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August 2005

Rustic Retreats

by Lani West

For the ultimate Great Lakes excursion, look no further than "America's Emerald Isle"... Beaver Island.

Most people don't think Michigan when it comes to "island hopping." They prefer south of the border. But a jaunt to Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan will forever change the minds of skeptics.

The largest of the islands in the Lake Michigan Archipelago, Beaver Island is a bit like venturing to Neverland. Light sand beaches. Lush foliage and pristine natural vistas. Abundant wildlife. Lore of fairies and sprites. All that's missing is the pirates.

The 600 residents of Michigan's most remote inhabited island bask in its time-honored traditions by preserving nature, historic buildings, and the slower pace of bygone days. As for visitors, they're left with a new kind of "cabin fever" and a yearning to return once more to Beaver Island.

A SUITE RETREAT -- Rarely do the words "rustic" and "elegance" go together like they do at Beaver Island's Deerwood Lodge. Tucked deep in Northwoods country, away from the stresses and noise of daily life, it's perfectly rustic pampering at its finest. No telephones or TV's (except upon special request) to bother serenity-seeking guests.

Escape the e-mails and fill the day with the quietude of communing with nature, as well as the nurturing of a massage, facial, or pedicure.

Wake up to the loons and gulls calling and gentle waves crashing. Savor a gourmet breakfast. Later, relish afternoon hors d'oeuvres. And on weekends, indulge in an exquisite dinner served in the dining room overlooking Lake Michigan. The celebrated Deerwood chef uses local Northwoods ingredients and fresh-caught fish for a superb culinary experience you won't soon forget.  

The Deerwood is a log structure built with the island's white cedar, which lightly scents the air. It is surrounded by 200-plus acres of unspoiled woodlands, sand dunes, and lake frontage that affords guests with spectacular sunsets. Then at 11:00 p.m., it's all but essential "lights out" for the soul-filling purpose of stargazing at one of the most vivid starry spectacles anywhere in the northern Michigan sky. Fall asleep to a woodsy symphony of crickets and frogs.

Deerwood Lodge features six wood-themed guest suites, such as the Pine Room and the Birch Room, each with a view of the woods and lake and fully furnished with authentic artifacts by local artisans and Native Americans. Even the bathtubs have a view. From the heated bathroom floors and Egyptian cotton sheets to the 28-foot-high fieldstone fireplace in the great room, it's more than a stay. It's a satisfying reward that keeps you going until your next retreat to Beaver Island.

Call 231-448-3094 or log onto www.deerwood.net.

CENTERED AND PEACEFUL -- Beaver Island has a certain restorative magic. Residents, many of Irish descent, know it. Now those visiting the new Tara's Meadow Center for Peace & Native Wisdom will feel its spell, too.

Named for the sacred center of Ireland herself, Tara's 20-acre meadow has historic significance as the site of a former thriving island community. The yearly dedication of Tara's Meadow honors its past and its future of providing simplicity and comfort in harmony with nature.

According to owner Jim Norgaard, "We wanted to offer a truly sacred and comfortable place for people who want a sojourn in the deep heart of nature."

True to that mission, Tara's Meadow is a stone's throw from an ancient oak grove, an inland lake, and a nature conservancy marsh with interpretive trail. The only sounds are the spring peepers in the pond... the barred owls and sounds of the forest... the wind and waves of Lake Michigan. All provide timeless rhythms so necessary for all-important introspection.

Those choosing to sleep in Tara's "healing hexagon" room, with its exquisite appointments and cathedral ceilings reaching high into the treetops, discover an indoor sacred space uniquely designed for restfulness and personal solace.  

Classes, meditations, and Celtic Body Prayers enhance this one-of-a-kind island respite.

Call 231-448-2477 for details about personal or group retreats.

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE MAINLAND -- The only way to get to Beaver Island is by ferry or airplane. That often means an overnight layover in the quaint harbor-side town of Charlevoix the night before or after your trek into the island's wilderness.

Talk about the "luck of the Irish"... you'll find the Edgewater Inn waiting as soon as your feet hit the mainland. The only condominium hotel on the harbor, the Edgewater's one-bedroom and bedroom-with-loft condo's are individually appointed and professionally decorated by the on-site design studio. Roomy living spaces, many with fireplaces and skylights, feature separate bedrooms, fully-equipped kitchens, and private balconies. Harbor views are available for ship gazing.

Before the trip back to civilization, take a dip in Edgewater's indoor/outdoor pool overlooking the harbor. Simmer in the sauna. Request a massage. And return home relaxed and refreshed.

Edgewater visitors book years in advance. Call ahead at 231-547-6044.

Next trip "up north," don't miss Michigan's gem of a destination, Beaver Island. It will make a believer out of you, too.


Beaver Island Boat Company

Beaver Island Chamber of Commerce

Charlevoix Airport

Things To Do

·             Biking

·             Boating

·             Camping

·             Cross-country Skiing

·             Fishing

·             Hiking

·             Kayaking

·             Sailing

·             SCUBA Diving

·             Snorkeling

·             Snowshoeing

·             Swimming

·             Trips to Other Islands:

·             Garden Island

·             High Island

·             Hog Island            

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