Leaving the cabin sanctuary in DeTour, Lynn, Jack, and I head westward across the upper peninsula to fulfill an obligation in Minnesota five days hence. The blue highway route along MI-2 skirts the northern shore of Lake Michigan; small towns, scenic turnouts, lumber trucks, and pastie shops.
At MI-77 we turn north toward today’s goal, Blaney Park, to dissolve seventy years of progress and relive those thrilling days of yesteryear. A warm day, but not uncomfortable, envelops this small well-worn town, pop. ~ 50, figuratively in the middle of nowhere.Several compulsory antique shops are dotted among the vestige of forgotten glory; an empty olympic size pool with a stagnant pond of algae and tar paper residue, an overgrown netless tennis court, moss covered shuffleboard lanes, and a cedar grove that once served as a golf driving range. In the midst is the fully operational Blaney Park Lodge, little changed from 1940, run by an elderly couple in their 80s.
Here’s the kicker. Howard still offers rooms with private baths, for two people, at $39 a night. But wait, there’s more. This includes homemade breakfast and fresh coffee in the morning.
And pie and ice cream in the evening.
Who needs the Hampton Inn ?
Howard, applying a fresh coat of paint to the front steps
The Lodge as seen from across the highway
Lynn and Jack pose under the gauze of a four poster bed
Narrow, haunting hallway with art deco lighting of the 30s
This area, and 33,000 acres, was once, in the late 20s, the home of a large timber operation. The lodge was built to accommodate the lumbermen, and when abandoned, became an upscale resort for returning WWII veterans, complete with an airstrip for practice pilot training and room for thirty planes.
A few miles north is the incomparable, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, 96,000 acres of untouched primitive great lakes watershed and forest. Imagine, 150 square miles, unmolested.
On to MI-28 at Seney, MI, where it stretches westward to Shingleton, MI for 25 miles without a single bend in the road. Reputed to be the straightest (and most boring) section of highway east of the Mississippi, uninterrupted, all you need is cruise control and auto pilot and you can take a half hour nap while driving. Next stop, Marquette, MI, on the south shore of Lake Superior.