Lilacs and Storms and Fun Galore! 6/15/17

So happy to be writing about Mackinac again!  I feel as though our two weeks in Alaska (and then two weeks spent writing about it) pulled me far away from the island, but our trip to Alaska is something I will remember and cherish forever. It was awesome, but now it’s time to switch back into my favorite gear and get caught up on what’s been happening up north!

The Mackinac Island Lilac Festival is in full swing!  As happens most years, the lilacs are blooming at exactly the right time, and thousands of visitors a day are walking off ferries into that enchanted “back in time”  land of lilacs, fudge, horses, beautiful homes and flower gardens.

This beautiful young lady is Amelia Balinski. I met her along with her mom (Theresa), dad, and brother Mike at Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor several years ago. The whole family had been reading Bree’s Blog for years, and it was a real treat to meet this wonderful group face to face. Amelia is spending her second (I think it’s her second) summer on Mackinac as a Dock Greeter for Mackinac State Historic Parks, and she also is a Ticket Agent and Tour Guide for Haunts of Mackinac. I just wanted to introduce you because many of the photos you’ll be seeing today are Amelia’s, and maybe if you’re on the island and spot her, you can say hello!

A close up of lilacs in two different shades. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

I can just imagine what the air smells like along this white rail fence on Main Street near the Marina! (Photo: Sandi Steensma)

Along that same white fence  – lilacs bend in the breeze as a horse team pulls a shuttle toward Mission Point.  (Photo: Grace Reimer)

Lilacs, lighthouses, and lamp posts – beautifully framed by Katy Rise.

St. Anne’s – through the lilacs. (Photo: Dan Denardo)

Main Street is definitely playing a starring role in this year’s Lilac Festival! (Photo: Sandi Steensma)

Lilacs aren’t the only flowers blooming on Mackinac. These tulips are bright and happy at Mission Point Resort. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

On Sunday, June 11, a storm hit Mackinac during the afternoon.  Thank goodness the damage it did was much less than it could have been.  The ferocity of this storm’s appearance was really terrifying, but except for one tree down and limbs breaking here and there, the island fared well.

This photograph was shown on WZZM-TV as a shelf cloud built over the Mackinac Bridge. . . .

. . . and Sandi Steensma captured the cloud just before the storm broke over the island.

Before the bridge was closed for a short time, this trailer, being pulled behind a truck, was tossed on its side.

HERE AND THERE AROUND MACKINAC

Beach flowers can find a way to bloom even through stone. This cheery yellow face appeared among the rocks on the island’s east side.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

The Pearl Mist, a Great Lakes cruise ship, arrives on Wednesday morning. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

Runners pass through downtown during the Lilac Festival Race. (Photo: Katy Rise)

Grand Hotel continues to add wildflowers, lilacs and milkweed to their lawn in an effort to attract and sustain Monarch butterflies, whose numbers have decreased on the island in recent years. (Photo: Grand Hotel)

Jennifer Sorrentino spotted this baby owl on the island this week. How cute is that!

Friend Pam Day took this shot from the porch of her condo across from the Grand Golf Course one morning this week.   Ted and I will be in those same condos the middle of July, and I hope to join Pam for a cup of coffee!

A just for fun shot by Jill Sawatzki. Jill found a whole dolly full of Moomers Ice Cream containers sitting unattended near the Island Bookstore. Glad I wasn’t there, or we might have tempted each other into arranging for at least one of those containers to end up in the condo freezer!  FYI: All that goodness was on its way to the Good Day Café on Main Street!

Something hard to see and harder to get a close-up of on Mackinac – a baby bunny. (Photo: Amelia Balinski)

And the sun sets on another beautiful Mackinac day . . .

. . . both photos by Amelia Balinski.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to my daddy, Leonard Sumner. He loved my mama . . .

. . . and me with a love that was unconditional and never ending. He gave me, his only child, the kind of childhood every little girl should have. I love you, daddy, and Imiss you every day. Till then . . .

See you back here soon for more Mackinac news and what’s happening at the beach!

God bless.

 

Visiting Mackinac in the Winter 2/5/17

You all know how I love visiting Mackinac during the winter.  I’ve gotten that opportunity three times, and if there was a way I could go every year, I’d be there in an instant.  With our Alaska trip in May already on the books (and the penny-saving in full swing), I knew a trip this winter was out of the question.  But I’ve just visited vicariously through Kem and Ed Green, and now you can do the same through their photos. 

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Kem and Ed are friends we met through Bree’s Blog. They’re from Iowa, and of all my readers, they would rank right up there in the top five as “almost” loving the island as much as we do. Kem has wanted to spend a few days on the island during the winter for several years now, and this week her dream came true.  They arrived on Sunday, and since the winter ferry takes that day off, they also got to fly over to the island for the first time.  They loved all seven minutes of the flight!

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When I got their visit details, I immediately texted friends Eugenia Murray and Pam Day, who are on the island during the winter.  I sent them a photo of Kem and Ed and asked them to be on the lookout to say hello.  Kem was in Doud’s on Monday and she said, “There was this woman who kept looking at her cellphone and then looking at me, looking at her cellphone and looking at me. She finally came over, showed me a photo of Ed and I and said, ‘Is this you?’ It was Pam Day!”  They just missed meeting Eugenia the night before in Cawthorne’s Village Inn. I had to confess to having them stalked.  Hmmm – maybe next time I should mention it to the “stalkees”!

Bless Kem’s heart, she came down with a bad cold the second day she was there and didn’t get in nearly as much hiking as Ed did.  But Kem’s dream of just nestling in, reading while watching the snow fall, and soaking up the quiet and calm of a Mackinac winter was thoroughly satisfied.  Ed took most of the pics that follow, as he roamed around the island for the next several days.

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The weekly street hockey game.  The Mackinac Wings won against St. Ignace 7-1!

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As usual, there is a lot of construction going on during the winter.  With very little snow and temps staying in the teens and 20’s, everything is moving along at a rapid pace.  Next summer Martha’s Sweet Shop will be replaced by a market and deli owned by Andrew Doud.

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And the Leather Corral will be a new shop – owner to be announced soon.

The Greens also report the Chippewa has new floors and a new bar, and Twist N Sprouts is relocating. 

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Ed got this great shot after snow arrived the night before.  The Scout Barracks building is on the left, and that’s the back of Fort Macknac in the center, with Lake Huron beyond.

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Love that Ed trekked up Cadotte to get this photo of our old condos. And yes, the one we owned is now on the market.

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Ice on the West shore.

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Cupola suites are being added on the east side this winter at Grand Hotel.

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The beautiful Bay View Inn in the snow.

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The highway on the east side of the island.

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One item of Kem’s wishlist for their winter visit was to go to the island library and read in front of the fireplace.   When she arrived she walked to the back of the library to see a very different view from when she’d been there this past summer. 

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She was delighted to find a huge jigsaw puzzle set up in front of the window, waiting for anyone who wanted to while away an afternoon.

But . . . . what she didn’t find was a fire in the fireplace.  Kem and Anne St. Onge, the librarian, were the only ones in the library that day.  She and Anne struck up a conversation, and Kem mentioned she was so looking forward to curling up with her book in front of the fire, but she understood why there  wouldn’t be one with so few people there.  And then one of those things happened that makes Mackinac so magical.

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Anne opened the grate, and built a fire.  And Kem’s wish came true. 

Thanks so much, Kem and Ed, for sharing your winter adventure with all of us!

MORE MACKINAC NEWS

This was Winter Festival Weekend, so the island was buzzing with visitors.  Among many other activities, folks got to participate in the opening of the Mackinac Ice Rink near the corner of Arch Rock Road and Huron Road. 

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Nora Bailey tries out the ice rink.

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The Bailey family (Mary, Jeri-Lynn and Nora – Brian was the photographer) also took part in the second Twilight Turtle Trek of the winter season.  Islanders and visitors were able to ski and snow-shoe for two hours along almost two miles of groomed, track set trails, lit by lanterns.  The final Twilight Turtle Trek will be March 4.

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Mary Bailey playing some Snow-Golf during Winter Festival

A FEW MORE FROM THE ISLAND

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Beautiful St. Anne’s Church on Friday.  (Photo: Tom Chambers)

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A Clark Bloswick sunrise (did you spot the bunny)?

BODIE NEWS

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Bodie turned 10 months old this week and added counter-surfing to his repertoire of tricks.  I turned my back to grab a drink from the frig, and he helped himself to the pimento-and-cheese sandwich I’d just made.  Oh, the mischief in those eyes!

AND FROM FLORIDA . . . .

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Visitors Dale and Jean, Spring Lake MI neighbors of newly-found cousins Dave and Diane Bennink, dropped by the Visitor’s Center at Fort Matanzas to meet Ted.  They were in St. Augustine for a few days of vacation in a warmer climate.

Speaking of newly-found family, Ted is flying to Albuquerque NM on Tuesday to spend a few days with his birth mother’s brother, his Uncle Ken.  Uncle Ken is 94 years old, and he and Ted have spent many, many hours on the phone since Ted discovered his birth mother’s family.  They can’t wait to meet in person and share stories, and I can’t wait to hear them when Ted returns on Friday. 

Have a great week!

God bless.

Week One of Six! 8/23/15

Our first week on Mackinac has been a mixed bag of weather.  We’ve had sunshine and warm temps.  We’ve had rain and cool temps.  We’ve had nice breezes and some fairly brisk winds.  Whatever the weather though, the joy comes from being here, and you won’t hear any complaining from us – rain or shine!

What an awesome way to start each day - Good Morning, Mackinac!

What an awesome way to start each day – Good Morning, Mackinac!  Since our condo is at the Mission Point intersection, it’s a great place to people/dog/carriage watch all day.  On the weekends at night we can sit on the deck and listen to live entertainment at Bistro on the Greens!  Pretty cool!

I don't think I've ever seen Mission Point as colorful as it is this year.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mission Point as brilliantly colorful as it is this year.  Just love all the pinks, reds, and yellows spilling out of the tiered garden at the front and from every available terrace and pot.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and - like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill - I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits featuring the steeple of St. Anne's Church.

I took a stroll up to the East Bluff earlier in the week and – like every other tourist who ever makes it up that hill – I had to take this iconic shot of the Straits, featuring the steeple of St. Anne’s Church.  Would love to know exactly how many photographs and paintings have been created standing in this spot.

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

One of my all-time favorite Bluff cottages!

This is another one - seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn't it?

This is another one – seen through the trees. My old bike with its wicker basket looks perfectly natural sitting there, doesn’t it?  Notice the rain gear in the basket?  Always prepared!

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode down to the Mackinac Island Fire Department for the presentation of the check

On Friday afternoon Ted and I rode downtown for the presentation of the check from Max Jones to the Mackinac Island Fire Department.  Max, with his father John, Dr. Stephen Humphrey, and Mark Chambers rode across the State of Iowa as a fundraiser (only Max collected donations) for the department.  Generous givers donated $4,783 to the fund, with another $300 pledged.  Way to go, Max!  (Photo l-r: Paramedic Rick Linn, Asst. Chief Sam Barnwell, FF Ron Langworthy, TF Johny Morris, Max Jones, Asst. Chief Jason St. Onge, FF Tony Brodeur, and SFF Travis Vartanian.

Max with his fellow riders - his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max with his fellow riders – his dad John, Dr. Steve Humphrey, and Mark Chambers. After the ceremony Max was presented with a special MIFD shirt, making him an honorary MIFD member.

Max and his wonderful family - mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

Max and his wonderful family – mom Karrie, dad John, and twin sister, Ellie. The MIFD will use the funds to purchase more ice rescue equipment.

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages - this one from St. Anne's . . .

There were a lot of weddings this weekend, and I was in the right place at the right time to capture two brides and grooms as they rode away in the romantic wedding carriages – this one from St. Anne’s . . .

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skills to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

. . . and this one passed the condo after a wedding at Mission Point. Love that I got to photograph island wedding photographer Stephen Blair as he rode along beside the carriage. It takes a lot of stamina and skill to be a wedding photographer on Mackinac Island!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful Friesian. It turned out the driver was island friend Ann Levy who - with Michigan's Sugar Queen - had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island's fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that's worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

Speaking of passers-by, I glanced out the window this weekend to see a small crowd gathered around a carriage being pulled by a beautiful tuxedo-decked-out Friesian. The driver was island friend Ann Levy who – with Michigan’s Sugar Queen – had just delivered the Golden Tickets to the island fudge shops. This weekend was the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival, and if your box of fudge happened to contain a Golden Ticket, you won a free Mackinac Island vacation! Now that’s worth buying a few boxes of fudge!

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn't affecting the Marina - which was full.

There was a power outage downtown on Saturday for a few hours so Ted and I walked down to see what was going on. It wasn’t affecting the Marina – which was full.

Doud's was dark inside, but it didn't seem to stop shoppers at all.

Doud’s was dark inside, but it didn’t seem to stop shoppers at all.

It was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way - with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

And it was business as usual at the Pink Pony, except orders were taken and tallied the old fashion way – with pen and pencil. The ability to improvise on Mackinac never fails to impress me. While the lights were out the Chippewa hotel served 100 wedding reception guests a sit-down dinner without one single glitch. The reception dinner was held on the Pink Pony patio, and the wedding party never even realized the electricity was out until they came back into the hotel. Awesome job, Chippewa!

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington.

The lights came back on as we were sitting at the bar chatting with some folks from Seattle, Washington, and normalcy resumed.

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from our bedroom window. See those dark clouds . . .

Our view of the Mission Church steeple from a bedroom window. Those dark clouds . . .

. . . they blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going!

. . .  blossomed this afternoon into a nice little thunderstorm, complete with lots of rain. You know, when you get stuck in a rainstorm on Mackinac, you just keep on going and hope you have your rain gear packed in your purse!

It was wonderful to walk in the doors of Little Stone Church this morning!  We got to see many friends we hadn’t yet seen elsewhere and heard a wonderful message from our pastor, Reverend Fred Zobel, a retired U.S. Navy Captain. 

It’s almost 8 p.m. now, and the rain is gone.  The streets have been washed clean, the grass is even greener, and the only leftovers of the storm I see from my window are whitecaps in the Straits and waves crashing against the breakwater.  There was walkers and bikers on the lakeside trail at Mission Point, dogs are being walked, and folks are on the sidewalk heading into town. 

Ahhhhh . . . life is good!

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Don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but August 30-September 1 is the 3rd Annual Grand Garden Show, featuring the world’s #1 plant brand, Proven Winners.  Presenters will include Jamie Durie, host of HGTV’s show Outdoor Room, PBS talk shop host, gardening and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith, and our very own award winning garden designer Jack Barnwell.  Rooms at the Grand are sold out for the event, but tickets for the presentations and tours of some of Mackinac’s most beautiful private and public gardens are still available.  I’ll be covering one day of the event, and I’ll be so excited to share it with you through words and photographs.

See you back here soon!

God bless.

Returning to Mackinac 6/19/2014

Through the water-splashed ferry windows, a glimpse of the Grand Hotel, the Iroquois, and the Chippewa.  Cyclists following the never-ending roadway circling the island.  Horse-drawn carriages standing on Main – suspended in time.  My heart beats more rapidly, and my feet do a happy dance against the ferry floorboards.  I am returning to Mackinac. 

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I woke yesterday morning at 4:30 to an empty bed. I laid there a few minutes, waiting for Ted to return, but when he didn’t, I rose and found him sitting in the dark sunroom with a cup of coffee.

“What are you doing?” I asked sleepily.

“Just woke up and decided to sit out here a while,” he said.

Instead of stumbling back to bed, as I’d usually do in such circumstances, I made myself a cup of coffee and joined him in the peaceful darkness.  Bear and Maddie were like “what’s happening – are we leaving again?”  But they soon settled with us on the porch and went back to what everyone is usually doing at that time of day – sleeping.

With back-to-back Michigan and Florida trips, we’ve added almost 2900 miles to the odometer in the last 2 1/2-3 weeks.  Add to that the trip Ted left on yesterday around 8 a.m. (a “guy” trip to an Atlanta Braves game – and probably the reason he couldn’t go back to sleep), and it all adds up to a hectic, exhausting, but ultimately very fun way to start the summer season!  Our everyday routine is a little out of whack, but once Ted gets home from Atlanta (today), I think we’ll get back to normal quickly . . . until we leave again.

I don’t even know where to start, so for this post I’m just going to hit the high points on the Mackinac trip.  On Sunday, I’ll catch you up on the beach house and what’s happening at the ri’vah!

MACKINAC ISLAND – MICHIGAN

Returning to the island as a visitor instead of a resident is a little disconcerting.  The “perks” of owning on Mackinac are plentiful, and having been privy to that, it’s a little hard to adjust to going back as a vacationer.  The biggest single adjustment was going from having a resident’s pass for the ferry to buying tickets – or books of tickets.   I confess I was very happy just flashing my pass to board a boat (or not flashing it because everyone at Shepler’s knew us.  Of course they still know us, and we now have much longer to chat as we tear those little stubs out of the book).  Buying tickets is fine . . . just different.  The second biggest adjustment was rephrasing our standard “we have a condo on the island” answer to the question, “Where are you staying?” to “We’re renting a condo here”.  Ok, ok, ok – I know I sound like a spoiled brat.  I know it. I accept it.  I will adjust.  Sigh.

What we didn’t have to adjust to was our welcome being any different.  Everywhere we went we saw friends, and we gave and received so many hugs during our stay that our mouths stayed permanently stretched into grins of greeting.  We loved, loved, loved seeing everyone, and as I mentioned a few blogs ago, it was as if we’d never left – or sold.  Friends are friends are friends, and we thank the good Lord everyday for those we hold in our hearts across this beautiful country of ours!

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These kids in town for a school trip posed endlessly for me, with not a single gripe. Of course, we continued to feed them free fudge during their photo session, so they were VERY cooperative!  🙂

Another adjustment was “working” on the island.  Although Ted and I volunteered during our summers there, having a “real” job was a little different.  I stayed downtown a lot more than usual this trip – dashing in and out of the two Original Murdick’s Fudge shops on Main Street a few times a day, then combing the streets and boat docks for folks with Murdick’s bags.  I had no qualms at all about approaching total strangers and saying, “I’m doing some photography for Original Murdick’s Fudge.  Would it be ok to snap a few pics of you holding up your bag/fudge?”  I was never turned down.  Jill was amazed, and asked, “How do you get people to do that?”  I think it’s the Southern drawl, which I admit to pushing a little bit more into the syrupy range when begging for something!  I had a blast, and if you go to the Original Murdick’s Fudge Facebook page, you’ll see quite a few of my photos, with more to come.

You know one of the first places we visited was The Island Bookstore, which just keeps getting better and better each year.  How do they do that?

You know one of the first places we visited was The Island Bookstore, which just keeps getting better and better each year. How do they do that?  (Notice Ted is in jacket, and even though you can’t see it, Jill has on a few layers.)

 

The first day or so were pretty cold and rainy, so rainy we had to run onto a B & B's porch for shelter on one trip to town!

The first day or so were pretty cold and rainy, so rainy we had to run onto a B & B’s porch for shelter on one trip to town!

 

Have I mentioned how much we loved being in the Mission District?  We were out on the street more at dusk than we ever were living up the here.  You get some really amazing photos at that time of the evening.

Have I mentioned how much we loved being in the Mission District? We were out on the street more at dusk than we ever were living up the hill. You get some really amazing photos at that time of the evening.

 

Another "first stop was the new shop opened by friend Joan Barch's son, Jay.  His original pottery designs are flying off the shelves.  Ted ordered a coffee mug for me, and Jay and I talked about him designing a special set of "beach" plates for our Florida house.  He is quite the talented young man!

Another “first stop”
was Mackinac Mud Pottery, the new shop opened by friend Joan Barch’s son, Jay. His original pottery designs are flying off the shelves. Ted ordered a coffee mug for me, and Jay and I talked about him designing a special set of “beach” plates for our Florida house. He is quite the talented young man!

 

Guys night at the Pink Pony.  These friends got together practically once a day!

Guys night at the Pink Pony. These friends got together practically every day.  I’ve never heard so many reasons to “go to town.”

 

I discovered Chief "Duck" Andress sitting at the corner of Fort and Main Streets and plopped down beside him to catch up on what was happening in the village.

I discovered Chief “Duck” Andress sitting at the corner of Fort and Main Streets and plopped down beside him to catch up on what was happening in the village.

 

The really awesome thing about Mackinac is that no one really thinks about actually setting dates or appointments to see anyone.  You just know if you step outside, you will eventually see everyone you know . . . like Molly and her new team of greys, Dawn and Chico!

The really awesome thing about Mackinac is that no one really thinks about actually setting dates or appointments to see anyone. You just know if you step outside, you will eventually see everyone you know . . . like Molly and her new team of greys, Dawn and Chico!

 

This was taken just after they'd hung the flower baskets and a few days before the lilacs began blooming.

This was taken just after they’d hung the flower baskets and a few days before the lilacs began blooming.

 

Walking home to the Mission each evening gave me lots of opportunities to photograph St. Anne's at twilight.

Walking home to the Mission each evening gave me lots of opportunities to photograph St. Anne’s at twilight.  On this evening a Jamaican service was going on, and I wish we’d gone in.  It’s held around 9:00 p.m. one night a week – late like that because the Jamaicans are working all day.

 

Do you remember when the Indian Drum was on the Arnold Dock?  It's now in the Horse Corral, and doing a great business.  Love, love, love this place (tons of cute clothes), and Trillium Heights friend Rogene was working the day we went in!

Do you remember when the Indian Drum was on the Arnold Dock? It’s now in the Horse Corral, and doing a great business. Love, love, love this place (tons of cute clothes), and Trillium Heights friend Rogene was working the day we went in!

 

Imagine dray after dray of annuals arriving on the island at the docks . . .

Imagine dray after dray of annuals, which have just arrived on the island at the docks, . . .

 

Imagine watching dray after dray of annuals pass on the street and stop at cottages to drop off their summer gardens.  Here, Brigadoon and St. Anne's Cottage lawns are filled with flowers to be planted later in the day.

. . . being dropped off at summer cottages all over the island.  Here, Brigadoon and Anne’s Cottage lawns are filled with flowers to be planted in their gardens later in the day.

 

This is where we'll be staying for six weeks in August/September.  Excited!

This is where we’ll be staying for six weeks in August/September. Excited!

 

The white sails of a boat from Robinson's Folly.

The white sails of a boat from Robinson’s Folly.

 

A glimpse into a hidden backyard garden.

A glimpse into a hidden backyard garden “somewhere” on the island.

 

Bear's favorite grass to roll in?  Horse poop fertilized Mackinac grass, of course!

Bear’s favorite grass to roll in? Horse poop fertilized Mackinac grass, of course!

 

There was a 7-hour power outage one of the days we were there, and downtown just practically shut down.  The shops closed, and so did some of the restaurants, although a few offered cold plates and sandwiches!

There was a 7-hour power outage one of the days we were there, and downtown just practically shut down. The shops closed, and so did some of the restaurants, although a few offered cold plates and sandwiches!

 

White bleeding hearts.  Don't think I've seen these before - only the red.

White bleeding hearts. Don’t think I’ve seen these before – only the red.

 

There were no tulips at the Grand Hotel this spring, but Mission Point more than made up for it.  I fell in love with their endless gardens of tulips - all pink!

There were no tulips at the Grand Hotel this spring, but Mission Point more than made up for it. I fell in love with their endless gardens of tulips – all pink!

 

I happened by Original Murdick's fudge shop one evening just after they'd tucked the electric blankets over the marble table tops.  This ensures the marble isn't too cold the next morning for the first batch of fudge.

I happened by Original Murdick’s fudge shop one evening just after they’d tucked the electric blankets over the marble table tops. This ensures the marble isn’t too cold the next morning for the first batch of fudge.

 

Lilacs . . .

Crabapple blossoms . . . 

 

Lilacs . . .

Lilacs . . .

 

Lilacs . . . (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

Lilacs . . . (Photo: Jill Sawatzki)

 

Lilacs! (Photo: Katy Rise)

Lilacs! (Photo: Katy Rise)

Being back on the island was awesome.  The mixture of scents, noises, sights, and tastes can be conjured up only one place on earth – and that’s Mackinac!  Best of all though was . . .

Talking over the fence in the Mission - being neighborly in the good, old-fashioned way!

. . . talking over fences – being neighborly in the good, old-fashioned way . . .

 

. . . walking home from church down lilac-framed paths . . .

. . . walking home from church down lilac-framed paths . . .

. . . sitting on the front porch with the pooches . . .

. . . sitting on the front porch with the pooches . . .

 

. . . and hanging out with good friends - old and new (Sue, Molly, and Jill).

. . . and hanging out with good friends – old and new (Sue, Molly, and Jill).

It was an awesome trip, and we can’t wait to get back up there in August!  In the meantime, there will probably be another couple of trips south, and on Sunday I’ll catch you all up on the beach house progress.  Here’s a peek . . .

Our little neighborhood at dusk.

Our little neighborhood at dusk.

 

Our house, with the beginning of the second floor balcony and the sky balcony above that.

Our house, with the beginning of the second floor balcony and the sky balcony above that.  We were hoping the siding would be on, but we missed that by a few days, and the day we left the windows and doors were going in.

 

 

Bear - hanging out in the kitchen.

Bear – hanging out in the kitchen.

 See you back here on Sunday!  God bless.

 

Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 6 1/4/2012

Happy, Happy New Year!  It seems as though I haven’t written about Mackinac Island for two months instead of two weeks, but one good thing came from not hearing from me for so long – I’ve stored up a LOT of news and photos from the island!

What better way to start this update than with a newsletter from Greg Main.  Greg penned this one on December 22, and it’s filled with all kinds of good stuff AND what sounds like a good story we might add to past ghostly happenings at the Island House Hotel!

“A glance at the calendar hanging above my laptop notes that today is the first day of winter.  A quick glance out the window offers evidence to the contrary.  Although the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees early this afternoon – from an early morning thermometer reading of 35 – it is the temperature alone which is the only indication that winter is upon us.  If I were to make a list of five things I would be engaged in as far as outdoor activity on the 20th of December, in this part of Michigan, in any year, raking and bagging leaves would not be one of them yet, there I was.

Sunday morning, we awoke to the skimpiest dusting of snow, just enough to barely cover paved areas and roofs, yet nowhere near enough to hide the grass or deter anyone from biking.  One good thing to come of this pathetic attempt from Mother Nature to pacify the snow lovers was that it provided an ideal opportunity to begin setting out our ski trail markers and track critters at the same time.  Needless to say, rabbit tracks, of varying sizes,  dominated the scene.  I would like to say I saw fox tracks also, but they seemed to be quasi-following  some human footprints, crisscrossing the road, heading slightly into the woods, emerging back onto the pavement, staying in line for several paces before bounding off to the other side of the road.  The freshness of the tracks indicated they were made at or near the same time, and since I did not take time to look for distinguishing clues, it may have been a dog.

The snow-starved natives are getting restless.  I listened to one person lament how much snowmobiles cost to buy in relation to the limited amount of time one gets to use them here on Mackinac Island during a typical season and how he thought it would be nice to be able to ride 4-wheelers during the allotted snowmobile season when there is insufficient snow.  Personally, I would hate to see that happen and also offer that the odds of that happening would be one of the best long-shot bets of all time.  Snow.  We need a lot of snow.  It‘s time for a good stomping from Heikki Lunta . . .after we’re all done traveling for the holidays, of course.

There was a bit of excitement Wednesday afternoon.  While I wasn’t present during this event, my boss was, and he explained that there was a smell of propane emanating from the Lakeview Hotel, apparently inside the building as doors were propped open and fans were in place, blowing the odor out.  Soon after the smell was detected, Main Street was closed off from the Windermere Hotel to Marc’s Double Oven, the construction project at the former McNally lot was halted and evacuated, one fire truck was positioned on Main Street, near the Lakeview, and another was on Market Street.  People were told to stay away, yet the Village Inn, mere watermelon seed-spitting distance from the Lakeview and a building which sits between said hotel and the evacuated McNally lot, was allowed to remain open.  Hmm.  Anyhow, as it was told to me, less than an hour later, whatever was causing the problem was taken care of, and all was well again on the relatively quiet thoroughfares of off-season Mackinac Island.   Our lack of snow is something we can deal with, like it or not, but if cold weather sets in for any stretch of time, and the ground remains bare, shallow water lines could be easily frozen.  Snow.  We need snow.  We need a good stomping from Heikki Lunta.

While I make my way through every room in the Island House Hotel, I’m offered varying views from high and low, views which present a slightly different perspective of the island and its surroundings.  Even though the sights are not new, the angles are, and that has helped make this winter work even more enjoyable.  Being the only one working inside the hotel, other than Ryan from h.r. working down in the laundry room (the annual, temporary winter office), it took some time getting used to the creaks, groans and oft-times unidentifiable noises I hear most every day.  The building and rooms are as cold as outdoor temps, and the hallways are dark but for the occasional exit sign, glowing eerily red. Even heating the rooms while painting only goes so far because the cold air, having invaded every breathable space,  only relinquishes so much square footage, allowing everything from waist-high and up to become comfortably warm while maintaining a firm grip on the lower regions.  It’s far from uncomfortable, just interesting to note the distinct temperature difference, especially in the tiled bathrooms.  Cold floors, indeed.

While on the subject,  I thought it wise to begin this winter work at the room farthest away and work my way down to the first floor, figuring by the time I was tired of climbing several flights of stairs, several times each day, I would be finishing on the first floor, only 10 steps up from the laundry/break room and maintenance shop.  As such, I was farthest away from any human contact most of the first few weeks on the job, and any noises I was hearing could not be contributed to Ryan, way down in the laundry room. All was fine until I began moving furniture in what’s known as “the parlor” on the fourth floor, east wing.  From the street, this room is above the dining room.

“As in nearly all the rooms, it was necessary to move most of the furniture away from the walls in order to paint baseboards and windows.  After moving a small sofa-sleeper a couple feet from the front windows and spreading a drop cloth onto the floor, I knelt down to begin painting, and my right knee immediately “came alive” with a sharp pain, reminiscent of a rap on your funny bone, only worse . . . . and not funny.  Moving the drop cloth aside, I found the source.  A blue M&M, hard as a rock.  Giving it little thought, I tossed the candy onto the bed, which was covered with old sheets for the winter (as was all the furniture in all the rooms) and resumed painting.  A short time later, it was off to lunch.  Returning to the room, it was time to  push some furniture back to their respective places in order to make space in the middle of the room for more furniture to come away from the walls.

A much larger sofa-sleeper was moved next and, much to my surprise, I see another blue M&M on the floor.  My first thought was kids tossing them at each other or some such nonsense, and a couple of them disappeared under the furniture, away from the housekeepers vacuum.  Picking this one up, my thought was to toss it onto the bed alongside the other one.  However, the other one was no longer on the bed.  Nor was it under the bed.  How odd.  Holding the ‘second’ candy in my hand, I looked everywhere in the room.  The more I looked, the more I wanted to keep looking as there was no way the M&M I tossed onto the bed, the one I saw land on the sheet covering the bed, the one which was still on the bed as I left the room for lunch, could have rolled off the bed and across the room, stopping six feet away underneath another piece of furniture.  I had no explanation.  I wasn’t imagining things.  It was on the bed, now it was gone, and I had another one in my hand.   Side note: despite the television commercial and the marketing slogan, if you hold an M&M in your hand long enough, it will melt.
This incident happened a few weeks ago, and in the following weeks there have been some more odd noises now and then for which I also have no explanation, but I choose to not dwell on such things, preferring to simply to chalk it up as another page in my book of Mackinac Island experiences.  I hope everyone has a great Christmas and I wish you all a prosperous New Year!”

If you keep up with Island happenings on Facebook or Twitter, you already know that the Island FINALLY received enough snow to talk about just before New Year’s Eve, and they’ve been getting more the last couple of days.  I know the Islanders are silly happy and having a ball on their snowmobiles – snow was a long time coming this year!  Friends who live on the Island year-round and friends who returned for the New Year’s Eve festivities have shared photos, and they are good ones!  Here we go . . .

Christmas morning sunrise after a dusting of snow. (Photo: Mission Point Resort)

A friend of ours, Brad Conkey (you might remember him from this summer – Brad, his sons and Ted went cave exploring together), arrived on the Island with his family on December 30 to celebrate New Year’s Eve Island-style.  The next six photos are his – thanks, Brad!

Islanders were enjoying a game of street hockey the day before New Year's Eve. It was cold and wet, with the beginnings of the snow that was to come in the next few days.

Sun rising over the Straits on New Year's Eve morning.

Downtown - and the horses are working. Wonder if they know the next day is the beginning of a new year.

The Grand Hotel porch - no rocking chairs, no flags, no geraniums - just a little snow.

Stone Cliffe looks frozen in time.

Round Island Light. And is that ice along the shoreline?

There was a brand new celebration event on the Island this New Year’s Eve.  Instead of dropping a huge ball like they do in Times Square, there was a “Great Turtle Drop”. The brainchild of Rich and Marge Lind, innkeepers at The Cottage Inn, the idea came from their wish to “come up with something fresh, new and fun for New Year’s on the Island”.  The giant fiberglass turtle was a loan from the Grand Hotel (it was originally part of a Mackinac Island Community Foundation fundraiser which auctioned off the decorated turtles).   Marge constructed a green felt jacket covered in green LED lights for the turtle to wear.  The turtle sat 30′ in the sit on top of a lift provided by the Chippewa Hotel.  As the seconds were counted down, the lift gently lowered the turtle to the ground.  Man, I would have loved to be there for that!

This photo of all the action was captured by the Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau. Looks like a great crowd!

Here's another view from our friends Rich and Marge at the Cottage Inn.

New Year's Day, and the snow was really coming down. This pic is from the Lilac Tree Hotel Facebook page.

A friend's home up near the airport.

The community stable. (Photo: Mackinac Horses Facebook page)

Looks like big, fat, wet flakes. So pretty. (Photo: Doud's Market Facebook page)

A winter wonderland. (Photo: Brad Conkey)

In the days since January 1, more snow has fallen, and the Island is finally looking like it should this time of year!

Hoban Street at dusk. (Photo: Jennifer King)

Snow behind an Island friend's home.

Mission Point. (Photo: Mission Point Facebook page)

Main Street in front of the Chippewa Hotel (Photo: Island Bookstore Facebook page)

Harbour View Inn. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

St. Anne's Church. (Photo: Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau)

Have you ever seen anything as beautiful as Mackinac Island in the snow?  I look at these pictures over and over again and daydream about being there.  I bet you do too!

One other important news item:  In a story in The St. Ignace News by Matt Mikus, it was reported that the Mackinac Island City Council voted to “dedicate a plot of land at the Ste. Anne Cemetery for the reburial and memorial of the bones unearthed from the Bicycle Street Inn construction site this fall.”  According to the story, the bones, contained in seven truckloads of earth, may be buried at the site relatively soon because the ground remains unfrozen.  The article went on to say “the burial mound will be in the shape of a turtle, and a memorial will also be constructed.”

See you back here next Wednesday with more from our favorite Island.  God bless.