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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bottrall

Guests on Mackinac Island

My dearest friend, Cynthia, finally came to visit us on Mackinac Island this week. Since we've been visiting here in the summers, our door has been revolving with guests almost every weekend, but I just hadn't been able to talk one of my closest friends into a visit. I think the relaxed pace of the Island was just too slow for this nonstop little Greek lady.

Cynthia owns an award winning media production business called CK & Company which produces both national and international corporate communications. Aside from work, she walks many miles every day, is the author of Small Business for Big Thinkers and Stop Wishing. Stop Whining. Start Leading and blogger for The CEO Magazine. In advocating for small business she has testified before Congress, written for the Washington Post, been featured in Time Magazine and on NPR. She is known for her no holds barred style of communication and getting things done.

Murphy's law was in full swing when CK and Joe visited and it rained most of the weekend, so it was difficult to show off the things we love most about it here. But we made do, with good food and good wine and during a break in the rain, even an outdoor picnic. But I'll let her tell you about it. Please enjoy this guest post from Cynthia Kay Afendoulis.

My dear friend Michelle has been asking me for the past five years to visit her on Mackinac Island. The truth is that I was avoiding a visit because I have never understood the appeal of the island. I made a few day trips as a child and attended a national conference on the island many years ago. And as I told Michelle, I really don’t love fudge and the smell of horse poop is not exactly enchanting.

So, what is it that brings masses of visitors to Mackinaw Island? And why did my dear friends Michelle and Dave decide to invest in a second home here?

As a former investigative reporter, I set out to discover the answers to these and other questions. I decided to do what I have been trained to do - be curious, be open minded, be fair. That was going to be a tall order, but friends like Michelle and Dave are worth it. Besides, I was running out of believable excuses.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and the trip on Shepler's Ferry was refreshing. I have always loved the water and the trip put a wonderful barrier between the work week and a weekend of play. The dock was jammed with excited families and among them was Dave - beaming. I think he was worried that I would not make good on the promise to visit. After all, it did take five years.

The luggage was whisked away by Audley, one of the amazing bike riders that can pile luggage high on the front handlebars and ride away effortlessly to deliver it unharmed to the house.

Over the next several days we visited many famous hot spots, dined on great food, and took in breathtaking sites. We saw multiple wedding parties and the view from the Cupola Bar at the top of the Grand Hotel while enjoying a beverage is an experience that - “does not suck” - as Dave would say.

With Michelle and Dave, going into a restaurant is reminiscent of the TV show Cheers. You know, “where everyone knows your name.” I met servers, carriage drivers and workers who came from around the world. And of course, Michelle and Dave knew them, as well, and shared with me some of their inspiring stories. One cannot help but be impressed by the work ethic and smiley personalities of staffers.

When you stay with locals off the main streets, the pace of the island is much different. At night the main streets loose the large crowds and you enjoy the peace of the Island. Sitting on Michelle’s back deck watching the boats come and go was a stark contrast to crowded sidewalks and sometimes treacherous bike-filled roads. I think that is what I loved the most, just being on the island with dear friends experiencing it through their eyes, watching the setting sun and hearing the sound of taps piercing the night air. And that breeze- I slept really well!

Overall, the visit was truly wonderful even if the weather did not cooperate. Did I mention that it rained all day Saturday? A golf game at the historic Wawashkamo Golf Club had to be cancelled. But Dave did give me a great book on the centennial history of the course. I guess golfing will have to be on the list for the next time I visit.

Wait did I really say that?

It must be that my friends’ love of Mackinac Island is rubbing off a bit. It won’t take another five years for me to return.


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