Friday, September 5, 2008

Boyne City, Michigan

August 31 - September 1

After gently jolting Bernie out of bed before the sun was barely up, running to the Mackinaw Bakery, then zooming out of the Mackinaw City Marina, Phil settled into piloting Meridian on our longest journey since we crossed Lake Michigan back in June (has it been almost 3 months already)? We were headed to Lake Charlevoix.

After leaving the Mackinaw City Marina, it was a fairly uneventful cruise - well, except for almost hitting the breakwall. Those things are surprisingly hard to see when the windshield is covered with dew. Did we say we left really early? But weather was then much better than expected and we got to see one of Bernie's favorite lighthouses, the Waugoshance Light. We like the birdcage top. Plus it has a cool tale about the first lighthouse keeper, John Herman, a trickster, who mysteriously disappeared one stormy evening, but who continued to somehow play jokes on subsequent lightkeepers.

We reached the Charlevoix Bridge in time for its 1600 (that's nautical talk for 4:00pm) opening and cruised into Round Lake. The Emerald Isle, the Beaver Island Ferry, was on its way out. It looked like it takes up the whole channel but there's really plenty of room. We passed underneath the bridge at almost the same time. Then, after passing the bridge, we figured out where all the boats on Lake Michigan have been hiding. They're all in Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix. Every one of them. There must have been thousands of 'em - sailboats, powerboats, cruisers, skiers, fisherment, big, little, rowboats, you name it - and every one of them was out enjoying the beautiful Labor Day Weekend weather (80s and Caribbean blue skies). There were boats everywhere.

Sailboats were racing, jet skis were zooming, go fast boats were going fast all over the place. In fact, it was so busy that the wakes from all those boats made Lake Charlevoix more wavy and turbulent than Lake Michigan! Whew!
We had planned to anchor at Oyster Bay, one of the coves on Lake Charlevoix. But after seeing all the activity on Lake Charlevoix - as well as the 2000 boats already anchored in Oyster Bay - we thought about it for a couple of seconds and changed our minds. We decided to go directly to Boyne City and got a slip there. Boyne City is known in the summer for its series of summer festivals. Its festival season starts with its Morel Mushroom fest and includes a Poker Tournament, Farmers Markets, Car shows, and strolling musicians. The municipal marina is a nice little marina with friendly staff, nice grounds and facilities, and a beautiful sunset every night. Being a little tired from our long (9 hours) journey, we went out to eat at a Mexican restaurant called Red Mesa Grill. Service, food and margaritas were all good. As Red Mesa uses biodegradeable take-out containers, recycles, and on certain Thursdays donates a percentage of sales to the local food pantries, they seem to be good business citizens as well.

Labor Day was another beautiful day so we took a bike ride to explore the area a little. A good biking road (Front Street which becomes Lake Shore Road) runs along this side of Lake Charlevoix. It has a pretty wide shoulder and the cars are very bike-friendly. This was the first time since Traverse City that Bernie has biked on any hills. She now loves to ride UP steep hills. But, true to her contrary nature, she is not the least bit embarrassed to stop her bike and walk it DOWN a particularly steep hill. When she doesn't do that, she definitely rides her brakes all the way down. When she goes too fast, Phil yells "Use Your Brakes" (instead of "Use Your Gears" as he did last year). We road our bikes over to the Ironton Ferry (it wasn't the planned destination -- we just kinda happened upon it). The Ironton ferry is a cable ferry that runs across the south arm of Lake Charlevoix at one of its narrower points. When we first read about the cable-based Ironton Ferry, we pictured something like the little hand-cranked ferry in Saugatuck. As usual, we were mistaken. This is a real ferry capable of carrying as many as four cars. We couldn't resist a short trip to the other side, after all it only cost a dollar for bicyclists and we didn't bring the sheep with us (see sign to the right) so there would be no extra charges. There's a little sign by the ferry that mentions that one of the earlier ferry boat captains got into Ripley's Believe It or Not for "having travelled a distance equivalent to the circumference of the earth without ever being more than one quarter mile away from his home in Ironton." The current ferry boat captain was nice enough not to laugh at us for taking the return ferry about ten minutes later.

Returning to the marina, we decided that a bike ride wasn't enough. No, we had to take the kayak out for a spin as well. After all, the Boyne River looked so inviting and the entrance (or exit depending upon your perspective) was very near the marina. Ok, so the entrance is really just a culvert (you know, those round tunnel things that allow water to flow under roads).

But the marina staff told us that they took out the rapids that used to be at the turn by the auto parts store. Or did they say they took out the dam and created some rapids? We probably didn't pay close enough attention. Oh well, you only live once - we decided to go for it!

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