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.

 

Days of Summer 6/12/16

Oh my gosh, it’s been a busy week!  It started off with Tropical Storm Colin roaring through (no damage – just a lot of rain) on Sunday night and all day Monday and was followed quickly by the arrival of Jason, Jennifer, and Jennifer’s little boy, Alex, from Atlanta on Tuesday.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had a six-year-old in the house, and we’d all but forgotten how much fun it is!

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks) . . .

Alex had a blast meeting the dolphins at Marineland  (he even got to feed the dolphins and learned how to ask them to do tricks – which they instantly obeyed!)

. . . . he toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

He toured Fort Matanzas National Park, did all the required activities . . .

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

. . . and was sworn in by Mr. Ernie as an official Junior Ranger!

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

We went to the European Village one evening for dinner . . .

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

. . . and we all watched the sun go down several nights from the top deck. Oh, and Alex and Maddie became really good buddies!

Add to that boat time . . .

Add to that boat time . . .

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

. . . and beach time, and you can see how fast the week went!

 

It's always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! And the house seems WAY too quiet today!

Heading back to Atlanta on Saturday morning.  It’s always sad when company leaves, but we sure enjoyed them being here! The house seems WAY too quiet today!

After three weeks of back-to-back visitors, it’s time to settle down and begin to mark off the calendar days until our trip north for three months on Mackinac Island.  The weather in Florida is getting hotter by the minute, but we’ve learned if you limit your outdoor time to the hours before 11 a.m. and after 7:00 p.m., you can pretty much enjoy part of each day.  But . .  we’re looking forward to the cooler temps on the island, as well as seeing all our friends there.

As I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, the island is gearing up for the 4:00 p.m. start of the Lilac Festival Parade.  I so hate that we’ve missing it this year, but I’m sure someone will share some pics for later.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I loved this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

Friends and readers who are there are reporting the lilacs are FANTASTIC this year! I love this photo shared by friend Misty Martinchek.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

And this one by Clark Bloswick.

Another view of St. Anne's - this one from the West Bluff. (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Another view of St. Anne’s – this one from the West Bluff. I mean, seriously – how perfect is this scene!  (Photo: Maryanke Alexander)

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can't you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

Clark Bloswick perfectly captures a blustery summer days. Can’t you just hear the seagulls calling out to each other as they search for lunch among the waves?

The island had a pretty impressive storm one night last week. Isaac Burrell's photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

The island had some pretty impressive weather one night last week. Isaac Burrell’s photo shows the approach of the thunderstorm over the Mackinac Bridge.

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Lunchtime at the ferry docks! (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

I loved how Bobby Lee captioned this photo: "Sometimes Heaven finds you - right where you are."

I love how Bobby Lee captioned this photo he shot on a ferry trip across the Straits of Mackinac: “Sometimes Heaven finds you – right where you are.”

One of the things I'm missing most right now about Mackinac is its woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos - even in the woods. The lush, rich smell of damp soil heightened by green foliage and a base of last fall's leaves

One of the things I’m missing most right now about Mackinac is the woods. Living in Florida means palm trees and palmettos, and woods here are made up of trees and bushes that can only exist in salt air and sandy soil.  The lush, rich smell in the woods of Mackinac –  heightened by green foliage, wild flowers, and a pungent base of last fall’s leaves is not something Florida will ever replicate.  I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  When the luggage is unpacked and the groceries are bought, this is where you’ll find me when we get to the island . . . . maybe before the groceries are bought.  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

INTRODUCING . . .  YOU!

I had three more readers waiting to be introduced when we lost Bear and my thoughts got taken totally away from everything but him.  I want to get back to those readers today!

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She's been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a "share" on Facebook.

Meet Beverly DeLauer, a Georgia girl who now lives in Cambria, CA. She’s been reading the blog for two years, and found it through a “share” on Facebook.  Beverly, besides sharing a home state, we also share a year of birth!

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle were married on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor's Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, "Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week realy immerses you with that 'Mackinac Magic'"

Pat and Gayle Steele from Vernon MI. I first met Pat and her daughter several years ago when they dropped by the Stuart House and introduced themselves. Pat and Gayle honeymooned on Mackinac in 1971, and they usually visit twice a year. For 15 years Pat served as a Girl Scout Adult Leader at the Scout Service Camp of the Mackinac Island Governor’s Honor Guard (Troop 609). Pat says, “Living and working on Mackinac Island for a week really immerses you with that ‘Mackinac Magic'”  Pat and Gayle will be celebrating their 45th anniversary this year.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.

Meet Marshall and Terry Lambert from Marshall MI.  Terry found the blog for the first time when Bear was doing a guest post several years ago.  Terry says, “I still miss our Golden Retriever, and the blend of Mackinac Island and a Golden jumped out.”  They visit the island a couple of times each year.  The photo above was taken as they celebrated their anniversary at the Grand last fall.

I think that brings us up to date on the “Introducing . . . You!” series.  Please continue to send in your photos, where you live, when and how you discovered the blog, and any other short comments you’d like to share.  I will get them on the blog as I receive them.  Send to: brendasumnerhorton@hotmail.com.

MOVING ON . . . . A DAY AT A TIME

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This photo pretty much sums up the last few weeks.  There’s a big space that remains empty in our house and in our hearts. We’re moving past the worst of the grief though, and each day draws us closer to being able to open our hearts to a new fur baby.  I still have my moments though.  The other day I was fixing Maddie’s dinner, and I swear I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I turned and just for a moment I saw Bear standing there . . . patiently waiting for his dinner too. Yes, I know I didn’t really see him.  But his spirit was so strong in that moment that I want to believe he was really there – letting me know he wasn’t too far away.  Even now.

I’ve begun to search.  At one point I even thought I had found what I wanted.  But – things didn’t work out, so I’ve filed that one away as “wasn’t meant to be” and moved on.  Right now I’m pretty sure I’m going to want an English Cream Golden Retriever.  At first I thought I couldn’t get another Golden because I would be constantly comparing him to Bear.  But the English Goldens are shaped differently – a little stockier and shorter than American-bred Goldens.  And they are a very light cream color.  Some are white.  At this point we’re thinking we won’t be getting it until after we return from Mackinac . . .  and we may even decide to get a puppy.

But – you know what.  You just never know when God is going to open a kennel door.  So we’ll see.

Have a great week!

God bless.

 

Coming Full Circle 1/3/2016

Thank you, Stephen Blair Kopacki, for the amazing header photograph!

In April of 2009 I wrote the first post to Bree’s Mackinac Island blog.  I began it on a whim and as a chance to satisfy a life-long desire to write.  I’d always heard the easiest thing to write on was something you were passionate about, and Mackinac Island sure fit that requirement!

Over the past almost-seven years, that first blog morphed into four other blogs: Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog (when we were off the island at our home in south Georgia), the VERY short-lived Dog-Eared Page Blog (about the dogs of Mackinac Island), Bree’s Connecting the Dots Blog (the transition from Mackinac Island and Georgia to our new home in Florida), and recently Bree’s To Be Clay Blog (about living in Florida).  To those five blogs I’ve posted a total of 1,227 stories.  That’s pretty much one story every two days – for approximately the last 2,340 days.  To those five blogs, and over that same time period, readers took time out of their busy schedules to post 20,124 comments.

Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog:  Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

Connecting the Dots - this mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

Connecting the Dots:  This mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

So – where am I going with all this.

As I do every year about this time, I’ve taken the last few weeks to think about how I can continue to write something interesting – or whether I want to continue writing at all.  And every year I come back to two truths.  I love to write, and I love my readers.

This year I’ve had to dig a little deeper though.  With age and with some health issues, I find the need to focus on the things I love to write about most. And – surprise! – that is still that tiny island sitting in the Straits of Mackinac.  In studying the comments, the statistics, and the overall feed-back on all my blogs, I know – without a shadow of a doubt – that same tiny island is also what you most want to READ about.

My latest blog – To Be Clay – has an average of 400 readers for each post.  Most To Be Clay readers are Mackinac Island fans who have followed me almost since that first island blog in 2009.  They have been my loyal “core” family, and I love them with all my heart.  They’ve continued to read whether I’ve been in Georgia on the lake or in Florida across from the Atlantic Ocean.  They are the reason I’ve continued to write for this long.

But – when I traveled to Mackinac in December to write for Original Murdick’s Fudge – my reader average jumped to almost 1200 a day.  That number continued throughout my stay there.

What that tells me is that ultimately “Mackinac Island” is what you want to hear about – what you want to see photographed, what you want to learn more about.  Just as when I first starting going to Mackinac and would search everywhere for news about the island, I know there is a group out there right this minute doing the same thing. I know there are those who already love the island – and harbor a dream of maybe one day living there.  You are constantly soaking up every single fact you can find about how to make that happen.  I want to help with that.

So – as of right now – there will only be one place I’ll be writing.  Right here on Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog – the first and the most loved – is where you’ll find the Hortons.

The content won’t really change.  I’ll be sharing our lives here in Florida, sharing photographs and news from Mackinac when we aren’t there, and – good Lord willing – taking y’all with us in July when we travel north for three months on our favorite island.

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

Instead of going back to the future, we’re going forward to the past. Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog is where it all began.  I’ve got stories to tell, photographs to share, people to meet. It makes me feel both excited – and quietly content – to come full circle.

Woo Hoo – we’re off!

St. Anne's by Tom Chambers.

St. Anne’s by Tom Chambers.

One day away . . . from gone 10/16/2010

I should have never, never, never, never said I would post a blog for Saturday morning.

After a day of cleaning, Ted and I were ready to get out of the condo late this afternoon and go do something a little more exciting than vacuum cobwebs out of corners.  Therefore, this little post is going to be somewhat (actually, a lot) shorter than I planned.  Thank goodness I already had some photos picked out and ready to go.

Jill snapped this pic of the "four of us" a few days ago in front of the Jockey Club. Notice that, as usual, Maddie has her mind on everything BUT having her picture made.

The J.L. Beanery window - ready for the ghosts and goblins!

The Mission end of Main Street - quiet on this late afternoon a few days ago.

Across the Jewel Golfcourse late this afternoon, as Ted and I walked downtown. It would be so much easier to leave if the weather was not so perfect.

 

One of the Grand Hotel ivy topiary horses (don't know if this is Peat or Moss - seriously, that is their names) - taken very early this morning by Mary. The horses and carriage were being loaded on a ferry for a trip downstate, to winter in a large greenhouse.

Thanks, Jill, for this cute pic of happy pumpkins in front of a home in the Mission District.

 

Ted, Maddie, and Bear coming down Cadotte to meet me one day this week.

The steeples of St. Annes - against a beautiful sky.

Ted on the way to the post office this morning with the three boxes I had to ship home - even after all that organized packing.

I snapped this late this afternoon as we walked into the Chippewa Hotel for dinner. It might be one of my top three favorites photos for the whole season.

See you back here on Sunday morning for my final glimpse of Mackinac Magic for the season.

Personal Note:  Thanks to all of you who lifted Blake up last week during his third Skype interview with the church in Nashville, TN.  Today he was invited to come to Nashville next week, Oct. 20, for a person-to-person interview with the pastor and staff director.  He is so excited, but trying not to get his hopes too high.  Please continue to remember him in your prayers as he goes through this next step.  God bless.

Side Streets of Mackinac Island – Church Street 6/3/2010

As I’ve said many times on this blog, you have got to get away from Main and Market Streets to see the “real” Mackinac Island.  Oh, those two streets are awesome for eating in fine restaurants, shopping in fine stores, spending the night (or nights) in wonderful hotels, inns, and B&B’s, buying groceries, and sipping coffee over pastries.  But if you want to get the real flavor of the island (other than fudge and ice cream flavors, of course), you have to step off the beaten path and explore. 

I mentioned last week doing a two-day series on the side streets of Mackinac Island.  What was I thinking?  The island has way too many side streets, paths, and alleyways to cover in two days!  So – I’m going to just start, and we’ll see how many days it turns into.  And I’m not going to do them on consecutive days – they’ll just pop up every once in a while (wouldn’t want this to sound anything like a schedule – see yesterday’s post)!

When the nature walk with Trish Martin ended on Tuesday, I found myself back on the East Bluff at the top of the set of stairs that leads down to Church Street.  I was on my way to Mission Point, so I hiked down the steps and walked down the street with camera clicking. 

The steps leading from the East Bluff down to Church Street.

  

Standing at the bottom of the steps, you are looking at the beautiful landscaping at the back of Rowe Condominiums on the left. Above the street and behind the fence, you can see a sliver of one of the East Bluff cottages.

Beautiful lilac bushes frame the privately owned homes on the left.

Church Street - looking down toward the water.

The Rowe Condominiums - and yes, there is one for sale there now.

Two more privately-owned homes.

The back rooms and conference area of the Harbour View Inn.

Another side street, McGulpin, runs between this porch and St. Anne's Church. I will highlight McGulpin another day.

The front lawn of the Harbour View Inn.

The Harbour View Inn was the former private home of Madame La Framboise, a Great Lakes fur trader and granddaughter of Returning Cloud, Chief of the Ottawa Nation. The home was originally built in 1820. In the 1990's, the home was purchased, and a hotel was built around the original structure. The rooms and suites feature fireplaces, jacuzzis, or lake views. The lobby is highlighted by a double fireplace.

How the street got its name - St. Anne's Catholic Church.

The stained-glass windows on the sides and in the front of the church were removed and refurbished over the winter. They have only been back in place a couple of weeks and are even more splendid now than before.

Looking back up Church Street, you can better see McGulpin Street, which runs behind the church.

Across from Church Street, looking between two homes, you can see the harbor and both Round Island Lighthouses.

And that’s Church Street, a little side adventure into the Mission District.

When I mentioned walking to Small Point Inn yesterday to take a photo for a friend in California, I didn’t know I would hear today from another former Mission Point worker who was also familiar with the inn in its previous life.  Small Point Inn was a family home that was moved from its site on the Mission Point Resort property many, many years ago – and long before it was converted into an inn.  A lady who once lived there asked that I take a picture of her former home with the lilacs blooming, something neither she nor her sister had seen in 46 years.  I sent the photos on to her last night by email.  The reader who contacted me today asked if I would publish one of the pictures for her, and I gladly do so – in fact, I’ll publish two.  Hope these bring back nothing but good memories for my two readers who asked for the photos.

Small Point Inn, surrounded by lilac trees in full bloom.

A closer shot - taken by climbing through the lilac bushes until I could see the front porch. A couple of guests looked at me very strangely, then turned around and walked back inside. I left before the police arrived (just kidding)!