After the official anniversary celebration the night before, we arose to a beautiful day and enjoyed a lovely Grand Hotel breakfast in the dining room with our favorite waiters, including Mr Jaferay.
Taking the kids for a drive
The whole group (except Doug, who had a few work phone calls) headed down towards town and found our way to Jack’s Livery for some island transportation fun. The plan was for Aly and Will to go horseback riding with their moms. Leah and Maggie would stay with me and the grandparents, but Maggie first got to ride on Cincinnati, their oldest horse, with a trainer leading them around the lot.
Leah was terrified as they started bringing horses out, so I took most of these pictures with Leah in one arm and my camera in the other. Once Maggie’s ride was over, though, Leah braved up and petted Cincinnati.
Then, of course, she wanted to ride a horse, but she was too small, so she went from being mad at being around horses to being mad that she couldn’t ride horses. There’s no winning with this child many times these days. The horses started arriving one by one for the four who would go riding. Rachel was first, climbing aboard Sam, who only likes to lead the group and doesn’t like to follow other horses.
Ann was next, aboard Dan.
Will was next and hopped on up a horse whose name we can’t recall.
Finally, Aly was boosted up on Ranger, and immediately began freaking out, screaming that she wanted to get off the horse. Realizing she was just nervous, I told her that horses smell fear and if she didn’t calm down, the horse would start eating her from the foot and move up. Kidding. I told her she had begged to do this and she just needed to calm down and everything would be fine – her mom was with her, along with an escort from the stables. This had no effect whatsoever, but thankfully, the stable folks took my cue and did not remove her from the horse.
It was only a few more minutes before the group set off towards town, with Aly still loudly complaining.
I joined the crew below and we headed around the corner to the playground to enjoy the sunshine. Leah was a bit upset about being away from Mommy, but she was easily distracted when we walked past consecutive houses with pink front doors.
Maggie and Leah had the playground to themselves for the first chunk of time we were there, and they took turns being captain of the playground ship, until Leah decided she could be the only captain and defended the captain’s wheel from all oncomers. I pushed them on the swings and also played the shark. Maggie is quite the climber.
We knew the horsemen would be coming down the hill from the Grand, so we kept an eye out occasionally for their arrival. Grandma Jan spotted them and Maggie was off like a shot.
Leah was not in a hurry to leave the playground, so we lingered for a few minutes and then took the back route to the stables, where we found a happy group of riders, including Aly. We all walked back up to the hotel’s tea garden, passing through the woods that house the hotel’s greenhouse.
Grandpa Bill, Rachel, Leah and I headed up to Sadie’s Ice Cream Parlor, a new place at the east end of the hotel. Ice cream seemed a suitable lunch for the four of us.
We finally had a great day to be in the pool, and we took advantage of it. The pool offers free snow cones, and we arrived to find Maggie’s lips completely blue, as she and Aly had each consumed two snow cones:
The two older girls made several friends, and were in and out of the pool and both hot tubs. Leah did pretty well at keeping up with them in her water wings, obsessed with swimming in the nine-foot deep part of the pool.
I had brought all my camera gear down to the pool, so when swimming was done, a few of us took the short trail down to the lake.
I got a couple good pictures of the Round Island Light in the afternoon sunlight.
Our first carriage ride
Well, for much of our group, anyway. This night’s dinner would not involve Mr Jaferay, but had a couple good surprises in store. We dined at Woods, which is one of the Grand’s restaurants a fair distance across the island. A carriage arrived to take our group through the houses and forest out to dinner.
Woods is like an old school sportsmen’s club, and we arrived, headed through the enormous front door to find the waiting area, turned right into the bar and the kids saw
Amazing Duckpin Bowling
The kids were blown away at the cool single bowling lane, but I was blown away at how unbelievably stylish the alley was and immediately had high hopes for pictures. Doug got a beer from the bar and took the first turn as pinsetter.
The adults tried their hand a few times, without knocking down a single pin. At all. Anyway, I mentioned earlier that I had high hopes for a great picture of the lane, and this picture is among my favorite pictures I’ve ever shot:
As we headed back into the lounge to make our way to the dining room, I ran into Will, who looked like he was born for a place like this:
Dinner was very tasty, and the service was excellent, though I think our party (adults and kids alike) was perhaps a bit too loud for this stuffy old place. One big plus was the paper tablecloth for the kids to draw on.
We headed outside to find the carriage we’d requested and found four other people already squatting in it. We were completely crammed in, but the ride was fun because the driver had the horses trot a few times, which the kids loved. Also, for those of sitting in the front row, which was my family plus Grandpa Bill, we got an extra treat from one of the horses, which released a 15 to 20 second fart that began softly and rose to a crescendo, causing a long spell of red-faced laughter.
Back at the hotel, Leah asked me to take her down to Grandma Jan’s room while the other three kids were watching TV. Grandpa Bill and I chatted on their large balcony (it was a deck, really), while Grandma Jan kept giving Leah 3…2…1 countdowns which would cause Leah to run the length of their room. Leah was running so hard that a picture in the bathroom dislodged from its mounting.
After this had been going on for ten minutes or so, to the delight of Jan and Leah, Leah got thirsty and Grandma Jan got her some water in a fancy, small, square coffee cup. A few cups in, Leah managed to spill some water on her dress, so she told Grandma Jan that she had to take off her dress. As we were deep in Father-Son conversation, we had no idea what was going on in the room behind us, then Grandma Jan summoned us for a look:
Leah had dressed herself in one of Grandma Jan’s tank tops and used a ribbon from one of the presents as a belt. She had even taken her dress and put it in Grandma Jan’s drawer in place of the shirt. As you can see, she was quite pleased with herself.
Grandma Jan walked her back down to our room, where we found Aly 40% asleep watching TV:
Leah got in bed and then asked Grandma Jan to read her a story, which she was happy to do.
The next morning, we had a farewell breakfast with our dear wait staff, then packed up and took a carriage down to the docks in the teeming rain. There was a long line for the Shepler’s ferry and we were concerned about whether we’d be forced to sit up top in the cold, rain, and fog. While we waited in line, various members of our group snuck off for various last-minute toy and plush purchases.
As it turns out, some of us were forced to sit up top, but by the children, not the capacity. There were people behind us in line that were up top because there were no more seats inside. The seats on top deck all had pools of water in them, and were packed with bugs, piles and piles of them. Aly and Will still wanted to stay up there anyway, so we bunkered down and did what these people in front of us did:
Except we had a smaller umbrella and were not wearing rain gear. We were soaked by the time we arrived in Mackinaw City, and got further soaked as we got our luggage and loaded it into the car.
We hopped on I-75 and drove about 40 miles before stopping for gas and lunch. Guess who we found eating McDonald’s in the parking lot in the rain? The girls hopped into the car with Grandma Jan while we went inside and got some food, and they really enjoyed their unexpected bonus few minutes with their grandparents.