News from North to South 3/5/17

Hi Friends!

The big news from Mackinac is one of my favorite four-letter words . . . . . . SNOW!

Over 8″ of the white stuff fell this week, and residents are happily off their bikes again and zipping everywhere on their snowmobiles!

This awesome photo from Mel Bunk (taken from St. Ignace shows a snow squall sitting directly over Mackinac Island.

This awesome photo from Mel Bunk (taken from St. Ignace) shows a snow squall sitting directly over Mackinac Island.


Anything sitting for any length of time was soon wearing a thick layer of snow - like these snowmobiles parked along Main Street. (Photo: Doud's Market)

Anything that sat stationary for any length of time was soon wearing a thick layer of snow – like these snowmobiles parked along Main Street. (Photo: Doud’s Market)


Eugenia Murray was downtown duringall that snow and took this beautiful photo of Market Street as the snow fell.

Eugenia Murray was downtown and took this beautiful photo of Market Street as the snow fell.


When Patrick Conlon left work at Grand Hotel, he headed up into the island interior to capture this great shot . . .

When Patrick Conlon left work at Grand Hotel, he headed up into the island interior to capture this great shot . . .


.. . . and Stefanie Congdon shot this one as she was leaving Stonecliffe.

.. . . and Stefanie Congdon shot this one as she was leaving Stonecliffe.


Hmmmm - sweet 9-year-old Kaylee (Tracy and Gabe;s daughter) sold 39 8 cases (that's 464 boxes) of Girl Scout cookies this year. Thank goodness the snow fell, and they can deliver all these by snowmobile!

Sweet 9-year-old Kaylee (Tracy and Gabe’s daughter) sold 38

cases (that’s 464 boxes) of Girl Scout cookies this year. Thank goodness the snow fell, and they can deliver all these by snowmobile!
A rare capture. A sun pillar

A rare capture by Robert McGreevy during sunrise on March 4 – a sun pillar.  Amazing!

So glad the islanders got a big snowfall, even if it did come late in the winter months.  I don’t think there’s any way now there’s enough time for an ice bridge to form, so this will mark the first time in I don’t know how many years the island has had ferry service the entire winter.  I may be wrong on that, but it seems as though last year there were maybe two weeks when the ferry couldn’t get through.  Someone let me know if I got that wrong.

Here’s a date to put on your calendar as you’re thinking about future trips to Mackinac – the 2017 Lilac Festival is June 9-18,and here’s a link that will give you all the details: https://www.mackinacisland.org/mackinac-island-lilac-festival/

One last Mackinac note: Many of you have written me about what’s happening on the Mackinac Island News and Views Facebook page.  If you go there, you will see a notice that the page has been archived.  I haven’t been able to find out what’s going on, but I just can’t imagine the page will no longer be maintained.  It’s a fountain of information about what goes on day to day on the island (not to mention the incredibly beautiful photographs that are posted), and there are literally thousands of followers who LOVE that page – including yours truly.  Hope it’s back up soon!

FROM SUNSET INLET

We were so excited Kel (one of Ted's newly-found cousins) and his wife Gwen stopped overnight with us last week. They were headed down to Cocoa Beach from Michigan for two weeks of Florida fun! We first met them when we spent a day showing them around Mackinac last summer. Hoping to see them on the island again this summer!

We were so excited Kel (one of Ted’s newly-found cousins) and his wife Gwen stopped overnight with us last week. They were headed down to Cocoa Beach from Michigan for two weeks of Florida fun. We first met them when we spent a day showing them around Mackinac last summer. Hoping to see them on the island again this summer!


Our view of the sun setting from the top deck was pretty impressive that evening!

Our view of the sun setting from the top deck was pretty impressive that evening!


Thought this was a cute pic of the three of us - four if you count the turtle!

Thought this was a cute pic of the three of us – four if you count the turtle!

That’s it for now.  See you on Tuesday with a “throwback”!

God bless.

 

Introducing . . . . You! 4/7/16

Wow!  I have LOVED opening my email inbox this week!  Your photos are pouring in, and I’m hoping that will continue over the next few days.  I know some of you may be bashful about appearing on a blog, but I’m hoping – after this first set of pics – you change your mind and decide to “personally” introduce yourself (and your family, if you’d like) to me and the other blog readers.

Oh – here’s something interesting.  At least half of the photos I’ve received so far have been from my “silent readers”.  Oh my gosh, how I am loving that!  But . . . that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from those of you who comment often, or who I’ve met in person on the island.  I mean, just because I’ve met you doesn’t mean other readers have.  And this is an equal opportunity project!  Everybody gets to meet everybody!

Here are the first 15 photos – in no particular order!

gail and ray kalnajs

Meet Gail and Ray Kalnajs from Chicago, IL!  Here they are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary at The Inn at Stonecliffe last summer (they decided on the Inn after reading my Stonecliffe blogs last June). Gail found Bree’s Blog while surfing the Internet on a day she was “longing for Mackinac” and has been a reader for 4-5 years.  P.S.  They LOVED Stonecliffe and plan to return.

 

traci and bill rackley

Traci and Bill Rackley from Palaski TN.  Photo on Mackinac Island in June, 2013 (they came by the Stuart House while on this trip to say hello).  Traci found Bree’s Blog 5-6 years ago while Googling “Mackinac”.

Jayne and Ken Murdoch - Cedar Lake MI. Jayne and Ken have been visiting Mackinac at least once a year since 1975. She found the blog in 2010 while researching a coming trip to the Island. They met Ted in the Pink Pony one night (imagine that) a few years ago and were his partners in Trivia Pursuit game. Too funny!

Jayne and Ken Murdoch – Cedar Lake IN. Jayne and Ken have been visiting Mackinac at least once a year since 1975. She found the blog in 2010 while researching a future trip to the Island. They met Ted in the Pink Pony one night (imagine that) a few years ago and were his partners in a Trivia Pursuit game. Too funny!  Hoping I get to meet them too this summer!

Ann M. is from Kentucky, but originally from Michigan. She says she was bored at work one day and was Googling Up North and Mackinac Island, and she landed on Bree's Blog. That was 5-6 years ago.

Ann M. is from Kentucky, but originally from Michigan. She says she was bored at work one day, Googled “Up North” and “Mackinac Island”, and landed on Bree’s Blog. That was 5-6 years ago.  Glad you’re still aboard, Ann!

Meet Jason and Sirena Bergeron from San Antonio TX. Jason found Sirena were married on the island, but he found the blog 4-5 years ago while stationed in Afghanistan. Jason and Sirena are huge fans of the island and hope to visit again soon.

Meet Jason and Sirena Bergeron from San Antonio TX. Jason and Sirena were married on the island, and he found the blog 4-5 years ago while stationed in Afghanistan. Jason and Sirena are huge fans of Mackinac and hope to visit again soon.  Wow!  Only 4-5 years?  It seems as though I’ve been corresponding with Jason for a lot longer than that.  Jason was in charge of all the  working dogs serving in Afghanistan for several years.  He’s back in the states now, and I know Sirena is happy about that!  And so are all of us who prayed for his safe return.

Arnie and Karen Strasz - Red Wing MN. This photo is from Mackinac where they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary last June (looks like during the Lilac Festival)! They found the blog after their 2015 trip. Arnie and Karen honeymooned on the island in 1965 and have been back 8 times over the last 10 years.

Arnie and Karen Strasz – Red Wing MN. This photo is from Mackinac, where they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary last June (looks like it was during the Lilac Festival)! They found the blog after their 2015 trip. Arnie and Karen honeymooned on the island in 1965 and have been back 8 times over the last 10 years.

James H. (husband of blog reader Cheryl) and their beloved Tiki, who they lost last October. They've from Plainfield IL and found the blog 4-5 years ago while researching the island after their first visit.

James H. (husband of blog reader Cheryl) and their beloved Tiki, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge last October. They’ve from Plainfield IL and found the blog 4-5 years ago, while researching the island after their first visit.

Hilde and Bud DaVanon from Minooka IL and who I love, love, love! Hilde's been a reader since 2010 when she Googled "Mackinac Island" and I popped up. They visited the island the first time in 2008, missed in 2009, but haven't missed a year since. Ted and I have spent some really special times with this sweet couple enjoying "our" island together.

Hilde and Bud DaVanon from Minooka IL.  I love, love, love me some Hilde and Bud! Hilde’s been a reader since 2010 when she Googled “Mackinac Island”, and Bree’s Blog popped up. They visited the island the first time in 2008, missed in 2009, but haven’t missed a year since. Ted and I have spent some really special times with this sweet couple enjoying “our” island together.  I think the bench they’re sitting on is right outside the Chippewa Hotel – or maybe the Pink Pony!  Looking forward to seeing you guys during your September trip to Mackinac!

Meet Karen Snyder from Niles MI. Karen had a hard time finding a photo of herself because she's always BEHIND the camera. I can sure relate to that, Karen! She discovered the blog in 2010 from ANOTHER Mackinac Island blog written by our good friend, Mike Forrester, from Atlanta. After she found the blog she spent the rest of the winter going back and reading every post from the very beginning!

Meet Karen Snyder from Niles MI. Karen had a hard time finding a photo of herself because she’s always BEHIND the camera. I can sure relate to that, Karen! She discovered the blog in 2010 from ANOTHER Mackinac Island blog written by our Atlanta good friend, Mike Forrester. After she found Bree’s Blog she spent the rest of the winter going back and reading every post from the very beginning!  Wow – back in 2010 that would have been 400+ blog posts!  FYI – THIS is the 798th post to Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog!

Sweet friends Kem and Ed Green from Des Moines IA. Hey! I recognize that window behind you guys! Kem discovered the blog in 2011 and is another one who went back and read from the beginning. We love getting together with these two when they're on the island, which is at least once a summer. See y'all in September!

Sweet friends Kem and Ed Green from Des Moines IA. I recognize that window behind you guys! Kem discovered the blog in 2011 and is another reader who went back and read from the beginning. We love getting together with these two when they’re on the island, which is at least once a summer. See y’all when you’re up in September!

Mike and Pam Day - Ohio. AKA Nana and Poppy! I love these two, who Ted and I see almost every summer on Mackinac. Friend and artist Mary Lou Peters told Pam about the blog in 2011, and she's been a reader ever since.

Mike and Pam Day – Ohio – aka Nana and Poppy! I love these two, and Ted and I see them almost every summer on Mackinac. Friend and artist Mary Lou Peters told Pam about the blog in 2011, and she’s been a reader ever since.  See y’all this summer!  P.S.  Frequent readers may recognize that wicker bike basket between Pam and Mike.  Yep – I cropped my tired, sweaty, windblown self right out of this photo.  LOL. Sorry, Pam!

Two of my favorite people ever - DeAna and her son Trace, who just became a fireman (like his dad) in their homem of Commerce Township MI.

Two of my favorite people ever – DeAna and her son Trace, who just became a fireman like his dad.  They all live in Commerce Township MI.  DeAna found the blog through Facebook about 6 years ago.  The whole family came by to meet me at the Stuart House several years ago (before Trace even had his driver’s license)!  They toured the Mackinac Island fire station that day – if I’m remembering correctly.  DeAna prayed me through some scary hours when Blake was in Turkey – her heart reaching out to mine as only another mother could.  Love you, my sweet friend!

Sterling Slaven and his beautiful family - Glenpool OK.

Sterling Slaven and his beautiful family – Glenpool OK.  This photo was taken at Sterling and wife Tina’s daughter’s wedding last year.  Children are Savannah, Sawyer, Sumner, and Sadie (in age order).  The family visited Mackinac for the first time in 2012, and the kids said, “This is the best place ever!”  Sterling has been a blog reader for several years, and I have to share this: Sterling said he and the family spend a week or two each year at the beach, and they love it.  For their anniversary he borrowed my idea for a “beach sand garden”, made one himself, and presented it to Tina!

Had to share it! Great job, Sterling!

Had to share it! Great job, Sterling!

Monica Stafford (Parma MI)and her precious Ginny, a miniature dachshund. Ginny was 14 when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge in July. Monica found the blog on Google over 5 years ago. She visit the island as often as possible.

Monica Stafford (Parma MI)and her precious Ginny, a miniature dachshund. Ginny was 14 when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge last July. Monica found the blog on Google over 5 years ago. She visits the island as often as possible.

Beth Loesch in her unbelievable garden in Britton MI (I asked Beth if she used Mackinac Island horse poop to grow a garden like that. She laughed and said, "No, but it got some help from our sheep"). Beth tells me we met on a Shepler's Ferry three years ago, and we struck up a conversation (imagine that - me, talking to someone!). I told her about the blog, and she looked it up as soon as she got home. She's been a reader ever since. She's visited Mackinac for many years and tries to go each August.

Beth Loesch in her unbelievable garden in Britton MI (I asked Beth if she used Mackinac Island horse poop to grow a garden like that. She laughed and said, “No, but it got some help from our sheep.”) Beth tells me we met on a Shepler’s Ferry three years ago, and we struck up a conversation (imagine that – me, talking to someone!). I told her about the blog, she looked it up as soon as she got home, and she’s been a reader ever since. She’s visited Mackinac for many years and tries to go each August.

And there you go – the first 15!   Right now I have 15 more ready to post on Sunday, and I’m hoping everyone gets busy and sends me TONS more photos.  Come on – I want this to break the record we set with the “Places You Live” posts (there were 63 of those).  I will continue to post them for as long as you send them in!

I LOVE MY READERS!!!

God bless.

 

Springtime in Winter . . . Winter in Winter . . . And the Adventure of a Lifetime! 2/4/16

Here it is February 4, and in Beverly Beach it’s already springtime!  Even though it’s pouring down rain as I type this – and it’s supposed to dip back into the 50’s and 60’s for the weekend – we’ve enjoyed a few days with temps in the 70’s and lots of sunshine!  Perfect weather!

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven't had very many cold nights).

Tuesday was just a wonderful spring-like day. I pulled the chair pillows out of the storage bin and enjoyed sitting a while out on the glider. That plant has been right in that spot all winter (which just proves we haven’t had very many cold nights).

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion.

A gorgeous sunset from the deck of the Golden Lion (about 2 miles from our house). (Photo: Ted Jurkuta)

It's amazing what you'll see out your car window in Flagler Beach near the pier!

It’s amazing what you’ll see out your car window near the pier in Flagler Beach.

As I type . . . .

As I type . . . . rain and thunder, and it looks like it’s setting in for the night.

A couple of personal notes:

  1.  Facebook friends already know this, but for those who don’t do Facebook, I have to brag on my Ted.  It’s not often –  at age 68 – you win a Rookie of the Year Award.  But that’s what he received Sunday evening in St. Augustine at the Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos Volunteer Award Dinner (for his volunteer work at Fort Matanzas).
So proud of him!

So proud of him!

2)  With my neck issues, I’ve had to give up (temporarily, I hope) working at the Flagler Humane Society (can’t pick up 10-15 lb. kitties).  So . . .I needed to add another “something” to my volunteer day in the ER. I’ve just finished training, and starting next Wednesday I’ll be volunteering at the Same Day Surgery Center of Florida Hospital Flagler in their Town Center facility.  I LOVE working there.  We stay busy the entire morning, and I have a lot more opportunities to interact with patients, both before and after their surgeries.  Hoping to still get back to the Humane Society, but I don’t think I’ll give up either of these hospital days.  P.S.  I FINALLY will have my appointment with my neurologist next Wednesday afternoon!!  Can’t wait to see what his suggestions for treatment will be.

ON MACKINAC ISLAND – IT’S STILL WINTER!!

clarkcalmbeforestorm

The same morning I was sitting out on the deck in the sunshine, Clark Bloswick was up early capturing this beautiful sunrise over the Straits and reminding us, “Red skies at morning, sailors take warning.” A blizzard was forecast to hit the island that evening.

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

And it did. Almost white out conditions on Wednesday. (Photo: Tom Chambers)

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock - and ducks on the roof

A little break in the snow revealed the Mighty Huron coming in to dock – and ducks lined up along the peak of the roof at St. Anne’s. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

greg main2

Greg Main was out early the next morning with his camera and caught the snow plow clearing Market Street, so emergency vehicles could run if needed.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.

My friend Joan Barch took this shot looking straight out into her yard from her front porch.  Now THAT is heavy, wet snow!

The beautiful Inn at Stone Cliffe - as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by flowers in the summer.

The wonderful Inn at Stonecliffe – as beautiful surrounded by the snow of winter as it is surrounded by the flowers of summer. (Photo:  The Inn at Stonecliffe)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobiler heads up Fort Hill. (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Late this afternoon. Snow starting again, and a lone snowmobile heads up Fort Hill.  I mean seriously, folks – how gorgeous is this!   (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Now . . . a special treat tonight!  For all of you (including me) who wonder what it would be like to spend a month on Mackinac in the dead on winter – alone, knowing no one, and in an EMPTY Mission Point Resort, click right here for a wonderful, WONDERFUL article by Patrick McBriarty, who just finished doing just that – what an adventure!    http://www.ptmwerks.com/winter-on-mackinac.html

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One More Day . . . and A Wedding Tale 9/27/15

It’s Sunday evening.  We leave on Tuesday morning.  One more full day on Mackinac. 

I refuse to be sad though.  What a great nine weeks we’ve had in Michigan this summer!  Three wonderful weeks at Black Lake with Sue and Terry, followed by six glorious weeks on the island.  Except for a few days of rain here and there, the weather has been perfectly perfect.  We’ve seen, visited, and eaten with old friends – and picked up a couple of new ones along the way!

On Thursday a group of blog readers who were all on the island at the same time gathered in front of the Stuart House for a group photo. (l-r): Rodd and Vicki (Georgia), Yvonne (Iowa), Kem (Iowa), Pam (Oio), me, Denice (California), Mike and Pam (Ohio), Kate (Indiana) Sue and Buzz - the Chocolate Lab (Michigan) and Jill. What fun for everyone to get together and put faces with names! Let's do this again next year - maybe at Sadie's!! (Photo: Ted)

On Thursday a group of blog readers who were on the island at the same time gathered in front of the Stuart House for a group photo. (l-r): Rodd and Vicki (Georgia), Yvonne (Iowa), Kem (Iowa), Pam (Ohio), me, Denice (California), Mike and Pam (Ohio), Kate (Indiana) Sue and Buzz – the Chocolate Lab (Michigan) and Jill. What fun for everyone to get together and put faces with names! Let’s do this again next year – maybe at Sadie’s!! (Photo: Ted)

On Saturday morning we saw Jill off at the ferry dock. She was leaving the island for a few days, but wouldn't be back until after we leave. Always a bittersweet time of year.

On Saturday morning we saw Jill off at the ferry dock. She was leaving the island for a few days, but won’t be back until after we leave. Always a bittersweet time of year.

Saturday afternoon I was sitting in the big cushy chair in the bedroom, reading a couple of chapters of a new book and glanced up for a moment. Outside the wind was kicking up white caps on the lake, and waves were throwing themselves against the rocks along the shore. I sure am going to miss this spot when we leave.

Saturday afternoon I was sitting in the big cushy chair in the bedroom, reading a couple of chapters of a new book when I glanced up for a moment. Outside the wind was kicking up white caps on the lake, and waves were throwing themselves against the rocks along the shore. I sure am going to miss this spot when we leave.

From the deck last night.

From the deck last night.

We only have to step outside into the yard to see the island beginning to dress for Fall. We'll miss all the glory of Mackinac fully dressed in all her splendor this year, so I'll be relying on the photographs of others to

We only have to step out into the yard to see the island beginning to dress for Fall. We’ll miss all the glory of Mackinac fully clothed in all her seasonal splendor this year, so I’ll be relying on the photographs of others to fill that void.

It will take us a couple of nights on the road to get back to Florida, and we’ll stop for a visit with Jason in Atlanta on Wednesday night.  Then, good Lord willing, we’ll pull into the driveway of our Beverly Beach home on Thursday, unpack, and prepare for a great Florida winter.  As always, safe travel prayers will be much appreciated.

A Wedding Tale (the names have been changed in this story)

A couple of weeks ago Susie, a Bree’s Blog reader, contacted me by email with a request.  Her parents, who had divorced 15 years ago, were going to remarry on Mackinac on Friday, Sept. 25, on the grounds at Stonecliffe.  It was really an elopement, and there were to be no guests and no photographer – just the couple, a minister, and strangers as witnesses.

Susie was devastated she wasn’t going to be there, but she has a new baby, and . . .  she lives in Texas.  Her request was simple – would I please go up and snap a few photos (without the couple seeing me, or maybe just pretend I happened to be there taking photos for something else) – my “cover” story was up to me.  Being a sucker for romance, I immediately said “Sure”, and asked her to contact me the day before the wedding to give me any additional information . . . like where on the grounds to find them!

On Thursday (the day before the wedding) Susie still didn’t know many details.  Her mom and dad, thinking there was no reason for anyone to know anything, couldn’t understand all the questions their daughter was asking.  They just kept saying, “It’s just a very simple ceremony.  Why are you so curious?”

Flash to me.  I was into my cleaning/packing zone and thinking, “Why on earth did I commit to riding to Stonecliffe and taking photos of folks I don’t know?  I don’t have time to do this!  What if they have me arrested for crashing their wedding?  What if I can’t FIND their wedding?!

I emailed Susie and pretty crabbily said, “I’ve got another commitment later Friday afternoon (I did), and I’ve got to at least know where the ceremony is taking place.  I can’t just walk around up there hoping I’ll stumble on it.” 

I’ll be painfully honest here.  I was really hoping she would say, “Oh, don’t worry about it.  I found out someone else is going to be there with a camera.”

Instead, Susie emailed her mom and dad and spilled the beans.  Bree the Blogger was coming to their wedding to take photos, and she HAD to know the location!!  And, after having a good laugh, they told her.

Back to me the day of the wedding.  There I was.  Huffing and puffing up Cadotte, sweating/glistening like the sweater/glistener you all know and love.  I got off to push my bike up the steepest part of the road, wiping my brow and silently saying, “I don’t believe I’m doing this.”

Once I made the turn at Four Corners onto Annex Road, I pedaled the rest of the way out to Stonecliffe.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t cool enough to dry me off.  I arrived with semi-damp hair and runny mascara.  I was a mess.

My plan was to run inside Stonecliffe and freshen up – then go to the location I’d been given, snap a few photos, and be back home in plenty of time to get where I was supposed to be next.  As I approached the mansion, a handsome gentleman dressed in a suit and tie walked toward me, smiling and offering a hand.

“Are you Bree?” he asked shyly.

“Yes I am,” I said, still dabbing at my hairline with a wadded-up Kleenex. 

“I’m Joe, Susie’s dad.”  We shook hands, exchanged a few words, and I excused myself to run inside.  I splashed cold water on my face, dried it, and plopped the hat I’d brought with me down over my wet hair.  Not perfect, but we do what we can do.

Outside, I met the minister and his wife, and Joe called his soon-to-be-wife-again Ellie and told her everyone was there and we could start early.  He also asked me if I could be a witness because they needed one more.  I sure could.

We turned and walked toward the grotto, but I stopped about halfway and waited on the bride, thinking it would be a great photo to get her coming across the grass with the mansion in the background.  Joe and the minister and his wife walked on ahead so they would be in their proper places.

I stood there alone in the shade of all those glorious old trees that edge Stonecliffe.  Behind me the sun glistening off the water of the Straits was almost blinding.  A light breeze lifted the brim of my hat, and I realized I was no longer glistening.  The sky, which is only that blue in Michigan, reached down and blended with the blue water of Lake Huron.  The only sound I heard was the wind in the trees and the distant horn of a ferry far below.  And I thought, thank you God, for sending me here today.

At that moment a movement caught my eye, and I turned to see Ellie coming across the grass.  Her hair was blonde and loose, cascading around her shoulders.  Her dress was beautiful and classic.  In one hand she carried a pair of high heels.  On her feet she wore flip flops.  I almost split my lip grinning at her, and I started snapping one pic after another.

I walked a little ahead of her down the rocky path, stopping at one point to capture the moment when she leaned one hand against a tree to change shoes.  By the time she went forward to meet Joe and the minister, I was in place beside the minister’s wife – a little off to the side. 

I’m so glad no one was videoing the wedding because all they would have heard over Joe and Ellie’s vows was the sniffing of one very moved photographer. The vows the minister asked them to repeat seemed to be tailored just for them.  I don’t know their story, but I do know the way they looked at each other and touched each other and smiled at each other.  These two people love each other very much.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, it just takes a few years apart to realize that. 

After the ceremony, we all laughed at Susie’s original attempt to get photographs of her mom and dad’s wedding.  Ellie said she sure was glad she hadn’t looked up and seen me standing behind a tree taking photos!  It would have scared her to death!

When I got back to the condo, I emailed the best of the pics to Susie, and her words back to me were so touching. “You made ME cry.  Couldn’t have sent these gorgeous photos at a better time.  I’m sitting here in Texas with my youngest baby snoring away on my belly and these photos took me to Mackinac with my parents.  Thank you so much.  Such a beautiful day.  Looks like the Island worked its magic again!”

It sure did.  Having a servant’s heart is such hard work.  I struggle with my desire to “do unto others”, but too often my selfishness and preoccupation with “me” gets in the way. When I remember to “let go and let God”, everything always works out in the best possible way.  Why do I find it so hard to remember that!?

Thank you, Susie, for inviting me to the wedding of your mom and dad.  I wish them years and years of happiness, and I know you are a blessing to them.

______________________________________________________________________

So, I’m sitting here about to hit the “publish button”, and – from below my third story window and out of the dark night I hear, “BRENDA!!”  I turn my head toward the window and can just vaguely make out – by the streetlamp – a lady on a bicycle.

“It’s Yvonne!” she calls, and I laugh out loud (Yvonne is the third person from the left in the group shot of us in front of the Stuart House). 

“I was just riding by and looked up and saw you in the window – busily typing!” she yells.

“I’m just finishing a blog,” I shout.

“Ok – I’m on my way then back to the hotel to read it!”  She laughs and rides off.

And now you’re IN it, Yvonne!  Love you, girl! You made my night!

Only on Mackinac!

Mackinac June Visit – Last Day on the Island 6/25/15

The last day of our June visit to Mackinac was on Wednesday, and after spending the morning writing a Stonecliffe post, I hopped on a waiting taxi to meet Jill and Sue for lunch. Already on board the taxi were a couple from Kentucky and a lady with her daughter.  The daughter (I wrote down all the names and have somehow lost them – imagine that) was from Canada, and her mom was visiting her – in the states for the first time.  And that’s how . . .

. . . three moms (one from Kentucky, one from Saudi Arabia and me) spent a taxi ride sharing stories and cell phone photos of children and grandchildren.  The lady from Saudi Arabia didn't speak a word of English, but her daughter translated for us.  She was so sweet and funny and must have shown us a hundred photos of her family.  Only on Mackinac!

. . . three moms (one from Kentucky, one from Saudi Arabia and me) spent a taxi ride sharing stories and cell phone photos of children and grandchildren. The lady from Saudi Arabia didn’t speak a word of English, but her daughter translated for us. She was so sweet and funny and must have shown us a hundred photos of her family. Only on Mackinac!

We ate lunch at Millie's on Main and then took a long walk together - it felt just like old times!  So glad a stranger asked if he could take our photo so we could all be in the shot!

We ate lunch at Millie’s on Main and then took a long walk together – it felt just like old times! So glad a stranger asked if he could take our photo so we could all be in this shot in front of the lilacs!

I know the middle of June is well past “spring” in most places in the country, but with the high temps being only in the low 60’s, most of the island flower gardens haven’t been in the ground long.  But, Mackinac always manages to look beautiful for the Lilac Festival, and this year was no different.

The steeple of St. Anne's always makes a wonderful backdrop for the Main Street lilacs.

The steeple of St. Anne’s always makes a wonderful backdrop for the Main Street lilacs.

Hard to believe a couple of weeks ago, there were no flowers in these beds at all.  It's just another bit of Mackinac magic!

Hard to believe a couple of weeks ago, there were no flowers in these beds at all. It’s just another bit of Mackinac magic!

One of the new places to visit on the island - the Peace Garden behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Museum . . .

One of the new places to visit on the island – the Peace Garden behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum in Marquette Park. 

What a great place for a little quiet time!

The garden represents the longstanding peaceful relationship between the United States and Canada since the end of the War of 1812.  Jack Barnwell and his crew did a beautiful job with the landscaping – what a great place for a little quiet time!

Jill had to leave us to go to work, and I needed to get back to Stonecliffe to start packing.  Sue walked with me as far as the Grand Hotel, and we decided to go out on the porch so we could photograph the tulips from above.

The entrance to the Grand!

The entrance to the Grand!

An awesome view past the geraniums on that long front porch.

An awesome view past the geraniums down Cadotte Avenue.

What an awesome landscaping achievement.  A pinwheel garden of tulips!

What an amazing landscaping achievement – a pinwheel garden of tulips!

Sadie's Ice Cream Parlor was doing a brisk business - even in the chilly temps.

Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor was doing a brisk business – even in the chilly temps.

Have any of my readers ever played chess with these life-size chess pieces?

Have any of my readers ever played chess with these life-size chess pieces?

Another view of the tulips from above. . .

Another view of the tulips from above. . .

. . . and one from eye-level.

. . . and one from eye-level.

I walked past the Grand to Four Corners and hooked a left onto Annex Road - which took me straight back to Stonecliffe.

I walked past the Grand to Four Corners and hooked a left onto Annex Road – which took me straight back to Stonecliffe.

What a fun, fun trip!  We can’t wait to get back in August for six weeks on the island! 

This will be the last post on Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog until we return to the island in August.  I’ll be back on Sunday on the To Be Clay blog (http://bree2015.wordpress.com) to catch you up on everything that’s been happening at the beach for the last couple of weeks.Hope to see you then!

God bless.

Personal Note:  Please lift prayers for continued healing for our former neighbor and great friend Chief “Duck” Andress.  Duck cut off two of his fingers last week while working on his world-famous walking sticks in his shop.  He is doing great, but a few extra prayers never hurt!

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The Stonecliffe Adventure – The Rest of the Story 6/21/15

Having the opportunity to spend a few days at the Inn at Stonecliffe gave Ted and I a whole new Mackinac perspective.  When we lived on the island for six months out of each year, we – like most folks – got into our little comfort zones.  We’d go to certain restaurants, certain bars, certain shops, and certain areas of the island.  It wasn’t that we had anything against other places – we were just unfamiliar with them and – I guess – too lazy to give them a try.

Now that we’ve stayed at Stonecliffe – and eaten there – we’ve definitely added this gorgeous area to our comfort zone list.  We’ll be back later in the summer to have dinner and try out the fabulous new Sunday brunch they’ve recently added – as well as head up there in the evening for a drink on the patio or to watch the sun go down from Sunset Rock.

When I explore new places where I’ll be staying a few days, one of my favorite things to do is seek out cozy spots to read – or just to sit and be quiet for a few moments.  Stonecliffe is one of those places where “out of the way” spots are plentiful, and when you go looking for those special spots, you’re also bound to open doors to special rooms, special outdoor spaces, and special people!

The back porches of the Summer House Suites are cool and shady, and the ferry and freighter sound effects from the Straits add to the "Mackinac" experience.

The back porches of the Summer House Suites are cool and shady, and the ferry and freighter sound effects from the Straits add to the “Mackinac” experience.

I loved this little alcove on the second floor at the mansion.  Comfy chair and lighting through stained glass windows - perfect spot to curl up with a good book!

I loved this little alcove on the second floor at the mansion. Comfy chair and lighting through stained glass windows – perfect spot to curl up with a good book!

The Inn's staircase is a spiral masterpiece.  There are rooms on both the second and third floor, with the staircase winding up to the third floor through the turret.

The Inn’s staircase is a spiral masterpiece. There are rooms on both the second and third floor, with the staircase winding up to the third floor through the turret . . .

. . . . with stops along the way to look out on Stonecliffe's beautiful grounds.

. . . . with stops along the way to look out on Stonecliffe’s beautiful grounds.

This little nook on the first floor is all about Stonecliffe weddings.

This little nook on the first floor is all about Stonecliffe weddings, with albums filled with past wedding photographs.

My favorite "daytime" hidey-hole - a half-hidden bench beside the fireplace in the Inn's bar.

My favorite “daytime” hidey-hole – a half-hidden bench beside the fireplace in the Inn’s bar – a nice spot for journaling or to just get away.  And if you want to read, there’s a window seat on the other side of the fireplace which, on cool evenings, is filled with a crackling old-fashioned wood fire!

Not exactly a "hidey-hole", but the pool at Stonecliffe is awesome and was just being filled for the first time the week we were there.

The pool at Stonecliffe (as seen from a Summer House suite) is awesome and was just being filled for the first time the week we were there. . .

. . . and - like everything at Stonecliffe - the pool is just a stone's throw from an unbelievable view of the Straits!

. . . and – like everything at Stonecliffe – the pool is just a stone’s throw from an unbelievable view of the Straits!

A big surprise when this door was opened.  The resort has its own beauty salon - to the delight of all the wedding parties who stay there.  Hair and makeup stylists come up from town, and this room turns into "party central" in the hours before a wedding!

A big surprise when this door was opened. The resort has its own beauty salon – to the delight of all the wedding parties who stay there. Hair and makeup stylists come up from town, and this room turns into “party central” in the hours before the ceremony!  You see that big white hook in the upper left-hand corner of the room?  Yep – that’s for the wedding dress!

 

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Trey and Matt are always ready to load luggage onto or out of the taxis, get everything up to your room, and help answer questions!

The kitchen at Stonecliffe is sparkling clean and highly efficient.  It's hard to believe that this was once a private family's kitchen space.

The kitchen at Stonecliffe is sparkling clean and highly efficient. It’s hard to believe that this was once a private family’s cooking space.

The huge laundry room in the Summer House Suites handles the linens for both properties.  This is Tyiana's third season at the resort (she works at several positions there).  She is the only person I've ever seen fold a fitted sheet into a perfect square!

The huge laundry room in the Summer House Suites handles the linens for both properties. This is Tyiana’s third season at the resort (she works at several positions there). She is the only person I’ve ever seen who could fold a fitted sheet into a perfect square!

I poked my head into an office door and met these two hard working ladies -  Intern Extraordinaire Margaret McGovern and Sales Manager Becky Miller.

I poked my head into an office door and met these two hard working ladies – Intern Extraordinaire Margaret McGovern and Sales Manager Becky Miller.

I can't end without reintroducing you to Stefanie Congdon, who was the lady who invited me up to write about Stonecliffe.  Little did I know that Bree's Mackinac Island Blog played a small part in Stefanie's arrival on Mackinac.

And I can’t end this series without reintroducing you to General Manager Stefanie Congdon, who invited me up to write about Stonecliffe.

A huge thank you to Stefanie and her gracious staff for making our stay at The Inn at Stonecliffe a magical few days.  We were treated like royalty, fed well, and made to feel like family.    But – that’s the way every guest is treated at Stonecliffe.  I saw it over and over again in the days we were there – all the special touches, the attention to detail, and the time being taken to answer questions, make suggestions, and ensure each guest feels special.

Martin Buber said, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”  When we started our Stonecliffe adventure, I thought I knew what we’d find – a magnificent family home rich in history, beautiful in design, and filled with the luxurious trappings of an island paradise.  We found all of that . . . and we also found many of the “secret destinations” at Stonecliffe.  It will all keep us returning to this special spot over the years, and I encourage you to go and discover it all for yourself.  Don’t be bashful about roaming the halls and walking the grounds. The Stonecliffe experience is another part of Mackinac that will reach out and grab your heart . . . and not let it go.

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Mackinac June Visit – Monday Afternoon/Tuesday 6/18/15

 

Being on Mackinac for a few days refueled my engines in so many ways.  First, it got me away from the oven that Florida has become in the last week or two.  Although the thermometer just topped 90 today for the first time this summer, the humidity makes it feel infinitely hotter.  Bear and Maddie can’t even take their normal walks out to the intracoastal dock anymore because the wood on the walk-over is too hot for their paws.  They just put on their brakes and refuse to move.  So – I was more than delighted to dig out a sweater and jacket for the island highs – only in the 60’s!

Second, it was wonderful to see so many island friends!  On Mackinac you can hardly turn a corner without seeing someone you know, so we spent a lot of time catching up on a year’s worth of news.

And third – for me – it was a homecoming.  No matter where else we go, I believe Mackinac is always going to be my ultimate destination on this earth. The island recharges my spirit in some unfathomable way that defies explanation.  I feel energized when I’m there – able to climb hills, walk miles and miles, leap small buildings in a single bound – well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift.

After meeting with Stefanie on Monday morning and getting a tour of beautiful Stonecliffe, I grabbed the shuttle to town, planning to meet up with Ted, who had already borrowed a Stonecliffe bike and was out exploring.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been having some back issues for a couple of weeks, so biking was out of the question for me on this trip.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Since this was the noon shuttle, a stop at the barns for a team change was on the schedule.

Cadotte Avenue over a horse's back!

Cadotte Avenue over a horse’s back!

My first stop was the Island Bookstore.  Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there - all smiles!

My first stop was The Island Bookstore. Jill was out on an errand, but Tamara and Emma were there – all smiles!  Coming into that store is like opening a door to a favorite room in your home . . . familiar, comfortable, cozy – and filled with folks you can’t help but love.

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort).  The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he'd walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe.  There was music playing we were walking through Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on)

I found Ted, who had left his bike up at the Fort Mackinac offices (on the back side of the fort). The plan was to walk up and get his bike, and he’d walk/bike with me back to Stonecliffe. There was music playing in Marquette Park (it was Lilac Festival Week, and there were all kinds of activities going on).  This lady was videoing her husband dancing in front of the lilacs.  The man had some serious moves . . . so cute!

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A broader view of Marquette Park and all the lilac trees.

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One good thing about living in a two-story house is that you get a good dose of aerobic activity each day, and that comes in handy on Mackinac!  I usually have to stop several times going up the ramp in front of the fort, but this time it was a relatively easy climb – and the higher you go, the better the view!

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac,

One view from the ramparts of Fort Mackinac, looking across Marquette Park out to the Straits . . .

. . . and another looking straight up Main Street.

. . . and another looking straight down Main Street.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park offices, where we picked up Ted's bike.  Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground on familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

We walked through the fort and over to the State Park office, where we picked up Ted’s bike. Our trip back to Stonecliffe was over ground so familiar we could have both navigated it blindfolded.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

One leg took us past the Surrey Ridge Carriage Museum.

. . . . where nothing had changed.  Carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack.  Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island's main tourist attactions.

. . . . where carriages filled with excited visitors pull up and empty. The visitors spend time looking at the vintage carriages, checking out the shops (lots of sweatshirt sales that day), and grabbing a snack. Then they board a larger carriage out back for a narrated ride to most of the island’s main tourist attractions.

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation.  Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

The woods we passed through were lush with vegetation. Although the trillium was mostly gone . . .

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

. . . the Lady Slippers were still blooming in several areas.

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

And then, of course, there were the lilacs!

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather.  I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town.  The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo).  Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I'd get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge

We spent Tuesday morning hiking around the Stonecliffe area and enjoying the cool weather. I wrote another blog that morning, and early in the afternoon Ted left for town. The annual Community Foundation celebration was that evening in Turtle Park, and Ted had volunteered to help cook (something he did for several years when we had our condo). Around 4 p.m. I set out on foot for Turtle Park, hoping I’d get to see friend Denise at Surrey Ridge.  Sure enough she was there, and we had a great visit!

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with so many of our friends from the "Village" - where our condo was located.

The Community Foundation celebration is always a great event, and we got to visit with many of our friends from the “Village” – where our condo was located.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off walking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we'd use practically every day.  I'd stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.

Ted rode the dray back to town with the cooking crew, and I set off hiking back to Stonecliffe, walking down trails that we’d use practically every day in our summers there. I’d stop occasionally and just take in the sounds of the birds and the wind rustling through the trees.  I love the Mackinac woods more than any other part of the island. It’s in those woods I find the peace that makes the island so special to me.

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

I came out once again at Surrey Ridge and paused long enough to snap a photo of the Grand Hotel stable . . .

 . . . and the horse corral nearby - larger now than it was when we lived there in the summers.

. . . and the horse corral nearby – larger now than it was a couple of years ago.

And . . . for the first time since we sold  . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.  Well, maybe just one or two.

And . . . for the first time since we sold . . . I was able to look up the hill and photograph our condo without shedding tears.   Ok, ok . . . maybe just one or two.

Our last full day on the island was Wednesday, and that story is coming soon.  But first, tune in Sunday for one more post about Stonecliffe – its hidden nooks and crannies and what goes on behind the scenes to ensure your stay is perfect!

God bless.