We left home on Monday morning in sunshine, having planned our getaway only one day ahead, but caught up with the rain -- or it overtook us -- long before we reached the Mackinac Bridge. We came back the following Friday in pouring rain. So as a vacation, it was all too brief and conducted under clouds much of the time. But although the trip was short and covered a lot of old, familiar ground, we took in beautiful sights and gathered local news – far too much for me to cover in only one post – so here’s Part I of our fall excursion Way Up North.
First stop: St. Ignace, for a late lunch at Bentley’s Diner. I recommend it highly. Late enough to miss the lunch crowd and too early for the dinner crowd, we had a quiet, relaxed, and very satisfying lunch before taking once again to the road.
There was a reason (it escapes me now) why we went north after that on 75 to catch 123 rather than turning west at St. Ignace. What could it have been? It meant missing a stop at Lehto’s for my #1 favorite U.P. pasty, my gold standard when it comes to pasties (but Lehto’s closes at 2 p.m., anyway, so we would have been too late to get our lunch there), and missing a detour onto Worth Road to visit my friend Mary’s bookstore, First Edition Too. On the other hand, not only did we cross the East Branch of the Fox River on M-28, one of my favorite U.P. scenes, but we even stopped with our cameras. What could be more gorgeous than this?
Our last visit to Grand Marais was in September 2012, and usually Grand Marais doesn’t change all that much from one year to another, but this year there was a lot of newness to take in. And you see, we did have some sunshine, too.
On what was a big, vacant lot for as many years as we can remember now stands a big, new restaurant. For some strange reason, however, the restaurant closed at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, so we never saw the inside.
The restaurant-bar now known as the Lake Superior Brewing Company but forever lodged in our memories as the Dunes Saloon (although we knew it by other names before that, too) has put on a one-story addition to the north, and our waitress told us it houses enlarged kitchen facilities. There weren't many changes inside, and that was fine with us.
Even our beloved West Bay Diner has made changes, with a staircase now leading to a second-story gift shop above the restaurant. The food is as heavenly delicious as ever, as are the portions as generous.
Ric and Ellen still seem to work nonstop, but Ellen and I did find 10 minutes or so one afternoon to catch up on one another’s lives. The best news for my readers and bookstore customers is that the new Ellen Airgood book, The Education of Ivy Blake, a sequel to Prairie Evers, will be out June 9, 2015 – and Ellen will come to Northport to do a reading! Put that on your new calendar! I'm so happy to bring that news home to Northport!
So that’s where I’ll end Part I of my vacation tale, with more to come in a few days, and there are astonishingly beautiful images yet to come, if I do say so myself.