top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichelle Bottrall

Life on Mackinac Island

Do you like bugs? Cause I don’t. At least not the kind with eight legs and hair on their backs. Those darned creepy spiders with their beady little eyes have been after me since I was born. I’ve been bitten more times than I can count and of course I just had to be attacked by one as I was weeding my garden this morning. I felt the tickle, and there he was marching up my bare leg, just as brave as you please. All eight eyes, looking straight at me, determined to make it up the cuff of my shorts. I had invaded his territory and apparently, he was going to show me who was boss. I swatted at it and missed. He jumped further up my leg, and I jumped up. I brushed at him manically, screaming so loud the dogs started barking. I cursed that wretched thing as his hairy body flew through the air and then I started giggling and couldn’t stop. Did I really think that spider could understand me? Would my four-letter expletives keep him away? I looked around sheepishly. Thankfully I was alone. No neighbor had heard my ranting. Many hours and a bag of weeds later, pickers and wild raspberries had given way to red geraniums and soft pink impatiens. I had composted around the Bleeding Hearts and a container of herbs was planted on the front porch. It’s important to have fresh herbs on Mackinac Island. Our local grocery store does a wonderful job stocking things for both tourists and residents, but some things are hard to keep in stock, like specialty cuts of meat and gourmet items. Fresh herbs are always hit or miss and it’s better to just keep them in my own garden.

Later that night we attended a Sip n’ Sail ride for Wawashkamo (WaWa) Golf Club. The Isle Royale Queen III is a charming 80’ vessel with multiple indoor and outdoor seating areas. She usually has a sunset cruise every night under the bridge and back, but tonight she was all ours. WaWa members and their guests had gathered to celebrate the latest tournament but also to say goodbye to the past club president who had just sold his home. Martha and Gary Cousino promised to come back, but the lack of available rentals this year, meant they are likely leaving us for 2021. Lots of tears and appreciation for their friendship and leadership by all.

The food, catered by Doud's was great, the drinks were plentiful, and excellent music by Grand Rapids very own Gabi Bowditch made the ride fun, but nothing could compete with the views. The ship had putted to the east side of the island where the captain let us idle for the better part of an hour. On the port side was Arch Rock, the limestone portal looking bigger than ever from this angle. We leisurely drifted past the natural wonder and its limestone cliffs. The hot evening sun was tempered by a cool breeze coming over the lake. Beneath us the water was so clear we could see to the bottom.

After the cruise, the sun was setting, and Dave decided to take his electric bike around the island. He just couldn't get enough of the views.

Early Saturday evening a carriage picked us up for a 40-minute ride to The Inn at Stonecliffe. We were the first in the carriage, but it quickly became crowded as people piled on at stop after stop throughout town. The head of the Mackinac Historical Society; a Mackinac Park Board Member; Island Residents; Wawashkamo Golf Club Members. It seemed everyone was heading to the same place. As we pulled up, there were dozens of men in suits and women in glittery dresses and strappy sandals arriving on their bicycles. They were definitely braver and much more fit than I to ride their bikes all the way to the top of the island. That is almost 2 miles and mostly uphill!

Situated high on the west bluff, the Inn at Stonecliffe has views of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits that are breathtaking. Built in 1904 by Chicago industrialist Michael Cudahy, the 16-bedroom Tudor mansion has acres of rolling lawns and scenic trails that wind their way through picturesque gardens.

The mansion was the site of the annual G. Mennen Williams Mackinac Celebration hosted by Mackinac Associates. Mackinac Associates is the nonprofit foundation behind the Mackinac State Historic Parks, whose mission is to preserve and share Mackinac’s strong history. Their influence and support is critical t to the island because over 80% of the island is State Park.

The food was wonderful; sliced prime rib, shrimp, luxurious mac and cheese sauce on thick cavatappi noodles, strawberries and whipped cream heaped onto slabs of pound cake. The macaroni and cheese reminded me of my recipe, the one the grandkids ask for again and again. So I’ve attached that recipe for you. We piled our plates and settled ourselves in a few out of the way Adirondack chairs and proceeded to crowd watch.

This event is typically a fundraiser and usually hosts about 300 people, but attendance seemed a bit down this year. We guessed this year’s attendance at around 200. All in all, pretty good for COVID times. We spent the evening with a friend filling us in on who everyone was as they strolled by. It’s going to take quite a while for us to get to know the island and the many movers and shakers who live here and help to make it the idyllic place it is. We are still most curious to know who the man was that insisted on keeping David's jacket. He finally talked Dave into trying it on and had his picture taken. I'm sure he will have one made. Enjoy the pictures below and the short video of the carriage ride home which is always one of my favorite parts of going to Stonecliffe.

The next morning for Father’s Day, Dave and I went to the Little Stone Church. We rode our bikes to the chapel, dodging a few random rain drops. The bike rack was tucked under the most beautiful lilac bush. It was so big; you knew that people were mistaking it for a tree. I could not resist the just blossoming blooms and I stuck my nose in the center of one and inhaled deeply just as the bells were ringing to signal the start of services. The smell was wonderful. So sweet, So heady. So….sneezy. Oh, oh!

I started to sneeze and sneeze and sneeze. I could barely stop. I knew I was disrupting the service. I kept expecting the minister to stop the sermon and say something. The poor guy sitting in front of me! Trying to control the outburst just made things worse and turned the sneezes into squeaks and grunts. Then I started giggling on top of the sneezing and was finally laughing so hard the whole pew was shaking. This was only our second time in church since COVID and I was determined not to leave – no matter how bad my nose ran or my sneezes squeaked into various hysterical noises. Thankfully, the service wasn’t too long. I had just completely used my last tissue when the music started to signal the end of the service.

The music at Little Stone Church is always so beautiful. Karen Hughes Beacom is the director of music, and she often performs in opera and musical events on the island. Below is a video of her singing. I only caught the tail end, but she was wonderful as always.

We dashed out of the service at the very end. I ran to the rest room across the street at The Gate House to clean up and snag more tissues. David noticed a prime rib special for Father's Day and decided that was what he wanted for lunch. Most deserving since he's one of the best father's I know.

This is a typical Mackinac Island weekend. A lot of chores interspersed with good times and beauty. What do you most want to do when you visit? Leave a note in the comments.

I hope you are enjoying Everything-Mackinac blog. Sign up by clicking here so that you don't miss a single issue. And I hope you will share this with all of your friends. I know they will be glad you did.

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page