& Breakfast Heaven
and Bed & Breakfast Heaven
Tired of Bed and Breakfasts reeking of potpourri? Places that charge $80
Well, you've probably never been so silly to go to such a place in the first
place, but this is what most B&B's are like. Watch out! You'll find
yourself longing for that fleabag motel down the street!
I bumped into a couple treasures, in fact a whole area of them, last winter.
Way up north, clear past Michigan, a bit out of town from Sault Ste Marie,
Ontario, at the end of a cul-de-sac, I found a couple B&B's sent straight
down from heaven. They cost something like $20-$30 U.S. a night depending
on which one you stay at. A boggling value.
Large, homebuilt cabins with fascinating aspects of modern architecture
and energy efficiency accenting a woodsy chainsaw look. The two B&B's
are neighbors and seem to offer hospitality with a similar friendliness.
Both offered breakfasts that stunned the mind. Sausages, eggs, bacon, yogurt,
granola, pancakes, waffles, fruit-bowls, coffee, tea, juice, and oatmeal
made from scratch! Triple yow! Our neighbors had thrown on top of all this
freshly ice-fished trout! Grab apples and leftover pancakes and you can
make it cover lunch, too! These features, however, can't compare to the
beauty and diversity of the area itself. The edge of the Cambrian Shield.
Rugged, awesome geography. With Lake Superior a hop away, and mountains
and canyons. Of course, you have the huge Soo Locks, with all their Industry
of the Great North to watch. There's totally clear skies for stars and northern
lights. Plus plenty of chances to see moose, bears, coyotes and wolves.
Nice big river in the big valley a mile away.
What's more, there's a double jackpot of the best in XC skiing with two
wonderful resorts just 10 miles away. Each radically different from the
other, both excellent.
First, near town there's the Soo-Finn Club at the Hiawatha Trails. The local
Finns, speaking their sweet native tongue all around you, have created an
exceptionally challenging trail system. More thrilling than can be allowed
among us litigious, whining Yanks.
Finally, one can ski! Their Olympic loop has double roller-coaster drops
with big compression and air-time over 30 m.p.h. rises! A cafe/restaurant
overlooks the bluff to rest up in and catch rays next to. Junior and kiddie
teams flock the easy loops after school. ($5 pass.)
Then there's Stokely Creek to blow you away. 100 kilometers of trails...
all groomed, half for ski-skating. $9 fee. You can do the outer loop of
42 miles "singletrack" if you like. The place circles lakes, an
old trapper's cabin, and an entire mountain, which you can ski up several
ways. Then come down on more descents which would be illegal in Whinerland.
One sets you up with long speed through birches, then rollers you, then
drops you hurtling...then drops again so steep you can't see the trail!
It's $50 a night to sleep on the bunk-benches at Stokely's warming hut...
But you get a gourmet bottomless breakfast. The price for a night in one
of the 3 condos nestled against the lodge is outrageous, but this is such
a fine, quiet destination hideaway that it might be worth making a vacation,
for a weekend of multi-meal fineness among the silver-haired doctors and
The cheapest alternative to all these, however, would be to split a motel
nearby on the highway - 4-person kitchenettes for $75 a night.
The two B&B's have a backcountry trail system of their own. You don't
have to go anywhere to get the finest powder. Plenty of telemark guiding
and classes available from your fine hosts. These folks have developed an
amazing backyard paradise for you connoisseurs of snow-snorkeling. 10 hilly
miles of trails, plus guiding and instruction - $10. Unbelievable!
If you want lift service, a half hour away is the biggest ski mountain outside
of the Rockies: Searchmont. Prime skiing and cheap seats.
I've only been Up in winter. But I imagine every season except late summer
black-fly time is a beauty.
At one B&B, you can take a sauna in the handcrafted hot house...and
then hop in the pond if you dare. A hole is kept open just for you. The
beer is a lot better in Canada, too. (I won't mention the homebrew. Top
Well, I saved the best part of this Secret Bargain Hot Spot for last. Actually,
it's the best aspect of doing any of this homegrown stuff. The people. They'll
show you tele trails all day long. After the big day, maybe you and the
hosts can all go to dinner at the Schnitzel Haus. The next day when you
ski up to the old trapper's cabin you can meet the old trapper himself:
tough, but sociable. You might also meet an Irish dogsledder with sparkly
blue eyes who grooms snowmobile trails. These Northerners will seem a little
quiet...and like fresh air if you're from parts further south.
Info Time: I stayed at the Bellevue Valley B&B, 1-705-649-2880. Next
door was a fine huge log cabin b&b. The Goulais River Chalet. 649-3240.
There's a couple other b&b's in the local b&b ass'n. They're all good'n'cheap.
OK, these are some prime B&B's and travel Hot-Spots from me. But,
what about yours? - JP
copyright 1995, Out Your Backdoor, all rights reserved