Bois Blanc: Quiet Wilds
If you like the deep woods, clear-as-gin water (and don’t mind a little dust) make a Straits of Mackinac voyage to the wilds of Bois Blanc Island. The island’s Plaunt family has offered ferry service to and from Cheboygan since 1932. Plaunt Transportation (412 Water Street, 888-PLAUNTS, bbiferry.com) has room for a few vehicles each trip, reservations required.
Nicknamed Boblo, this 12-by-6-mile outpost runs deep with mystique. Trappers used to stop here and get cleaned up before going to Mackinac Island. The impassible swampland of the north shore still hides brown crockery left by 1920’s rumrunners. During the early 1960’s University of Michigan archaeologists dug up a meadow to find a summer village from 1,000 years ago – complete with skeletons, pottery, arrowheads, harpoons and fish bones.
Today’s islanders have mastered deconstructed living – electricity only just came here in 1967 – with simple cottages, one B&B, two restaurants, pristine forest and dusty dirt roads.
Slipping into island time means you pace your day without a clock, just by the erratic and haunting foghorn. And simple things get new glory. Hushpuppies and a cold beer – good always – taste like heaven in the middle of Lake Huron. Barb Schlund at the Bob-Lo Tavern (3 miles east of the ferry docks, 231-634-7100) serves them up with fantastic shrimp scampi dinners.
Skip stones at three in the morning, swim at Snow Beach, go on wildflower hunts (gloriously, half the island is state forest, with white and Norway pines reaching 100 feet tall and more) and don’t miss the robust island square dances and the fresh-baked cakes at Hawk’s Landing (231-634-7375). And before you leave, comb the beach for stones that make out the letters: lucky.
Lodging: Retreat to Insel Haus Bed & Breakfast, perched on a meadow with panoramic views of the Straits. Innkeepers Shelby and Christa Newhouse filled their Old World retreat with antique leaded glass, pocket doors, gorgeous chandeliers, deep pantries and lots of quiet nooks. Berlin-born Christa spoils you with feasts of scrambled eggs, bagels, lox, sliced provolone and turkey, yogurt, fresh cranberry-orange bread with butter and her favorite Polish plum jam. 888-634-7393, inselhausbandb.com – Emily Betz Tyra