Up in Michigan

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This post’s title, of course, aludes to the fact that many of the  place names on our charts are all locations from the early Hemingway stories that were the first adult fiction I ever read.  To see Petoskey, Walloon Lake, Horton Bay, etc. on the plotter as we sail by takes me back a long way.

I’m told there is a guy in Horton Bay who cadges drinks from Nick Adams aficianadoes by way of the fact that his grandfather was at Hemingway’s first (out 0f four) wedding at the church there.  The wonderful book The Paris Wife has increased his cocktail consumption substantially.

You can understand why upper Michigan attracts summer visitors from all over the Midwest.  Miles of wild dunes and forest, and towns with a lot of real charm — fewer fudge and tee-shirt shops, more galleries, bookstores and bakeries.  I don’t think there are as many daytrippers here — to commit to getting up this far, you are going to stay a while.

Charlevoix is the epitome of a Looper destination:  brand new municipal marina — new docks, boaters lounge, all-babe dock staff (which John appreciated), on a park and 100 yards from Main Street.  Having a bakery and grocery store two blocks from the boat is a real luxury when everything that comes aboard is lugged by hand or bike.

Then Leland, which has a working fishing port “Fishtown” only half of which has been turned into shoppes.  And some real whitefish boats so I could  finally figure out how they catch them from the strange vessels you see out on the water.

Last night Arcadia Lake — again, a real Up-in-Michigan experience.  There are almost no natural harbors along the lake, so where there is a lake close to shore, they cut in a channel and MAKE a harbor.  So we came in off the lake at were transported into a perfectly calm, pristine environment where we were the only two boats at anchor.  Put Arcadia in New England and you’d have to walk across the boats to get to yours.  Steaks on the grill and an early night.

The problem with all this is that all these terrific harbors and charming towns happen to be on Lake Michigan.  It is totally unreliable.  Regardless of the forecast we have had wind and waves from every direction.  Yesterday we were supposed to have light, variable winds, waves less than 1 foot.  Within a half-hour of going out, John was losing his Eggs Benedict overboard in five footers.  By the time we got to Arcadia it was flat.

As we move into industrial southern Michigan, I just want to get off the lake and into the Chicago museums and Wrigley Field.

We are starting to encounter more Loopers since we are all getting to the point where we’d better stop hanging around Canada and Michigan and head into the rivers.

Charlevoix Marina

Bakery Steet, Charlevoix

Miles and miles of dunes and forest — no harbors, very few houses or people

These have got to be 1000 feet high – water in this spot was 400 feet deep.

Leland Fishtown Shoppes — passed on the cheese, got some smoked whitefish

Falls in Fishtown

Whitefish Boat — They fish in lousy weather all year, so all the boats have roofs. They set and the nets from the windows in the side.

Lake Michigan is dangerous enough — and then one of these bad boys comes by

Mackinac Island

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The arbiter of good taste in our set, Ray Gaulke, thinks the 57 fudge shops, daytrippers covered with oil and pizza/popcorn aroma overwhelm the natural beauty, history and refusal of the island to deal with the internal combusion engine.

But on the teeter-totter-of-taste I come down on the “You really ought to see it” side, so much so that I took John out to Mackinac for a second visit.  On a taste scale that includes the Jersey Shore, Las Vegas and Branson, MO, I think Mackinac ranks near the Versaille and Rodeo Drive of honky tonk.

We of course bought fudge, toured the very well-done fort and had an excellent dinner on the water at Maria’s Bistro, where John and has first meal of Great Lakes whitefish.  He is a convert, Ray.

On visit one, Ray and I did the round-the-island bike ride — 8 miles, flat, and of course, no cars or mopeds.  Fabulous views of the Mackinaw Straits. This could give exercise a good name.

Only downside to Mackinac Island is that the ferries run all day and half the night, and the boat rolls continuously even in the marina.

Fudge Street

Macinac Island version of a truck

View from the marina

John the tourist from the fort

The marina as seen from the fort

Fort Mackinac — well-preserved and presented

Cannon firing — I love this stuff!!

Carriage Hotel where Ray and I ate a great dinner — server’s family has lived on the island for 6 generations, but she lives in California now and was a little vague on island history

Natural arch on around-the-island bike ride

Grand Hotel — it costs $7 each to sit on the porch so we didn’t


Crew and a Special Island

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John is aboard after a breakneck rush to LGA  by Molly to avoid a wreck on the Whitestone Bridge, so time for pictures of the intrepid crew who got us to Cheboygan — a nice little town that I am anxious to leave for points south.  Fall is in the air in northern Michigan.The special island is Surveyors Island, owned by our friends Gordan and Linda MacKay.  We traveled with them for several stops along the Trent Severn and had a memorable gourmet dinner of Canadian food (buffalo, blueberries, elk sausage, ribs of various medium-sized animals and Wayne Gretzky red wine).  I am a wooden classic boat guy, but they have my favorite powerboat — a go-to-beat-hell Tiara.

They invited us to their  summer island, but we couldn’t get schedules to match.  So we just cruised by.  I marked it on the official map.  It looks like a tiny chip on the map, but is a substantial island about a half hour from Drummond Island in Memsahib time, 10 minutes in Tiara time.

Bosun Bjorn on strict Swedish Beer and Ice Cream diet

“Hangdog” Harris

Chief Steward Ray at his post

Gordon and Linda’s Island

House, Harbor and Tiara

Outpost of Empire — Drummond Island Customs Office

More Catching Up

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New pieces for the blog:

Under “Blogroll” their is a link to the latest location map.  At the top of the blog there is also a complete Great Loop map showing the whole route, which might be useful to study for future “legees” Jeff, Eric and Steve.

So how Memsahib get from the Upper Trent Severn to Cheboygan?

At the substantial town of Midland, ON I rented a car and took Bjorn back to Toronto airport to return to Sweden and picked up Pat Harris.

From Midland we went into the beautiful granite channels of Georgian Bay — beautiful but very tough navigation. Full of rocks and narrow channels — some won’t take any more than a 40-foot boat because the turns are too tight.

One night at Henry’s, one at Sandy Bay, then we cut across the bay to Killarney  to dodge bad weather.  Sitting here in Cheboygan with a McDonalds and a Walmart, etc.  I fondly remember Killarney and the really nice Sportsman s Inn — particularly since dockage there (as in all Canada) costs about a third of Long Island Sound.

Killarney is just about as far as you get from anywhere on the Loop.  It is a former fur trading post that didn’t have a road until 1962.  The bus stop is AN HOUR from town.  I had to get Mr. Rite Limosine from Sudbury (who didn’t have a prom or wedding on a Tuesday) to pick up Ray Gaulke our next crew and get him from the bus to Sudbury.   Pat Harris took a Parks Tour bus out by simply getting on the bus and passing on the tour part (remember Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces trying to get just whole wheat toast at a diner:  “I’ll have a BLT on whole wheat toast — hold the bacon, hold the lettuce, hold the tomato –between your knees”).

Anyway, Killarney is great — three restaurants, a church, a general store ($4 for a bag of potato chips),  the Inn and a gillion great boats and seaplanes since it’s the only way to the North Channel.  Pat and I ate breakfast every day at a restaurant where the owner gets up at 3 am to bake fresh bread, pies, cinammon rolls — and you’d have to be a total glutton to spend $10 there.

On the night before Ray got in, three otters came to play around the boat, but were goine before I could get my camera.

Ray and I did Baie Fine (already covered) and then headed toward the metropolis of Little Current where we were blown in for three days.  Good thing because Ray became Chief Steward Ray and was shocked, SHOCKED that I did not have an omelet pan, breadknife or martini glasses on board (I did have the vodka, olives and vermouth).  These deficiencies were quickly rectified by riding our folding bikes to town and we had some great meals while the wind blew.

Then onto John’s Island, Drummond Island for customs and on to Mackinac Island — a story unto itself.

Georgian Bay/North Channel Update


Memsabib finally has a blog!I am in Cheboygan, MI waiting for John to arrive after a great trip through Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron with Pat Harris and Ray Gaulke.

While I get the hang of this software, I’m just going to put in some pictures with captions of the most recent leg.

2 billion years of erosion creates fantastic rock formations

First Stop: Henry’s Fish Restaurant — You can only get there by boat or seaplane

Henry’s 2 — Great food — as long as you like fried pike (I do)

Point Au Barile Lighthouse

Some of the channels are only one boat wide!

Sandy Bay Anchorage — I guess they call small boulders “sand”

Stayed 3 days at the very nice Sportsman’s Inn

Sportsman’s Gets some BIG boats — our neighbor

Killarney is the only way to get through northern Lake Huron so interesting traffic comes through