Before we left northern Michigan, I took a trip up to Cheboygan, roughly an hour and a half north of Traverse City. Before we left Cheboygan, on a whim, Basil and I took a few minutes to explore before leaving. With a Brompton, these impromptu trips are easy to do; Basil is always with me.
Except for the summer trade, economies generally struggle in these remote geographies, and the desolate neighorbood we parked in looked particularly hard-hit, with lots of apparently empty homes and way too many “for sale” signs. The state of Michigan itself has fallen on hard times as the auto industry has stumbled and struggled to comeback; that’s only worsened the difficulties in already-troubled areas.
We checked out the Cheboygan Dam; permits are required to enter the parking lot, but we interpreted this to mean that permits were necessary for motor vehicles, boat-launching or fishing, none of which we were, or were contemplating doing. Regardless, the area was completely deserted, so we clearly weren’t in anyone’s way.
When we peered through the fenced walkway overlooking the rushing waters, it looked as if Basil were being threatened by an enormous, fuzzy albino octopus.
We took the bridge over the Cheboygan River and rode a little bit in town. Cheboygan is a much smaller, more rustic version of Traverse City; Traverse City without the vast numbers of tourists or any kind of firm economic base.
The streets we rode on were wider and less-trafficed, at least when we were riding. Many of the houses we saw were simple wood-framed homes, but others were a bit different, like this Gothic creation:
Who wouldn’t want to live in a house with a Rapunzel Tower? I’m a sucker for porches, personally, like the one above, and those that are seen all over the midwestern USA. Not that I’d want to clean a house this size — I’d rather be riding my Brompton!
I’m not sure what this fetching little structure was originally. It’s too small to have been a carriage house, but awfully large and ornate for a tool shed. Maybe it’s a newly-built eccentricity? That quirky bell tower recalls those on the classic American one-room school house.
In a more traditional housing vein, albeit with flourishes, is this white home with a quarter-porch and some pretty fancy roof work. I hope these homes have fireplaces; they’d be lovely places to hunker down during the long, cold, Cheboygan snows.
Though the waterways are beautiful, much of Cheboygan is considerably less aesthetically attractive. There’s a Walmart, of course, and strip malls, and evidence of industry, too.
And above it all, that fantastic northern Michigan sky. Sure, it’s overcast here, but that sky is never static for long. Wait a bit, and a whole different view is revealed . . . though, this time, Basil and I did not stay put to see, since we had a long drive back to Traverse City. No matter; we drove under the very same sky.
Note: Basil and I are out of town (yet again!), so responses to comments and to email will be delayed — briefly, we hope. The indulgence of all affected is hereby begged!