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Mackinac Island

Recently my family and I visited Mackinac Island, a small island located north of Michigan where no motor vehicles are allowed, restricting transportation to foot, bicycle, and horse & buggy.

Mackinac town

It’s a really neat place and a family tradition on my father’s side of the family. In fact, we still have a few members who live on the island year round which is CRAZY — unless you like the snow. They do. 🙂

west bluff

This shot was taken looking up West Bluff Road, a street lined with beautiful cottage mansions where people stay and enjoy the northern Michigan summers on the island.

view from The Grand Hotel

This view is looking down toward the town from The Grand Hotel, the famous location where the movie Somewhere In Time was filmed.

ferry boat

Ferry boats take visitors to and from the island and are quite a sight to see with their huge rooster tails besides being a lot of fun to ride!

lilacs

Lilacs flourish on the island and are the focus of the Lilac Festival every June. Dipping my nose in returned a breath rich in memory as I recall the scents of my grandmother’s drawer liners and perfume.

arch rock

Arch Rock is probably one of the most photographed spots on the island. On a clear day you can see the Upper Peninsula and even Canada beyond!

harbor view inn

We stayed at the Harbor View Inn, a lovely bed and breakfast located on the east end of the island.

patio view from Harbor View Inn

Relaxing comes natural at a place where patios are lined with flowers and drenched in garden view. And then of course, there’s the fudge. Mackinac Island is known for its fudge and you can’t walk a single block without passing at least two different fudge shops. Or candy shops, ice cream… I think it’s the only tourist destination where sweet shops are more prevalent than gift shops!

It’s a dream destination for our family and the first time my kids have visited since they were babies. Both loved it and are ready to spend their summers on the island.  And why not? It’s a FUN place to have fun. Check it out for yourself!

No More Shopping!

I’m going on vacation! I’m exhausted from packing, exhausted from the lead up, and all I can think about is sleeping on the plane and eventually seeing the sun. We’ve had a rainy stretch these last few days and I’m over it.9398206391_06effde0cf

As I packed my suitcase, filling it with the sundry of new purchases I’d made for the trip, I realized how many clothes I have that I never wear. I work from home and I like to be comfortable. For me, that means workout wear and tennis shoes most days (and not particularly nice workout wear). So why did I go out and buy more new clothes I’ll barely wear?

Good question.

The good news is that I’m a bargain shopper so nothing was terribly expensive. The bad news is it’s time to clean out my closet and give some clothes to charity.

The moral of this post is more a reminder to myself: instead of buying new clothes I probably don’t need, I should shop in my closet for all the hardly worn treasures I once thought I couldn’t live without.

Happy Spring!

photo credit: Heavy bag via photopin (license)

Happy Columbus Day!

In the spirit of Columbus and discovering new places, my family and I went to visit the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, a 108-foot tower officially lit on July 10, 1860. Rich in history, the climb to the top offered some incredible views and played a crucial role throughout several wars.

photo

During the Civil War, the inlet was used as a thorough fare for the Confederates to ship in supplies. When the North found out, they used the lighthouse to “shine the light” on the Confederates and take them out as they passed through. Didn’t take the South long to figure this one out, and they ensued with battle, reclaiming the lighthouse and their supply route.

During World War II, merchant ships carried war supplies and fuel to our troupes in Europe. They left the port of New Orleans, traveled near the Jupiter coast, where German submarines sat right outside the inlet, armed with torpedoes to sink them.

photo jupiter view

US Military used the lighthouse to create Station J—a secret operation designed to intercept U-boat radio messages and tip-off U.S. forces to attack enemy vessels. Tuning into the frequencies used by the U-boats, Station J was able to pinpoint the locations of the submarines, which would surface every night to charge their batteries and send their locations and weather reports back to Germany. As a result, the US aircraft was able to seemingly come out of nowhere and attack the subs, ending the German dominance of the Atlantic.

Speaking of discovering new things, as we climbed the narrow passageway up to the top of the lighthouse, I learned that my daughter doesn’t like high places. Her white-knuckled grip as she hugged the tower behind her gave it away. Who knew?

photo jupiter beach

I guess it’s not every day you find yourself a 108 feet in the air… While she won’t be heading back up any time soon, we had fun and the views were incredible. If you’re ever in South Florida, make a point to stop and visit Jupiter. From the blue-water beaches to the brick-red lighthouse views, it makes for a memorable trip.

 

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program…

Last week was a whirlwind for the Hayes family. The oldest left Saturday for a mission trip (his first) in Guatemala and the youngest left Sunday for a mission trip (her first) in Tennessee. While the kids were off forging memories and helping to change lives, the hubs and I scooted away to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a late anniversary celebration.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon Beach

The whole week prior as I struggled to pack both kids for very different locations, I kept thinking, “What are we doing? We should just stay home. We could get so much stuff done around the house we’ve put off. And the kids…” Thankfully, it was too late to cancel the reservations because St. John is a beautiful, mountainous island with white sand beaches, friendly people, and near perfect weather. We spent a day boating with our captain, Delbert. We hiked. We relaxed by the pool with the ocean just steps away. We went to a pristine beach and lounged under the shade of mangrove trees.

Indulgent? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely! Sometimes married folks (or those in long-term relationships) get so lost in the daily grind that they forget what brought them together in the first place. A little reminder of why you said, “I do,” before the kids and the mortgage came along never hurt anyone. Thank goodness I ignored my practical nature because after five days alone with my husband, I’m looking even more forward to the next twenty (or more) years together.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

We’re home now, all of us from our adventures, and Mama’s happy to have all her chicks back under one roof. When was the last time you took the time to get away with your someone special?

Boca Grande

Spent a few days in Boca Grande and what a beautiful, secluded place. I have a cousin that moved there a few years back, and has been inviting us down to visit for some time. Well, life is busy, schedules are booked. It never happened. Then, a cousin of my father’s called, mentioning she would be in Florida and how about a visit? Lo and behold, we had two cousins within an hour of one another and a spontaneous trip was arranged!

Boca Grande 2

And I’m so glad it worked out. Boca Grande is a neat place. If you ever get the chance to visit, take it. Small, quaint and tropical, the island is surrounded by water–beautiful beaches and some of the best inlet fishing in the world. In fact, watching fishing tournaments on television is how I first heard of Boca Grande. My son proved the point by catching two snapper, a pinfish and a Jack Crevalle right from their dock!

The fun didn’t stop there. My cousin treated us to a boat tour regaling us with tales of how the dolphin would follow him along as he traveled the bay. We thought that was very cool and sure enough, when he took us to his special spot, the dolphin appeared! They swam behind us, jumping and twisting–it was quite exciting! I have to say, viewing them up close in the wild is far better than any commercial aquarium experience I’ve had.

Boca Grande

From walking the beach to riding with dolphins, the few days we spent in Boca Grande were memorable. Even saw Laura Bush out for a stroll through town on our way out! Famous sightings, gorgeous scenery, this definitely ranks a spot on your to do list.

BTW, if you haven’t already tried it, Pic Stitch is a neat app for your iPhone. My daughter took these pictures over the weekend and put them together in these collages Pic Stitch. Very cool. 🙂

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