Monday, September 10, 2007

On The Road

(Traverse City, MI) Several years ago, I would take a crazy road trip with my best friend, Steve. I looked up and found that it had been nine years since we took a road trip! Fortunately, it all worked out so we could do a trip that had been long-standing on our list: a circle tour of Lake Superior.

Ultimately, the plan is for a figure-eight tour: North from the Indy area, through Michigan along the western coast of Lake Michigan; then heading west theough Michigan's Upper Peninsula along the southern coast of Lake Superior, to Duluth, MN; then east along the northern coast of Superior; then west again through the UP- this time on the southern coast above Lake Michigan; then south through Wisconsin, Illinois, and back into Indiana. Route will vary on a whim- any time, any where, for no reason at all. About a week, all told.

Steve flew in from New York to Indy on Saturday. Ame and I showed him Hoosier hospitality with a nice dinner that included veggies from the garden and Indiana pork. Sunday, we hit the road.

Starting in Fishers, we meandered through Hamilton County, passing a bison farm on Six Points Road, just south of 296th. We meandered through Tipton County and got onto US 31 in time to let Steve feast his eyes on the famed Sherrill's "Eat Here and Get Gas" sign.

US 31 is a straight shot to Canada, but we did jump off from time to time to check out various sights. One misadventure was in Niles, MI. I truly thought that there was a tavern on trackside, full of railroad decor and a dining caboose. I was mistaken. My memory failed me. We asked around town- even at the Amtrak station- and everyone was stumped. Well, it had been ten years since I had been to that tavern, on a long work detail. On reflection, I think it's in Sturgis, MI. Who knows? I'll have to dig through my old photos.

Steve was astonished by the cheap land prices in Mi. $10,000/acre sounds ridiculous to a New Yorker. This was for property within 1,000 feet of Lake Michigan, north of Muskegon. Fun listening to him laugh at the prices.

We ended up in Traverse City, where the temperatures are lower and the wind is gusting. Today's adventures include an interview with former NHL player Craig Coxe, and a day trip to Beaver Island.

Could be trouble ahead- I forgot to bring my birth certificate and passport. I don't know if this will pose problems getting into Canada. I suspect that it might. If so, it would severly alter the pre-trip planned course, potentially eliminating the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario. That would be a bummer. I was hoping to stop in Thunder Bay, and to take in the sights along the way.


Mark W. Rutherford said...

You might get this in time, since you're going on a day trip to Beaver Island today, but consider these possible stops in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Alanson and Pellston and enjoying some of my "haunts". Juillerets in Harbor Springs is a neat informal family restaurant that is closing September 15th after 112 years. Unfortunately, the next generation did not want to run it, and the family did not want to sell it to someone who might not respect its long tradition. Linda and I made one last stop there in July.

Petoskey has Jesperson's Restaurant at 312 Howard Street which I like. You will find both locals and tourists there. If you like old hotels still operating and in good condition, check out the Perry Hotel in downtown Petoskey and Stafford's Bay View Inn. Both are on US 31.

Bay View is a neat community on US 31. If you like Victorian residential architecture, there are scores of well-preserved homes in Bay View from this era. It is amazing to see it.

If it is morning or afternoon, get bakery items at the Dutch Oven in Alanson (one of the few places left that knows how to make good molasses cookies, IMO). The Dutch Oven is on US 31.

If you like really good dining in an old lakeside building, try the Douglas Lake Bar and Restaurant on Douglas Lake in Pellston. The view is great, right on the shore of Douglas Lake, but be warned, it is pricey. Take Douglas Lake road across from the airport on US 31 to get there.

Lastly, you will notice some train cars to your left after you go through Conway on US 31 (by Crooked Lake between Petoskey and Ponshewaing). Go a little further, and you'll see a couple of train cars at the Michigan State fishery as well. I had to warn you not to miss an opportunity to enhance your RR hobby!

Mike Kole said...

Oh, what a bummer! I missed getting this message in time to get this advice in. We did catch the train cars parked on on US 31 near Conway, and took pictures.

We definitely would have stopped in Juillerets. My interview with Craig Coxe was in Harbor Springs, and as soon as we concluded, we were looking for lunch. Our loss, for sure.

At any rate, we're in Sault Ste Marie MI right now, and have enjoyed an evening of Native American gambling at the Kewadin Casino. More on that later.

Any tips on Thunder Bay, ON... or Duluth MN?

Kevin said...

I've never heard anyone mention that great sign outside of while passing it . . . even funnier to see it mentioned on the interweb.

Sherrill's "Eat Here and Get Gas" sign . . . funny stuff. I have to wonder if they weren't trying to be funny when they originally made that sign.