Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mackinac Bridge, and Walks Around Birch Lodge

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Birch Lodge is about 35 minutes north of the Mackinac Bridge, site of the famous Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day. Thousands of people cross the bridge on foot, sometimes led by the Governor - the Mackinac Bridge Authority maintains a website that has information about the annual event. (One of the site's photos is provied here on the left.)

Many people have stayed at Birch Lodge since the first Bridge Walk in 1958. We are a somewhat-more-quiet base from which to participate in the festivities, and once again this year, we have started to receive reservations from Bridge Walk participants.

Birch Lodge offers plenty of opportunities for guests to "limber-up" for the 7-mile Bridge hike - or to just explore.

You can walk from the Carp River inlet on our quarter-mile of lake front up to our swimming beach and beyond.

When you are at the beach, you can walk through the clear, sandy bottom knee-deep water to cool off. Maybe you'll see the moose who also took a walk and left tracks on our beach . . .

You can walk out onto our dock and watch the fish - the gulls do.

You can walk along our 100-foot-long porch. Kind of like an economy version of the Grand Hotel(?) And we don't charge you to walk on ours!

You can walk up our drive and along the woods trails on our 20 acres.

You can walk out the gate and hike up the county road a half-mile to town for an ice cream cone.

And, unlike the Mackinac Bridge Walk, if it's rainy, you can still take a rather lengthy stroll in comfort by exploring the interior nooks and crannies of our 10,000 square foot lodge.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fire and Water

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As the largest resort on Trout Lake, we are always trying to add to the amenities offered to our guests. The latest addition - a stone-lined fire pit. It in some ways it is in the spirit of a stone barbecue hearth dating to the mid-1900s that had been removed by the previous owner.

Several of our guests had asked about building a bonfire, bringing shudders to certain owners of a historic century-old frame lodge. But we realize how much weenies and s'mores over an open fire have inspired many a family tradition in the north.

So, we created a lodge-friendly, virtually fireproof location near the water's edge about mid-way between the motel and lodge. Close enough to either for access, far enough from both to reduce fire danger, and lakeside for cool breezes, sunset views, and lifetime memories.

Pull up a chair and pass the marshmallows!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Birch Lodge's "A-Peel"

Print Friendly and PDF 'title=While we are renovating the motel (last two rooms may come on line this week) and installing the fire ring near the lake, what the heck, might as well start working on the lodge interior. What better place than dealing with the unsightly walls and ceilings that are losing paint in huge sheets? No one wants to stay in a place whose interior looks like a haunted house.

Our research indicates the peeling problem is not due to water or weather, but is caused by the base coat of calcimine paint, a commonly used solution in early 20th century to quickly seal drying plaster and provide a finished look (an excellent summary is presented at alcimine.htm). Unfortunately for current Birch Lodge (and other old building) owners, this paint is calcium carbonate-based -- basically chalk. When you paint over it, the coverage has nothing to bond to and sooner or later peels off in flakes or large sheets - as happened in the lodge dining room that was painted just five years ago.

The best way to deal with this situation is to scrape off all overlying layers and then wash down the walls until the calcimine is removed. Since it is almost impossible through physical effort - and budget - to take all walls down to bare plaster, removing as much as possible, and then painting the walls with specialized paint such as Cal-Clean, Calc-X or Calci-coater, will seal and allow paint to adhere to the walls and ceilings.

Thus, our two intrepid soul mates, Randy and Becca, waded in this week in the first lodge rooms to undergo treatment - the former Doctor's Suite on the first floor. At the current state it all looks pretty nasty, but in our eyes it is progress that, while not beautiful, appears less frightening than walls that look like they are out of a horror movie.

However, we just can't seem to get used to the dark browns and reds that apparently once graced the suite . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birch Lodge, the " Family" Resort on Trout Lake

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The past week has been a busy one, and all about families. We've hosted families for reunions at the Trout Lake Township Park and one attending a wedding at a nearby lake home. We also had an older couple who have been coming here since the 1970's.

Birch Lodge also served as the base of operations for two great families, one from southern Michigan and the other from Texas.

They ventured out from the motel for day trips to visit Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinac Island, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Glass Bottom Boat/Shipwreck Tour in Munising and other attractions.

We also had a grandfather and grandson stay on route to the boys parents back downstate. They liked the rowboat and beach, and spending time in the bench swing on the lawn.

One thing all had in common - a LOVE for Deb's coconut and oatmeal raisin cookies and brownies!

More importantly for us, the young families seemed to breathe life back into the old resort. All kinds of joyous noises enlivened the place as they frolicked on the beach, enjoyed the lakefront swing, spent time in the screen house at the lake, and went boating and kayaking.

We even dug out the horseshoes (and literally the horseshoe pits) for a game of "shoes." The board games also got a workout, as did the old console jukebox in the Birch Bar where vintage songs, particularly "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Boy", apparently have enticed a new generation of admirers.

Work has also begun on the lakeside patio-fire ring. Archaeologist Bill hates digging anything without passing dirt through screens. However, Deb convinced him speed is of the essence so we can offer a place for a safe camp fire that will not threaten the lodge.

Bringing back the shuffleboard court is also out on the horizon. More work, yes, but worth hearing the sounds of laughter in the air.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Old-Fashioned 4th of July

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July 4 Parade
As the oldest resort on Trout Lake, Birch Lodge has seen over a hundred Independence Day celebrations. Trout Lake really puts on a show each year - a full-scale all-invited community parade, fireworks over the lake, softball tournament, pancake supper, barbecue, flea market, family reunions at the township park - just like "the old days." And, just like the old days, the motel was filled for the holiday weekend - Woo-Hoo!!!

Birch Lodge Navy
So, how did we celebrate? We launched the first of our Birch Lodge "fleet" - the row boats that guests may use. She is cleaned and shined, and re-painted with the Birch Lodge name. The next two "ships of the line" are in progress, as we are restoring two of the original galvanized steel boats from the 1940s.

Two couples have already gone fishing, and the score, wives: four pan fish one pike, and a walleye; husbands: ZIP. Interestingly, the guests and some local folks found the same spot a short way off our dock that the osprey and eagles fish. We saw an osprey take a walleye there too the other day!
Birch Lodge Screen Room
We set up our screen room for guests to use to watch the fireworks over the lake a dusk, just in case the skeeters are biting. We are now planning an outdoor lakeside "patio" area with a fire ring so that we might have safe fires lakeside. Maybe even host some neighborhood pot-luck dinners too!
Deb Cookies
Deb whipped up a batch of red, white, and blue sour cream sugar cookies (as well as some plain ones for those who might not be feeling so patriotic . . .).
How did Bill spend the "holiday"? Well, we all know he always does things a little differently. Hopefully not starting a new tradition - he was red with sunburn, white with rage and blue with melancholy after digging a trench to expose a leaking water line to the laundry.

To think that all started out by going to fill in a hole behind the old fish cleaning house..... It's amazing what a guy can accomplish when powered by enough sugar cookies! Oh, and the Bunn coffee maker the electrician gave us! Coffee anyone? Now off to rake the beach......