Grand Marais, Michigan

Last week, after dropping Justin off at Easter Seals camp, Julia and I drove the Toyota Sienna wheelchair van  to Grand Marais, Michigan, where Julia had booked a small cottage for us to stay. We elected to take the van because to save time and for its better gas mileage.  In retrospect, because of its low ground clearance and importance to my son for transportation, we should have chosen more wisely (more on that later)

Grand Marias is a small town (population 200) on the Upper Peninsula that is the eastern gateway to the Pictured Rocks National Seashore.  The town is compact enough to walk everywhere.  Services are limited, but we found nearly everything needed:  local brewpub, grocery store, restaurants, and hardware store (more on that later).

Sunday night, we were exhausted after a long day of driving and preparation for Justin’s week and our own.  Summers are definitely cooler here than in south central Wisconsin; our first task was to turn on the heat.  Temperatures were bottomed out in the low 40’s.

Our goal for the week was to hike as many trails as we could, meander up and down the long beaches to pick up interesting rocks (agates are common here), and spend the evenings enjoying some good local food and drink.

Day Two: After a good night’s sleep, we walked over to the local brewpub where breakfast was served.  Julia had some pancakes.  I ordered Eggs Benedict  (oops, they were out of muffins, so substituted a bagel).  I was skeptical, and the Hollandaise sauce almost certainly came from a jar.  When you are hungry, it’s easy to overlook imperfection.  We looked over the beers on the list but did not order one for breakfast!

After breakfast, we picked up some groceries so we could prepare future breakfasts in the cottage.  The grocery store in town has limited offerings.  We did find some really good thick sliced bacon, along with eggs, butter, veggies, and hearty whole wheat bread for toast.

Then we headed for the beach.

After walking about three miles on Grand Marais’  beaches and fishing pier, we drove to Sable Falls and then to Visitors Center.  Sable Falls was amazing, but the photos that I took do not capture the tremendous surging power of the current.

We received some good advice and suggestions for day hikes from the Parks Service employee at the Visitors Center.  That afternoon, we hiked  Miner’s Beach and Miner’s Castle, the Log Slide Trail, and the trail from Hurricane River to Au Sable Light Station. The trails were wet from earlier rains, and the last hike to the Light Station brought out the stable flies (which are present on warm, humid days (for the U.P, 70 degrees).  Yes, stable flies bite, although not through fleece.

Tired and a bit grossed out by the cloud of flies following us, we jumped in the car and drove back to town.  We enjoyed a dinner of whitefish and local beers at the Grand Marais Tavern and caught up with the news on the free wifi.  I had a Widowmaker Black Ale from Keweenaw Brewing Company.  Julia had a UPA from Upper Hand Brewery–which turned out to be one of our favorites.    UPA is an American Pale Ale with a nice golden color and well-balanced malt to Mosaic hops.

After a short walk to the beach after dinner, we called an end to Day Two.