What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Eagle’s Nest Mountain)

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Eagle’s Nest Mountain is beautiful. The views are spectacular.

One View From Eagle's Nest Mountain

One View From Eagle’s Nest Mountain

In 1900, S. C. Satterthwait built the Eagle Nest Hotel at an elevation of 5050 feet. The hotel was one of the two hay fever resorts in western North Carolina, and it had room for 100 guests (although tents could be used if the hotel filled up) and a view of Plott Balsam. “[A] good wagon road” reached the top of the mountain.

 

Today, Eagle’s Nest Mountain Road winds up the mountain, following much the same trail as the “wagon road” of yesteryear. It’s still a twisting, turning road that must be respected. If you read my story about having to snake our way up with police cars guarding front and back (https://colmel.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/a-truely-scary-story ), you know I have a healthy respect for that barely, two-lane byway.

 

Our home on Eagle’s Nest Mountain was a Lindal Cedar Home. It was built at an elevation of 5,150 ft. – not very far from the former location of the hotel. I have been desperately looking to see if I can find some of the photos of our home, but haven’t had any luck. Of course, this is one of my favorite topics, so I’ll (undoubtedly) revisit it soon.

 

There are many legends that involve Eagle’s Nest Mountain. One of the most persistent is that of Boojum. I told the story – as I’d always heard it – in an earlier post (https://colmel.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/another-appalachian-tale-%e2%80%93-boojum-the-mystery-on-eagle%e2%80%99s-nest-mountain/ ). I recently read a post from another blogger who had learned a slightly different story http://ashevilleoralhistoryproject.com/2012/11/02/boojum/

 

In his story, Boojum’s bride could be responsible for the burning of the grand hotel.

 

There have always been tales of strange things happening on Eagle’s Nest. There was a large outcropping of rocks known as “Boy Scout Rock.” Scouts used to regularly hike up the mountain and camp in the area. Many of them told stories of seeing and hearing strange things. Some were so frightened that they only went on one trip. Others say that they neither saw nor heard anything other than the wind and the animals that naturally inhabit the mountain.

 

Other stories involve people feeling as though they are being followed, but turning to see no one there. Some have reported hearing “parties” in the large meadow near the top only to find it empty. There are wild animals on the mountain, so that might explain some of the things people have seen or heard. The stories go back over a century – probably even before the first, non-native Americans arrived.

 

Party Here?

Party Here?

 

During our relatively short time on the mountain, there were numerous odd things happen, but – other than one terrifying, inexplicable occurrence – nothing that made me worry. That, of course, was until our house burned to the ground. The destruction was so complete, that there never was a definitive cause. One more mystery to add to legends of Eagle’s Nest Mountain.

 

On our recent trip, I was pleased to find that there is, once again, a home on the ground that once held our home. It’s a lovely home and the owners have landscaped the second lot beautifully. I wish I’d stopped and given them my card so that they could call me if they ever wanted to sell. (That would require me to win some form of lottery, though, I’m sure.) Their view (our view) is spectacular! From our deck we could see Maggie Valley, the “smoke” from Ghost Town in the Sky, and – on a very clear day – all the way to Mount LeConte near Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

New Home Where Ours Used To Be

New Home Where Ours Used To Be

 

Beautiful Landscaping

Beautiful Landscaping

On the way back down, I snapped a couple of photos of the meadow where the old hotel stood so many years ago. It took all my self-restraint to not hop out of the car and go running in the tall, wet grass. Every time I go back up the mountain, I feel more at home and get a stronger sense of that this is where I belong.

 

The "Meadow"

The “Meadow”

 

The "Meadow"

The “Meadow”

 

 

 

The "Pond" (Boojum's Bath?)

The “Pond” (Boojum’s Bath?)

 

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Andon-Reid Bed & Breakfast)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn)

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After enjoying a sumptuous breakfast at Oakland Cottage, we were off to explore Asheville. Our first stop was the Allanstand Craft Shop at the Folk Art Center (Milepost 382 Blue Ridge Parkway).

Folk Art Center - Blue Ridge Parkway (courtesy HCPress.com)

Folk Art Center – Blue Ridge Parkway
(courtesy HCPress.com)

It was raining (as usual) when we arrived, so I didn’t get to take photos of the outside. Once, inside, photos were forbidden, so I won’t be able to share with you. I do understand why no photos are allowed as there could be some who would profit at the expense of the artisans who display and sell their goods here. The photo below is from their website (http://www.southernhighlandguild.org/pages/guild-shops/allanstand-craft-shop.php).

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop (Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

Folk Art Center/Allanstand Craft Shop
(Courtesy Southern Highland Guild website)

I was particularly excited by the stained glass art there. Unfortunately, it was priced appropriately for the work and that was beyond my pocketbook. As a dabbler in the medium, I was thrilled to see such innovation, and it gave me renewed interest in seeing what I could do with the ideas I got from the work in the shop.

 

Other crafts included beautiful pottery, unique glasswork, jewelry, needle arts, woodworking/carving, and painting among many others. So many talented individuals make up the Guild. The volunteers who man the shop are so nice and welcoming. I really recommend a visit to the Folk Art Center if you are on the Parkway, or to any of the other locations (see the website for locations and hours). We’ve been in four of the shops and each one is unique and carries art from the 200+ guild members.

Grove Park Inn Asheville, NC

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, NC

From the Folk Art Center, we were off to explore The Grove Park Inn. This is a destination I’d been wanting to experience for a long time. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I’ve been in the Asheville area many, many times over the years; however, never had I been to The Grove Park Inn. Our friends, Eric and Gloria, confirmed that this was a destination that must be experienced.

 

I was always fascinated by the story of the Grove Park Inn. There seems to be so many tie-ins with my own, personal history. No, I’m certainly not related to Edwin Grove or his son-in-law, Fred Seely, but their lives were lived in and around many of the same locations as mine.

 

Grove was born, and began his pharmaceutical fortune in Tennessee until doctors told him to seek the fresh air of Asheville. He also was a real estate developer in Atlanta (my home for over 20 years). He purchased the land on which the Grove Park sits around the same time as George Vanderbilt was building his famous mansion.

 

Fred Seely was a pharmaceutical pioneer whom Grove met in Detroit (my current home area). Seely married Grove’s daughter, and the two men planned and built the Inn which opened in 1913. Today, it is part of the Omni hotel system, but it maintains its timeless elegance and incomparable position overlooking Asheville.

Enjoying the Rockers Grove Park Inn

Enjoying the Rockers
Grove Park Inn

One of the nice touches is the presence of the many rocking chairs in front of the Inn. It’s a nice place to wait for your car – or to just sit and wait for the rest of your party to arrive.  

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps Outside Grove Park Inn

Giant Brass & Art Glass Lamps
Outside Grove Park Inn

While sitting and rocking, one can enjoy the massive brass and art-glass lamps, the pretty flowers, and the cute bear & butterfly statue.

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

Adorable Bear & Butterfly Statue

I enjoyed making “rock pictures.” I think the one below looks like a bear. Do you see it?

Do You See a Bear?

Do You See a Bear?

The Arts and Crafts movement is beautifully on display in the Grove Park. Everywhere we looked, there were masterpieces of stone, glass, wooden furniture, and space. The fireplaces on either end of the lobby are massive! I believe they are every bit as big as the one in the Biltmore. A six-foot-plus tall man can stand in the opening and still be dwarfed. The stacked rocks are magnificent. I could imagine how cozy it must be to sit in a comfy chair in front of one of these fireplaces when winter is raging outside.

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby Grove Park Inn

One of the MASSIVE Fireplaces in the Lobby
Grove Park Inn

All of the fixtures and furnishings are kept completely true to the period in which the structure was built. As beautiful as the interior is, it doesn’t detract, even slightly, from the amazing view. 

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps Lobby - Grove Park Inn

Two of the Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style Lamps
Lobby – Grove Park Inn

We were there on a gray, rainy day, and even that couldn’t spoil the enjoyment of the Inn.

IMG_20130818_135352_924

View from Sunset Terrace Grove Park Inn

View from Sunset Terrace
Grove Park Inn

We had lunch on the Sunset Terrace. We had their “famous” Lobster Cobb Salad. Honestly, it was a very nice salad, but the lobster was limited and the price was outrageous. Of course, the view, the service and the ambience are what you are paying for, so the experience was worth the price – once.

"Famous" Lobster Cobb Salad Grove Park Inn

“Famous” Lobster Cobb Salad
Grove Park Inn

We also had dessert. (Oh, come on! We’re on vacation!) I ordered the chocolate cake with the cherry in-between the layers. It came with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. I’m sure that this is normally very, very good, but mine was pretty dry. I took most of it back to the B&B. On the other hand, Jim had the butterscotch pudding (in a Mason jar – isn’t that novel) with caramel topping. He finished every last spoonful.

Chocolate & Cherry Cake Grove Park Inn

Chocolate & Cherry Cake
Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel Grove Park Inn

Butterscotch Pudding with Caramel
Grove Park Inn

There are all kinds of terrific shops in the Grove Park. There are also conservatories, a grotto pool, and so many other sites that we didn’t even get a chance to see. We’ve decided that, some day, we will have to book a stay at the Grove Park so that we can experience it all.

SO Much More to See Grove Park Inn

SO Much More to See
Grove Park Inn

Up Next: What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (Waynesville: A Journey “Home”)

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Oakland Cottage B&B)

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Oakland Cottage Asheville, NC

Oakland Cottage
Asheville, NC

The Oakland Cottage in Asheville, North Carolina is where we stayed for our first three nights of our vacation. It is managed and run by Jim and Mary. We were greeted warmly – like old friends. I knew immediately that we were going to enjoy our stay. The Oakland Cottage was built in the same timeframe as Biltmore House. It is said that one of the architects from Biltmore designed Oakland Cottage. I really appreciated all the craftsman-style architectural details and the beautiful antique appointments.

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

Lobby and Hall Toward Rooms

The building was used as a tuberculosis sanitarium for African Americans during the 1940s. Although there have been some changes to layout (our room was probably partially a porch in earlier years), the amazing floors and woodwork are all original. Today, Oakland Cottage is a lovely, accommodating B&B that I would gladly visit again and again.

 

Our Room was the Garden Room (Room 5). It’s a spacious room with a huge, king-sized bed. There is also a daybed/trundle. The bathroom sports a jetted tub with a great shower.

Garden Room (#5) Oakland Cottage

Garden Room (#5)
Oakland Cottage

Dressing Area Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Through the sliding door is a small balcony with a small table and two chairs that overlooks the garden.

View of Garden From Room #5 - Oakland Cottage

View of Garden
From Room #5 – Oakland Cottage

Pretty Visitor to The Garden
Oakland Cottage

As I mentioned in an earlier post (and which will probably be a recurring theme), it rained much of the time while we vacationed. I have to say that the rain actually was welcomed in our room as we could open the sliding door a crack and listen to the rain fall through the night. So very soothing and restful. Another huge bonus was being awakened by the singing of a Carolina Wren (how very appropriate, I thought). I have to say, too, that the bed was amazing. It was so comfortable and the pillows…well, they were the best ever. I must remember to ask where those can be purchased.

 

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Open the Slider & Listen to the Rain/Birds

Prior to breakfast, we all gathered in the appropriately-named “Gathering Room” for coffee or tea which was served from a beautiful antique table. This was also where we met several of the other guests who were visiting at the same time. Every one of us seemed to be thoroughly enjoying ourselves, and I didn’t hear a single complaint.

The Gathering Room Oakland Cottage

The Gathering Room
Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast Oakland Cottage

Coffee Before Breakfast
Oakland Cottage

Coffee/Tea Station Oakland Cottage

Having our dear friends, Gloria and Eric, with us was wonderful. We had so much to catch up on. We continued our conversation over an excellent breakfast served buffet style in the comfortable dining room. I must say that the food was very, very good and exactly what we needed to get our day of discovering Asheville started.

 

Breakfast Buffet Table

Breakfast Buffet Table

 

Breakfasting Area

Breakfasting Area

The front porch is another favorite spot. What a comfortable place it is to unwind after a day of exploring, or just sit, read and relax. 

Relaxing on the Front Porch Oakland Cottage

Relaxing on the Front Porch
Oakland Cottage

If you have an opportunity to visit Asheville, North Carolina, I highly recommend that you plan to stay at the Oakland Cottage. It’s convenient, unusually well-priced, and so comfortable, you may not want to leave. I know that we will be back.

 

Up Next: The Folk Art Center & The Grove Park Inn

 

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation 2013 (The Drive to Asheville, North Carolina – Day 1)

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Our vacation started very early on Saturday morning, August 17. Before anyone worries, our pups were home with their very favorite baby-sitter (and my bestest friend), Chris. They were spoiled totally rotten. More about that in upcoming posts.

 

Even though it was rainy (actually throughout almost the entire vacation), our drive went very well. I’m blessed to have a husband who can drive long distances without complaining. We made only a few stops on the way down (the usual – gas, a Coke, grab a bite, etc.) I have to give props to XM radio. There’s something very comforting about driving 500 miles with the same radio station playing. It sure makes the trip go quicker.

 

IMG_20130817_150105_099

Heading into MY Mountains!

Rainy Weather - but Still Mountains

Rainy Weather – but Still Mountains

Gray, but Beautiful

Gray, but Beautiful

Here are the first views we got of “my” mountains (the Smokies) heading east on I-40.

 

My heart really jumped up to see that sight. I guess it will always be in those mountains.

 

When we lived in Atlanta, we made several trips to the Asheville area and had visited Biltmore House at least four times. Funny thing, though, we’d never spent any time at all in Asheville. After seeing several travel shows featuring Asheville, we were anxious to see what we’d missed all those years.

 

A special treat awaited us in Asheville. Our dear friends, Eric and Gloria, from Sharps Chapel, Tennessee (where we own some property) planned to meet us and spend a couple of days with us. We were thrilled that they were able to join us for several reasons, but mostly because we hadn’t seen them in several years and we so enjoy their company. Eric grew up in North Carolina and had spent quite a bit of time with his grandmother who lived in Asheville. Eric and Gloria have, through the years, spent time in Asheville and know it quite well. They became our “unofficial” tour guides.

 

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Jim with Eric & Gloria

Did I mention that it was rainy during our trip? Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to grab dinner at Peck’s Tavern. Peck’s is probably a terrific place to go to meet friends for drinks and it undoubtedly rocks when a big game is on the many televisions. We were all very hungry so we opted for an outside table (with BIG umbrella) rather than the anticipated long wait for a table inside. One hint here…Go to Peck’s for beer, cocktails and fun, but try someplace else for dinner. While it wasn’t awful, there are so many other restaurants in the Asheville area…

 

The bluegrass gathering that had been planned for the neighboring venue was cancelled due to the weather. That was one of the reasons we had decided that Peck’s would be a good choice. We were sorry to lose out on the music, but it did give us several free hours in downtown Asheville.

 

Asheville reminds me very much of European cities I’ve visited. Even in inclement weather, everyone is walking. It’s a really tough place to drive (narrow streets, odd layout, etc.), but there are several parking structures around the center of town. If you’re going to Asheville, park and do what the locals do. Get out and walk. It’s a very easy-walking town. There are lots of shops and sights to see and many options to stop for a beer, a drink, or a meal.

 

Another thing that was clearly evident is that Asheville is a very, VERY, dog-friendly town. Many of the local restaurants (including Peck’s Tavern) have outdoor seating in which your canine family members are welcome. There are even many stores which will allow you to bring your well-behaved buddy inside with you. Gotta love that!

 

After walking around for a while, we decided that dessert was definitely in order. We saw Posana Café, and were charmed by the European look and feel. We stepped inside and decided to have our dessert at their pretty bar. In some places we’ve been in the past, bar staff haven’t been too happy to have patrons who don’t mainly order cocktails. This was absolutely not the case at Posana Café. Our bartender was really terrific. She was uber-welcoming and put in our orders without batting an eye. What desserts those were!! Eric opted for the crème brulee, Jim went for the peach “pie,” and both Gloria and I chose the Chocolate Pot de Crème. Oh, my! Those chocolate desserts were amazing! I decided I really needed a bourbon with my chocolate. (After all, what goes better with chocolate? Can’t think of a thing.)

At Posana Cafe

At Posana Cafe

 

We walked around a little more until the rain started back. That sent us scurrying to our car and back to the B&B. It had been a long day, but a really good one. After checking in to see how the dogs were doing, we fell asleep to the sound of rain. Ahhhhh! I was “home” in North Carolina again, and it felt wonderful!

 

Up Next: Oakland Cottage B&B

 

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WIDMSV – The Kipling House

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WIDMSV? What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

This is the last of the posts on our Summer Vacation. It seems, somehow, appropriate as we’ve just passed Labor Day, schools are open, and football has kicked off. This is also the only post that completely focuses on one place – The Kipling House.

http://www.kiplinghouse.com/ 

Why would I do a whole post on one, particular Bed and Breakfast? Because it’s a great place to stay and an even better story!

 

First off, let me tell you where The Kipling House is located. It’s in Gladstone, Michigan. Gladstone? Like the old, English Prime Minister? Yep! Exactly! The town is named after the former Prime Minister. It’s very near to Escanaba, Michigan but it’s also closer to Seney National Wildlife Refuge (a place we’d hoped to be able to bird, but with the terrible fires this year we decided to delay). There really is much more history to the area of Kipling and Gladstone. I encourage you to go to the website and read the history – especially if Michigan history and/or trains are of interest to you.

Old image of The Kipling House
from their website

 

The Kipling House was built in the late 1800s, and has had many functions over the ensuing years. Now, it’s a comfortable, classy, bed and breakfast run by some of the nicest, most welcoming innkeepers you could ever meet.

Meghan & Bob
(from their website)

Meghan and Robert Micheau are a young couple who had a dream. The dream was to raise their family in the Escanaba/Gladstone area where Robert grew up and where Robert’s family still lives. Meghan is from the Hartland, Michigan area.

 

Meghan went to school in Hartland, Michigan and then went on to Oakland Community College (OCC). At first, she thought she would become a nurse; however, she found nursing just wasn’t what she wanted to do. OCC offered courses in culinary arts, so she gave that a try. Sure enough, Meghan found her passion (so much so that she was baking and decorating all kinds of pastries and using her parents as “testers.”) While she knew she didn’t want to work in the restaurant business (and I can certainly understand her feelings having been in that industry, myself, for several years), she felt that perhaps a bed and breakfast where her ‘calling.’

 

While visiting Robert’s parents (prior to their marriage), Robert and Meghan went for a bike ride. During their ride, Robert (oh, so casually) asked Meghan if she thought she could live in the area. Without missing a beat, she glibly replied that maybe so if he bought her the beautiful bed and breakfast they were passing. It just so happens, that this was The Kipling House.

 

Fast forward a short while and, as if ordained, The Kipling House came up for sale. The owners actually let Robert and Meghan run the Inn for a year prior to selling it to them so they could see what was involved in being innkeepers. The Micheaus did all the work and paid all the bills from the income of the inn. Sure enough, they were naturals, and the inn came under new ownership.

 

That brings us up to 2010. Here is a young couple running their inn – coming up to the Memorial Day holiday – with a very pregnant Meghan. As frequently happens, as soon as the inn filled to capacity, the baby made it known that it was time for him to enter the world. I can only imagine the scenario with Meghan in labor, Robert worrying about his wife, his baby on the way, AND an inn full of guests. Thank heavens, both mothers were there to help.

 

Apparently, the transition was pretty seamless and Meghan and Robert were able to bring home their beautiful, healthy, baby boy and miss very little time from their inn-keeping duties.

The Kipling House today

When we visited in July, The Kipling House was a warm, inviting place that felt as though we were staying with friends. We staying in the “Governor’s Room.” It was a pleasant, large room with adjoining bath.

The Governor’s Room

 

Governor’s Room Bath

The Kipling Cottage is a great place for couples! The downstairs is a sitting room with small kitchenette, while the loft is the sleeping area. It’s separate from the main house and would work for a small family, also. One might want to have a few provisions in the kitchenette for dinner or lunch, but you would never want to miss out on Meghan’s amazing breakfasts or desserts. Oh! Did I mention that Meghan makes dessert and puts on the table in the foyer for everyone who would like some after dinner? We were lucky enough to get rhubarb pie! They grow the rhubarb right in the back yard.

I must make mention of the gazebo! The minute I saw it, with the gardens and fountain around it, I knew it would be a fabulous place for a wedding. Anyone considering nuptuals?

The Kipling House Gazebo

Now, let me tell you about breakfast! The first day, we had pfannenkuchen which is a light, Scandinavian-style pancake with loads of butter, a lovely fruit salad, home-made (naturally) scones and bacon. There was enough food to prepare for a day of birding and then some. The second day, we had a slice of tremendous quiche, fruit, sausage and cinnamon rolls. Everything was delicious! The guests are able to name what time they would like their breakfast, so sometimes you sit – family style – with other guests. That’s a great way to meet new people and share stories. It’s so wonderful that a couple with such talent find their niche.

Meghan Micheau
(hostess extraordinaire)

One last little nicety that I must mention is afternoon snacks! After spending the day birding on the Stonington Peninsula, imagine our pleasure to walk into the foyer at The Kipling House to find a basket full of snack treats and cold, bottled water. Perfect! Such a nice touch, and one that is rare to find.

 

Finally, I have to tell you that I fell completely in love while visiting The Kipling House. I fell in love with a two-year-old, adorable boy named Bobby! This young chap has a bright smile and the sunniest, friendliest disposition one could hope for. Bobby, it seems, was born to be around guests just like his parents. He’s gregarious (which is remarkable for any child of two) and well-behaved. When I asked him if I could take his photo, he grinned up at me and said, “Yes!”

 

Once I took the first photo, he said, “Take another!” I happily obliged.

 

Then he chimed up, ”Take another!”

 

I think he would have happily sat there and posed for me all day. Sadly, though, it was time for us to take our leave. At that stage, I could have happily packed Bobby up in the car with us and brought him back over the bridge. I just don’t think his parents would have let us, though.

 

So, my friends, if you are ever planning to visit the Escanaba area, you really must stay at The Kipling House. Let me be very clear, here. I am not receiving any kind of remuneration or benefit for recommending the inn. I just love to share excellent places and activities with you. I know that we’ll be back when we plan to spend a few days birding in Seney. Besides, I just can’t wait to see that little boy again!

 

Up Next: “A Public Service”

 

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Looking forward to “seeing” you here on Colmel’s Blog!

WIDMSV – Escanaba (In Da Moonlight?) and Birding the Stonington Peninsula

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

We left the Eagle River Inn early to get a good jump on the day. We sure were doing better than the poor soul we saw laying on the beach. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be bad. I guess after all the partying the night before, this guy found himself a nice piece of beach to sleep on. (By the way, we know he wasn’t dead because we saw him roll over to get his face out of the rising sun.)

 

On our way out of the Keweenaw, we made a quick stop to pass on a message from one of my high school mates to an old friend of hers and grab a bite of breakfast. We hadn’t planned to stop again until we reached Escanaba, but we saw this giant ruler and sign on the side of the road and just had to check it out. I mentioned this in my previous post, but just in case you missed it…

 

 

Are you KIDDING me??!!

Are you kidding me??? A record three-hundred-and-ninety-point-four inches of SNOW???? I did the math. That’s over 32-½  feet of snow in one season. As much as I love the Keweenaw, winter there would not be for me (or Jim, either).

Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

We made good time and arrived in Escanaba right around lunch time. We had read reviews in “TripAdvisor,” and Breezy Point sounded like the place for lunch. As I said in my review on TripAdvisor, it’s a local “dive” bar with a juke box, pool tables, cold beer and really good burgers. Service was slow, but it WAS the day after a holiday and it seems everyone was running a little slow. (Okay, I just have to say it. I’m from the south – y’all know that – and southerners are notoriously dissed for being “slow.” Honey, we ain’t got NOTHING on some of the folks in Escanaba, Michigan.)

Photo from TripAdvisor

If y’all ever decide to go to Escanaba and want to try out the really, good burgers at Breezy Point, I strongly suggest trying to sit outside. The views are really nice. If it hadn’t been record heat, we’d have opted for those tables, too.

 

We headed for our B&B. The Kipling House is actually in Gladstone, Michigan, but it’s close to Escanaba and we are so very glad that we chose this place to stay. As a matter of fact, there’s so much to tell you about this place that I’m giving it a complete post of its own. That will be the next one – the last in the installments of WIDMSV.

 

We set out to explore Escanaba. Most of you won’t have gotten the “In Da Moonlight” reference. Jeff Daniels (yes, THAT Jeff Daniels) is a native son of Chelsea, Michigan. Chelsea is a near-neighbor to where Jim and I live. Jeff Daniels wrote a comedy (play/movie) “Escanaba in Da Moonlight,” about Yooper hunters. He has quite a knowledge of Escanaba because his wife is originally from the town. We were lucky enough to catch Jeff Daniels in his one-man show, and he is absolutely hilarious. What a wit! Anyway, we decided that we needed to check out Escanaba.

 

Escanaba is a nice town. It seems, to me anyway, more like a Lower Peninsula town than others we’ve been to in the UP. Perhaps it’s the close proximity to Wisconsin that makes it “feel” different from the others in the area.

Photo from their website

 For dinner the first night, we went to The Stonehouse (http://www.stonehouseescanaba.com/Home.html ). The restaurant came highly recommended, and we know exactly why. Even though it’s going through some major renovations on the outside, the interior was calm and attractive. Service was friendly, yet professional. I had grouper (my very favorite fish) Panko-breaded topped with lobster and shrimp veloute. Jim had the “great lakes platter” (broiled whitefish and walleye with beer-battered perch. It was a delicious and enjoyable meal. We’d definitely go back.

 

From The Stonehouse website
(callout from me)

After dinner, we drove around Escanaba a little more. We drove down by the marina and found the Delta County Historical Society Lighthouse Museum. It was closed for the day, but we enjoyed walking around and seeing some of the static displays outside…

 

like this giant, wooden rudder

 

and this pile of logs (representative of the millions of board-feet of lumber harvested in the Upper Peninsula and sent to build America).

 

The next day, we went birding on the Stonington Peninsula. We were still in search of the illusive boreal species and this was our last chance this trip. Come to think of it, we didn’t even hear the first loon calling. Now THAT’S disappointing! We birded all along 28 Rd! We got great looks at Red-eyed Vireos (they were everywhere), PeeWees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black-throated Green Warblers, Hermit Thrush, American Redstarts, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Ravens, and a silent empid. Still, no boreal birds, but it seemed everywhere we went, there were deer of all ages, sexes and sizes.

 

From 28 Rd (they have some strange road names up there), we headed down to the boat launch area where there was a gorgeous log home. There we saw an American Bittern, several Common Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds, and one Black Tern.

 

We continued on to tip of the peninsula. There’s a tower that might be a good spot to look for wading birds, but the flats were conspicuously free of any form of bird. Needless to say, we were pretty disappointed, but we really weren’t there in a good “birding” time of year.

 

 

Escanaba from the Stonington Peninsula

We decided to call it a day. The trip home was coming up and we were hot and tired. It was time to start winding down. We went back to the B&B (remember, a whole post on this next time) to clean up, pack, and get ready for our trip home.

 

We went to Hereford & Hops for dinner. The restaurant is right on the main street in Escanaba. I must say that the beer was really, really good. The food (walleye) was, too, except the service was incredibly (and I do mean INCREDIBLY) slow. It was early on a Friday night and the place was still pretty empty. We really wonder how they manage when it starts getting busy (or if it actually does get busy at all). We even had difficulty getting our beer (and they’re a brew pub).

 

It was a wonderful trip. I have become a huge fan of the UP! I’ve heard my sister-in-law, Kathy, talk about it for years and how much she loves it up there. I knew that I would – for the same reasons, but you can’t imagine how amazingly beautiful it truly is. There are so many areas that we weren’t able to visit (the Porcupine Mountains, especially). We’re already talking about our next trip. I think late spring might be an excellent time (as long as the snow is gone).

 

Up Next: The Kipling House

 

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WIDMSV – Eagle River Inn; Brockway Mountain Drive; Visiting an Old Friend’s Family

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

WIDMSV? What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

 

We reached the upper parts of the Keweenaw Peninsula expecting cooler weather. Unfortunately, the ‘weather gods’ didn’t get the memo. It was in the mid-90s! Again, it’s not SUPPOSED to be that hot in the Keweenaw. For the most part, they don’t have air-conditioning. They usually don’t need it. Phew!

Eagle River Inn (Beach side)
Photo from their Website

Representative Room
Eagle River Inn

We checked into our room at the Eagle River Inn (which was so clean and newly refurbished, we could still smell the fresh paint). The Eagle River Inn has been a labor of love for Mike and Marc (the proprietors). They have spent every penny they could come up with on fixing up this wonderful inn which is only steps away from one of the prettiest, most accessible beaches in the Keweenaw. Their attention to detail is amazing. They have turned this location into a comfortable, friendly, destination inn that we will look forward to visiting over and over again.

One of our “neighbors”

 

Did I mention that the Eagle River Inn is DOG FRIENDLY??!!!! They are! I believe that the future of inn-keeping is in pet-friendly accommodations. More and more, people consider their pets integral parts of the family. The idea of leaving a family member behind in a kennel or alone at home is troubling. A key to enjoying a family vacation is for the WHOLE family to enjoy the time together. I really have to commend The Eagle River Inn for being so forward thinking.

 

It was far more comfortable driving in the car – with air-conditioning –so we decided that the Brockway Mountain Drive sounded like a good idea. The drive is a beautifully scenic road that runs from just north of Eagle River up to Copper Harbor. The views winding up the road are just beautiful. There are views of Lake Superior

 

Inland lakes

 

 Valleys

 

 Rock outcroppings

 

I have read that there were plan to put a cell tower on Brockway Mountain. (Okay, y’all, this wouldn’t be considered a “mountain” in the south – well, except maybe Florida. In Michigan, however, this is surely a “mountain” as the glaciers really scraped most of the state flat.) It is the highest point around and I understand the need for communications, but I certainly hope that they figure something else out that won’t mar the beauty of this amazingly pristine area.

 

Wild Berry
(World’s Best Ice Cream!)

As we reached the end of the road, we found ourselves just a little ways from the Wild Berry. I had found out that one of my high school classmates had grown up in Copper Harbor, Michigan. She and her family (the Nousiainens) had owned and run the Wild Berry Ice Cream store. Her brother, George (who had been a few years ahead of us in school), had moved back to Copper Harbor and was still running the store.

 

ICE CREAM!!!!! What a marvelous idea! It was especially welcome in this heat. We would have loved to visit more with George and his wife, but we weren’t the only ones thinking that ice cream sounded like a good idea. The place was packed! We did, however, get the opportunity to treat ourselves to sundaes made with local fruit and some of the best, smoothest, most delicious ice cream I’ve ever eaten. (In retrospect, I wonder if the ice cream was really as fabulous as I remember or if it was just because it was so very welcome.)

Thimbleberry

 

I opted for thimbleberry. A thimbleberry is related to raspberries. It’s a delicious, tart fruit with LOTS (and I do mean to capitalize that) of seeds! It’s absolutely delicious, but the pips… I tend to think they’re worth dealing with.

 

Bilberry

Jim opted for bilberry. Bilberries are related to what we call blueberries. In fact, in Europe, these are what they know as blueberries. This special variety only grows in the Keweenaw and especially in the wilds around Copper Harbor. Bilberry is known to be good for maintaining healthy blood-sugar levels and the leaves make a tea that is good for blood pressure. I guess that means that Jim was eating “health food.” Yeah, uh huh…

 

All I can tell you is that we both thoroughly enjoyed our sundaes, and it was great to be able to visit with family of an old friend. We immediately made plans to come back the next day for more camaraderie and, of course, more ice cream.

 

By the time we finished our ice cream and said good-bye, we were getting pretty worn out. It had been a very long day starting with birding (and getting eaten alive) in the morning and lots of driving in the middle. We decided to head back to the Eagle River Inn, grab some dinner, and try to get some sleep.

 

The road that we took back south followed the shoreline of Lake Superior. What a gorgeous place this is! We stopped at a couple of outlooks along the way. At one, there was a couple who were tossing a ‘duck’ out into the Lake for their chocolate lab to fetch. We enjoyed watching the dog swim out again and again (obviously enjoying his game), retrieving his prize, and returning it to his people.

 

We wanted to make certain that we got back to Fitzgerald’s (the superb restaurant at the Eagle River Inn) for our dinner reservation. The special was smoked prime rib! They have a huge smoker in the parking lot of the Inn. It smelled so wonderful when we left that we wanted to be sure not to miss out.

Fitzgerald’s
(Photo from their Website)

We were rewarded handsomely! That was one of the finest meals we’ve had in a while. The meat was smoked to perfection and the accompaniments were excellent. Jim had a smoked-fish appetizer. I tried it, but I decided that I’d save the room for dinner. I did, however, have a nice ‘Bookers.’ I must make a special note of the tremendous variety of whiskies that Fitzgerald’s stocks. Whether it’s bourbon or scotch whiskey that float your boat, they probably have your brand – or a brand that you’ve been wanting to try. They also have an excellent selection of whiskies from other parts of the world (Canadian, Irish, even Japanese).

Sunset at
The Eagle River Inn

 

After eating a huge meal, and the long day, we were ready for a good night’s sleep. This was the first time it really occurred to me that we were much further north. At 11:00 p.m., it was still light (and still HOT)! After snapping several photos of the amazing sunset and a late lakes’ freighter, I finally drifted off to sleep. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! I figured I wouldn’t be getting much sleep at all then.

Lakes Freighter

 

Up Next: The Fourth of July – Keweenaw Style

 

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