In Search of the Northern Summer: Part III

Heading north on Michigan’s legendary M-22 is like traveling to another country. You leave behind freeways, traffic jams, billboards, and every element of claustrophobic everyday life and find yourself being coddled and soothed by its gentle curves and scenic vistas of green forests, billowing waves of wildflowers, and aqua blue lakes. We were traveling north from our farm dinner, heading toward our home away from home: Snowbird Inn.

Nestled in a little crook in the Lake Michigan coastline called Good Harbor Bay, Snowbird Inn offers the best of several worlds: private beach access, scenic farmland surroundings, delicious home-cooked breakfasts, spacious and quiet rooms, and that little touch of peace that makes you feel at home.

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Our innkeeper, Lisa, was such a great host. She showed us to our rooms and explained all of the amenities. It felt as though we were guests in her home rather than mere customers. She was never hard to find if we had questions or needed anything extra. We were also pleased to meet her two lovely daughters; their puppy, Juniper; and their cute kitty, Apricot (aka “Opera Cat”).

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Each of the rooms in the downstairs guest area were furnished with such taste and care. Having visited my share of historic homes and plantations, I’m familiar with the feeling of being kept behind velvet ropes and being told not to touch anything. All of the rooms in the downstairs guest area had that appearance, yet each of the spaces was meant for guests to use – to live in. James spent the better part of an afternoon, one day, napping on the sofa in the living room. I played through some pieces on the baby grand in the music room, one afternoon, to clear my head. And the three of us enjoyed sitting and planning the next day’s activities in both rooms.

In the entirety of the house, the original woodwork and wood flooring is something truly marvelous. Lisa told us that all of these surfaces had to be painstakingly stripped and restored when the house was purchased, but – amazingly – all of the wood was in excellent condition.
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The guest rooms were equally impressive. James and I stayed in the “Elsie” room. Lisa didn’t know it, but blue is my absolute favorite color. So, you can imagine my happiness when she opened the door and revealed this sunny, cheery, periwinkle room facing the sunrise and a giant walnut tree. The furniture in the room was all very sturdy and authentic-looking (I’m no expert, so it may or may not actually be antique). IMG_0876James and I especially enjoyed the desk and shelves that were placed in the corner – complete with books on gardening and even a bundle of dried lavender!

I forgot to take a picture of Nicole’s room, but it was also beautiful. It was painted with a very calming shade of green that looked so at home with all of the natural wood surfaces. Her favorite part of the room was the little sofa where she could sit and read. We were both caught up in reading several issues of Edible Grand Traverse. You should check to see if there’s an Edible Magazine for a city or region in your area. They’re a great way to find out about local farms, wineries, and restaurants that highlight local food – plus they’re filled with great recipes!

Aside from being a great hostess, Lisa made three great breakfasts for us — each of them in a beautiful setting, complete with freshly picked flowers, greenery, and wildflowers:

    Thursday: Turkey Sausage, Pepper, & Chèvre Quiche, Pancakes with Maple Syrup, Homemade Banana Bread, & Fresh Sliced Peaches

    Friday: Cherry & Cream Cheese-Stuffed French Toast, Bacon, Almond Poppyseed Muffins, & a cup of Fresh Red Raspberries & Blueberries

    Saturday: Cheesy Baked Eggs, Grilled New Potatoes, Cherry-Almond Muffins, & Fresh Cantaloupe

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Needless to say, we were very sad to leave our host! Though we found at least one item from breakfast that we couldn’t stop talking about for the rest of the trip, Lisa was not one to give away any recipe secrets. Alas, I see several attempted versions of her French Toast & Cherry-Almond Muffins in the near future!

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Apart from what was contained within the inn itself, the grounds held just as many sights and wonders. I’m not sure how many acres are within the inn’s property, but James and I explored a lot of them. IMG_0886Some of them are meticulously maintained while others have that natural look that is equally comforting to see. There are also a few original out-buildings that are in the midst of being restored. James and I especially liked the old barn building – it was quite massive. (more pictures from our walks about the property will be in a separate post)

Admittedly, my absolute favorite amenity of the Snowbird Inn was probably the private beach access. We made sure to take advantage of it as often as we could! On our first day, though, we didn’t know quite what to expect. We’d just come back from lunch and James was in the mood for a nap before hitting the beach, so Nicole and I decided to pack a few things and head out.

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The trail leading to the beach takes you into some deep, beautiful woods. We were told to be on the lookout for foxes, squirrels… and even cougars! (yes, cougars) Fortunately, the worst foe we ran into was poison ivy. I’m extremely allergic to the stuff and – in spite of my staying strictly on the trail and watching my every step, I managed to get a small rash by the end of our trip. Thus, I’ve dubbed the trail to the lake the “Via Que Pica”. It’d been a while since I’d smelled Calamine lotion. Somehow, though, the smell will always take me back.

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But, I digress… Nicole and I made our way down the winding trail and we began to hear the familiar sound of waves and surf just as we noticed a clearing in the trees. All of a sudden, we both gasped – the beach was more beautiful than we could’ve imagined! We were not able to contain our giddy delight. With barely a cloud in sight, the water was crystal blue and the grassy green underbrush gave way to the sand very welcoming white… and all our very own!

IMG_0911Lake Michigan’s waters – even in mid-to-late summer – can be a little cold, so we had to gradually work our way into the water, but it was tremendously satisfying! By and by, James wandered through the clearing and he and I took a long stroll along the beach with the waves sweeping sand between our toes.

It was so beautiful and serene, I couldn’t resist making a video of the beach at Good Harbor Bay to share with all of you. Turn up your volume or put in the headphones, sit back, and relax for a minute and a half! I plan to turn to this video in the future, whenever I need a little getaway.

Good Harbor Bay
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~ by Jason on July 27, 2010.

5 Responses to “In Search of the Northern Summer: Part III”

  1. What a beautiful beach! You were very fortunate to experience that. Looks like the perfect time of day. All I would need is a good hammock and a chest of cold beer!

    • Ach! It was beautiful… almost like we were just wandering in the woods and were the first humans to discover it! I’m glad I had my camera with me!

  2. Lovely! You are such a writer….I want to eat everything you describe and visit every place you’ve shared. I too have a photo of a heart in Lake Michigan sand (A&K).

    The sound and site of the waves are a balm, right here in the middle of my office. Thanks!

    Amy Ritchie

  3. It was my distinct pleasure to have the three of you as guests! Thank you so much for staying with us, and for all of your delightful photos and truly heartwarming praise. If the recipes existed, I would surely have to share them now! 😉
    I hope we will meet again…thanks so much! Lisa Psenka

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