The Lady on the Hill – As She Sleeps

Some Fun Grand Hotel Facts 

Grand Hotel’s Front Porch is the world’s largest at 660 feet.

The 5,000,000th guest in Grand Hotel history checked in on June 26, 2006.

It takes 500,000 gallons of water to fill Grand Hotel’s swimming pool, which was named for actress Esther Williams who starred in the 1947 movie This Time for Keeps, shot at Grand Hotel.

The 1980 film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer, was filmed on location at Grand Hotel.  The movie now has a huge following, with a fan club that meets at Grand Hotel each October.

Five U.S. Presidents – Clinton, Bush, Ford, Kennedy and Truman – have visited Grand Hotel.

Each season, more than 83,000 pounds of prime rib, 23,500 pounds of ham, 83,500 pounds of potatoes, 3,000 pounds of carrots, 14,000 pounds of strawberries, and 6,500 pounds of pecans are served to Grand Hotel’s dining guests (and all of that came over by ferry and was delivered to the Grand Hotel by horse-drawn dray).

One ton of bulbs are planted in the fall, including 25,000 tulips and 15,000 daffodils.

More than 125,000 bedding plants (annuals) are used to create the many gardens on Grand Hotel grounds.

The Grand’s famous Front Porch flowers include 2,500 geraniums – the hotel’s trademark flower – in 260 planting boxes with seven tons of potting soil.  More than 5,200 geraniums can be seen in all its flower beds combined.

– – – – – – – –

One day during our stay on the island during Christmas Bazaar, Jill, Sue and I traipsed up the hill to Grand Hotel to visit Patrick, Sue’s son.  Patrick is the Human Resources Manager at the Grand and one of only a handful of employees who stay on the island and work year-round at the hotel.  With Patrick’s blessing, we roamed around the huge hotel for a couple of hours, getting a “during winter” look at how the Lady on the Hill spends her quiet days – while the 130,000+ tourists who visit her overnight during the season are at home planning their next stay!

The Grand Hotel kitchen is massive . . .

Grand Hotel kitchen.  It is massive . . .

. . . and flows on and on over hundreds and hundreds of square feet. Each day the kitchen staff, which numbers close to 100, serves as many as 4,000 meals per day.

. . . and flows on and on over hundreds and hundreds of square feet. Each day of the summer season the kitchen staff, which numbers close to 100, serves as many as 4,000 meals per day.

At the close of each season the Grand Hotel staff covers the majority of the furniture with crisp white sheets.

At the close of the season Grand Hotel’s staff covers the majority of the furniture with crisp white sheets.

Workers gather for lunches brought with them from home. In the winter, the majority of the hotel is dark, and only a small area is heated.

Workers gather for lunches brought with them from home and warmed on microwaves in the lobby. In the winter, the majority of the hotel is dark, and only a small area is heated.

Sue, Jill, Sue and I stand with Jennifer King, the Grand Hotel's General Manager.

Sue, Jill, and I stand with Jennifer King, Grand Hotel’s General Manager.  Jennifer is another year-round worker at the hotel.  Over Jill’s shoulder . . .

. . . is the entrance to the Grand Ballroom.

. . . is the entrance to the Grand Ballroom.

From the lobby we wandered up and down halls on all floors of the hotel.  Since I wrote nothing down, I’m not going to be able to tell you much about the rooms you’ll see (except for the little I remember).  What you MUST remember is that you’re seeing the rooms as they are now – in the winter – without linens on the beds, with furniture covered (and some removed for upholstering or cleaning), and some pieces moved from where they would be in the summer when guests are staying there each night.


It bears repeating that designer Carlton Varney was in charge of the complete renovation of Grand Hotel, and every room is decorated differently.  Varney toured the hotel grounds before he started the project and vowed to use the colors found in the gardens in each room and in the public areas.

I'm alwayscaptivated by the colors Varney uses together. He is a master when it comes to his choices.

I’m always captivated by the colors and patterns Varney uses together. He is a master when it comes to his choices.

I included this and the next photo just so I could show you the beautiful matching furniture in this room . . .

I included this and the next photo just so you could see the beautiful matching furniture in this room . . .

. . . I love all the carvings of

. . . I love all the carvings of the cupids and flowers.

The Presidential Suite is located in the center of the hotel, with a balcony over the front porch overlooking the Straits of Mackinac.

The Presidential Suite is located in the center of the hotel, with a balcony over the front porch that overlooks the Straits of Mackinac.  This is the living room, and the wide, open door leads into one of two master bedrooms.

One of the Presidential Suite bedrooms . . .

One of the Presidential Suite bedrooms . . .

. . . and looking from a bathroom into the other one (at the opposite end of the living room).

. . . and looking from a bathroom into the other bedroom (at the opposite end of the living room).

The walls are covered with presidential portraits, like this one of John F. Kennedy.

The walls are covered with presidential portraits, like this one of John F. Kennedy.

The rooms above are light because there were windows to the outside. As you can see, the hallways in the winter are another story entirely.

The rooms above are light because there were windows in those rooms. As you can see, the hallways in the winter are another story entirely.

One of the Cupola Suites. One or two bedrooms. . .

One of the Cupola Suites. One or two bedrooms. . .

. . . and attached parlors, with window seats up those small flights of stairs.

. . . and attached parlors, with a window seat up that small flight of stairs that looks out over Grand Hotel’s pool to the Straits.

The Musser Suite . . .

The Dan Musser Suite . . .

. . . with deep purple as the accent color . . .

. . . with deep purple as the accent color . . .

. . . interesting one-of-a-kind pieces . . .

. . . interesting one-of-a-kind pieces . . .

. . . and surprises wherever you turn.

. . . and surprises wherever you turn.

The thermostat in the Musser Suite, showing the temperature in the hotel.

The thermostat in the Musser Suite, showing the temperature in the hotel.

 We had a lot of fun exploring, and we joked about taking a selfie of the three of us propped up on one of those beautiful beds.  We sure were glad we didn’t do that though because as we were leaving we passed the hotel security office.  Inside sat a security guard, surrounded by two walls of TV monitors, showing every corner of the hotel.  He grinned at us as we left, giving us a little wave.  We knew right then he’d been watching us throughout our entire visit.  SOOOO glad we didn’t climb on one of those beds!

As we were going out, guess who we saw . . .!

My great friend, Duck Andress, who was our across-the-street neighbor on Mackinac was hard at work

My great friend, Duck Andress, who was our across-the-street neighbor on Mackinac, was hard at work in the basement of Grand Hotel, working his magic in carpentry.  Duck built most of the boxes that house the geraniums on Grand Hotel’s front porch.  If you remember, Duck lost two fingers last year while working in his shop at his house.  Hasn’t slowed him down one bit.  So good to see you, Duck!


When last week’s St. Ignace News arrived, I was a little reluctant to flip the pages.  Any other week I would have happily turned until I found Jeanette Doud’s column (which also appeared in the Mackinac Town Crier) and then settled down to read all about the happenings on the island .  Since Jeanette’s death there has been some concern among my readers about the column continuing.

But  . . . all is well, and the column continues on in VERY capable hands!

Jeannette's daughter, Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud, will continue the column!

Jeanette’s daughter, Mackinac Island Mayor Margaret Doud, is continuing the column!

If there is any one person who loves the island as much as Jeanette did, it is Margaret!  So rest easy. The comings and goings of people, freighters, dogs, birds, and ducks (if you’re a fan of this column, you know what I mean), as well as all the other important island news, will continue on in Margaret’s very capable hands.  Yeah!!!

Mackinac Island Spring Update – Vol. 4 – 4/18/2012

25 days and counting.  I can’t believe it.  The winter that never was (in the South at least) slipped by in the bat of an eye, and in a week or so the suitcases will come out of the closets, and Maddie and Bear will begin to wonder, “Where we going?”

As always when this time of year comes around, I find myself looking back over the last six months and hoping they’ve been productive.  The blogs have kept me busy, Bear and I have enjoyed our Pet Partners work, and Ted’s been faithful in driving veterans for hospital and doctor visits.  We’ve had great times with friends, we’ve traveled more than usual, and – as we say every year – we haven’t had nearly enough time with the kids and grandkids.  But we know they’re all planning on trips to the Island this summer, and once they’re there we can pretty much hold them captive for awhile!  How great it is they love Mackinac almost as much as we do!

I don’t have a lot of news from the Island today, but I have some totally awesome photos I’ll get to shortly.  Friends on the Island let me know that just when the weather seemed to be warming to the point that lilacs might be in jeopardy of blooming really early, Mother Nature intervened with  . . . . . . .

. . .Snow! Mary McGuire from the Tourist Bureau took this photo early today (Wednesday), and she's hoping that this reversal back to colder weather will send the lilac buds back into hiding. For the next two weeks it looks like the highs will be holding in the low 50's, so we'll just have to wait and see if the Lilac Festival in June arrives during or after the lilacs bloom.

I loved the message Doud’s Market posted today on FacebookSpring is here!! The staff at Doud’s Market is busy getting the store ready for a bustling summer season!  Doud’s Deli reopened this past week.  You can grab a slice of pizza to go or order a pizza to take home with you.  (Spring hours vary, so call ahead before placing an order, 906.847.3444)  We have delicious homemade soups, freshly-made salads and sandwiches to go and a wonderful meat selection to choose from.  We will be adding some new items to our deli menu this season as well.  Stay in touch as we stock the Market with new items and new delicious deli items!  Our hours are currently 7:30AM-7:00PM, Monday-Saturday; 10AM-5PM, Sunday. Hours will be changing in the next few weeks to extended hours.”  Can’t wait to visit Andrew and all the workers at Doud’s!

Since 1967 the Michigan Recreation & Parks Association (MRPA) has offered travelers ages 50 and over a unique opportunity to stay at the Grand Hotel at a significantly reduced rate during the off-season.  The program offers an all inclusive package including ferry, taxi, hotel stay, breakfast and five course dinner, all tax and gratuities, carriage tour, Fort Mackinac visit, golf chipping and putting competitions, bocce competition, crafts, dancing, carriage tours and more! Each fall over 1400 seniors participate in the various dates offered (Sept. 25-28; Oct. 8-11; Oct. 14-16; and Oct. 21-24). If you’d like more information about this opportunity, you may call Karen Aune at 517-485-9888.

MRPA has graciously allowed me to publish winners in the photo contest offered participants in 2011’s Grand Experience.  I found these photographs to be fresh, exciting, and so very original.  As I’ve said so many times, we all see Mackinac through different eyes, and our cameras capture moments in time we will turn back to remember over and over again when we think of our journeys there.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

A totally different vision of the Grand Hotel's Tea Garden. Third Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Glorious" by Van Weimer

The entrance to one of Mackinac's most beautiful homes. Second Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Gate" by Carl Sturgeon

A butterfly greets visitors to the Island. First Place - Scenery/Architecture Category. "Welcome to the Island" by Dolores Surletta

Touring the Island in the fall. Third Place - People/Activities Category. "Fall Carriage Ride" by Linda Stephas

A perfect cup of tea. Second Place - People/Activities Category. "Tea Time" by Peter (Pat) Koloff

Awesome black & white photo! First Place - People/Activities Category. "Taxi" by Phyllis Neumann

Only one porch like this one in the whole world! Third Place - View of the Grand Category. "My Dream of a Porch" by Marcie Steidmann

Simple touches mean so much. Second Place - View of the Grand Category. "Awareness" by Caroline Medwith

Ahhh . . . the Herb Garden. First Place - View of the Grand Category. "Quiet Moments in a Quaint Garden" by Linda Meyer.

One more news item about the Grand Hotel.  This summer the Grand will celebrate its 125th anniversary, and nobody celebrates quite like the Grand.  On July 10th a 125′ cake will be wheeled onto the Grand porch for hotel guests to enjoy, and during the weekend of July 13-15 there will be receptions, fireworks, presentations, concerts, and tournaments.  Bill Semion of wrote a wonderful article about this birthday party, and you can read it here:

Here’s a few more photos Island friends have shared this week:

Getting ready for the season and the big celebration, the Grand is getting a fresh coat of paint. (Photo by: the Grand Hotel)

A beautiful early morning view of a freighter slipping through the pass. (Photo: Jeri-Lynn Bailey)

Here come the tulips! (Photo: Mission Point Resort)

The Seabiscuit opened for the season this week. (Photo: Sonnet Quinn)

Jeri-Lynn Bailey snapped this photo during Spring Break in Florida, but wouldn't that just be the perfect Mackinac Island lawn mower!

Friend Maryanke Alexander and her beautiful Jetske, who she thinks (our fingers are crossed) is in foal. Jetske will be on the Island this summer with Maryanke.

Easter morning at Windermere Point. (Photo: Doud's Market)

While I was going through some of Ted’s photos from last fall, I found this one of the condo.  There it sits, on Surrey Ridge, empty for six-and-a-half months.  If buildings could talk, I like to think this one might be saying . . . “They’ll be here soon.  My doors will be unlocked, my windows will be flung open, and the breeze will rush through my rooms.  Rugs and mats will once again cover my bare floors; sheets and blankets and pillows will be placed on my beds.  Groceries will come up the hill, and happy dogs will settle on my deck and watch the season unfold from their favorite perch.  They’ll be here soon.  They’ll be here soon!”

See you next Wednesday!  God bless.

Random Mackinac Beauty 6/9/2011

No matter where I turn this week, something beautiful catches my eye.  Spring and summer have merged into an explosion of color on the island, and if I could sustain the pace, I would be pressing the shutter of my camera almost constantly.  You would think by now my senses would be almost numb to it all.  Instead I find my senses sharpened.  Every sight, every smell, every sound is amplified, and Mackinac is alive with magic.

Looking across Marquette Park through the cross atop the replica of a Jesuit missionary bark chapel.


A crabapple tree celebrates summer on Fort Hill.


The sun scatters its warmth through the glass walls of the Grand Hotel's greenhouse.


In any other place, this would be a nursery. On Mackinac, it is simply an array of flowers waiting to take their place in the gardens of the Grand.


Purple on blue, with green in between.


And between two of Mackinac's most famous pups . . . a little lovin'.

See you tomorrow with all the week’s news AND a new “mystery spot”!  This one is going to be SO EASY you will know it instantly!

It’s Plantin’ Time on Mackinac 6/6/2011

The holiday weekend has come and gone, and everywhere you look folks are planting flowers.  It’s kind of a tradition up here to wait until after Memorial Day to put tender young plants into the ground because there always seems to be one last “almost freeze” a few days ahead of the last weekend in May.

Of course, the one flower that goes into the ground way before June is the tulip bulb. And that's why, even before the cold weather is over, we can enjoy stunning flowers on Mackinac. The red tulips lining the Avenue of the Flags at the back entrance to Fort Mackinac have been nothing short of spectacular this spring.


These trays of geraniums and impatiens are already in the ground at Hart's.


When I ran into the post office for the mail, flowers were being planted inside and outside the fence . . .


. . . and as I started home, I passed the Cloghaun B & B, where Marti was adding the finishing touches to their beautiful front yard garden.


The Grand has already put out the notice that the tulips are being pulled up in the next few days. Soon the flowerbeds along the road leading into the Grand will be replanted, but this shade garden of impatiens is already going into the ground . . .


. . . . and in a few weeks, it will look like this (taken last summer)!


Other shade garden plants and flowers are already flourishing.


Can you believe how green these ferns are!


Where is the Grand Hotel shade garden? Ok - I'm about to let you in on a little insider info. You don't have to be a guest of the hotel to walk through the shade garden. What you do is this. Walk up Cadotte Avenue like you're going to the Grand. After you pass the Gate House and the school yard (the big, wide open space where you can look across to the Straits), you will come to the set of steps you see in the above pic (they are on your left). Simply walk down those steps and curve to the right. You'll see the tennis pro shop and the tennis courts on your left - but stay right. Then you can leisurely stroll through this huge, cool wonderland of greenery (they even have benches to sit on) and then just turn back around and go out the way you came in. As long as you don't venture into the Pool House, no one will question you. Shhhhh . . . don't tell I told.

This weekend we’ve seen the first signs of summer on the island.  The sun was shining every day, and the temps are in the 70’s.  It was glorious!  Unfortunately what I had planned for the rest of today’s blog didn’t exactly work out.  The icebreaker Mackinac in Mackinac City was open all day Sunday with free admission.  Ted and I were going over after church for the tour, and I was going to have some great photos to show you.  Instead . . . Ted and I had date-night Saturday evening, and in the middle of the night we both woke up with a simultaneous stomach bug,  which knocked both of us for a loop.  Even though Ted was able to make it to church this morning, I couldn’t get out of my chair until late Sunday afternoon.  Yuck, yuck, and more yuck!  The worse part was missing a fabulous day on the island.  Oh my gosh, it was beautiful outside. 
So, no icebreaker pics, but here are a few random shots from the week . . .

Have I told you the main barn for the Carriage Tour horses has a new roof? Wow - it looks so good!


Lots of children on the island this weekend. This group zoomed past us as we walked behind the fort. That's the Governor's Summer Residence at the bottom of the hill.


Ted and the "kids" on the trail (Maddie's in there somewhere) that runs behind the cooking shelter at Great Turtle Park. This particular trail ends in the Trillium Heights neighborhood.


Whether the tulips are ending their blooming season or not, there's just nothing like seeing a Grand omnibus across a sea of pink, silhouetted again a blue Michigan sky and bluer Lake Huron waters.

And so the weekend is over, and a new week begins.  And with the new week, I’ll begin volunteering once again at the Stuart House Museum downtown on Market Street.  This year they’ve changed my day to Tuesday, so if you’re on the island, please drop by and say “hi”!  I’d love to see you!  
Have a great week, and God bless.

One Week! 5/9/2011

Final week of counting down! 

I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, and as I sit here in front of the laptop, with fingers flying over the keyboard, there are parts of my brain sorting clothes and assigning various necessities to different boxes and suitcases.  In other words, I should be packing – not writing!

From what I can collect from friends on the island and web sites I frequent, I think it’s safe to say that almost every hotel, restaurant, and shop is now open on Mackinac.  From watching the webcams, I know the streets are busier, the horses are more plentiful, and the sidewalks are filling with tourists.  The Grand Hotel officially opened this past Friday, and the cannon was fired for the first time from Fort Mackinac, opening that attraction for the season.

With my friend Jill’s arrival this week on the island (be sure and run by the Island Bookstore and say “hi”), I have some photos from her to share!

The tulips are up - but not blooming yet - at the Grand. It's always shocking to me to see these photos from the island in May. With everything here in Georgia already so green, it's hard to imagine that true Spring has yet to arrive on Mackinac. The trees are still bare, and the grass still brown - but the color that will come in the next few weeks will more than make up for these slow-to-warm-up weeks.


The drays are out in full force, delivering freight and supplies from the ferry docks to shops and restaurants.


The flower boxes in front of Doud's market are being replenished for the season . . .


. . . and these geraniums, sitting on carts at the beginning of last week, have been planted in the huge flowerboxes that rim the Grand Hotel's porch.


Jill rode all the way up to where the new Community Stable is being built to get this great shot. That girl has been BUSY since she hit the island!


Following tradition, this year's Lilac Festival Queen fired the first shot from Fort Mackinac's cannon to start the season. Thanks to Mackinac Historic State Parks for this photo.


I saw on the Mackinac Tourism Facebook page that the Mackinaw Breeze is out of wraps and in the water. Once Captain Bruce and his new first mate, Nino, get the boat "shipshape", they'll be ready to give those great water tours of Haldimand Bay - like these folks are enjoying from last season. Note to self: Take the tour and post pictures this year!

That’s it for this next-to-last-post before we hit the island!  We leave on Saturday, May 14, and plan to be on Mackinac on Monday, May 16 – good Lord willing.  We’re going to spend two nights on the road this year going up.  I’m hoping wireless service will be offered at the hotels where we stay, and if so, you’ll be hearing from me on the road this weekend.  After that . . . .  let the season begin!
P.S.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the readers out there who can claim this special day as theirs.  There’s nothing like being a mom – and I’m sure each of you would brag that YOUR mom is the best.  I know mine was!
Check back Saturday night or Sunday morning to see if I got to post from the road!  I’m so excited . . .  and I just can’t hide it . . .

Jason and Blair – Their Mackinac Island Album 9/21/2010

First of all – Thank you, thank you, dear readers for staying with me the last few days, even though you knew I was totally preoccupied with Jason and Blair and their visit.  You still came back each day just to check if something had been posted (I know these things-really, I do!), and a couple of days you actually got a few pics! 

Second of all – if I tried to write a “post” tonight, it would take you an hour to read it (it’s almost going to take that long anyway), because I have soooo many photos to show you it is ridiculous! 

So – it’s pics and captions – kind of like Random Photo Day – only better!

Jason and Blair arrived at the Pellston airport on Thursday afternoon. Jason’s “little” brother, Blake, who is staying with them in Atlanta while he job hunts, was house and two dogs/one cat sitting for them.


We arrived on the island to Ted and the “always ready” camera of Jill.  We grilled steaks at home Thursday night and stayed up talking.  So good to have these two with us!


Friday dawned a little cloudy and chilly, but on our walk downtown Jason managed to catch the sun’s rays coming through the clouds on Market Street. Great pic with his new Droid (whatever that is).


Blair and I spent Friday morning hitting the sales at Somewear on Mackinac, Nephew’s, Decked Out, and Nadia’s. We met the guys on the Chippewa Back Patio for lunch, and Blair showed off her finds.


If you don’t bring something to read to Mackinac Island, you HAVE to stop by the Island Bookstore. Jill was working and helped Blair pick out some winners.


Then we spent some more time crusing the book racks. How do you like my new hat? I spotted it at Nadia’s, and Blair talked me into buying it. Great for bad hair days!


Friday night was Grand Hotel night. Jason and Blair had never been there for dinner. We went up to the Cupola for a glass of wine before dinner and the best view of the Straits of Mackinac anywhere.


I love this photo – just before walking downstairs to the main dining room at the Grand.


The Mackinac Bridge at dusk – from the Cupola.


A beautiful night-time view of the Gatehouse Restaurant, the school, and the lighthouses.


Jason and Blair have a Bernese Mountain Dog named Beyla, who Blair was missing Friday night. Bear decided to give her a little lovin' at bedtime.

On Saturday morning, as we were walking to town, we stopped to watch an outdoor Renaissance wedding at the Metivier Inn. The bridge, groom, and their attendants were all dressed in period costumes. Just before the wedding, the bride realized she had forgotten the vows she had written. She ran down the street (literally) to her hotel, grabbed them, and ran back to the Metivier. Only on Mackinac!

Game day at the Pink Pony on Saturday. Boooo - Georgia lost. That's two losses in a row for the Bulldogs - that's not good.

After the game, we walked back home, detouring behind the West Bluff to say hello to McGyver. Saturday night was homemade baked spaghetti, salad, and grilled French bread at the condo. Another great day.

Sunday was an absolutely beautiful, crisp, cool fall day. We started it off with a walk.

It was up at St. Anne's Cemetery that we began to really see the difference in the color of the trees. That "fast change" I predicted has begun.

The first of what will be many, many fall photos to come.

At Lookout Point we met three bikers who had ridden across the Mackinac Bridge that morning. They brought their bikes over to the island on the ferry for a little more peddling before going back home.

An already golden tree.

Beautiful Blair.

Jason, taking a photo of Sugar Loaf . . .

. . . which rises above trees being quickly painted by God's paintbrush.

We continued our walk through the woods up to Fort Holmes. This walk from the cemeteries to Lookout Point to Fort Holmes is probably my favorite walk on the whole island.

Bear - running around the raised embankment of dirt at Fort Holmes.

In another week, this tree will be a solid yellow. Can't wait to walk back up to see it.

Jason, Blair, Ted, and Maddie walked down a really rugged trail from Fort Holmes. I chose to take the safer stairs and made Bear come with me. He wasn't happy about being left with the slow poke of the group, but he survived. We met up with them a few minutes later and then walked down Rifle Range Road . . .

. . . coming out at the road that runs behind the Scout Barracks.

These trees are almost to "flame red" - my favorite fall color.

We had walked about two hours, so we headed home for lunch. Then it was back out again - on bikes this time.

We had totally forgotten that Jason and Blair had never been inside the fort, so that was our first stop of the afternoon. This had to be a choice spot to be stationed in the 1800's - except for the winters!

I love taking photos through the gun holes of the fort . . . this one looks out across the Grand Hotel's Jewel Golfcourse to the Straits.

From this one you can see the Iroquois Hotel.

From the height of the fort, we seemed to be very close to the migrating geese . . .

. . . VERY close!

The rooftops of downtown. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this place!

Inside the Kid's Quarters of the fort, Blair had fun trying to become a soldier. She was standing in front of a blue screen, following the instructions of a soldier on a TV monitor in front of her . . .

. . . where she could watch herself try to "do the drill" perfectly.

Inside the fort's museum.

We rode from the fort up to the East Bluff . . .

. . . then on to Robinson's Folly. By this time Jason and Blair were getting pretty tired and pretty silly - I forget what song they were belting out, but it sounded great!

Blair on the woods trail leading up to Robinson's Folly.

From Robinson's Folly to the airport - another 3 miles on the bikes - but just in time to watch an amphibian plane taking off.

For their final dinner on the island, Jason and Blair chose The Woods - they love the 20-minute taxi ride out there, and coming home that's 20 minutes through the pitch black of Mackinac Island woods. Pretty spooky.

The Woods is decorated like a Bavarian hunting lodge, and on the other side of the bar is a bowling alley with one lane where you set up your own pins. The children - of all ages - love it!

Jason - showing off his bowling moves.

. . . and Blair showing off her artistic talents on the paper tablecloth, using the crayons left for the "children".

The four of us in front of the fireplace at The Woods.

How could five days have gone by so fast? Blair, on the ferry going to the airport on Monday afternoon - pouting.

What a wonderful time we had with these two, who love the island more each time they visit.  I love showing off this rock on Bree’s Blog, but it is so much more fun to do it in person.  And when family and friends come and go back home with a promise to “come back again soon”, it makes Ted and I very, very happy we are here. 

Thanks for coming, you two.  We love you, and we’ll see you soon back in Georgia!


All’s Well That Ends Well . . . 9/17/2010

This has been a tough week.  Being sick was no fun, and I really feel like I haven’t put much effort into the blog in several days.  And with the kids coming in Thursday afternoon, I’ll be taking a few days off to enjoy them – so I guess you’ll just have to label this week’s posts as “the blog that almost was” and look forward to better things from me next week.

Before I sign off for the week though, I have a couple of exciting things to share with you, and then I’ll offer up “Random Photos” a day earlier than usual.

The excitement started with an email from an artist in Illinois who wanted to use one of my photos as a model for a watercolor he had been asked to paint.  Spencer Meagher told me that a lady in New York had contacted him about doing a painting of Robinson’s Folly as part of his “Places I’ve Never Been, Things I’ve Never Done” series, which he began September 1 of this year.  She had referred him to a past Bree’s Blog post in which Robinson’s Folly was pictured.  I emailed him the original of the photo, and below are the results.

My photo of Robinson’s Folly (the large outcropping of limestone on the right of the photo). Small Point Inn is also pictured.

Spencer’s watercolor. How cool is that!

In the emails we sent back and forth this week, I learned that Spencer visits Mackinac Island quite often and photographs scenes that he later paints.  For some reason, he had never photographed this particular landmark.  If you’d like to visit his website and look at his other work, some of which includes Mackinac Island scenes,  you can find him at

Another day I was contacted by Maggie who is a freelance writer for “The Mackinac Journal”, a northern Michigan monthly magazine.  She was doing a story on the horses leaving the island for the winter and had seen a blog post from last year, with all the photos of the horses coming down the street and entering the ferry.  She asked if I would email her the originals, in their highest resolution, to see if any could be used by their graphics artist to illustrate her story.  I received an email from her today that the photos were perfect, and she will be sending me a copy of the magazine when it hits the stands in October.  I’ll be getting full photo credit, so I’m very excited!

So very, very strange how this blog-thing is turning out.  A lady in New York who reads my blog tells an artist in Illinois to request a photo from me to do a painting she wants.  A writer in Cheboygan finds photos she needs to write a story on the horses leaving the island.

And all I wanted to do was write “letters home” to Georgia friends while we were in Michigan.  Amazing.  And so, so much fun!

I walked downtown – camera in coat pocket –  late this afternoon, knowing my “random photos” would all be done in one probably two-hour session.  I just hadn’t been out much again this week, so my random shots were few, and I needed to add to the ones I had that were usable.  I had in mind sticking to a theme of “Mackinac from Different Angles” and taking photos of places I see every day – but from different perspectives.  And I did some of that.  But I branched out from that theme also – proving once again I am no good at all at “going with a plan”.  Maybe that’s why random photo day is so popular – it’s just my “random mind” at its best!

A red flower, purple leaves plant from The Grand flower garden. Sorry, Mary, but I don’t think we covered this one on the tour. If we did – I forgot!  Sure is pretty though!

Looking across the school playground, through the trees, to the water.

No dogs anywhere, but something spooked the geese in the Burroughs Lot into flying. They are silhouetted against the Mackinac Bridge.

A brightly colored kite flies high against the cloudy sky.

Little Stone Church, as we normally see it photographed.

The Little Stone Church Steeple and bell. On Sunday mornings at the beginning of the service, and at the end of every wedding – as the bride and groom leave the church – a person standing in the center aisle pulls the rope and rings the bell. You can hear it for miles. 

The beautiful stained glass window you see upon entering the church door . . .

. . . . and the one you see as you go out the church door . . .

. . . which is always open and welcoming. As I’ve said before, this church drew me in just as the island did, and that was before I ever had the privilege of hearing Dr. Vince Carroll speak.

One more of the church. This one is from the walkway which goes to the lawn behind the church – where we have our coffee and cookies fellowship on Sunday mornings.

The Town Crier office. Our weekly newspaper is published once a week during the summer.

The windows in La Galerie were filled with beautiful fall displays, like these gorgeous bags.

A scarecrow waves a welcome from his bike.  He’s in the yard of one of the homes used for employee housing on Cadotte Avenue.

A Mackinac Island street in the middle of a Fall weekday. By Friday afternoon the streets will be full again.

A peek inside one of my favorite island shops – Little Luxuries on Mackinac Island.

A row of signs we are very familiar with – Scrimshanders, The Chippewa Hotel, and . . .

. . . what else! The Pink Pony!

Doud’s Market was hopping this afternoon – but it always is! Ya gotta have food, but I could just stand outside and admire the flowers!

The taxi stand. As I walked by, two ladies were muttering that the “phone doesn’t work”. I interrupted them and said I’d be glad to give it a try. I explained that they wouldn’t hear a dial tone when they picked it up. It just automatically rings upstairs to the taxi dispatcher, which it did – and they ordered their taxi.  I remember thinking the same thing the first time I used that phone, which hangs inside a marked box on the front of the building.

The east end of town.

The sign for Harbor Place Apartments, another good place to stay during the winter if you come here to ski, or just to enjoy the solitude. The apartments are all waterfront.

The beautiful Hotel Iroquois, which looks a lot smaller from the front . . .

. . . than it does from this side view!

The Windermere Hotel, as seen from Windermere Point.  Wow – I should have brought Bear and Maddie, the geese dogs!

The back of our lovely library, as seen from the beach. Rocking chairs across the back porch are available day and night for a quiet place to read, or to just enjoy looking at the water and watching the boats.

From the sidewalk, across the street from the boardwalk. A little further down this road is the school, then you are out of town.

I always wonder, when I see this lone tree on the beach side of the street, what made it stronger than the others that must surely have been here in the past.

The pumpkins growing beside the horse barn seem to have doubled in size over the last few days.

A few leaves are beginning to turn now. For some reason, I think the change is going to be fast this year.

Our condo through the trees.

I don’t think I will be writing while Jason and Blair are here, but I will probably post some pics at least a few nights between now and Monday when they are leaving – so check back every now and then just to see what’s up.  Have a great rest of the week, stay safe, try not to get a cold, and if you’re in northern Michigan, stay WARM!  God bless – and thank you for your prayers this week.  I am so blessed.

First Fall Storm 9/8/2010

When we went to bed Monday night I thought I would probably have to cancel Bear’s grooming appointment off-island.  The weather report was calling for a really nasty day on Tuesday, and though I didn’t much mind going to Cheboygan in nasty weather, what I did mind was getting Bear back up the hill in a monsoon, right after he’d been bathed and groomed.  You know, it’s kinda like when you get your hair done for a special event, then have to cross the parking lot to your car in a rainstorm.  Somehow, it just seems pointless. 

I awoke at 7 a.m., took a look outside, saw no rain, heard a lot of wind, and thought, “Maybe the wind will dry up the roads before I have to leave at 8:30 to catch the 9 o’clock ferry.”  So I washed my hair, packed Bear’s “spa” bag (shampoo and conditioner), got my Walmart list together, and off we went down the hill.  The roads were wet, but it wasn’t raining.  Bear, nevertheless, had plenty of time to get coated in mud/poop/water from the bottom of his feet half-way up his legs before we made it downtown.  You know how I’ve mentioned needing fenders on your bike when you ride around on the island when it’s been raining?  Well, dogs don’t come equipped with fenders, and Bear pretty much prances when he walks – so he slings a lot of whatever happens to be on the road up on himself.  Stuff like that is a given if you live on the Island with dogs, and you just have to adapt – and not be a clean freak! 

We got to Cheboygan with no problems, although the whole way over I was listening to the weather radio announcer go on and on about 40-50 mph winds coming in later in the morning and in the afternoon – plus lots of rain.  I just sighed, dropped Bear off, and went to cruise the aisles of Walmart for four hours.  I picked Bear up at 2 p.m., allowing myself plenty of time to drive the 14 miles to Mac City for the 2:30 ferry.  As we drove northwest, the sky became darker and darker, but I thought maybe it would blow over, and we could still make the condo before the bottom fell out.  Hey – I am a very optimistic kind of girl! 

There were a few trees beginning to put on their fall coats along the highway back to Mackinaw City (hard to take pics and drive at the same time).

As the first city motels came into view, the clouds seemed to be growing darker and more menacing by the minute.

I turned into the Arnold dock, grabbed Bear and my Walmart bags (5 minutes to spare), and left the truck to be valet parked. I passed a friend in the parking lot who had just come over - he said I was in for a wild ride. Bear and I skidded onto the ferry just as the final horn blew.


Pay close attention to the windows in this pic. See how clearly you can see the Mackinac Bridge . . .

. . . and now you can't! That "white-out" is the wave action on the lake crashing against the ferry - to the height of those windows. Bear, who usually sleeps the entire trip across, got up and put his head in my lap and stayed there until we docked on the Island.

We passed a freighter as we slowed to make the turn into the harbor.

I had been talking to Jill on the trip across, and she took a break from the bookstore to meet our ferry. She wanted to tell me about three sailboats in the harbor that had come unmoored in the wind and were crashing into each other and into the breakwall. You can see on the right side of this pic a sailboat that is heeling and a couple more in the middle of the pic that seem to have broken free and are very close, if not touching each other.


The clouds were still holding in the rain, and I was thinking, "Get to the condo - NOW!"

Jill held onto Bear while I took pics of the clouds and waited on our taxi.

Right here I was thinking, "If we make it home before this hits, we are going to be very lucky!" But, I was still optimistic - it had held off this long. All we needed was 15 more minutes.

We would have made it too - except. Instead of going straight up the hill, we had other passengers to pick up at the Shepler's dock who were going to the Grand. They loaded, and we started through town. We made the turn from Market Street to Cadotte Avenue . . .

. . . let the folks off at the Grand, and just as we made the U-turn a little past the Grand porch - it hit! You can see the horses pulling the taxi in front of ours as they put their heads down into the wind and rain coming off the Straits.

View looking out of the taxi "rain flap" onto Lake Huron. The Purple Fountain Grass was horizontal in the wind.

And the view from our door for the rest of the afternoon The wind is howling, the rain is pouring, and the water is cascading down the street in sheets . . .

. . . and people are still trying to make it up the hill.

As I finish this post at 10:15 Tuesday evening, the rain has finally stopped, but the wind is still strong enough to force you to lean into it to make any headway.  A fine “first” storm this has been – I wonder what Mother Nature has in store for us next?! 

Note:  After I published the blog tonight, Diane Sprengel, a friend who lives near the breakwater, sent me these pics of those sailboats in the harbor this afternoon that got into some serious trouble during all the wind.  The photos are great, and I just had to add them.

In Diane’s words, “One sailboat ran aground, and two were tangled together until the owners came late in the day to free their sailboat.  He got the boats untangled and had the engine started.  All was going well, until the props caught hold of the ropes, and then the engine quit.  Now they were no longer moored to anything and were thrashing about.  They too ran aground, and thankfully no one was injured.”



Trailing Ted 6/14/2010

Having only been on a bike once so far this summer, and with Cathie not having been on a bike since she was here last summer, she and I daringly climbed aboard to follow Ted on his much-planned “show Cathie Friendship Altar and Little Arch Rock” adventure.  Friendship Altar is a hard-to- find spot in the woods Ted and I had discovered last fall, after detailed directions from an island resident.  Ted had only discovered Little Arch Rock last week, again on a tip from a life-long island native, so I had never been there.  “It’ll be fun!” he said.  Those words from Ted usually mean  I will end up either:  1) happy I tagged along to discover another island treasure, or 2) not speaking to my husband until the next time it snows at the equator. 

We  bought a used bicycle at the end of the season last year, so Cathie didn’t have to rent a bike for our little adventure into the great unknown.  We started off in the Village and headed toward the airport.

Cathie stopped two blocks from the condo to get a pic of these beautiful poppies in front of a neighbor's house.

We rode a mile or so, passed the airport, then Ted took a sharp left into what looked like dense woods.  Cathie, following close behind, tried to make the turn – and didn’t quite make it.

A perfect fall onto soft earth and grass. I gave her a 9.7 on grace.

We were soon into the forest primeval – seriously. 

We stopped occasionally for a Kodak moment. Ted would wait impatiently in the background, muttering, "It's a log. Why are you taking a picture of a log?"

The further we got into the woods, the more narrow the path became.

We kept climbing up the trail, while Ted went on and on about Little Arch Rock and what a "find" it was.

Cathie and I kept whispering to each other, "This is fun! This is fun!"

Eventually we rounded a bend in the trail and came upon a little pond of water surrounded by wildflowers.  We asked Ted, “Is this where Little Arch Rock is?” 

“No”, he replied, “This is a little pond of water surrounded by wildflowers.”

Little pond of water, etc. etc. etc.

After nearly an hour of hiking, the path became so dense Ted would have to go ahead of us, park his bike, then come back to pick our bikes up over fallen logs and big rocks.

Ted - lifting Cathie's bike over some fallen trees.

Our "trail" at the most narrow point.

Somwhere about here in our “quest”, my cell phone rang.  It seems, even in the middle of nowhere, the modern world can find you.  It was a nice lady from the Mackinac Historic State Parks with a question about the flag they are flying over the fort on Monday for Cathie and Charlie’s grandson.

"No, we didn't know Monday was Flag Day. That's wonderful! Oh, by the way, could you see if the Coast Guard might be available for a deep woods search and rescue later today?"

Finally, Ted turned and said, “There it is!  Little Arch Rock!  Now, aren’t you glad you came!”

Cathie and I followed the direction his finger was pointing – up a steep hill.  The only thing we saw was a rock.

“Where’s the arch?” we both said almost simultaneously.

“Well, you can’t exactly see it from here.  I had to climb that hill, hang upside down from that tree branch, and swing way over to the left before I spotted it” (just kidding except for the part about climbing the hill).

BUT – neither Cathie nor I wanted to climb the hill to find the arch, so we just took a picture of the rock. 

You can't see the arch either? Geez, where's your imagination!

 I have to tell you that Ted was a little disgusted over our lack of enthusiasm over “little arch”, so instead of taking us the scenic route to see Friendship Altar, he took a short cut, and we were there in five minutes.  Ted and I discovered this rock formation back in the fall of last year, and Cathie loved seeing it and climbing the platform tower for the view over the Straits.

This photo gives you some perspective of just how large this rock called The Friendship Altar really is.


From the Friendship Altar, you take a set of steps up, bringing you to this platform tower.


The view is worth all the climbing. Over the tops of the trees, looking past a little strip of the Straits of Mackinac, you can see St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula.

From Friendship Altar, we bypassed British Landing and started back to town (three miles away) on the highway that runs around the island.  While Ted rode on into town to the post office, Cathie and I took a shortcut that brought us out at the the Grand Hotel pool and gardens.  Just before we turned off the highway, we stopped at Devil’s Kitchen for this photo.

Cathie and I - standing inside Devil's Kitchen.


The Grand pool is heated all summer. In 1947, the movie This Time for Keeps, starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams, was made at the Grand Hotel. This pool was where Williams, a famous swimmer of that era, did all of her water location shots.


Cathie - photographing the beautiful gardens around the pool.

We didn't have flowers like this last year until the middle of July. The weather has been perfect this Spring for early bloomers!

We walked into a part of the gardens at the Grand I had not explored before. I have often heard of the Grand Maze, and now I've seen it!

We also discovered this beautifully carved wooden bench, where you can sit in the shade and just enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

Cathie and I arrived back at the condo, tired but very pleased with ourselves for having completed our journey without Coast Guard assistance.  Ted was a little hurt we weren’t more impressed with Little Arch Rock, but he was happy we enjoyed our adventure and that he doesn’t have to wait until it snows in Ecuador before he hears me say “This is fun!” again.  This morning he got up and asked us over coffee if we wanted to go with him to see the “Twin Rocks”.  Cathie and I just poured ourselves another cup of coffee – and grinned.

Note:  There will not be a blog post on Tuesday morning.  We leave for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on Monday morning, June 14, to visit Whitefish Point Lighthouse, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, the legendary Pictured Rocks, and Tahquamenon Falls (the second largest falls east of the Mississippi – with Niagara Fall being the largest).  It’s going to be a long, long day, so I’m going to skip blogging for one night.  I’ll be back here, good Lord willing, on Wednesday morning with news from our trip.  See you then!

A Fun Week! 6/12/2010

The Lilac Festival started on Mackinac Island today, and for the next ten days there is so much planned that it would take two of me to see it all.  I’m going to try and get to a lot of the activities and report back to you, so next week should be full of fun and photographs!

Tonight I’m just posting some random shots from this past week’s adventures.  Enjoy!

Our condo - framed by a lilac tree in full bloom (photo by Jill).

Bikes in the Grand Hotel "parking lot" - no valet parking here!

Caught downtown in the rain, I'm donning a very chic, clear plastic cover-up from the Island Bookstore (photo by Jill).

After a long day of pulling carriages, there's nothing like a shower to freshen you up before dinner and a romp in the corral.

Walking Maddie and Bear up past the island cemeteries (photo by Jill).

Bear - taking a little break. Maddie, in the background, is in full "investigate" mode.

A couple of Hackneys pull a group of island teenagers and dogs out past the library.

The flowers are blooming at the Grand Hotel just like it's the middle of summer. This beautiful peony is from a bed by the fence around the Grand's pool.

The Grand Hotel against a blue sky filled with wispy clouds.

After dinner tonight, Ted, Cathie, Charlie and I played a 2-hour game of Scattergories that was hilarious.  I somehow remember being much smarter at that game 10 years ago!  As I write this at 11:20 p.m., the wind is blowing very hard, and giant sheets of water are blowing sideways across the yard in front of the condo.  I think I’ll turn the computer off, grab a book, and read myself to sleep listening to the rain outside the partially open door to our deck.  Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

“Why wait for the weekend to have fun.” . . .