I took the southern route from Minneapolis, through Chicago (stayed with my friend and immeinently perfect hostess, Shelley) to get to Ann Arbor. But on the way back, I wasn’t returning to Minneapolis, but instead to my home base, which, if you’re new to this blog, you won’t know about. I’m staying with my friends Carol and Dan on their 80-acre, off grid property. They live in one cabin with their two incredible kids, and I live in the other cabin, nicknamed the Shyer House (because it’s a walk from the main house). Carol and Dan produce their own electricity with generators, but that’s not the main challenge. In fact, that’s no challenge to me; they do all that electricity business. My cabin, however, has suffered a bit over the years, and as of this moment, has no heat or water. Heat’s been no problem (though this is the Big Woods of northern Wisconsin and that’s about to change), but no water is a challenge I’ve been getting accustomed to … slowly.
I digress. Since I was returning to the northern part of the state, I decided it would be fun to drive through Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. I visited Houghton, Mich., once when I was 19, and I only remembered one tiny corner of the town, where my boyfriend and I waited on the Greyhound bus that would take us back to Atlanta. I wanted to drive through that town again (and I did! and I found that corner!) but I also just wanted to break up the thirteen hour drive so I could enjoy it. I did this by stopping at the roughly halfway point, which is a tiny town called Munising. A tiny charming town. Unlike most places I’ve been, this little town has a real personality. It’s not filled with twenty-five chain restaurants and stores, which could be in any town, anywhere. The restuarants are mom-and-pop and so are the stores, and though that doesn’t always gurantee a great experience, in this case it worked out charmingly.
My father has outlawed motel-types of overnight accomodations. You know, the kind where your door leads to the outside of the building? Well, sorry Daddy. In this one tiny scenario, I disregarded your instructions. But I had a good reason! I read the reviews on Tripadvisor, and they truly have never ever led me astray. They told me that the best hotel in Munising was the Sunset Motel on the Bay, a bayfront (unsurprisingly) lovely little motel that easily lived up to its positive reviews. And it was almost half the price of the Holiday Inn Express. AND the owner, Carmen, sent me to a cute little place, Sydney’s, for dinner, where I sat at the bar and had some fantastic broiled trout (I was going to order it fried because that’s how most of the people in the restauarnt seemed to be having it) but my genius waitress told me that the broiled version was actually excellent. And it was. AND I spent the evening talking to the genius waitress and some railroad workers who were finishing their day at the bar. The perfect way to get to know a town you’re just meeting for the first time.