I don’t remember how many years ago it was that we stayed at our first B & B (Bed & Breakfast), but I do remember it was at the Michael Cahill Bed & Breakfast in Ashtabula, Ohio.
How do I remember that? Well, quite simply for the fact that when we returned home and told our friends of our new adventure, most of them didn’t bother asking “How was it?” or “What was it like?” Instead, most of the responses were, “Why Ashtabula?” Well, first of all, because it was there. Ha ha. But mostly, it’s because we were taking a scenic trip around lakes Erie and Ontario and Ashtabula, Ohio, was about six hours from where we live in West Michigan and it seemed like a nice place to stop. Not to mention the B & B is right across the street and up the hill from Lake Erie and a nearby lighthouse.
I do know we began our B & B lifestyle once all three of our boys were out of the house and on their own; B & B places like it when they don’t have kids running around. We, in turn, like the quietness and the camaraderie we have with the owners.
That being said, ever B & B we stay in gets our own little personal critique. With my wife being a lighthouse lover and me being a fan of nature and nature photography, it might be a while before we find a place to rival the Big Bay Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast in Big Bay, Michigan, about 20 miles north of Marquette on Lake Superior. The lighthouse/B & B is on top of an 80-foot high cliff and stands about 40 feet high. And the sunsets on Lake Superior … oh, my.
A couple of weeks ago — it was Spring Break, 2014, to be precise — we ventured north while everyone else was going south. In Bellaire, Michigan, about 30 minutes around the bay from Traverse City, we found the Applesauce Inn Bed & Breakfast. No cliffs and no lighthouses here, but what a nice, nice place. Innkeeper Jamie and her husband (whose name I never did get) gave us all the creature comforts we could want in a B & B. There are only three rooms for visitors, but all three are very nice. Two of them are on the second floor and the window in our room had a west-facing view that gave us a great view of the sunset over the trees. It was relaxing in our slightly elevated off the floor queen-sized bed with a nice, fluffy and lightweight down comforter. A left turn and then a right down the hallway got me to the top of the stairs and a window that looks out over the yard where they have their own chicken coop and chickens, meaning fresh egg dishes every morning for breakfast. The tree below had something like six bird feeders and in one sitting, I picked out both a Hairy and a Downy Woodpecker, a red-breasted nuthatch, a chickadee and a couple of sparrows. Jamie said they had a nesty pair of Pileated Woodpeckers nearby, but I didn’t see them. State road M-88 runs in front of the Applesauce Inn, but the traffic is light enough that you don’t really notice it. Still, it’s a lot quieter than a night in a hotel with a pool and game room with the cars and the kids and the … well, you know.
The real treat happened the second night we stayed as we returned to the Inn from Traverse City, taking the “quick” route out of Traverse City via 72 and 131 before turning west onto 88 at Mancelona.
Just over a mile from the Inn, I saw a raptor gliding through the sky. Since Illy was driving, I could keep my eye on it. As we passed almost directly underneath the beautiful creature, it made a hard left turn. I threw open the inside covering of our sunroof and there it was: The bright white head feathers, the similarly ivory-colored tail feathers … yes, there was my first Bald Eagle sighting of the summer.
I exhaulted in the sighthing. Illy smiled. We slept well for the second night in a row at the Applesauce Inn Bed & Breakfast.
And I haven’t even had a chance to talk about the wonderful breakfasts Jamie made and the night-time treats that she left on the dining room table. How much fun would that have been with other guests? Or friends.
Thanks, Jamie. We’ll be back. Maybe with golf clubs next time!!