, with the help of the warranty people, our builder, and the restoration company, all this was accomplished in less than a week!  To go from a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-floor-crying-over-it mess to normalcy – with benefits – in six days is an amazing feat in my book!  So a huge thank you to all involved – especially the warranty folks who set off the sprinkler by accident.  Those two guys worked harder than anyone to make sure our house was put back to rights.  Mission accomplished!

A WALK ON THE BEACH WITH BEAR AND MADDIE

I don’t normally get up for the early morning walk with Ted, Maddie and Bear.  To me, if the sun isn’t up, the good Lord meant for us to keep on sleeping.  But the other morning I woke up early – just as Ted was leashing up the dogs – and decided to take the 2 1/2 mile stroll with them (their walk has to be early these days, or they’d all melt before they made it back home).

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

The benefits of rising early and hitting the beach!

For Bear, the walk on the beach means a time he can be off-leash (yes, the city frowns on this, but who’s around at that time of the day to report us).  He LOVES running the beach, even though he’s not once gone into the water more than ankle deep.  On this morning, when he was doing his normal “scare-the-crabs-out-of-their-holes-and-chase-them-into-the-ocean routine, the sea offered up a very different gift!

“What the heck? It looks like a tennis ball!”

“It tastes like a tennis ball – except a little salty.”

“But before I get too excited and take it home, I’m going to watch it a while to make sure there are no claws with pinchers attached.”

Maddie has no desire to chase tennis balls or crabs.  All she wants to do is dig them up!

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

Every single hole is sniffed and dug into.

“I know I just saw his beady little eyes!”

“So many crab holes, so little time.”

Walking back home - from the sidewalk.

Walking back home – from the sidewalk.

OTHER BEACHY STUFF

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast this morning at the Funky Pelican. The fishing at the end of the pier is already in full swing, but these days folks bring a sun umbrella along with their fishing gear.

Breakfast - a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted.  I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish - with four strips of bacon on the side.  Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Breakfast – a full of cholesterol seafood omelet for Ted, with toast and home fries. I chose a very healthy yogurt/granola/fruit dish – with four strips of bacon on the side. Kinda like when I order a big Mac with a diet coke.

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet gets a little different angle on our little group of houses.  Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset.  Our house is

Each neighbor in Sunset Inlet has a little different angle on our group of houses. Jennifer shot this across the canal at sunset one day this week. Our house is to the right of the 3-story.

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago.  Looks like a UFO, doesn't it.  Amazingly, we didn't even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

One of those awesome photographs that you might get once in a lifetime. Neighbor Missy captured this ominous shelf cloud coming in a few days ago. Looks like a UFO, doesn’t it! Amazingly, we didn’t even get a sprinkle of rain out of all this drama!

THE ISLAND!  THE ISLAND!

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

A great shot of kayakers and a freighter from Clark Bloswick.

Also from Clark:  Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

Also from Clark: Sunrise from the east side of the island . . .

. . . and sunset from near Devil's Kitchen.

. . . and sunset from near Devil’s Kitchen.

I'm jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer.  But this week I'm doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day.  You can only do that once a year, you know.  Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to do it!

I’m jealous of Jill all the time now because she gets to live on the island all summer. But this week I’m doubly jealous because she got to go over to Round Island and spend the day. You can only do that once a year, you know. Jealous, jealous, jealous . . . but so excited and happy that she got to go!

Also from Jill - a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden.

Also from Jill – a view of the harbor from the back of the Peace Garden . . .

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture.

. . . and an up-close look at the new Peace Garden sculpture, “Be Still”.  Love this!

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the

An awesome photo by Valerie Porter of the “new” Fort Holmes!

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

From blog reader Becky Jacobs.

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

Becky and her husband recently got the thrill of a lifetime when they won a Facebook contest sponsored by the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce. The prize was a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge!

A GOOD CAUSE

Ted and I met Max Jones and his family a couple of summers ago. At that time Max was 13 and had already been in business for himself for two years as the owner/operator of Max’s Errand Service on Mackinac Island.

Max is planning to ride across the State of Iowa to raise money for the Mackinac Island Fire Department.

From an interview of Max by Jason St. Onge at the Mackinac Island Fire Department:

Max, the son of John and Karrie, spends his winters in Kalamazoo but summers on the Island. Max stopped by the Market Street Firehouse to talk about his plan with the MIFD.

Max said, “You guys do a lot for the community and I just want to assist in any way I can. I think I can raise some money to help with equipment.”

Max will spend the next couple weeks securing pledges and training for the ride. He will be asking for pledges from businesses and citizens and promises to collect “Only if I finish the nearly 500 mile trek.”

Max runs a bicycle errand/delivery service on the Island that he started several years ago.

Max will set out on his journey on July 18. Thank you Max, and good luck!!

Personal Note:

To donate to Max’s ride across Iowa, which is July 18-25, you can email Max directly at mjj5366@yahoo.com, subject “Max’s MIFD Ride”, to pledge. Max will email you back with all the details. You can also donate at the micf.org (Mackinac Island Community Foundation) website. Once there, just click “donate”, then put as the fund name, “Max’s Ride for the MIFD”. The money won’t be collected until Max finishes the ride. All donations will be through the Mackinac Island Community Foundation for a tax deduction.

This is a great cause, and we applaud Max for wanting to give back to the Mackinac community.

Max - on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

Max – on one of his many daily delivery rides up and down the hills of Mackinac Island.

THE WEEKS AHEAD

Ted and I will be heading to Islamorada in the Florida Keys on Thursday to spend three nights with Julie, Matt and the grandkids.  We get back on Sunday, and the following Saturday we head north to Michigan for nine weeks.  There is no way I can even begin to tell you how excited I am to be heading to cooler weather!

For the first three weeks we’ll be with friends Sue and Terry Conlon at Black Lake near Cheboygan – then on August 18 we arrive on Mackinac for six weeks in a condo downtown in the Mission District.

A really fun surprise . . . I’ve been asked to stay two nights at the Grand Hotel (this will be while we’re at Black Lake) to write about the Woods Restaurant (owned by the Grand).  Ted and I have never actually stayed at the Grand, and we are so excited to have this opportunity!

So, we’ll be on and off the island even during the three weeks we’re at Black Lake.

I’ll be blogging the entire time, but I’ve decided to not have any kind of schedule for the rest of the summer.  From now until the end of September, posts might pop up at any time.  It may be a story or just a photograph, but – starting now – expect something more than twice a week – just on no certain day.  And I’ll post the same blog to both Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog (https://bree1972.wordpress.com) and To Be Clay (http://bree2015.wordpress.com).

We’re going to miss Sunset Inlet.  We’re leaving just as we’re all beginning to get to know each other, but we’ll be back at the end of September to rejoin the gang and enjoy Florida when I love it most . . . . fall, winter, and spring!

Please say a safe travel prayer for us.  Bear and Maddie will be staying with our pet sitter for our Islamorada trip, but they’ll be with us – of course – when we head for Michigan!

Love you all!

God bless.

The Day After 4/26/2013

I wasn’t planning to write today, but after so many of you wrote such wonderful comments supporting us yesterday, I just had to say a heartfelt thank you.  When I published yesterday’s post, it was with such a sense of relief that  I was a little afraid to begin reading your comments.  Would you understand, or would you think “Those Hortons have really lost it this time!”  I should have known better than to worry.  My post yesterday was like writing an important letter to a friend, and that is exactly how you responded – as friends.  You were so supportive, so warm, so exactly-what-I-needed that I’ve read and reread your words several times today.

There is nothing more anxiety-relieving than sharing a burden with a friend.  Even if nothing is said in response, it’s just such a lift to talk about what’s on your heart with a caring person.  And when that caring person responds with just the right words, your relief is doubled.

Thank you so much, my friends.

Never to Late to Say Thank You

When Bear and I were working Monday at Phoebe Putney Hospital, we visited with a waiting room full of folks in oncology.  Most of the people are waiting for friends or relatives to return from their chemo or radiation treatments, so we chat with them and let our pet partners work their magic.

As we worked the room, my eyes kept being drawn to a handsome gentleman sitting alone with his Kindle open in his lap.  He seemed really engrossed in whatever he was reading, but he took a moment to pet Bear and tell me he had a Labradoodle at home.  We moved away, but I kept thinking “I know that man from somewhere.”  It finally dawned on me who he was, but to be sure I asked someone, “Isn’t that Dr. ___?”

She nodded yes.

I had to work up my nerve to interrupt him again, but I finally approached him, and as he glanced up, I said, “Dr. __?

He smiled and said, “Yes?”

“I apologize for interrupting you, but 34 years ago you operated on my son Blake’s eye.  He had been bitten by a neighbor’s dog, and the dog’s fangs had split Blake’s tear duct.”

After Dr. __ stitched the tear duct back together (he later told us it was like working on something with the diameter of two human hairs), he treaded a suture through the top duct and out the bottom one, tying it off in a knot that remained a little below the corner of Blake’s eye for six weeks.  The doctor told us he did that to keep scar tissue from forming inside the duct.  If that had happened, tears would have never drained properly, and Blake’s eye would have continuously watered for the rest of his life.

“I just wanted you to know that Blake’s eye is perfect, and he’s never had any problem with it.”

The doctor smiled.  He apologized for not being able to remember.  He said we got lucky then with Blake because many dog bites to the eye end badly because of scar tissue.  He told me he was retired now, and I said I didn’t know that.

We chatted a few more moments, and then someone in a nurse’s uniform called, “Dr. __?”

He rose.  “Thank you so much for telling me about Blake.  We don’t usually get to hear what happens after we last see someone we’ve tried to help.”

He held out his hand to shake mine, and it was then I noticed the hospital bracelet on his wrist.  He was not there to pick up a friend or family member; he was there as a patient.

Saying thank you is such an easy thing to do we sometimes take it for granted.  But sometimes, it just might make someone’s day.

A Few Pics

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Bear, giving his full attention to a middle school reader at one of our local schools.

Crabapple tree berries and birds - they just go naturally go together.

Crabapple tree berries and birds – they just go naturally go together.

From our trip to Ormond Beach last weekend.  Matthew's in there somewhere!

From our trip to Ormond Beach last weekend. Matthew’s in there somewhere!

Sprinting for the finish line.

Sprinting for the finish line.

Proud G-Daddy!  Matthew was 38th out of almost 500 runners of all ages!

Proud G-Daddy! Matthew was 38th out of almost 500 runners of all ages!

Our sweet boy.

Our sweet boy.

Gorgeous day at the lake today.  All our windows are open, we had a high of close to 80 - but no humidity.  Perfect!

Gorgeous day at the lake today. All our windows are open, we had a high of close to 80 – but no humidity.  Perfect!

Two weeks from tomorrow we will be leaving for Mackinac Island, and  WAIT – YOU AREN”T GOING TO BELIEVE THIS . . . . I haven’t packed a thing!  I figure on Monday panic will strike, I’ll pull out all the suitcases, and the countdown will begin.  Until then, here’s a little video one of my reader’s husbands found.  The first part is about Mackinac Island, and I know you will love it!

Oh . . . one more thing . . . no more scheduled posts.  They might pop up two in a row (like yesterday and today), once a week, or every day (LOL).  So it’s even more important to hit that little “follow” button so you will get a notification email when a new post hits. 

Oh . . . one more thing . . . a big THANK YOU to Clark Bloswick for capturing this breathtakingly beautiful pink moon over Mackinac last night and the header photo of the Round Island Light from the air.  Two more weeks, Clark, and I can stop stealing your photos . . . or not.

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Oh . . . one more thing . . . Love you ALL!

Mackinac video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_FiquoSPBI&sns=em

Where Were You . . . . . 9/11/2012

We have a Mystery Spot winner (I guess it wasn’t as difficult as I thought!).  She is Jane Haviland from Portage, MI.  Please see end of this post for answer!

“Where were you when the world stopped turning, that September day?” 

We’ve all heard that achingly sad song by Alan Jackson, written a few short days after the 9/11 tragedy.

I certainly remember.  In the Public Information Office of the Dougherty County School System in Albany, GA, our back room was home to the Administration Building’s only TV set.  We had it for emergency announcements during bad weather and to watch and record school system officials when they’d appear on the news or on local talk shows.  That morning, having hardly walked out of the office next door – where the coffee machine was on our floor – I sat down to begin the morning’s projects.  Suddenly, a lady from another office on our floor came running in, shouting, “Turn on the television!  The World Trade Center has been hit by an airplane!”

So many thoughts ran through my mind at once.  A plane?  Small or large?  And . . . how could a plane hit a building that big?  Had the pilot died at the controls?  What a unbelievable accident!

By the time we’d gathered around the TV and turned the channel to NBC, our minds were shattered by Katie Couric announcing a plane had flown into the second tower.  We looked at each other in horror – this was no “accident”.

Each year Mackinac Island honors those who died in the Twin Towers – both the workers who were going about their normal business day in those two huge office towers, and the firemen, policemen, EMT’s and military who lost their lives trying to save whoever they could that morning.

A large crowd gathered outside the Mackinac Courthouse to participate in the Patriot Day ceremony.

Members of Mackinac Island’s volunteer Fire Department and our police force, EMT’s and military were all honored.

In our small community, where we know each and every one of the men and women who put their lives on the line each time they answer a call to duty, every word spoken by program participants put into perspective how grateful we all are to those who help others in their time of need.  It was a beautiful ceremony.

Blog Readers on the Island

Loved, loved, loved meeting blog readers who were on the Island and attending the ceremony. From left to right: Kate and Scott from Huntington, Indiana, then Mike, Pam, and Leonard (Pam’s dad) from Seven Mile, Ohio. So glad you introduced yourselves and hoping to see you all again while you’re here!

So happy also to see Jan Webster and Bonnie Foltz (a former summer resident) at the ceremony. They’ll be on the Island a few more days and we’re hoping to see them again.

Readers Photographs of Mackinac Island

Everyone has their own personal, favorite photograph of the Round Island Lighthouse, and this is Carole King’s from Virginia. Carole worked on the Island while she was in college and tries to make it to the Island every few years. She says she remembers back then she “would ride through the woods and have an enchanted feeling – like I was in wilderness.”

Wedding day for Tom and Melissa Wachowski, who live in Arizona now. Tom visited the Island for the first time as a 10-year-old and came back several times over the years.  When he and Melissa were planning their wedding in 2003, he suggested Mackinac. She wasn’t quite convinced until – out of the blue – a Mackinac Island Wedding Guide arrived at their P.O. box in Arizona! It was a sign! They visited in 2004 so Melissa could see the Island, and were married at Mission Point the next year. AND – they arrived here today for their annual visit.

Jeff Gushman – Dearborn Hts., Michigan. A view of the Island and the Star Line Ferry’s LeSalle – taken from the deck of Star Line’s Marquette II as it rounds the bend leaving the Island.

Jill Sawatzki – Mackinac Island and Lansing, Michigan. Winter Festival, 2009.  A bike, stranded by a sudden snowstorm, is getting a ride home on a sled pulled by a snowmobile.  Notice the snow is OVER the sidewalks!

Dave Crans – Canfield, Ohio – August, 2012. This photo of Main Street was taken from the second-floor balcony of the Lakeview Hotel.

Mystery Spot

The object of the Mystery Spot is to be the first to identify where the object is located. When you think you have the answer, email me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com. I’ll check my email several times a day, and as soon as we have a winner, I’ll post the winner’s name at the top of this blog so you can stop guessing (you may have to refresh your page for this to show up). Is there a prize for the winner?  Yes there is; but the prize is secret, and the only ones who will know what it is are the winners. To be fair, I’m asking residents of Mackinac Island to please NOT guess. This is just for readers who don’t live here . . . but would like to! And the Mystery Spot is   . . . .

I THINK this will be a tough one . . . . Where is it?

Again, please email your answers to me at brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.  PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION OF THE BLOG.  Remember, I’ll post the winner at the top of this blog as soon as someone gives the correct answer.

Personal Note:  Thanks so much for all the “get well” wishes!  I’m feeling much better, and I’m so glad I had some meds on hand to nip this little allergy bug in the bud!  Ted’s blister wasn’t nearly as bad as the one he had last year, but it was bad enough!  He’s doctoring it each morning and night, and we’re hoping it will be all better soon. 

Mystery Spot Answer

The Mystery Spot is the decorative work on one of the top gables of the Chippewa Hotel.

Lights on the Water 8/31/2012

It seems strange to be working on a post on Friday, but I’m sure glad I didn’t try to come in last night and write!  After a great afternoon on the water and dinner with Hilde and Bud, I fell into bed without – I confess – a single thought of turning on the laptop.  When my eyes closed, my brain was still experiencing the up and down of the boat on a VERY blustery day on the Straits of Mackinac, so I kind of rocked myself to sleep, even though I was very much back on solid land.  But – even with the rock and roll of the trip AND getting slightly “damp” – oh my goodness, what fun we had!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

By Wednesday evening I was already beginning to worry that the Shepler’s Lighthouse Cruise would be cancelled.  Forecasts were for gale force winds on Thursday, and I knew at least one cruise had been cancelled this summer because of winds.  By mid-morning on Thursday, the announcement came from  Shepler’s.   The West-Bound Cruise (the one we were booked on) had been changed to an East-Bound cruise due to winds.  Twenty-five to thirty-five mph winds – and higher gusts – were forecast only for Lake Michigan, so Lake Huron would be ok – bumpy, but ok.  Yeahhh – we were going!

We met Hilde and Bud, who arrived on Mackinac on Sunday evening, at the Shepler dock on the Island at 1 p.m. for our trip over to Mac City (where the Lighthouse Cruise departed).

Our own private “Miss Paparazzi” was there to see us off . . .

. . . and we decided – since we were going to be wind-blown all afternoon anyway – to sit on the top deck going over.

In Mackinaw City, we met up with Chris Ann (whose husband Burton couldn’t make the trip at the last moment because of a commitment downstate) and boarded the Wyandot. Having booked the cruise during the winter, we held tickets #1-5 and got our choice of seats. Captain Billy Shepler warned we would get wet on top – maybe a little less wet up close to the pilot house – so that’s where we chose to sit.

Each Lighthouse Cruise is narrated by members of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA), and the two  GLLKA gentlemen on board our cruise were Dick Moehl and Terry Pepper).

Even though we were heading east, our first turn was west so we could go under the Mackinac Bridge before leaving the area. Going toward the bridge took us by the Old Mackinac Point Light, opened in 1890 as a fog signal station.

After further appropriations by Congress, additional construction began at the lighthouse in 1892, and the tower and attached duplex keeper’s dwelling were constructed.  The Fourth Order Fresnel lens began to flash red every ten seconds on October 25, 1892, when it was activated by Keeper George W. Marshall.  When the Mackinac Bridge was constructed in 1957, it quickly became evident that the highly illuminated bridge was an excellent navigation aid, and the Old Mackinac Point light station was decommissioned and locked.

In 1960 the lighthouse property was transferred to Mackinac State Historic Parks and was operated as a maritime museum from 1972 through 1988, when it was again closed to the public.  With the recent surge in interest in lighthouses, the Park began a complete restoration of the building and grounds in 2002, and now the station is open to the public during the summer season.

We were only under the bridge for a few minutes, but it was more than enough time for everyone on board to realize we did NOT want to go any further in that direction! We were all very glad when Captain Billy turned the boat east. In the distance, a freighter out of China can be seen making its way toward the bridge.

We loved that the second lighthouse on the tour was our own Round Island Light! We learned the lighthouse was commissioned to guide ships through what is now Round Island Passage. The Army Corps of Engineers began dredging between Mackinac and Bois Blanc Islands in early 1890, and the light was turned on for the first time on the evening of May 15, 1895, showing a steady white light, interrupted by a red flash every twenty seconds.

It was interesting to see the familiar lighthouse from a different angle!

When the Round Island Passage Light was established in 1947 (see below), the Round Island Light was deemed obsolete, and the station was boarded up and abandoned. In the 1970’s, donations from  private citizens and an appropriation from the federal government provided a much-needed renovation of the outside of the deteriorating building.  The renovation continues, with much of the labor being provided by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association and Boy Scout Troop 323 from Freeland, Michigan.

Now the exterior of the building is as bright and clean as it was originally and again serves as an active private aid to navigation.

In 1939 the responsibility for the nation’s lighthouses transferred from the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard. At that time a major initiative was undertaken to reduce lighthouse operating costs, and by 1980 all Great Lake lighthouses were automated. The Round Island Passage Light – fully automated – was established in 1947. As homage to the area’s rich Native American heritage, large bronze medallions with the profile of a Native American Chief were installed on all four sides of the tower.

We always knew this was here, but we’d never seen it! This is the “cut” between Round Island and Bois Blanc Island. Looking toward these two islands from Mackinac, they appear to be one large body of land.

The Bois Blanc Island light – as it stands today – is the third structure to bear that name. The original light was built in 1829 and came crashing to the ground during a fierce storm in 1837. Two years later, an identical tower was built, and by 1866 that second station was found to be severely deteriorated. This third station was built in 1867, and the old station buildings were torn down.

In 1924, after the erection of permanent lights at Poe Reef and Fourteen Foot Shoal, an automatic light was installed on top of a 35-foot iron tower on Bois Blanc, and the old station was boarded up and abandoned.  The station buildings were sold into private hands in 1925, and are now owned by a family from Chicago who have restored the station for use as their summer home.

The Bois Blanc Light became solar-powered in the 1980’s.

Chris Ann – posting photos to Facebook as we toured.

Poe Reef Lighthouse began operation in 1929 and was built to guide ships away from the reef on which it stands (lying just 8′ below the surface of the water) in the South Channel of the Straits of Mackinac.

Construction for the light began on Government Island near Cedarville, where a huge timber crib was built on shore then towed out to the reef and sunk, with the addition of gravel, into pockets in the crib. Wood forms were erected on the crib and filled with concrete, creating the massive concrete pier on which the lighthouse itself was built. The lighthouse became fully automated by solar power in 1974 and still serves as a guide to mariners today.

Ted’s photo of the appropriately named Fourteen Foot Shoal Lighthouse (only 14′ of water covers the shoal). This danger to ships lurked near the main course of entry into Cheboygan Harbor.  The foundation crib was built on shore, towed to the shoal, and sunk on the prepared surface of the shoal.  When construction was finished in 1930, both the light and fog signals were operated remotely via radio control by the keepers at Poe Reef.   The light is now powered automatically by batteries and solar-power and is still an active navigation aid.

The last lights on our tour were those on the Cheboygan River. We entered the channel, rode past the Crib Light . . .

. . . and the new Coast Guard cutter Mackinac.

As we approached the bridge over the Cheboygan River (which I cross whenever I go with Bear to the groomers in Cheboygan), we could see the Front Range Light (light is shining above two vertical red stripes).  The light is owned by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, and they are working to restore the building to its 1920’s appearance, with live-in volunteers opening the building to the public on summer weekends.  The original Front Range Light was activated in 1880.

As we turned around at the bridge, I could see Bark, Bath and Beyond, Bear’s doggie spa!

Still in the river, we all noticed the U.S. flag at half-staff in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL  Petty Officer David J. Warsen from Kentwood, MI, killed recently with six other Americans in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

The final light we passed on our way out of the channel and back into Lake Huron was the Crib Light, rescued from demolition by the City of Cheboygan and moved to its present location (from the end of the peninsula) in 1984.

In 2001 GLLKA members provided the labor and the City of Cheboygan provided the materials to restore the light to its historically accurate appearance.

I haven’t mentioned it so far, but I must tell you that Captain Billy did a most excellent job of piloting our boat on this trip, ensuring the least number of totally soaked passengers.  But – with dancing waves and blowing winds – all the perfect maneuvering in the world couldn’t keep some of us dry.  The first half of the 3-hour cruise was relatively  calm because we were traveling with the wind.  But when we turned around to head back to Mackinaw City . . . . well, let’s just say, it got a little more exciting!

I shot this photo of myself by holding the camera over my head and pointing down. Notice hair blowing straight back and the “face-lift” affect of having wrinkles disappear when your skin is being blown backwards! Oh – and yes! My hair is VERY wet!  Also notice Bud behind me – yes, that’s him shielding his head with his sweatshirt hood.

Ted, bless his heart, brought his rain jacket.  On the way back, he planted himself in front of me and tried to shield me from some of the wind and water.

. . . which resulted in him being VERY wind-blown and VERY wet! What a guy!

Even with the wind and spray, we had a blast on the cruise, and next summer we already have plans to try the West-Bound Cruise and maybe the Extended East-Bound Cruise, which would take us all the way to the Les Cheneaux Islands.

We had dinner at the Chippewa with Hilde and Bud, then said good-bye to them for another year as we boarded a taxi home last evening.  Hilde and Bud love this magical island almost – almost – as much as I do, and they try to come every year.

Come back soon, you two! Love ya’ll!

Hoping everyone has a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend.  It’s going to be a busy one for us, and I’m going to take a little time off from my usual schedule.  I’ll be back right here next Wednesday (or Tuesday evening) with all the Labor Day fun and whatever else is happening on the Island.

See you then!   God bless.

NOTE:  Some historical information for this blog was taken from Terry Pepper’s book, “Lighting the Straits – Lighthouses of the Straits of Mackinac”.