Thursday, August 18, 2011


Don't marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can't live without. ~James C. Dobson

Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage. ~Finnish Proverb

A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year. ~Paul Sweeney

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.
~Ogden Nash

Okay, enough quotes about marriage. No, I am not married, was once and for about 28 years; but he is one of my best friends still. We get along better now.

Quiet morning. Took pictures, went down to town to get a couple of history books on the Island for my brother. The wedding was set for 3:30 p.m.

Breakfast with the Kansas gang. Location of the wedding on the porch (see the giant chess set?), view from the porch, looking down The World's Longest Porch My room is on the 2nd floor just above the bottom post corner of the flag - has a little balcony. The two young fellows are from the Philippines.
This carriage (shown here on the shower curtain), is on a lot of items found around the Hotel.

Okay, it's almost time for the wedding ceremony.

Gotta stock up on tissue for the bride. Here come the moms.
Ahhhhh, here comes the beautiful bride.

Where are the
tissues, Dad?

Looks like Mom Sarah needs some tissues too.

I do, I do.

Kiss the Bride.

Mrs Courtney and Mr Adam.
I do want to say that we were a little bit concerned about the weather as it was overcast up until about 30 minutes before the wedding ceremony started. There were about 30 in attendance which made it a very nice intimate wedding.

Shortly afterwards the wedding dinner was held in a small dining area adjacent to the Main Dining Room. We were escorted into the dining room before the Hotel guests were allowed to come into the dining room. Not so when we left the dinner - right down the middle bride and groom and party walked. Even a spattering of applause was heard.

Here we are: myself on the left, bride's mom Sarah, and Sherry. We are known as The Hens. Bride Courtney is our Pullet. She and Adam reside in the Washington D.C. area so we don't get to see our young hen very often.

The traditional cake cutting.

It was such a special wedding in a very beautiful place on a gorgeous day. I am so thankful that my friend Sarah asked me if I wanted to go. I didn't hesitate saying yes. I have known Courtney for around 25 years so she was just a youngster starting school (or right around there) for the first time when I met her. What an outstanding young lady she has become. Adam, I recently met, can hold his own with Courtney and Sarah; and, he is easily adored, what with his wit and fast comebacks to Sarah and Courtney. He'll do good.

The evening was quiet for us. I packed for departure on Sunday. Our plans were to get home on Tuesday sometime as Sarah had a commitment at her school on Wednesday. I spent the evening walking around the Grand Hotel again, down on the grounds again, around the Parlor Floor again. Staying at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island was now crossed off my "Bucket List."

Little Tidbits Learned . . .

I always enjoy learning what makes something/life tick in the area where I am. Here I am on an Island that has no motorized vehicles, except emergency or the forklift on the dock unloading freight.

I learned that the Hackney horses, that pull the special surreys or the Grand's surreys, work about one hour a day. Most of the time they are standing and are limited as to how many they will pull in a surrey. They will burn more calories in the one hour of work than one draft horse will in a day's shift. Being a much more high strung animal, it is easy to understand that.

The draft horses will work a 6 or 8 hour day. They will work no more than 4 hours at a time, then either have a one hour lunch break and come back for a couple more hours either that afternoon or perhaps in the evening. And of course, water is offered to them often. If they work an 8 hour day, then they are off for 24 hours. Sometimes they work a 4 hour shift, then off for 24 hours and then work maybe two 4 hour shifts.

Their feed was developed by an Island vet and they often get fed 3 times a day. They are bathed every day - before going to work and afterwards. Bathing includes brushing too. They do wear shoes that have a special plastic coating that is between the horseshoe and the pavement.

The dray wagon horses pretty much have the same schedule as the wagon pulling horses. They cannot pull more than 3000 pounds in a load and that includes the weight of the wagon and the driver. The further back the freight load is put on the wagon, the more it weighs and has to be taken into consideration on the weight limit.

On the average, 15,000 people visit the Island each day during the summer. There are around 350 full-time all year round residents. The Grand will have a staff during the winter months (usually around mid-October to early May) to do repairs, etc. During the winter, when the water between the Island and mainland is frozen, snowmobiles are used to get back and forth and are allowed on the Island. The rest of the year, full-timers use the ferries to get back and forth or perhaps their own boats. If one is of Catholic faith and an Island full-timer for a minimum of 10 years, then you can be buried in the Catholic cemetery on the Island.

Lots of weddings take place on the Island. Another wedding was scheduled an hour after Courtney's and a couple on Sunday at the Grand. The following weekend, there were 6 or 8 weddings scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Grand.

There are a number of bed and breakfast establishments if one wants to stay closer to the downtown or even away. The homes are privately owned, but not the land under them as the land is owned by the National Park Service. There are strict rules for keeping them and one we learned is that all plumbing must be drained before winter to prevent pipe ruptures. If you are living in the residence full-time, then a portion is exempt from winterizing.

One of the things I did note at the Grand, is that all the wait staff are non-Caucasian. I was told that this is a tradition and works out very well. There is no tipping allowed at the Grand and we were told that everyone is paid "very handsomely". Tipping is allowed at the other properties that the Grand operates. Everyone, and I mean everyone on staff, does such a grand job of making everyone feel special - even me from the Kansas plains.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On The Island, Pre-Wedding . . . Part 2 Friday Activities

I had a little time to explore the Parlor Floor, of the Grand Hotel, before we met for breakfast in the main dining room. Here is the lobby:

Notice the colors. Color is the main theme as well as the flower geranium, specifically red geraniums. There are flowers everywhere. They come from a nursery somewhere in the State and are brought in early spring. The soil is produced on the Island by composting food scraps, animal dung and the straw from the horse barns. To discourage the many gulls from becoming a bigger nuisance than they are, the straw from the stalls are not only mixed in the compost but put on top of the compost pile.

After a breakfast in the Main Dining Room, the three of us chose to take a carriage ride around the Island this morning. We could get off at certain points and spend time experiencing what was there at that destination and then get back on the next carriage. Sarah left about half way through as she needed to get ready for the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner.

There are bicycles everywhere - either bring your own or rent. This is known as "bicycle hill". Since the horses are main mode of transportation of people and freight, they are pampered beasts. There are two kinds of horses on the Island - draft and Hackney. Most horses are of the draft size - Percheron & Belgian. Here after hauling a carriage from Carriage Tours, the horses get much needed water. In fact, you see the horses getting watered often around the Island. Here is a link to the Mackinac Island Town Crier's article on the return of the horses to the Island this Spring. There are 500-600 horses on the Island during the summertime and I found this interesting - virtually NO flies with that many horses. I ran across this YouTube video on "Fly Predators on Mackinac Island". It is is long, but not only interesting on how they eliminate flies but has some beautiful scenes of the Island.

The Carriage Tours has several stops, including a butterfly house, Arch Rock and Fort Mackinac

Sherry and I had lunch at Fort Mackinac and had a beautiful view overlooking the harbor.
We finished our tour by riding the carriage back down to town. From there Sherry and I walked around, bought some of the famous Mackinac Island fudge - and yes those are fudge.
By the time Sherry and I got by to the Hotel, via horsedrawn taxi, we were tired. I was hungry later and went down to the Main Dining Room and had a very elegant dinner of prime rib that was so moist and wonderful tasting. Now, I don't order prime rib very often because I have to eat my meat well done (not because I want to) and usually well-done prime is a bit dry and often takes a knife to cut it; but this wasn't so. There were so many silverware pieces at my table and sometimes I wasn't quite sure which one to use. My waitor would note my hesitation and would very discreetly indicate which one I was to use. I wasn't intimidated either because he was so discreet about it. Been many a year since I had used that many silverware pieces.

I do want to mention here, that there is an evening dress code at the Hotel: Men (and boys) will wear a jacket and tie, while women will wear a dress or a nice pantsuit/slack/jacket type top. About 90% of the women, at dinner, were wearing dresses. I saw many a little tyke dressed up in pretty dresses or suit and tie too. Casual resort wear is acceptable during the day.

Well, after that delicious dinner it was back to my room, watch a little more of the Hotel history video on TV and then to bed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On The Island, Pre-Wedding . . . Part 1

Most of this will be recollections as I didn't take too many notes from here on out. I'll probably inject something out of context here and there, but it all ties in.

Most of my time up to the wedding, was spent exploring and learning about the Island and it's interesting facts. And not having any motorized vehicles makes it even more interesting. Sarah was able to go along on a carriage tour of the Island with Sherry and I. She did leave about half way through as it was getting close to rehersal time.

I was very fortunate to have a room on the 2nd floor and on the porch side. There are 360+ rooms and each one decorated differently. Here are some room pictures along with the veiw from my window.

I could also see freighters passing by each day on their way through the Lakes via a series of locks. We also learned of the only way freight was delivered to the island. In the picture below, are 2 trucks on a freight barge. Each morning these trucks are ferried over to the docks. The trailers are unloaded onto the dock and the tractor/trailers are then taken back to the mainland without having set a wheel on the dock. The freight is loaded onto a dray and the freight is delivered for the day via the horsedrawn dray. The freight barge also delivers feed and grain for the 600+ horses on the Island every week I was told; plus, any other types of freight.

On The Way to a Wedding . . . (Part 4)

We rode the Star Lines over to the Island. This particular line has a spray of water out the back, much like the "rooster tail" you see behind jet skies. I asked if the tail had an integral role in the propulsion of the boat - or was it for show. And Jeff's response to me was "Whose boats can you see way out there in the distance and instantly know which one is ours?" The Star Lines are the only one of 3 ferries ferrying people and freight out to the Island, that has the rooster tail.

Here is our first glimpse of the Grand hotel, on one of the highest bluffs on the Island. What a view looking up towards it.

Our first view coming into the harbor. A lighthouse greeted us as we rounded the jetty.

This (right) St Anne's Catholic Church was hauled over to the Island in 1780, via the "ice bridge" which forms during the wintertime.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

On The Way to a Wedding . . . (Part 3)

Oops, forgot we had one more night on the road before boarding the ferry to Mackinac Island. I was so anxious to get here and now as I am writing this, it is time to leave. Mother Nature has decided - oh wait I am getting ahead of myself.

Wednesday night we stayed in Wausau WI in a hotel downtown. Drive was fairly vanilla with a little dab of whipped cream here and there. We drove through Amish country around Lewiston, MN, saw lots of folks on motor cycles heading west (probably Sturgis), lots of yellow and white wildflowers, lots of wind farms, we saw cranberry bogs around Tomah WI, learned what potats are, and saw lots of cornfields, and a very bad accident on the Interstate (I-39/US-51) a few miles south of Wausau.

We stayed at the Jefferson Street Inn, located in downtown Wausau. A very nice facility, though I had a rough night. Some ingredient in my dinner meal, was not acceptable to my body and I had an allergic reaction - a strong one for me. It didn't require an epipen or trip to the hospital, but my throat did swell up. Consequently, I didn't finish my meal. I did manage to get some sleep that night in between my body doing it's job of ridding itself of the unwanted.

(Wow, all the ferry boats are coming into the harbor at once - probably to catch all the early departures on this Sunday morning. I guess we are leaving the Island around 11:30 as got a text to place bags outside the room door by 9:30 a.m. and breakfast at 8:30. My bags are ready.)

Okay, back to the trip. After having breakfast at a recommended cafe called The Mint Cafe, just around the corner from the hotel, we headed north on I-39/US-51 to WI-64 at Merrill. We drove and drove at a very slow speed as the speed limit was 55 almost all the way across, except through the many small towns, and the majority of drivers ahead of us were very law abiding. I remarked to Sherry, that the further north you go the drivers must take their time to enjoy the scenery while the further south you go, the drivers hurry up to get out of the heat.

We arrived at Marinette WI around noontime but not yet seeing Lake Michigan. Had lunch at Perkins and headed north on US-41 toward Menomiee MI. And wala, there was Lake Michigan. We headed north until the intersection of MI-35, then followed the coast hoping that we would get to see a lot of the coast - not! We saw a lot of trees. And again, the back sides of leisurely driven vehicles. Course, didn't help that we were somewhat in a hurry to get to St. Ignace MI to catch a ferry before it got dark. At Escanaba, we headed northeastward on US-41/MI-2 towards Gladstone and then onto MI-2 eastward to St Ignace.

We finally arrived a little before 7 p.m. (EDT) and the next ferry wasn't leaving until 7:30. Whew! Ah, here comes our ferry - people and freight only. We're holding on and the girls are ready to head out. Only transportation allowed on the Island, is your two feet, bicycle, or horse-drawn carriage/drays. There are emergency vehicles, if needed and an airport for emergency purposes. It's a step back in time -well, almost.

Next posting will be some little things we learned on the way to the Island, via the ferry's enchanting tour guide - us girls had him all to ourselves.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On The Way to a Wedding . . . (Part 2)

As I mentioned in the previous posting, we spent 2 nights with Sarah's cousin Ila. This area is where Sarah grew up - Lake Preston area - where family lived and lives, where family is buried. She went to South Dakota State University (yea Jackrabbits), in nearby Brookings and is a staunch supporter. Believe me, I know how strong a supporter she is! She is so much more than I am of Kansas State, where I graduated from.

We ate breakfast at a Perkins in Brookings, then visited the McCrory Gardens located on the campus. Along with the green velvet lawns, the flowers were just gorgeous. The Gardens are maintained by student workers as well as volunteers. Here are some pictures:

In the Gardens, there is a little building that looks like a doll house, or a dwarf's house, or , , , Sarah remembers it as a one-pump gravity fill gasoline station from Lake Preston. Look at it now - along with the three of us standing in front of the little gas station:

After spending a good part of the morning at the Gardens, Sarah took Sherry and I on a tour of the campus; stopping at the Student Union Book Store to stock up on SDSU "spirit" items. She drove us around the downtown area of Brookings, which has been beautifully restored and we stopped at Nick's Hamburger Shop and had, what are now called sliders, mini-hamburgers. The mini-patties are cooked using a tank fry method and that's the way it has been doing it since 1929. I indulged in a very, very thick strawberry/pineapple malt - this lasted me all afternoon.

One thing that Sarah really wanted to do, was visit her mom and dad's grave. Sherry and I both knew her mom and she was a very special lady to us. When Sarah saw that lichens were starting to cover the headstone, she was determined to get them cleaned off. To a nearby grocery store, the two came out to the car loaded to clean and scrub the headstone. And, now it looks so much better.

After a supper at a local restaurant, all of us including her cousin Ila, went back to the same cemetery and looked for the graves of some other family members. We found some and some we didn't. It was a good evening for all of us, including me.

Tomorrow we leave for St Ignace Michigan to catch a ferry over to Mackinac Island and our stay at the Grand Lodge.