Our trip to Northern Michigan and the Straits
of Mackinac began late Wednesday afternoon (June 16) with a quick drive
from Lenexa, Kansas to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, making only brief stops for
fuel and fast food. We spent the night at the Best Western Plus Longbranch
Hotel & Convention Center. It is a nice, irregularly laid out hotel
and we enjoyed a made to order breakfast Thursday morning at Goldzone Café
in the atrium. Prior to Covid, the hotel offered a breakfast buffet.
On Thursday, we drove straight through to Michigan's Upper
Peninsula, with our only stop being for lunch in Madison, Wisconsin, We
dined at The Coopers Tavern, across the street from the Wisconsin
Capitol Building. We had poutine (Belgian frites, melted cheese curds,
peppercorn gravy & fresh scallions), Grilled Cheese (Wisconsin cheddar,
whipped goat cheese & basil on grilled sourdough) and a Coopers Burger
(Fox Heritage Farms ground beef, aged cheddar, bacon, lettuce, onion, mayonnaise
& pickles on a brioche bun). The sandwiches were both good. but the
poutine was the only dish I would make a point of having again. I wish
there had been a little more of the rich, dark gravy on the fries.
Grilled Cheese, Poutine and Coopers Burger at Coopers Tavern
Wisconsin Capitol Building
We arrived on the Norway, Michigan side of Piers Gorge
about 4:30PM, this is part of Menominee River State Recreation Area. One
side of the river is in Wisconsin and one side in Michigan. After paying
the $9 daily pass charge by leaving an envelope with the cash and a description
of out car in a drop box, we hiked a short way up the river shore to the
first of the four piers the gorge is named for. The piers are waterfalls
over rock ledges, the most dramatic part of the rapids and swift water
which make up this stretch of the Menominee River.
We arrived at the pier as a series of white water rafts
passed by, some of them full of people waving to a photographer from Wildman
Adventure Resort on the bank near us. The first few groups negotiated the
rapids easily, but the next to last of them appeared to hang up on a rock,
swing around and drop back into a hole where three of the four people on
the raft went in the water. They all appeared to be fine.
We continued to walk upriver, near the bank on poorly
marked and irregular trails to the second and third piers. about a quarter
mile on the river, but longer weaving up and down slopes on land. The time
went quickly and when we returned to our car, we were surprised to see
that we had been there an hour.
Rafters waiting for the other rafts to come through Pier 1
A party of four going over Pier 1
The raft appears to hang up on a rock and slide back
All was fine
We drove through Norway, Michigan to Iron Mountain, where
we had supper at a family restaurant called Holiday Kitchen. Linda had
a chicken parmesan grinder on house bread and I had a fried perch dinner.
This was my first lake perch since last summer and I enjoyed it, but the
fish tasted like if had been frozen.
Deep fried perch and French fries
Although our hotel was just a couple of blocks away, after
dinner we explored Iron Mountain and the adjacent community of Kingsford.
After using our phones to consult several web sites, we located the former
Plant. Ford Motor Company once owned more than 300,000 acres of the
Upper Peninsula including sawmills, factories and a wood chemical plant.
The Kingsford plant made wood parts for Model Ts and it was here that
Briquettes were invented to make use of the waste wood.
Ford Kingsford Plant
We also stopped at the Pine Mountain Ski Jump,
which is one of the highest artificially created ski jumps in the world.
The landing area looked long and narrow and I wondered if anyone ever went
off to either side.
Pine Mountain Ski Jump
We spent the night at the slightly dated, but comfortable
and clean Mountain Host Motor Inn in Iron Mountain, which was only