You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The subtle joys of Manistique
After a rewarding 180-mile (290km) drive up I-75 from our free breakfast at the Drury Hotel in Frankenmuth near Saginaw, here at noon we're almost halfway across the 5 mile long Mackinac Bridge ('the Mighty Mac') to the UP. The name apparently derives from an Algonquian term meaning 'Great Turtle' (there are theories about that). [Pro-tip: it's pronounced 'Mak-in-awe'; don't ask.]
And that's Michigan's Upper Peninsula, not impressive from this distance, true. With the growth of tourism in the region, especially after the designation in 1875 of the Mackinac National Park on Mackinac Island, serious bridge planning got underway, and 80+ years later this glorious venture opened in 1957, putting a fleet of carferries more or less out of business.
But here, half an hour westward along the coastal Rte 2, we enjoy the real UP.
Smoked Fish!! Beef Jerky! Cheese Curds! Gustafson's! and across the road, at the White Tail restaurant: Pasties!
We made it -- 78 miles and another half hour west of the bridge, still on Rte 2, we arrive at the Quality Inn & Suites at the eastern edge of Manistique, with another few minutes trying to clamber out of the car and limber up enough to walk into the check-in.
Clean, very friendly, evidently patriotic but not embarrassingly so, the public area . . .
. . . strikes us as quite charming.
That's a kind of salon or commons room near the entrance, with more flags and a pink piano, and a chequers board set up ready to be played on if anyone can remember how.
And the breakfast room, a free coffee stand, and a facility for traveling businesspeople. With reassuring little signs posted on the wall on the left; why not, can't hurt.
Without even mentioning the vintage popcorn machine and telephone booth (remember those?)
And maybe best of all, directly across Rte 2 is a ca.2-mile walking path along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
So here we go. It's not too much to say that this is more or less why we uncharacteristically packed up and hit the road earlier than usual this morning.
The 'Manistique Boardwalk' (which is indeed a boardwalk where required, otherwise paved) leads, we're told, into downtown Manistique . . . and we'll see shorebirds!
Fascinating info panels along the way
Nice beach; nice lake, big; where are the promised birds?
Very informative, enlightening even (but where are the birds?)
If we squint -- those might be a few birds right there.
Okay, fair enough. A few of them anyway. They'd probably get all flighty if we tried to pet them.
A helpful restorative walk after five hours in a small car petting an edgy cat nonstop
All right, birds at last
Commemorating another sad Great Lakes tragic story, with appropriate flag.
A lighthouse, by the looks of it
A slightly better view of the avian attractions . . .
. . . and an excellent view of the Big Boy (as a warning, perhaps)
The lighthouse, on the 'east breakwater', we've discovered.
'A Legacy of the Past' -- we know all about that in the Wisconsin Northwoods, too, as far as the clear-cut demolition of the forest goes, but sawdust dumpings still washing up? Bad news.
The lighthouse is evidently accessible out the breakwater, but . . . In retrospect, we probably should have done it. Too late now.
We're looking at the mouth of the Manistique River, and over on the far side we can admire the Upper Crust Bakery & Deli, the Flatiron Brewing Co., and the Manistique Sewage Disposal works.
A few miles up the Manistique River & its tributary the 'Indian River' (why not?), we could have gone up to view Kitch-iti-kipi ('Tourist attraction').
But what does that info plaque say?
Good, thank you. 300mm plastic lens! What happened to the lighthouse keeper when you automated it? Pension or what? Desk job?
Time for home . . . well, not home exactly, the Quality Inn, a few beers in the mini-fridge, and the ever-patient cats.
More birds now; they've heard that we're leaving.
A nice place. On a nice day.
Capped off by an exemplary little dinner at the Boardwalk Bar & Grill (behind the neon Open sign), evidently a new start-up, and best wishes to them.
A quick view of downtown Manistique, probably beloved by its residents
We're off for 'home' now, out of Manistique -- 'thanks, guys, nice town, nice walking path' -- and heading for northern Wisconsin.
Bye, Manistique -- next stop, past the Garden Peninsula, turn right at Escanaba, Rte 2 through Iron Mountain, Rte 70 through Eagle River, zipping past the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St Germain, without so much as a glance, to Arbor Vitae, to Minocqua and to . . .
. . . the family's enclave on Mussent Point on our lake.
Cats are out -- unpacking the car now
Kristin's cottage at the point-end of Mussent Point
Cats, after eight months' incarceration in a condo in Virginia, adjust in predictable phases.
Choupette recalls her favorite perch for reconnaisance.
Hydrobikes all prepped up for the lacustrine hijinks to come
Melvin the Doge is beginning to feel at home again.
In fact, they both are.
Choupette renewing her acquaintance with the 'float boat'
Next up: Cats on the lake (and a joyous birthday event)