Changes in Season

There are always a lot of moving parts happening in March, whether we notice it or not. Changes in weather, additions to staff, stores quietly getting ready for the season, snowmobiles being stored away, snowmobiles braving the lack of snow on roads… the first time I left the island this month was in the first week. I left for only two days, and went by boat.

At that time, the boat was running, and we were traveling the regular route to St. Ignace. Great! By the time I was ready to drive back up north, ice had floated back into the dock at St. Ignace and the boat couldn’t break free. So, back by plane I went…

In the picture above you can see how clear the water is around the island. It was a beautiful day for a plane ride, and it turned out to be a pretty nice day for a walk back down to my house, as well.

As the week progressed, more and more snow started to melt on the roads. It made snowmobile travel much more difficult downtown, but there was still enough for people to get by driving. As someone who lives close to downtown, I walk most everywhere, so it hasn’t affected me too much this year. The city does a great job of keeping our sidewalks clear and safe.

One dicey spot where the melted snow likes to create a little lake.
Melting, but still driveable
A beautiful view of the water and ice off the docks

The last time I was off the island was last week, headed to Petoskey to bring my mom back with me. No issues with breaking through the ice in the lake this time, but there was also another issue… by that Friday, schools had officially decided to close down for the next 3 weeks. By time I had gotten back to the island Monday, it had finally settled in with me that I wouldn’t have anything to do for awhile. My mom and I also missed out on getting any toilet paper or cleaning wipes. More than just seasons on the island was changing.

The ice had moved again on our boat ride back, too compacted to go the normal route, so we traveled around the North side of the island where you can see Arch Rock. It’s a longer trip, but the view is still great. I think I was more fascinated by the buttery smooth waves, followed by larges patches of ice.

Right now, the roads are pretty clear. We’ve had quite a few sunny days, and it’s still the same, quiet Mackinac Island that I’m accustomed to this time of year. I just don’t go out very much. Or, at all. Except to get groceries at Doud’s.

Our two restaurants are now closed to the public, but they do offer take out, as well as offer delivery service to our older residents. Doud’s is open as well, and has offered delivery service to all residents. And we are all sticking to social distancing requirements as much as any other place in Michigan.

As far as activities to keep myself busy during this social distancing phase, I’ve been cleaning at home a lot, practicing ukulele and guitar a lot more, taking more photos, bird watching, drawing a little, and spending way too much time on my phone. I’m lucky, however, to have a camera lens that zooms close enough to clearer see birds high up… I’m hoping to catch an owl or eagle one of these days in my back yard again, or possibly on my next walk on the boardwalk.

Until next time, I’ll be hunkered down at home. I hope everyone out there is staying safe, and wishing everyone a little comfort from my home to yours.

Heather


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Spring Surprises 2018

So… how about this weather!?

Although this weekend was full of braving a boat ride across Lake Huron and staying out of the horrible weather as much as possible, last weekend was full of island hiking, and I decided to explore around Sugar Loaf and see everything else along the way:

The lighthouse passage as seen from the top of Fort Hill

 

The Mackinac Bridge at sunset

More lake ice at sunset

There are a few Mackinac Island landmarks that are fairly close to each other, so whenever I visit one, I try to visit all three… Fort Holmes, Sugar Loaf, and Arch Rock. Being a resident who lives downtown however, I don’t always realize how much more snow is in the middle of the island. I walked up Fort Hill, strolled behind Fort Mackinac, and proceeded to hike along one of the trails towards Sugar Loaf, when I quickly realized that none of these trails had been touched and were covered in a good half foot of  thick snow. But I had made it up that far so, why not keep going?

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Here you can see my lone footsteps in the snow, and a tree that had fallen into a very interesting spot!

At every intersection I tried to calculate how much further I had to go and kept telling myself that I was so close. Also, knowing that arriving at Sugar Loaf would be so worth it, I kept trudging along until finally, I was there!

It’s a pretty big rock! I know lots of people try to climb it, even though you aren’t supposed to… my older half sister once climbed it back in the 70s and she somehow got stuck! She had to get pulled out by the local firemen. Anyway, there’s a small path that you can walk around it, but I decided to rest my feet and just take pictures from the road.

I then realized that I chose to visit the landmark between Arch Rock and Fort Holmes… and not wanting to go one way just to backtrack the other way and trudge in more snow than I needed to, I decided that I would skip Arch Rock this time around and head towards Fort Holmes. So, I made my way up to Lookout Point (which I had to do very carefully up the snowy, slightly slippery stairs!) and took one final look at Sugar Loaf:

The road to Fort Holmes had a clear path and I was able to walk fairly normally the rest of the way! It also happened to be a beautiful, sunny day to take a clear pic:

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And one more picture to share… yesterday as I made a short trip to St. Ignace and back, there were two freight boats parked just outside the island, waiting out the crazy winds we’ve been having. Unfortunately I didn’t have a nice camera on me so this one I took with my phone, but I still think it’s worth the share! Considering that the winds picked up even more today, I’m guessing they’re still sitting out there… or if they moved, they didn’t get very far!

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I hope everyone is having better weather than we are, and here’s hoping that Spring actually decides to show up soon!

~ Heather

Winter 2018

As the winter begins to come to a close, I wanted to share some of the photographs I took throughout this past winter season on Mackinac Island.

This turned out to be an exceptionally busy winter for me… although some see the island as a quiet place from the months of January through April, quite a bit is actually happening throughout the community. From jam sessions to ballroom dancing to archery and volleyball, street hockey, cross country skiing, and the list goes on… there was definitely a lot to do! This year, I did my best to embrace the community spirit and participate in as much as possible. That, combined with a few more weekends than normal traveling on and off the island, and I’d say I had a lot less free time this winter than in winters past… and for the most part, it was a good thing!

I think living on Mackinac Island year round has made me too much of a queasy winter driver though. I’m not a fan of driving in snow. However, I am quite alright driving over ice, and we fortunately all had the opportunity to drive over an ice bridge from Mackinac Island to St. Ignace this year, even if the ice bridge did only last a couple of weeks.

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Entrance to the ice bridge at British Landing

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Panoramic shot from the middle of the ice bridge (you’ll notice a few more people on the right… there was a big crack in the ice and a man was out there guiding people over the safest part of the crack).

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British Landing

 

Before the ice bridge was established, our only way off was by plane. I actually don’t mind the plane ride either as it only takes 5 minutes to get to St. Ignace. It’s also a great way to get pics of the Mackinac Bridge, the island, and see the ice coverage below. Every time I took a plane ride, my inner tourist came out and I’d be taking pics every time I went up in the air.

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Distant view of the Mackinac Bridge, frozen in a thick coverage of frozen lake

 

Of course the ice coverage in the lake is never a dull sight to see, either. We had a few areas around the island where large blocks of ice had been pushed to shore and stayed for the entire winter… although to be fair, Mackinaw City had some incredible piles of ice on their shores! I never actually walked out on their shores, but saw many people out on the piles of ice as I was driving by on one of my many drives across the bridge on the weekend.

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An iced in marina with the Coast Guard in the background

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Broken blocks of ice near the docks

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Ice stopped from floating into the bay by the breakwall

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End of March… ice is almost gone here

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End of March… the last remains of the ice bridge, seen from St. Ignace

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Taken late March – Round Island Lighthouse passage with the bridge in the background

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I love to see that blue water!

 

My favorite moments of the winter always happened outside, taking hikes and exploring the island covered in snow. This is the part of island life that I would say is peaceful and quiet during the winter… spending time out in nature! Most of the time I had my camera with me with the intent of taking photographs for instagram, or saving up for blog posts, but sometimes I’d just leave the camera in my bag and get lost on a good long trail.

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A view from Pontiac Trail

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On a trail between the two sets of stairs that lead up to West Bluff. Under the snow was a nice thick and smooth layer of ice. Not the best conditions for a hike!

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Stairs leading up to West Bluff

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From one of my walks up to the airport, stopped at a fork in the road

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                             Owl surveying the land up in the trees. I had the pleasure of seeing                                    him several times this winter!

 

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A northern view of Arch Rock

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Nearly Spring in front of the Grand Hotel

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The Grand porch

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Speed limit sign for snowmobilers

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New construction from the Shepler’s dock

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Horses and dray waiting to pick up more packages to deliver

Well it seems as though my spring break from work is over, so I’ll be getting back into my normal routine soon, and that will include many more trail hikes soon. Spring is a fun time to be outdoors because everything smells so fresh, and greenery starts to show up in my pictures again! I’m looking forward to another pretty Spring, and yet another exciting Summer…

Until next time,

Heather