Monday, September 8, 2008

East Jordan, Michigan

September 2, 2008

After word got around Boyne City about the goofy kayakers, and word does get around in a small town, we had to leave. People kept pointing, exclaiming "there's those KAYAKERS" and snickering uncontrollably.

Well, we had wanted to check out East Jordan anyway. So we headed over to the south arm of Lake Charlevoix. On the, way we passed through the Ironton Ferry route, a pleasant memory from a few days ago.

The south arm of Lake Charlevoix, which goes to East Jordan, is narrower than the north arm (which goes to Boyne City). So you get a closer view of some of the houses and boat houses. The Charlevoix area has been a resort area for a very long time. The history museum speaks of the trains and ferries coming up from Chicago for as long as people can remember and the Michigan auto barons all had huge houses up here. Along the lake, you see all sorts of houses and boat houses.

Classic (with wooden boats)

Stately (with a fine example of local stonemanship)

And, of course, Exaggerated Excess (complete with a boathouse for a ... SAILBOAT?)


We continued down the river until we reached East Jordan.

You can't miss the marina. It's right next to East Jordan Iron Works. We had gotten the impression from the ports guides that East Jordan was more of an arts community. Not quite. It's actually one of the few towns we've encountered that have a non-tourism focus since they have the ironworks industry. There really isn't a lot for a boater to do here. (They do have a lot of nature-related activities but most are located more than a bike ride away from the marina.) Almost all the restaurants were closed for the season. There is an Arts Center but it seems to be open only for specific art compilations (and we were between shows). You can watch glass artisans at Jordan Valley Glassworks.

Sportsman's Park, across from the marina, is part of a wildlife sanctuary in the area (that includes the Jordan River and the Jordan River Pathway) and Bernie got to experiment with a digital camera technique she read about in a book called "A Supremely Bad Idea" (it's about a guy and his two friends who get deep into a Birdwatching Hobby).

She set up binoculars and took pictures through the lens. Now, in the book, they took pictures through a bird sighting scope which is very different from binoculars but this was just an experiment (one that needs a bit more perfecting). They're a little fuzzy but she insists they have a watercolor painting quality to them. Phil shudders to think what it would have been like up in the North Channel had Bernie read this book before encountering the taunting loons. Sometimes just the plain old zoom works well enough, as it did for this flying egret.
The East Jordan Iron Works makes, among other things, manhole covers. Along the sidewalk leading to the factory, they have embedded some of their more notable covers. Here are two we thought were very detailed and interesting. We got the impression that EJIW tries to be a good neighbor. They've done a bit of landscaping that, from the main street side, completely hides their operations and muffles the sound of the 24 hour operations (from the street. not from the marina).

Having seen East Jordan, we decided to re-visit Charlevoix. Last year, when we were there, they were in the middle of constructing their new marina buildings and park. We wanted to see the result. So off we went to Charlevoix.

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