July 9, 2010
An ironing board and iron was provided with our room. One thing about Comfort Inn, they do provide every comfort. But for $89 after discount, they had better provide every comfort! So when I woke up I took the shirt I got at the thrift store for $1 and ironed on one of the url decals that I brought along. I let Elliot sleep a little longer, but woke him up at 7:50, so we could get continental breakfast. Comfort Inn’s breakfast is good, including hot waffles. I asked the staff person wiping the tables how far it was to St. Ignace (IG-nus), and she said it was an hour and a half. That meant 90 miles to me, which should have been broken into two days, normally. But I got a crazy idea. It wasn’t too late. It was overcast and cooler, but rain was not forecast. We could try to go all the way that day. If we fell short, we could simply camp or take a motel along the way. I took two oranges and two bagels for the road.
To make the miles, we stopped at a gas station first and got a small can of 3-in-1 oil. The chains had been squeaking since the rainstorm.
Just around the corner from the Comfort Inn, we started seeing cheaper motels, about a dozen of them. One place had right on the sign, “$40 for 2”. Some had wireless, too. Oh well, no regrets. We did have a nice breakfast.
The terrain was mostly flat, with gentle winds in all directions. Because we were making miles, we were more rigorous about drafting.
Here are a couple pictures of roadside flowers. These were there pretty much the whole way. Marilyn, maybe you can make an ID. Sorry I didn’t have time to take better pictures.
At 3:30, we stopped at Johnny B’s, a place just after Naubinway that claimed to have the best Italian food in the U.P. That’s very possible, because it was the only Italian restaurant we saw, not counting pizza slices at bars and convenience stores.
Johnny Beato, the owner, was at the bar with some regulars. Someone had brought him a huge mushroom previously, and he had cooked it. He said that in the wild, if you see that the bugs don’t eat a mushroom, don’t eat it. And he said his mother would fry a wild mushroom with green parsley. If the parsley turned brown, she threw it out. I asked about all the motels for sale along highway 2, and there was general agreement that big chain motels had driven them out of business. They also conceded that the economy was bad. Johnny’s brother Joe has his own restaurant in Detroit.
We passed through several construction zones in Michigan, which have these signs.
About 7 pm or so, we reached the outskirts of St. Ignace Remembering the $89 Comfort Inn, we started looking for clusters of cheap motels even before we hit downtown. We didn’t need a pool. Even this place would have worked.
We saw a KOA 2 miles before town, and also a motel that advertised “$25 – $45” right on the sign. With the profusion of motels, we decided to go into town to see if we could get something closer, and near dinner. It was a short ride if there wasn’t anything reasonable. In the city, we stopped at a Super 8 to check the price. $94, and that was for the room without the lake view. No, thanks. There was still plenty of sunlight left, so we went to get dinner first. There was a McDonald’s, Burger King, and the like, but I didn’t want a fast-food chain. A local Drive-in was across the street, and also Big Boy, and Truck Stop Restaurant (that’s the actual name). We tried Truck Stop.
There were only two waitresses working the whole place, so service was slow, but the food was delicious. The whitefish was sweet, caught locally just that day.
As I was paying at the register, I noticed some humble coupons for the Normandy Motel. It looked like someone had copied them 4 to a page, then cut them apart with scissors. The coupon said “Special, 2 people, $45”. Our waitress didn’t know where the Normandy was, but the other waitress did.
It was ideally located, close to the docks for the Ferries, next door to a restaurant (for breakfast the next day), and there was also Glen’s Supermarket and Family Dollar across the street.
The owner’s name was Elvis, and he gave us #7, a large room with 2 queen beds, for $45. He also gave us a discount coupon for the Ferry. It was a clean room, but there was no wireless, and the plugs all looked like this, so wouldn’t accept the laptop charger. I remedied that by getting a couple adapters at Family Dollar for $1.15. I intend to leave one in the room.