Thursday, July17, 2014
Another nice day and even warmer than the day before, and the North Shore staff set out the breakfast items at 8:00 at our request so we could get a reasonably early start. The route was basically straight back south to the Manistique Lakes area and Chamberlin’s Inn near the town of Curtis. This was one area of the U.P. that I had been on all sides of without actually being there, as it is close to a lot of other places but not on the way to any of them.
Like the day before, the route started with a fairly tough climb, but this time my legs and knee had been doing really well and I rode up it with no problems. And that was about it for the “interesting” portion of this first 25-mile leg of our journey. The rest was pretty much just a straight shot down M-77 until we got to the main east-west highway. Like most secondary roads in Michigan, this was surfaced using a chipseal method that in this case was on the rough side. This makes for increased rolling resistance and more effort to maintain a given speed that was noticeable to me.
Once we reached M-28, we made a slight jog and continued south on M-77, but on a smoother surface and wider shoulder. This portion of the road passes by the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, which I had driven but never visited. Our lunch stop was then at a picnic area on the edge of the refuge, with a structure built in the 1930s by the CCC workers. I had not realized that this wildlife refuge had actually been built for its purpose instead of being a natural set of ponds for migrating birds. However, I do remember a number of years ago when a fire near here got into the peat bogs and continued to smolder for several years.
After lunch we proceeded south through the oddly named town of Germfask and turned onto the interestingly named 10 Curves Road (no, I didn’t count them). This was one of the best roads of the trip as it went through an area with various types of farming activity from dairy cows to Christmas trees along with sweeping curves and some rolling hills. Eventually the road dropped down into the Manistique Lakes area and we turned south again along the shore of the biggest of the three lakes.
This area — new to me — is obviously a popular all-seasons resort and recreation area, with activities including fishing, boating, hunting, and snowmobiling. All along the shore there were private resorts, motels, cabins for rent, and personal cottages and summer homes. It definitely had more of an affluent feel than the rest of the places that we had ridden through. It is not really all that far from the bridge and undoubtedly draws a lot of weekend trolls (a “troll” is Yooper-speak for someone like me who lives “below the bridge”).
Our destination for the day was Chamberlin’s Old Forest Inn, built in the late 1800s as a railroad terminal hotel during the logging era. It is now an upscale B&B with a renowned restaurant, and was by far the nicest property that we stayed in on this trip. The rooms were typically small as you would expect for an old place, and I for one had to use a bathroom down the hall, but it was a really nice place to stay and relax. There is a porch/veranda that goes around three sides of the building, overlooking Manistique Lake, and it was a pleasure to just get a coffee or a drink from the bar and lounge around with a good book, enjoying the pleasant weather and surroundings.
We of course had reservations for dinner and were able to pick from a good selection of entrees. Everything was done with class, as fit the ambiance of the inn. There was even some live entertainment during dinner, and afterward we discovered that our tour leader was even more talented than he had let on. Everyone hung around outside on the porch or elsewhere on the grounds until they were ready to turn in for our last night on the road. We had come a long way, but now it was getting to be time to wrap things up.