Lower Peninsula Michigan: Friday, June 10, 2022


A good map of these finger-lakes chain of lakes. The left side is accessible by large boats and can reach Lake Michigan. I do not know how navigable the right side is. I am only certain that the bridge at Ellsworth at the northern tip is too small for most boats.

Today was our first full day of sun and warmth. It was time to tackle this amazing chain of lakes. We made up thermoses of mixed drinks. Wanda cheated with Jose Cuevo’s premixed margarita. I mixed bourbon with Monster’s zero-calorie white caffeine drink (which tastes a lot like Squirt), and Door County concentrated cherry juice. It sounds a lot boozier than it was. I only had one of those tiny airline bottles of Evan Williams bourbon that you occasionally find in a grocery store display for $1 each. Wanda only had a little bit of margarita left in the bottle so she took the little bit that was left. 

We packed a box of Triscuits, some luncheon meats, deli-made potato salad, and a couple of bananas and apples for snacks. It was time to launch our electric kayaks for the first time this year. 

I figured that each of these finger lakes was plenty deep for our kayak motors but, I wasn’t sure about the connecting channels. I was hoping that we wouldn’t have to raise the motors and actually paddle the channels. I didn’t have to worry. The channels were fine. 

The weather was ideal for electric kayaking - barely a breeze, unfiltered sun, and about 70º. Not hot, not cold, just right - not for swimming, mind you, but for buzzing around in the kayaks. 

These interconnected finger lakes are awesome, as perfect for boating as Highway 119 was for driving. The channels were deep enough for most boats. I’d love to get our pontoon boat over here. This waterway has to be close to 50 miles. I know that bigger boats can navigate the half from Ellsworth to the end of Intermediate Lake. The bridge at Ellsworth is too low for most boats. Our kayaks and a row boat could make it under, but our pontoon couldn’t. Besides, I don’t know how deep the channels are beyond Ellsworth. They may or may not be able to float bigger boats. 

We spent 6 hours on the trip and we could have spent another 6. Five of those six hours were running our electric motors at nearly full speed and sometimes full speed. We were surprised at how fast the current in the channels was running. We didn’t notice so much going up against the current, but on our return, the little kayaks really booked.

Launching our kayaks on Intermediate Lake.

Heading north, towards the channel to Hanley Lake.

Life on the channel.

Amazing cloud.

Packing up the kayaks.

After we put the kayaks to bed on top of the van, we were too jazzed up about the perfect day of boating to just settle in for the evening. We found the short 1.25-mile North Street Nature Trail loop on the outskirts of town. Someone put a lot of effort into the trail. It didn’t seem like it was a community trail. It seemed like it was a privately bushwhacked and maintained path. The route was rugged and hilly. 

There was a section for young kids with a series of little plaques telling an anthropomorphized story about the animals in the woods. Each plaque was like a page in a comic book. There were hidden painted stones along the trail to find, kind of a simplified version of geocaching. You could take photos of stones, if found, and post on a special Facebook page. Wanda found about six. I only spotted one.

Ground cover in the shape of Maple leaves.

One of six hidden painted stones that Wanda found on the trail.

The smooth bark of the American Beech tree.

The ragged bark of the Hornbeam Blue American Beech tree (I read the plaque attached to the tree).

We never figured out the source of this strange blue glow.

After the hike, we noticed that the Mammoth Distillery was open. Since the tiny bit of alcohol on our boat trip didn’t even register, we went in for a little more fortification. I was allowed a sample of their bourbon. I am not a hard liquor connoisseur, but by my amateur palate, it was superb. At $61 a bottle it had better be. 

We split a $10 Bloody Mary made with their distilled vodka and homemade mix. It was delicious, but way too small, no chaser, and no veggies. Mammoth Distillery sports mammoth pricing. We did verify that Mammoth distillery is a local endeavor. The distillery, as I previously surmised, is located in Bellaire, the next micro-town south of Central Lake. There are several outlet bars in the nearby towns. This outlet bar was pleasantly decorated and had many table and chairs set up both inside and outside. It would have been ideal as a restaurant. I was surprised that they didn’t even serve any snacks as a side-hustle. In fact, you couldn’t even purchase a shot of their booze. You could only buy a mixed drink or take a bottle home. I think that they are missing out on some added revenue streams. 

After that, we finally settled in for the night.

Glossary of terms used for newcomers: 1) V-Jer. The name of our camper. 2) Saturn. The name of our Van. 3) Duende. Our mischievous gremlin that breaks things. 4) Tata. The good gremlin that helps us fix Duende’s dirty work. 5) The Black Hole. This is what we call Walmart because every time we go in for just a couple of items, we come out spending way more than we figured. 6) QT. Quaint Town. 7) Little Buddy. This is what we call our Dyson cordless stick vacuum.

Dave and Wanda

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