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Montague, MI: 29 April - 08 May 2019

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

The largest weathervane in the world, need I say more . . .

1. Lodgings: stayed in an Airbnb about a half a mile North of downtown on the only Onsikamme Street in the country. It had a steampunk version of Roku, which was used to watch old episodes of Mr. Lucky.

2. Downtown Montague:

-Montague Museum: a Mrs. Havisham type operation operating out of the former United Methodist Church. An eclectic and vast collection of artifacts including a display about Nancy Fleming, Miss America 1961 (she later married "the" Jim Lange) and Commander Jacob "Jack" Bursey, an Arctic colleague of Admiral Richard Byrd. Well worth the price of admission. Admission is free.

-Bardic Wells Meadery: I know what you are thinking: What the hell is a meadery? Well it’s a place where mead (honey based wine) is made (and in this case also sold, by the glass or the bottle). After briefly chatting with your meadtender Rick, ask him to recommend a flight of four meads (@$5) based on your personality. Rick‘s an interesting guy: the only man I know when asked if he prefers Ginger or Mary Ann, responds Mrs. Howell. The meadery is open two day a week (Fri-Sat, 3-8 pm).

3. Restaurants:

-The Wayside Bar & Grille: this is a spacious shot and beer type of place that serves serviceable food. Some good specials like $1.50 taco (Tuesdays, of course), fish specials (it is on a lake) and seasonal deep fried asparagus, which I didn't think possible but actually enjoyed (my ever health conscious Marketing Advisor stated smugly "How to make something healthy -- unhealthy").

-Jimmy's Pub: Has more of a tradition bar like feel then the Wayside - though you will confuse neither with the bar at the Ritz. Get the happy hour mini-pitcher for $3.00 and what ever is on special (we had the brats x2 @ $8.00).

-VFW Post 3256 (on Walsh Road, look for the tank): Go on a Friday night (5-7 PM) for the economical vittles. We had the Steak Dinner for $12: Pick out your steak (I'd go with the NY Strip Steak instead of the sizzler - whatever the hell that is), bring it to the grillmaster, then go to the bar and get a Bud Lite (@$2.25), ten minutes later pick up your medium grilled steak, then add all the sides you can eat - bon appetit!

Note: VFW membership gets you a 15% discount on liquor, though @ $2.25/beer, I'm not sure the economics work out.

-Fraternal Order of Eagles: Never heard of these guys until I arrived last month in Michigan (where they are everywhere). It is a fraternal order (with a great motto "people helping people") much like the VFW. A significant difference though is that the Eagles lodge (the "Aerie") will only serve alcohol to members (though through the determined efforts of my wife, we were able to convince a member to sponsor us and therefore obtain libation, a $2.25 Bud Lite), though everyone can purchase food. It has a groovy sunken bar that has a spectacular view of White Lake.

-Buzz’s Lakeside Inn: Great views, bad food. Don’t do it.

4. Coffee:

-Biggby Coffee: Have you ever wondered what a coffee shop would look like if Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts had a love child? Well now I don't. The coffee was hot and the store was open.

-The Book Nook & Java Shop: We went three times and every time they were closed - maybe they saw us coming? Fourth time was a charm though: A full coffee set-up, comfortable chairs and plenty of books.

-The Weathervane Inn: Free coffee! (¿comprender Ricardo?)

5. Food:

-Ricos Tamales: Authentic tamales in Western Michigan, how can that be amigo? Have one and you’ll know it can. The only thing that could make this place more authentic would be an icy cold Negra Modelo in my hand and my favorite telanovella on the tv. Note the lack of an apostrophe in the name, as these tamales are ricos (not Rico’s).

-Montague Foods: pretty much the only grocery store in Montague. Good liquor selection.

Note: Michigan does grocery stores right: food, beer, wine, and liquor.

-The AirBnb came with an airtight container filled with popcorn kernels. After an amount of experimentation that would make Sir Francis Bacon proud, I determined the best way to pop these little gems was to: apply a liberal amount of olive oil to the bottom of a heavy medium sized saucepan, apply medium high heat for 1-2 minutes, insert kernels, every now and then shake pan and slightly lift lid (to allow steam to escape). When popping slows to a trickle, remove from heat, count 10 to allow last few kernels to pop, then decant to bowl, apply a grind of salt or shake of garlic powder, then decant to mouth.

6. Muskegon Day Trip:

-USS LST 393: visiting this vessel, a D-Day alumnus, reminded me of a recent article in USA Today about a number of historical ships that are now floating museums. Some like the USS INTREPID in NYC and the USS MISSOURI in Hawaii are quite successful while others struggle. LST 393 contains an eclectic mix of vessel history and a collection of all sorts of military artifacts (ship models, racks of old military uniforms, rust, rifles, etc.). Admission is $8, free to WWII Vets. Note: after the War, the ship was used to transport cars across Lake Michigan and accordingly renamed the M/V Highway 16 (now doesn't that just roll off the tongue).

Note: if you find yourself wanting "more LST", than you may want to visit an operational LST.

-Hackley Park: After deforesting lower Michigan, Charles Hackley built this eponymous park to honor “The Soldiers and Sailors who fought. And to all patriotic men and women who help preserved our nation in the War of the Rebellion” (for you southern sympathizers, that means The Civil War). Superb statues of Union greats grace the four corners of the park:

*Sherman: Grant's favorite lieutenant ("War is Hell").

*Farragut: nice to see a sailor included.

*Grant: a requirement in any compilation of Civil War greats.

*Lincoln: Ibid.

Note: sounds kind of boring, huh? Well the park does come with it's own conspiracy theory.

-The Top Shelf: sounds like a cocktail bar but markets itself as a pub. Get the fried chicken wings (uniquely breaded) and a pint of Local Lager. It's on Western St, follow your nose as the place is located adjacent to a cigar bar.

7. The Weathervane: oh yeah, almost forgot about this. The largest in the world, but to my mind not really that large (48' tall, 28' wide). If I were another city/town/village, I would seriously contemplate constructing a a bigger one (how much could it cost?), and becoming the new titleholder (although this could lead to a weathervane race) - uh ohh, maybe someone already thought of this. BTW, you don't need a weather vane to know which way the winds blows.


1. After Ms. Fleming, the most famous Montaguen is Ira Flagstead, the major league record holder for starting three double plays as an outfielder in a single game.

2. In Michigan, motorcyclists don’t need to wear a helmet - bonus!

3. You‘re in asparagus country (late May - early June) and there will be roadside stands everywhere: $1.50/lbs. (on the honor system, just drop your money in a box - "Toto, you're not in New York anymore").

(cross it off your bucket list)
Largest Weathervane in the World

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