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Published: October 14th 2018
(Click on the pictures to enlarge them and I always enjoy your comments)
I've been to Big Bay quite a few times, but always on a snowmobile. On snowmobile trails you ride from the town of L'Anse on the Keweenaw Bay in an arc along forest roads through the Huron Mountains direct to Big Bay, which is about a 50 mile ride through the forest with nothing in between. I figured this would be a spectacular ride now with all the color.
I started out leaving Copper Harbor on Brockway Mountain road which takes you over Brockway Mountain, the highest point in the Keweenaw Peninsula. What a beautiful vista in all directions. I can only hope the pictures show it decently. The weather was even cooperating. The temperature was around 40 and we even got some peaks of the sun. After going over the mountain, I joined MI 26 which is a fantastic route right along Lake Superior with incredible views of the rocky coast and Eagle Harbor, one of my very favorite places up here.
When I got to L'Anse, I asked a local about taking a road to Big Bay
similar to the snowmobile trail. He couldn't get it out too well, but he told me to ride to the town of Skanee and inquire at Finn's bar. I talked to a young guy in Finn's parking lot and he gave me pretty easy to follow directions. (This is where the adventure really begins.) The only reservation he said was you might encounter a little water and mud crossing the road, but if you go slow, it's no big deal. (easy for him to say since he was driving a jeep) (this part of the U.P. has gotten an awful lot of rain this year) Well, he failed to mention that the roads he told me to take were dirt roads with BIG rocks in them. Spyders have very little clearance, maybe 6", and every so often, try as I might to miss them, I heard some very disconcerting scraping . I now was going between 10 and 22 mph and my GPS said I had 25 miles to go. I gritted my teeth and said to myself that I could do this for another hour. I went through a couple pretty good mud puddles but managed to get through
them. After almost 10 miles of this, I ran into a real ravine in the middle of the road. It was a washout that was probably 4 feet wide leaving only about 2 feet of road left on either side. It had me stymied. There wasn't enough road on either side for all three Spyder wheels and the ravine wasn't wide enough to ride through the middle of it. I was to go no further. I put it in reverse, backed up a hill for a ways and made a three point turn to go back. So I had to ride the same somewhat treacherous 10 miles back to the paved road. When I got back on a real highway, I kept telling myself that Spyder RT's are highway vehicles, not ATV's. I still had about 70 miles to go via highways and this little escapade cost me about 2 hours.
I arrived at the Thunder Bay Inn about 5:30 PM. Not too bad. The dining room was jam packed and Gretchen, the owner, told me that this was the busiest weekend of the year with all the color tourists in town. I've written about it before,
but I must tell you some of the history of the Thunder Bay Inn, which is one of my favorite places up here. It's a cozy, old fashioned inn furnished in antique furniture. Check out their website: http://thunderbayinn.net/
Brunswick had a sawmill in town for making bowling pins and Henry Ford used the lumber in the area for his cars into the 1940's. He bought the building that is now the Thunder Bay Inn as a retreat for himself and his Ford executives. The most famous history, though, is the film "Anatomy of a Murder" had many scenes filmed here. It's a true story about a service man who murdered the proprietor of a local bar, now called the Lumberjack, after suspecting that he had raped his wife. It's a great classic film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, George C. Scott and Ben Gazzara. The food here is outstanding and it's time for dinner.
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