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Spent too many days enjoying Mackinac this past Memorial weekend

and didn’t post on blog. There are many new photos to share, however.

Spring flowers are resplendent throughout the island.

Some planted – others put down roots on their own.

Grand Hotel's Greenhouse

The Grand Hotel greenhouse is filled with geraniums ready for planting.

Grand Hotel Flowers to Plant

Tons of flowers are tucked behind the Grand Hotel’s greenhouse.

Soon they’ll grace the hotel’s many gardens. With such an

ideal climate, they’ll quadruple in size in a matter of weeks.

Grand Hotel walking paths

Island visitors can enjoy the walking paths tucked into the woods near the
Grand Hotel’s swimming pool.  Beautiful in all seasons, but best in springtime.

Grand Hotel's Winding Paths on Mackinac

Tawny’s grandmother, Mrs. Randolph, takes pride in her gardens. Chief’s trained eyes

notice everything and, even under the stress of the investigation, he makes a point to compliment her.


Horses Pulling Wagon in Winter at Mackinac Island

What is Mackinac Island Like in Winter?

That was one of the questions asked last week when a winter scene

from “Discovered – The Cross of Lorraine” was mentioned.

The answer? Very different.

Mackinac ISland's Main Street in Winter

Yes, motorized vehicles, snowmobiles that is, are allowed.

But bikes are used too, as long as possible.

With the awnings, flags, signage and colorful storefronts gone,

the streets look quite bare.

Snowy streets lead to lake at Mackinac Island

But the peaceful blanket of snow makes the island even more beautiful.

Especially when contrasted with the brilliant blue skies and stormy lake waters.

If you haven’t seen the video, “The Ice Bridge – Mackinac Island’s Hidden Season,” you should.

Available at the Island Book Store on Mackinac. It is stunning.


Family drives carriage at Mackinac

Mackinac Island is all about horses.  The amazing strength and curious

personalities of these marvelous animals never fail to charm visitors.

A “drive yourself’ carriage ride always provides a surprise or two and

is not difficult. These horses not only know the way they’re headed,

they know which horse they want to follow. And you’d better listen,

or they’ll vocalize loudly till you shape up!

 Tub of clean water

Island horses love their work, but better yet, what follows.

A nice tub full of clear clean water and then…

Jack's Livery Horse Bath

…. a cool shower, scrub down, food and rest.

Jack's Livery Stable

The above photos were taken at Jack’s Livery Stable on Mackinac Island.

When the carriage returned to the stable, the horse was immediately greeted

with affection by the staff. In “Discovered – The Cross of Lorraine,”

Tawny takes a romantic winter ride with Takoda. This time, the horses pull a sleigh.


Main Street Mackinac Island

One of the fun things to do when visiting Mackinac in springtime is to walk

Main and Market streets and observe the changes.

Storefronts, signage, awnings, and other architectural details continuously improve.


In Book Two Tawny visits her favorite bakery on Main.

She buys an apple turnover to bring to Takoda as a surprise.

But the tables turn….badly.


The reader isn’t the only one shattered. It’s hard for the author to see

bad things happen to her favorite characters.

Mackinac forest floor

In Chapter 14, Tawny escapes her fears and the taunts of “Ice Blue” by

daydreaming about her times on Mackinac Island with Takoda. She especially savors

the day he led her to an old horse trail near the northern bluffs.

Sun kissed paths

There are few places more romantic than the Mackinac forest. Imagine a young woman

walking these trails with the man she deeply loves,

wondering if he feels the same.

Yellow carpeting

At times, places like these are beyond our vocabulary to describe.

You can follow these paths on foot or bicycle.

Some fortunate people ride the trails on their own horses.

But best is to walk hand in hand with the one you love.

Takoda's trail

Soon Mackinac’s forest paths will be covered with wildflowers.

Landscaping – courtesy of Mother Nature.

Up until now, “tweets” consisted of the sweet call of birds in Brighton,

Brevort and Mackinac.

But as the excitement built as we crossed the Mackinac Bridge this weekend,

I realized why some folks “tweet.”

I just wanted to share the thrill with all those who love Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

and Mackinac Island.

So here is a photo taken while driving on the bridge.

To follow my Tweets (there won’t be many, I promise)

you can go to this Twitter address and follow me:

It snowed 15 minutes after we crossed into St. Ignace.

It snowed 15 minutes after we crossed into St. Ignace.

This is the address for this particular posting.

Even though it snowed a little yesterday, May 12th, at Mackinac,

the ferry boats are all out of dry dock now and

busy taking visitors and residents back and forth

from both St. Ignace and Mackinac City.

Photo Stitched Catmarans

This photo was taken several winters ago in St. Ignace.

Actually, it is three photos “stitched” together.

Word is that a certain young family cruised over to Mackinac this weekend

and their sailboat was the only one in the harbor.

Mackinac sailboat first

This photo was taken last year, when they also were the first to dock at the island.

Nothing better than an early glimpse of Mackinac in spring.

Large yacht at Mackinac harbor

Although this is not Yev or “Bossman’s” yacht, it provides a good picture

of the size of some of the vessels that visit Mackinac each summer.

The harbor can accommodate all sizes of watercraft.

Huge Sailboat at Mackinac Harbor

One mast this size would be astounding.

This sailing vessel sports two!
That’s the East Bluff in the background.  Karl’s father built a home up there.

Oh – who is Karl? Blogger’s error. He’s in Book Two.

Or was that a sneak preview?


Exploring Mackinac

Mackinac shoreline wildflowers

Visitors to Mackinac need to venture beyond the village

to truly appreciate the beauty of the island. Many

bike or even walk the eight mile trail

around the island.  A wide variety of wildflowers

blanket the limestone rocks from spring to fall.

Cedar woods near Grand Hotel

Tawny and Takoda also loved to explore the trails and paths

winding through the interior of the island.

The rich aroma of cedar pervades the forest.

The trees in the above photo flank a trail leading

to the Grand Hotel’s swimming pool.

 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.