This is our second northern Michigan winter – technically it’s our third, but last winter hardly counts – so we’ve seen a fair amount of snow piled up. And with our travel affinity, we’ve driven in quite a bit as well. After our Friday evening festivities at Kathy’s, we hit the road to Laurium, in an area of Michigan that sees over two hundred inches of snow annually – about five feet more than we see. Despite a slow start this season, things had really accumulated by the time we arrived, and even we were surprised.
Winding up the steep incline through Hancock, I was partially convinced we had fallen into a MarioKart map. Pickups with plow blades on the front skittered around the sharp, slushy turns, unconcerned with lane markings. Once we passed beyond downtown, we were able to take in the city scene, which was impressive…in that the city was buried behind a wall of snow. Living in the Way Out, when we snowblow, our snow piles up slowly, far off to the side in our yard. In town, there’s nowhere for the extra snow to go but up. Houses all looked well protected by snow forts. Homeowners blow the snow off of driveways, snowplows push snow off of roads, and city caretakers drive snowblowing tractors down sidewalks blowing snow up. The result of which is walls of snow.
Thus it was that when we arrived the Laurium Manor Inn – our B&B for the weekend – we were grateful to have a safe place to park for the night. Inn owner Julie Sprenger met me at the door, welcomed me to the home, and made sure we would be cozy for the night. (Why yes I will have some of your fresh scones and tea, thankyouverymuch!)
Pardon my exuberance here for a moment, but I have never been greeted with such sincere warmth and cheerfulness from someone who wasn’t already dear to me. Julie is a masterful hostess – great sense of humor, full of personality, respectful of your space and needs. And a great cook. Our breakfast – served until a lazy 10:30 in the winter – included cream cheese and rosemary scrambled eggs and citrus glazed ham on the first morning, and ginger pancakes with fresh whipped cream and sausage patties on day two. The scones weren’t our only treats either. On Saturday, Julie whipped up some brownies slathered with Nutella, which were delicious both before and after dinner 😉
In short, the important things like food and people were good enough to recommend a return visit. Fortunately, the accommodations were excellent as well, and the inn also boasts plenty of B&B charm, so we’ll be back when we are in the area again. Silver gilt ceilings, gold leaf and intricate tile on the fireplaces, coffered ceilings, carved crown molding, restored stained glass, quarter-sawn oak – and elephant hide wall coverings (of which I can’t say I approve, but you obviously don’t toss something like that in the garbage). I’ll let the pictures speak here:
Surprisingly for such a small town, Laurium/Calumet contains a nice collection of historic and beautiful homes and buildings. In warmer weather, I would love an in-town stroll. Instead, we opted for a couple of driving tours on heated seats. But, if you find yourself in the UP and don’t want to spend your time free from civilization’s encroachment (Joke’s on you! You should have picked a different destination!), you could easily spend a day touring the historic sites. A couple of my favorites:
Have you ever stayed at a place that far exceeded your expectations? If so, please share so I can take advantage of your good luck 🙂