When we cruise summers, we don’t normally spend much time is any one place. Oh, we might hide out for 4 or 5 days back in McGregor Bay (North Channel) where Ron typically catches enough smallmouth bass for dinner each night. But we don’t spend time in towns. We’ll stay over one night if we have to, but if possible we’ll stop in for the day, finish our chores, then head out to a nearby anchorage for the night. That said, we’ve been in Grand Marais, MI since last Wednesday. And I’ve fallen in love with this town.
For the past few years, our daughter and son-in-law have been making an annual trek to northern Michigan from their home in Milwaukee during the Fourth of July holiday for vacation and to celebrate Auna’s birthday with family. We have put off the start of our cruise to the North Channel until their visit is winding down, but this year we planned to make a summer’s cruise to Lake Superior. Instead of getting a late start (July is supposed to be the best month to cruise Superior), we arranged to meet our kids as they drove across the top of Michigan to her grandparents’ home in northern Michigan. And with our RABC (Remote Area Border Crossing) from Ontario in hand, Grand Marais is a “do-able” starting port for Quebec Harbour on Michipicoten Island along the Canadian east shore: 61 nm.
We’ve had time to reacquaint ourselves with Grand Marais. The last time we were here (12 years ago), we arrived in the early evening and left early the next morning. It was just enough time for dinner at the Dunes Saloon, now the Lake Superior Brewing Company. This trip we’ve experienced more of what Grand Marais has to offer: a new farmer’s market on Thursday evenings from 5-7 pm, the Brewery carries a selection of wine from their Oregon vineyard (this non-beer drinker appreciates being able to get a nice glass of wine), the Lutheran church’s annual chicken BBQ (BEST grilled chicken I’ve ever had–secret is the spice rub put on at the end, but chicken was sprayed with vinegar and a light Italian dressing as it cooked over the coals), fresh homemade cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven at Martha’s on Saturday mornings, 50¢ (scalding) hot showers at the campground, the fishing tournament this past weekend that culminated in a huge fish fry late Sunday afternoon, the Diner (good food and some of the slowest service we’ve known, but they have wifi). Surprisingly for this small village, there are plenty of opportunities for free wifi (but not from the boat yet). The views of Lake Superior and the AuSable Dunes are spectacular here. Unlike the east and north shore where we are headed, this area of the southern shore is mostly sand. And oh, the beautiful lake stones–it’s an activity my daughter and I share. The beach here is also a great agate beach, which becomes obvious as one walks around the small town and peers into the shops that dot the main and side streets. Auna and I both love hunting for agates!
We spent a couple of wonderful days with our kids here. The weather wasn’t great their first day, and their overnight camping experience left a bit to be desired, but it sure was nice having them here with us and spending time together. I will very much miss this coming week together with them and the rest of our extended family.
The weather forecast is still looking good for our crossing to Michipicotan Island tomorrow, likely a 12-hour motorboat ride over (hopefully) a mostly calm but cold Lake Superior. It would be nice to get out of these jeans and into a pair of shorts again one of these days…