Mallory calls them “shrooms”

Yesterday mostly was a travel day, but not aboard Misty Pearl.  Two mile walk to Enterprise, 3 hour drive to Grand Rapids, and 3 hour return trip with Mallory in the back seat squealing about her brothers being cute.   Along the way we passed Big Rapids.  The people of Big Rapids probably thought they were all that, and then GRAND Rapids came along.  We also discovered that the people who name Michigan roads are about as uncreative as the people who name waterfalls.  We passed a zillion generically named ___ Mile Roads, as in 20 Mile Road or 12 Mile Road.  Nonsensical really, but at least it gave Eminem something to write about.

img_5013We also passed cherry orchards by the dozens.  Who knew?  Charlevoix claims to be home to the World’s Largest Cherry Pie.  We mostly are skeptical about any of the global claims we’ve found along the way, but this one takes the cake, er, the pie.  First, it’s not a real pie.  It’s metal.  That alone makes the claim demonstrably bogus.  It’d be like claiming the heaviest boxer of all time is the Rocky statue.  Second, it’s not even a sculpture of a whole pie.  Just a slice.  We could pull out any random cherry and boast that it’s a small piece of an 8 Mile wide pie.  Third, it’s not even that big.  It’s really just an Unremarkable Sculpture of a Slice of Cherry Pie and should be billed as such.  Also, what happened in 1987?  Did someone make a bigger fake pie slice?

The number one Charlevoix attraction actually is a series of attractions:  so-called Mushroom Houses.  Some college-dropout named Earl Young built a bunch of funky places that are scattered around town.  Gotta give him credit though.  They’ve stood the proverbial test of time.

img_4990The top right is a photo of Stafford’s Weathervane, a restaurant recommended by our friend Erin Lewin.  (How’d we get all these friends from Michigan anyway?)  We trust she isn’t related to anybody named Stafford or Weathervane, although the dinner was delicious either way.  This Earl Young design can be yours for a cool $2.75 mil.  The best part is that it comes with a full 4 months of tolerable weather.

The folks at the marina loaned us 5 bikes so we could explore with Second Wave.  Actually it was 4 bikes and a trike, which Dana took because Mallory refused.  Which leads to what would be today’s poll if we did polls:  Is it worse parenting to raise a law-breaking child or an illiterate child?


A frog and a duck walk into a bar . . .

67893995-AF34-4A11-956B-91DEF99AA6E5This morning we slept in a bit given the promise of very little in the way of wind or waves.  Plus Charlevoix is just a short jump across Little Traverse Bay from Harbor Springs.  Not even long enough to break out the Triscuits, which we are happy to see once again being sold as a Nabisco product.  Christies is somewhat offputting, although we courageously dealt with it while in Canada.

83B7EE73-CB51-40E7-A48F-FD1998CFEDC3The name Charlevoix is derived from the Native American word for “Too many damn boats in the canal.”  It also was the site of a fierce and fatal gun battle in which Mormons attacked innocent Irish fishermen or Irish fishermen attacked innocent Mormons, depending on which side of history is accurate.  Irish and Mormons don’t really seem like traditional rivals, although a football game between BYU and Notre Dame might create some sectarian animosity.  They could—but probably wouldn’t—call the game The Battle of Pine River II.

Most importantly Charlevoix will be known in the future as the place where Mallory rejoined us.  Hopefully tomorrow.  In preparation, we spent most of the day cleaning Misty Pearl.  Nothing much interesting about that.  Except if we actually knew a joke about a frog and a duck, this would be a most excellent time to use it.  While cleaning the flybridge, we discovered a sticky-toed green frog (probably not its technical name) on a kayak paddle.  We don’t know how or when he got there, but if he had eaten all the spiders we might have adopted.  Instead, Dana carefully relocated him to a pond island.  Perhaps to reward her act of kindness, a duck hopped up on one of the kayaks and obligingly posed.

We topped it off with a pretty epic sunset while walking back across the bridge after dinner.


If things go bad, eat the fat guy first

Yesterday morning we shot out early in order to beat the ferry traffic.  Did we mention that ferries suck?  Unless you want to go over to the other side, of course, in which case they’re not too bad.  Passing under the famous Mackinaw Bridge put us into Lake Michigan.  At 5 miles, Mighty Mac supposedly is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere.  We can’t confirm that through personal knowledge, of course, but do know it’s pretty hard to get the whole thing in one photo.


img_4867Counting our distant view of Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior from the International Bridge—which obviously shouldn’t really be counted—Lake Michigan is our 4th Great Lake.  Across the lake we got some morning sun through a porthole window.  No wind, blue skies.  Beautiful day for cruising.

img_4865The goal of every Looper is to chase 75 degree highs.  Warm enough to pilot from the flybridge, cool enough to explore outside and to sleep with open hatches and no AC at night.  The east coast part of the Loop we spent trying to stay one step ahead of the hot stuff.  With a few big exceptions, we were successful.  Now we’re trying to stay ahead of the cold stuff.  Mackinaw City, for example, is getting cooler by the minute.  If we stay much longer we’ll regret putting the fleece sheets in storage.

Getting out of these lakes before winter isn’t just a comfort thing.  We passed over wrecks of a bunch of ships which sank in many cases because of ice or fierce winter gales.  As one example, the brig Sandusky sank in 1871.  All 7 aboard died.

Dottie probably thinks it was a conspiracy created by the dead sailors’ families to get insurance money, but either way we’re turning south none too soon.  We don’t want to become a summer dive spot.

We’ve now spent time in dozens of small towns that nobody from Texas or Tennessee ever heard of.  Most of them have a certain charm, but a few really stand out as spectacularly cool.  Clayton, New York, is one of those.  Harbor Springs, Michigan—where we’ve spent the last two days—is another one.  Part of that is the Walstrom Marina, which although buried behind a crowd of moored boats, kayakers, wind-surfers and the like, is quite accommodating.  Plus the vintage sign says they cater to the high-class types and those with hay fever.  We don’t have hay fever, so figure that makes us high-class.

img_4542-1They even loaned us the marina GEM car (which was just 2 seats shorter than Pearl from Rock Hall, Maryland.)  Unfortunately, the car broke down 20 minutes and a couple of miles into the trip around town.  The marina guy who came and rescued us from under the tree later said it was a bad battery, but Brent was driving so nobody really knows for sure.

Our dear friend Deb Sydenham strongly recommended a visit Tom’s Mom’s Cookies, so the one of us who likes cookies stopped by during our stroll through town.  Apparently the cookies are delicious, and in fact they ship them around the world so the claim of being “world famous” is closer to being true than the same claim by, say, Harold’s Fish & Chips in Killarney.   Although Deb is married to our good friend Tom, we assume her suggestion was based on the cookies rather than on some undisclosed in-law relationship with Tom’s Mom.

img_4945Perhaps the most surprising thing about the water up here in general and Harbor Springs in particular is the clarity.  It’s just about like water in The Bahamas, if water in The Bahamas was 60 degrees.  We easily can see 20 feet or more to the bottom.  We just can’t figure out where the fish hide.  We looked alongside the docks.  Nothing.  We took a long ride around the harbor in Second Wave’s dinghy—which we suggested they name Micro Wave—but still nothing.  The money people around here paid for expensive fishing boats seems foolishly spent.  In fact,  when said boats are usable less than half the year, buying any kind of boat seems questionable.

Today we did some quick math.  We’ve travelled 1510 nm in 80 days.  That’s about 22 statute miles per day on average.  The Donner Party probably made better time while pulling wagons uphill through the snow, at least until they stopped to eat Old Man Graves and little Lemuel.  (You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but it seems kind of grisly to call it a “party.”)  Anyway, we’re right on the pace we anticipated.  If nothing unexpected happens, we should be through Chicago by around Labor Day, give or take a week.

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink*

img_4825Yesterday morning we caught the sunrise on Drummond Island through the sailboat beside us, slipped the lines, crossed our last big stretch of Lake Huron, and returned to mainland U.S.A.  Our next island marina probably will be on Boot Key.

One of us wanted to go straight to Cheboygan, mostly because it’s a fun word to say.  Unfortunately Cheboygan was out of the way.  Cheboygan.  We’ll just have to settle for saying it.  Cheboygan.

Mackinaw (pronounced just as one might expect) City isn’t much fun to say, but it’s on our way to Chicago so that’s where we went.  Great day on Lake Huron, right until we reached the Straits of Mackinac.  (Mackinac is pronounced exactly the same as Mackinaw.  There’s some really goofy etymology up in these strange lands.)  img_4858Wind wasn’t the problem.  Current wasn’t the problem.  Ferries were the problem.  Wake-throwing SOBs were right on our line to the marina and weren’t too worried about it.  At one point one of us wanted to hold a phone to video the troughs that were tossing spray over the pilothouse when we plowed into them, but the other one said something to the effect of “keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the ferries” but with a bit more color and insistence.  The point is that we have no video.  But we got to the City Marina safely, so there’s that.

img_4856If you think the ferries only jack with boaters during the day, you’d be wrong.  Long after bedtime they zipped in and out, rocking us in our slip like Galloping Gertie in the wind.  Even at no-wake speeds in the no-wake zone 50 yards off our beam, they churned up wake.  Does this look like no wake?  Nope.

On dry land, certain things are a given.  No boat will wake you.  You will have passable internet.  And when you take a shower, you will have water.  ED16743C-0AD3-4A18-AB89-46B0DEE82F6ANot so on a boat.  We live off of fresh water tanks that require a pump to generate pressure.  Two days ago in the midst of Dana’s shower, suddenly no water.  Well maybe we misread the sight gauge and the aft tank was empty, so let’s refill it.  Yesterday in the midst of Dana’s shower, suddenly no water.  Hmmm.  The tank is full.  Either Dana needs to stop showering or we have a bigger issue.  What the  heck, let’s figure it out tomorrow.  Which was today.  img_4857So when we woke up to a beautiful sunrise, it was clouded by the need to get fresh water.  Fortunately we have been carrying a new pump, which solved the problem.  Ain’t she a beauty?  It wasn’t Dana after all.

Then off to Mackinac Island.   To get there, we had to patch things up with the ferry.  If you can’t beat em, join em sort of thing.

img_4859Mackinac Island has roads but no cars.  Everybody uses bicycles so we rented a couple.  And a trailer for the boys.  Since we took the pink pillow for them things turned out ok.  And before anyone judges Doug’s biking posture, please understand that his bike was stuck in a high gear while his skills are stuck in a low gear.

The circumference loop took us through areas where the waters of Lake Huron almost looked Carribeanish.  There was an arch to rival Rainbow Bridge, albeit much smaller.  And the Grand Hotel indeed was pretty grand, although a hotel that charges $10 just to walk in the door is way to uppity for us.  Somewhere in Time was a passable movie despite the absurd time-travel element, but looking at a lobby is not worth $10.  Or $20 if we both went in.

Ultimately we concluded that Mackinac Island is sort of a cross between Catalina Island (Avalon in particular) and Coronado, with a dash of Gatlinburg, although instead of Smoky Mountain Salt Water Taffy, here every third store sells fudge.  None of those places have horse poop everywhere, of course, so maybe we are off just a tad.

Dinner with Second Wave and Texas Two Step.  Weather looks good for tomorrow.


*Apologies to Samuel Coleridge.

Sault Sioux Sue Soo

Well the plan this morning was to head over to Mackinaw City.  Benny and Oscar needed food and a good nail trim, we needed a prescription filled, and Dana needed a new phone case.  None of that can be done within 30 miles of Drummond Island Yacht Haven.  But the weather sucked.  Cold and windy.  Cold is acceptable, windy not so much.  So no errands in Mackinaw City.

img_4822Through the wonders of good internet service, we found that Sault (rhymes with zoo) Ste. Marie has everything we needed and more.  (The e after St is because Saint inexplicably is spelled Sainte.  Probably French or something.)  Off we went in the marina rental car without a care in the world.

Drummond Island—being an island and all—is accessible in a car only by ferry since there’s no bridge.  That means only one way off the island as well.  img_4823Because (1) a day without boating is like a day without sunshine and (2) a day without dog food would be a really bad day for the boys, we took the ferry.  (For the record, it still was a day without sunshine, at least until we were back home.)  About 60 miles of hay fields later, we approached Sault Ste. Marie.

Wait.  What’s this?  There’s a Sault  Ste. Marie in Ontario as well?  The only PetSmart is in that one?  It’s okay though, because we brought our passports, right?  Nobody but nobody takes passports shopping for dog food and phone cases.  And the good folks at the Arizona DMV don’t issue licenses that serve as federal identification.  Fortunately we had our still-valid CanPass number so they let us slip back into Canada after we crossed the International Bridge.  And yes, Sault Ste. Marie isn’t very attractive on either side of the St. Mary River.

A moment about the name Sault.   It comes from an Indian tribe.  It’s pretty odd that there is a Sault (still rhymes with zoo) Indian tribe and a Sioux (also rhymes with zoo) Indian tribe.  This must greatly confuse the bureaucrats down at the BIA.  The great and famous Johnny Cash wrote a good song about a Boy Named Sue, which only tangentially is relevant to the topic.  The great but not-as-famous Roger Alan Wade—from Doug’s home town of Chattanooga, Tennessee—wrote a better song about a Sioux Named Boy, which is much more relevant to the topic.

img_4819Anyway, after PetSmart we returned to the U.S. for the second time in less than 24 hours.  The dude at the U.S. Border Patrol place wasn’t quite as pleasant about the lack of passports, but ultimately our honest faces made the difference.  The joke was on him since we forgot to declare the two animals sleeping on the back seat.  They were in plain sight and came with us into Canada so we figure we’re ok.

Another interesting tidbit relates to I-75.   Between us we’ve driven stretches of I-75 hundreds of times, mostly between Knoxville and Atlanta but also in south Florida and a bunch of other spots.  Turns out it starts on the north end at the International Bridge.


(Note that whoever named the locks between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior didn’t fool around with tricky ways to spell Soo.)

Part way on the journey the marina loaner—with its 170,000 miles—started to buck around.  Serious transmissions problems, which caused us some worry since we might have wandered a bit farther than the marina anticipated, although in fairness we honestly stated our intent to “explore the area.”  Fortunately we made it back safely.  The boys enjoyed their supper.

We also enjoyed our supper.  Crossroads—one of our sister Selenes—pulled into the marina this afternoon and joined us and Second Wave at the local Mexican joint.  It was great to catch up with Barry and Robin.