I tested the ice last night. April Fools Day and all sorts of tomorrows headlines flashed before my eyes: “Bonehead Captain Mike found frozen solid on West Bay”. I was headed for Power Island, about a 1 mile walk from the East Shore of West Bay on Old Mission Peninsula.
Ironically, in the famously horrible winter of 1978 on a frigid and sunny Saturday morning, my crazy Father woke myself and two other brothers up to walk to the Manitous from Glen Arbor. Dangerous stuff. This walk felt familiar, the sound and color of the ice, eerie indeed!
Henry Ford bought this obscure, 202 acre County owned island in 1917. He created a summer retreat for he and his family and remnants and reminders are on display in a little cottage converted into a makeshift museum. The island shoreline is mostly wrapped in sand, save for a few rocky beaches riddled with Petoskey Stones. The oldest “geocache” in the State of Michigan is neatly hidden up a steep hill underneath an aged Maple. There is a dock on the East Shore and boats sometimes reaching into the 100’s anchor off grilling hot dogs, folks dangerously gorging on fresh cherries and washing it all down with chilled growlers of expertly crafted beer from great local breweries such as The Workshop Brewing Company in the warehouse district of downtown Traverse City.
We would love to take you to this magical latitude/longitude called Power Island from he docks of Clinch Park, where you can also rent kayaks and SUPS, or 231 Outfitters, where bikes are available at Mile Marker Zero in downtown Traverse City.
As soon as the ice is off, I will be launching my 32 Marinette and running around the bay and available for hire. We also work with a couple other local charter boat Captains including the eccentric and legendary Mike Nowak who owns a beautiful charter boat called the “Ambitious” and Captain Tim Brendel, longtime owner of The Dancing Bear tied up at the mouth of the Blue Ribbon Boardman River. The three of us have had some adventures and can handle up to eighteen people for different experiences including salmon and lake trout fishing. Power Island tours could find bumping over to Omena or Bowers Harbor for a little lunch. We recommend you experience an outstanding glass of local Riesling from Chateau Chantal on Old Mission or some amazing champagne from Mawby’s on the Leelanau peninsula.
We also are dive boat Captains and mobile, allowing us the ability to run out to the Manitou Island shipwrecks including the Francisco Morizon and Three Brothers. Incidentally, there are daily tours of the South Manitou Lighthouse with opportunity for arguably the best photo spot in all of the Great Lakes. (Looking South West back to the Sleeping Bear Dunes) Many folks don’t realize that South Manitou Island is the Southernmost Island in Lake Michigan. The island is manned for the summer by National Park Rangers and has an incredibly interesting museum just a short walk through the old village and Coast Guard Lifesaving Station that is open all daylight hours in the Summer.
As I reached Power Island yesterday, I took a quick and lonely walk around. I dangled my feet off the end of the ice damaged dock and took notice of the vast Cherry and Grape Vineyards on both the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas. Henry Ford summered here and entertained famous guests including Babe Ruth on this mystical and mostly unknown paradise. I imagined this drunken legend smacking golf balls into the Bay from the little tee box they built on the highest point of the island. Walking back to the mainland, the ice creaked and cracked in spots and tested my calm. I made it safely to the shore and looked back to one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen.
A delicious dinner of slow smoked pulled pork nachos was on tap just North up the peninsula at the Jolly Pumpkin. The bartender reassured me of my insanity for what I had done. I gave her a wink and proclaimed: “Adventures abound in Northern Michigan. Lets get outdoors and make some memories!”