Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Frankfort, Michigan - Another Windy Port

We're starting to think that we're causing all this wind. It seems like almost everywhere we go, there's an unusual stretch of windy weather. HMMM!?!

Anyway, we're in Frankfort with a few others who are heading south -- most further south than Chicago and with specific deadlines. A "looper" couple, who have been doing the Great Loop for six or eight months needs to get to Florida by November for a wedding; three sailboats are heading down the Mississippi to Florida but have a 9/26 date with Crowley's on the Calumet to have their masts removed and trucked down to Mobile, AL (as a side note -- we never had thought too much about what the sailboaters do with the masts on the river trip. Naively thought they just removed them and carried them down. But a 50 foot mast on a 35 foot boat makes dockage and gas dock visits rather difficult. Trucking those masts down is a great idea!)

It's still windy.

But that means "surfs up, dudes". It's funny how, even here in northern Michigan, the surfers have blond hair, are deeply tanned, and talk like they are from southern California.

So during these windy days we're exploring the bike trails in the area. Bernie bought a map while in Petoskey that outlined all the paths in the northern Michigan area. Phil's glad she didn't buy this earlier as there was a 60 mile route from Mackinaw City that Bernie thought looked fun. That'll be next year!

The Crystal Lake loop is a 21 mile route that takes you to Point Betsie Light House (this picture is much straighter than the ones from Sunday) and through the resort area of Crystal Lake and Beulah, Michigan. Crystal Lake and Beulah have an interesting history. Back in the 1800s, someone tried to build a channel that would connect Crystal Lake and Lake Michigan, allowing large boats to come in. Unfortunately (or fortunately for future home owners), the channel ended up draining Crystal Lake waters, lowering its level by about 20 feet. This did allow a little summer resort area to spring up around the lake as well as the town of Beulah.

The Betsie Valley Trail is a 23 mile route that connects Frankfort to Thompsonville. It starts right at the marina. It is an old railroad bed, so it is generally flat with some long but steep grades. Part of the route goes through the Marquette State Forest. When we crossed Betsie River, quite small and narrow at this point, we noticed several salmon swimming up it. Never really realized that it takes the salmon awhile to actually find the right direction. They do a bit of swimming in circles as they locate the right path upstream.

A little town called Elberta is right across the lake from Frankfort. The Ports of Call Guide mentioned that Elberta has been having water level problems. That is an understatement. The Elberta marina is closed. The picture of the gas docks tells a story about what's been happening with water levels of Lake Michigan in the last several years! It is sad to see a lost marina.

A couple of notable businesses in Frankport. The Crescent Bakery has fresh baked breads, cherry fritters, jams and jellies, and dried fruit. Dinghy's is a little restaurant bar with some cool stained glass windows. We were able to enjoy a couple nights of ice cream at the Cool Spot before it closed for the season (then we got to enjoy a 1/2 price fudge and ice cream sale). Bayview Party Store employees are nice enough to sell you a roll of quarters when you need it to finish the laundry (unlike the EZ Mart BP gas station people). Frankfort also has a couple very nice art galleries (like Les Sirena Galerie D'Art), a book store and several non T-shirt shops. Our internet works here, but the Library, right by the marina, has wi-fi as a back-up. There's also a grocery store (Glen's) which is in walking distance.

We took the dinghy out for a little cruise since the weather today was very nice (Weather was so summery on Tuesday, September 18 that Bernie slept up on the bridge last night - actually, she spent the whole night looking at the star constellations and did see a shooting star!) Typical for our dinghy rides, Bernie rowed Phil all over Betsie Lake. Several fishermen in boats came over to ask Phil where'd he get one that rowed and what horsepower does she get. The waterside view of this boat revealed that these cruisers are prepared for any kind of travel. Not really sure how they get it off the boat, though.

The weather forecast for Thursday, September 20 looks good. Most of us in Frankfort (the sailboat guys, the loopers, and us) are planning on heading out tomorrow. We're hoping to make it to Ludington.

We'll leave you with a few more pictures of Frankfort sights.

Check back to see our progress ;)

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