Archive for April, 2013

 Tawny’s kidnapper, Yev, or as she refers to him, “Bossman,”

was pretty confident that the treasures he sought were in the Northern Straits area.

“Dieter or “Steel Rim” provided volumes of research on the subject.

Since Yev operated out of the Caribbean, he realized that a good number of people

from the islands moved to the north country in the summer to work at resorts.

His operatives tried in vain for years to get any information they could on

the possible location of the lost fortune.  Yev

was offering a large reward for information, yet

none surfaced.

Jamaican Catamaran

What a stroke of luck it was for him that Tawny and her mother decided to vacation in Jamaica.

Better yet, the catamaran they chose for a snorkeling excursion happened to have an employee aboard

who knew what Yev was looking for – any clues, especially the source of ancient Indian trading

silver – particularly, the “Cross of Lorraine.”

Although Tawny and Laura selected a catamaran line different from what is pictured here,

these photos give you a good idea of what the craft looks like.



crew cropped

Snorkeling trips on these sailboats are thrilling. Tourists enjoy rum punch,

snorkeling if they choose, and the thrill of cutting through the aquamarine seas of Montego Bay.

And yes, just as in the novel, some of the crew really do provide soothing

foot massages to relaxed travelers.


Mackinac’s West Bluff

Carriage to West Bluff

In the novel, Todd lives in the Annex behind the West Bluff. For those unfamiliar with the island,

Mackinac’s spectacular West Bluff  sits to the west of the Grand Hotel.

Victorian-style summer cottages from the late 1880s

line the street that faces Lake Huron, the Lower Peninsula and the Mackinac Bridge.

West Bluff from the lake

As the ferry boats approach the island, the West Bluff immediately

catches the eyes of visitors. But it is hard to grasp the size

of these gems from the lake view. Referring to these multi-storied

summer homes as cottages is certainly an understatement.

Mackinac’s Sailboat Races

After the Race - Mackinac Harbor 1

You can’t have a book about Mackinac without highlighting the annual sailboat

races that finish at Mackinac Island.

Thrilling, colorful, and stacked with skill, these annual events draw a large

number of participants and many spectators.

In the novel, Tawny talks about the races and Takoda works

as a master boat builder and restorer.

His dedication to the trade helps the reader understand a little more

about the tremendous skills and patience that is involved.

Sailboat Race Mackinac State Harbor

This year the Chicago Yacht Club’s 105th race from Chicago to Mackinac

is scheduled start on July 13.


The Bayview Yacht Club’s annual race from Port Huron to Mackinac

will kick off on July 20th.  See

After the Race - Gear Out to Dry

Limestone Cliffs

limestone cliff

As you picture Tawny and Takoda climbing the cliffs at Round Island,

these photos will help you imagine the challenge of climbing limestone.

This picture was taken at Mackinac Island which was formed at the same time as Round Island.

Both are part of the Niagara Escarpment. The limestone ridge  stretches from

the west side of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – all the way to the Niagara Falls.

It’s along this escarpment where many caves can be found.

Here below is a perfect example of how a cave could be located on a bluff.

Can’t you just smell the cool dampness? Wouldn’t you explore it?

Cave is nearby

Not all the climbing was difficult however.

easier climb

Round Island

Round Island Lighthouse with Bell Buoy

Round Island is straight across the shipping channel from Mackinac Island.

Although it plays a key role in the novel, the island is relatively unexplored.

Part of the Hiawatha National Forest, the 378 acre island is overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.

The Round Island Lighthouse was built in 1895 and has seen turbulent times as well as waters.

Most recently, the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society has aided the

efforts of many dedicated fans of the lighthouse, including

Boy Scout Troop 323 of Freeland, Michigan.

Readers – Note the green bell buoy in the above photo.

Tawny swims over to a similar one when Takoda takes her boating and

“twists” those memories to trick “Bossman.”

Shepler's Ferry Passes Rounbd Island

Shepler’s Ferry Passes Round Island as it departs from Mackinac.

The dramatic cloud patterns surrounding the island never fail to

surprise visitors and delight photographers.

Round Island with Star Line

The newer Round Island Passage Light off the west breakwater of Mackinac Island’s

harbor began to shine in early 1948.

This photo gives readers a good idea of how close Round Island is to Mackinac.

Note the Star Line ferry’s familiar rooster tail!


Tulips at the Grand Hotel


While Northern Michigan faces (hopefully) the last blast of winter weather,

we take comfort in the fact that our tulip bulbs are  readying themselves

for their annual burst of color.

Mackinac gardeners understand that our plants need a good dormant rest

in order to thrive in the summer. And nature sure has provided this year!

In the novel, Tawny’s grandparents love gardening, especially on Mackinac Island

which has an ideal climate and super soil (the horses help provide for this).

In the photo above, thousands of glorious tulips line the walkway to the Grand Hotel.

The tulips below grace one of many beautiful gardens at Mission Point Resort.


Rose Hall Grand Staircase

Rose Hall Grand Staircase

People have asked how Tawny was taken so easily while on tour of Rose Hall. She saw a familiar face peering out of the secret panel door below the stairs. Who wouldn’t approach? Especially the adventuresome and curious.

A Quiet Lane

Tawny’s grandparents’, the Randolphs, like many others on the island,

first lived there as summer residents.  They purchased a small

Victorian cottage down a quiet village lane such as pictured above.

The family enjoyed weekends and summer vacations there,

while their real home was in St. Ignace, where their son, Roy,

Tawny’s father, attended school.

But after Mr. Randolph retired, he winterized the

cottage and created a beautiful year-round home.

Tawny always loved visiting them and when her mother was

temporarily transferred to Germany, Tawny was thrilled to move in.

Of course that meant she had to attend the small high school on

the island. Little did she know how what an amazing and, sadly,

threatening future she faced.

And so the story begins…..

Grand Hotel Team

Readers have asked for more photos of horses on the island.

Of course, because Mackinac is all about horses – those privately owned, those enjoyed

for an hour or two by visitors, and those who work hauling supplies.

And are they loved!

Just as Tawny loved her “Tamarack,” the people who work with the horses

on Mackinac treat them as cherished friends.  They know their personalities and

little quirks and take great care of them.

In the above photo, the Grand Hotel team stands proudly in front of the historic hotel.

Carrying the Load

This strong team knows how to maneuver the busy streets, haul tremendous weights with ease,

can back up into tight corners and put in a hard day’s work.

Anyone interested in the horses of Mackinac should not miss the annual Festival of the Horse.

Please visit:

Mackinac Bridge

When the Tawny’s grandparents, the Randolphs, were young, they had to cross the Straits

of Mackinac by car ferry.  That’s because the Mackinac Bridge

didn’t open to traffic till 1957.

The bridge will play a major role in Book Three of the Trilogy. Unfortunately,

the events that take place there will not resemble the peaceful scene above.

 The Mackinac Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world, if you

measure between cable anchorages.

The total length is five miles, though it doesn’t seem that far when you drive across.

The folks who walk across it on the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk

probably feel a little differently about the length.

You can learn a lot more about the bridge at:

Dapple Greys

When Tawny was younger, she kept her horse, Tamarack, behind her grandparent’s home

on Mackinac Island. But when her father was killed in Afghanistan,

life took a sudden turn and her world began to fall apart.

As she and her mother began to heal and rebuild their lives,

Tawny eventually returned to riding. Since horses and bicycles are the principle

means of transportation on the island, many residents keep horses in corrals behind their homes.

Cindy's Riding Stable

There are several well-maintained stables on the island. Visitors can rent horses there.

St. Ignace Sunset

St. Ignace’s yacht harbor is easily seen from a distance now that a

new lighthouse is installed at the end of the public pier.

The city itself is important to the novel. Chief’s Tribal Police Station is located north of St. Ignace.

When Chief travels to visit Tawny’s mother, Laura, on the island, he either takes the Star Line ferry or

hitches a ride on the Coast Guard’s launch.

.St  Ignace Light Star Line boat

In this photo, the Star Line ferry leaves the Railroad Dock and turns toward the Main Dock.

The landscape of St. Ignace changed forever in the predawn hours of August 3rd, 2012.

 The foundation of the old railroad track elevator for the rail ferry “Chief Wawatam”

(seen on the left side of this photo) gave way and

left a pile of iron and timber rubble in its wake.

It was a distinguishing feature and historical remnant on the city’s waterfront. The actual

historical figure, Chief Wawatam, and his heroic actions are mentioned in the novel.

Mission Point Spring

One of the novel’s most romantic scenes takes place at Mission Point Resort,

but not in the springtime.

It just seems the right time of year to lift our spirits with

signs of springtime, while we are waiting for the northern snows to melt.