Saturday, June 25, 2011

Photo Essay~~June 2011~~Road Trip Travels and Inspiration ~~ Mackinac Island

Rocky Island Coastline

Off the Bike Path

Clouds and Sky on our Road Trip

Lake Michigan Lighthouse

Arch Rock, 146 Feet above the water

Patriotic and Colorful Waterfront Home

No Cars Allowed!

Light and Shadow

Lovely Lilacs, Lilac Festival 2011
View of the Bay
Red Geraniums on a Victorian Porch
Shoreline Landscape
Mackinac's Garden Flowers
Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, City Park

Seagull Friend at First Rest Stop

British Landing on Mackinac Island

Tall Towering Trees on the Island

Coastline's Wild Flowers

Quaint Mackinac Home on Shoreline Blvd.

Inviting Rest Stop

Trinity Church

Tulips along the way . . .

Starline Ferry--Jet Power!

A View of Fort Street

Checking Out the Fort

Dave and Karen

Uncle Arthur and Aunt Nancy

Paul and Cindy

Say Cheese!

Grand Hotel

Smilin' Saber

Waiting for the Ferry

Wisconsin Countryside

Red Barns of Wisconsin

Photo Inspiration and Essay, My Summer Happiness Project 2011
 by Cindy Morawski

Every now and then I get lucky.  This past trip to Wisconsin and Michigan made me feel that way.  I took my camera with me in the hope that I'd capture some of the countryside and landscapes along the journey.  I hoped too that I'd gain some inspiration for my pastel paintings later on as well.  When I first arrived in Wisconsin, the intensity of all those rain-fed greens almost made my eyes hurt.  I had been used to seeing mostly browns in San Antonio due to the third biggest drought in Texan history this past year.  However, I knew a 'Kodac Moment' when I saw one.  Paul and I started out the first day in Wisconsin by hiking through a city park that borders my aunt and uncle's place.  The light and shadows, wildflowers, grass pathways, and wildlife all contributed to a win-win walk through an outdoor wonderland.  We even saw a napping muskrat along the bank of the local creek.  Other sitings included a groundhog, butterflies, a squirrel, chipmunks, and a variety of birds. 


After a visit in Marinette in Northern Wisconsin at my Cousin David and his wife Karen's lovely home, we took to the road once more and traveled North onto the Upper Peninsula in Michigan.  Lake Michigan was on our right as we advanced toward our goal-- Mackinac Island, another four hours away.  When we arrived,  we hopped a ferry and then 20 minutes later we stepped foot onto Mackinac.  Horse-drawn carriages, fudge shops galore, and Victorian homes lined Shoreline Boulevard as we made our way toward our hotel, the Harbor View Inn, in order to check in and freshen up.  After that, some of us rented bicycles and then we toured around the island, stopping for views and picture taking.  The bicycling trip was definitely one of my personal highlights.  The island's fresh air and great views along with our group's spirited energy all combined to make it seem like a perfect moment in time! 


Day two led us to Fort Mackinac and some fascinating living history.  We all toured the fort and then extended our history trip by walking and visiting the historic places along Market Street, site for the early fur trading in Mackinac's resourceful past.  Our final stop before we caught the 3 o'clock ferry back to the mainland was the Grand Hotel.  Several pictures later, we walked back to Main Street and the nearby visitor's center and ferry boat dock.  Rechecking to make sure we had all our luggage and bags, we made our way onto the ferry, looking back one more time to say good-bye to the island paradise known as Mackinac.

My Happiness Project-- the Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island

The Lightness of Being with Lilacs and Leisure

--by Cindy Morawski

I've been reading a book by Gretchen Rubin called THE HAPPINESS PROJECT. Or, Why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean out my closets, fight right, read Artistotle, and generally have more fun. I was searching for balance in my life. I needed a guide to give me permission to "generally have more fun." (If that makes any sense.) Getting introspective does no good at all if you're not willing to put helpful advice into practice. Therefore, I decided that it was high time that Paul and I put two of Gretchen's principles into play-- Be serious about Play and Make time for friends (and family). One item on both of our Bucket Lists was to travel more and to check out Mackinac Island in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We also wanted to spend some time with family, my aunt and uncle, plus my cousin and his wife. Bingo! Both could be accomplished since they all lived in Wisconsin, near Michigan, and they all were interested in going on vacation to Mackinac Island for the Lilac Festival too. It seemed too good to be true!

Island Ferry, a fun way to get to the island
Samuel Johnson once noted this about happiness, "As the Spanish proverb says, 'He, who would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.'"  Just remembering the exhilarating fragrance of lilacs from my childhood days in Pennsylvania, I instinctively recognized the value of celebrating anything to do with the Lilac. I figured that I could bring home not only happiness, but enough good times to wash over into my life for many months in the future.  That alone could make me a card-carrying person with improvements.  My favorite color also just happens to be purple, and guess what color this particular flower happens to be?  Sha-zizzle!  I was ready for a road trip, a reunion, and an adventure. 

Haldimand Bay off Mackinac

Paul and I ended up in Milwaukee.  He took the train because his lung collapsed on May 16th due to a biking accident at a nearby park.  His doctor told him not to fly.  Of course, I had booked our flights to Wisconsin months in advance with Orbitz.  However, they wouldn't refund our money so I couldn't afford spending more money on train travel.  In the end, we both used different modes of transportation.  Although, the important thing was that we arrived around the same time in Wisconsin for our road trip and visit with the relatives.  And, we did just that.  My Uncle Arthur and Aunt Nancy picked us up in Milwaukee, and we then headed to Fort Atkinson where they live part of the year.  The next day we started on our road trip to Marinette, home of my Cousin David and his wife Karen, which is north of Green Bay on Lake Michigan.  Enjoying the luxury of not having to drive while experiencing a cooler climate and a beautiful landscape of fir trees and water along the way, we felt like we'd died and gone to heaven!

Paul and Cousin Dave getting ready for a bike ride

I had learned a long time ago while riding horses as a kid, the importance of jumping back on after you've taken a toss from your mount.  However, it's one thing to do it as a child who is more Gumby than human, and then quite another as a more fragile adult in late mid-life, who's recovering from a collapsed lung and five broken ribs.  I wasn't sure after Paul spent almost an entire week in the hospital in May after his bicycle accident that he'd be jumping back on a bike anytime soon.  In fact, during his first follow-up doctor's appointment, his doctor asked Paul if he had any questions.  Paul replied, "Sure do.  When can I return to normal activities?  In other words, when can I go back to bike riding?"  Without missing a beat, the physician returned, "You can go ahead with bicycling right away.  But if you fall, you'll re-break your ribs and possibly hurt your lung again.  You haven't finished healing; it's going to take six months for those ribs to completely heal."   So, I was surprised when Paul agreed to rent bikes on the first day at the island.  Dave, Karen, Paul, and I selected our cruisers and then glided down the street for a complete tour around Mackinac.  Our first adventure! 


Fort Mackinac, firing off the cannon

On the second day of touring the island, my Uncle Arthur and Aunt Nancy joined us for some sightseeing at Fort Mackinac.  This fort  served as a military outpost for British, and later, American soldiers from 1780 to 1895.  What delighted me most of all was the escape into the past with the living history all around us.  Folks acted the parts of soldiers, wives, blacksmiths, and merchants in order to bring the past to life.  The two soldiers in the photo asked us to plug our ears while they shot off the cannon.  Later, four soldiers marched past and re-enacted a rifle demonstration in the green common area inside the fort's walls.  On Market Street, we watched Robert Benjamin, the blacksmith, work on a design in metal and a daughter of the long-ago Biddle family cook stew over the fire in the fireplace.   I took a plunge into the past while learning about the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in early Michigan.  For me, happiness is not just reading about history; it's also seeing it come to life!

Victorian costume of an historic interpreter

Biddle House's Kitchen

My Family Touring the Fort
Uncle Arthur and Aunt Nancy


Horse-Power, No Cars Allowed

Another aspect of my happiness project was to experience a slower pace of life, in other words, I needed to relax.  While researching about Mackinac Island, I discovered that the island banned motorized vehicles in 1898--  transportation is on foot, by bicycle, or by horse-drawn carriage or wagon.  Horses rule!  Imagine settling into your bed at night with no horns honking, engines racing, or tires screeching.  It's quiet, unless you count the clip-clop of horses' hooves on the narrow village streets.  I grew up with ponies and horses.  My all-time favorite animal is the horse.  I knew I wanted to be on an island surrounded by horses.  The health as well as happiness benefits of an exhaust-free atmosphere without car noise can be quite attractive.  Getting around for me meant getting happy. 


Purple Power!

Early on in Gretchen's book she lists her Twelve Commandments.  Number Four on her list is "Do it now."  Well, I took her to heart.  I not only made time for my family, but I also took time for a vacation.  It was all good.  I came back from that trip with a lightness in my step and a smile on my lips.  My perspective shifted.  Change had happened.  I felt happy!



~~Hope you have a happy summer!  Please write and tell me of your adventures.~~


Cindy Morawski