Stair-Climbing and The Root Beer Barrel

My hiking buddy Liz and I met Sunday for a hike at a local nature preserve. We hiked a bit, saw a snake, had a brief lesson on “fear of snakes”, realized we couldn’t find the lake because the trails weren’t marked and decided to head into Saugatuck for a coffee and to climb the 306 stairs to Mt. Baldhead.

Water Snake?

Saugatuck is my favorite little beachfront town in this area. I’m not sure why because there are so many that are just adorable and filled with interesting little shops and restaurants. But Saugatuck has an energy that resonates with me. Ashok and I visit there a couple times a month. I always grab a coffee or a treat from Uncommon Coffee Roasters which features a side window for customers who have dogs. It was particularly useful and busy during Covid as they closed the inside area and just served from the window. A large porch with seating and benches on the sidewalk allow for pet-friendly seating. Liz and I ended up there to share some treats she brought and cappuccinos.

306 Stairs to the top!

We made the short drive around the river to Mt. Baldhead. After next weekend, we can take a human-powered chain ferry instead of driving. 306 wooden steps lead to the top of Mt. Baldhead, a Lake Michigan dune. It was a bit foggy out, and the clouds hung low over the dunes. But we had great views of the city as a reward for the strenuous climb. We talked to a couple of women who climbed it for the second time yesterday, and we vowed to come back once a month and add a “rep” of the stairs. It’ll give us an excuse to visit Saugatuck and get some heart-pumping, ass-building exercise. Plus there are some pretty nice views from the top.

We wanted to grab lunch, and we decided to stop at the Douglas Root Beer Barrel. I went there for the first time last year. This was a popular tourist hot dog and root beer stop in the 1950’s. It was located in a different spot near its current location, and tourists stopped here on the way to and from Oval Beach for hot dogs, root beer floats and, of course, root beer. It fell into disrepair at some point and in 2011 the community launched an effort to “Save the Barrel”. It was finally re-opened in 2018. I am amazed that they have room to cook and prepare food in there, but they do.

I had the BLT Hot Dog and a diet root beer. I forget what Liz had, but we both liked our dogs and root beer. We asked the owner or manager about their experience with COVID last year. He said they were closed for awhile, but they did a great takeout business. We were sitting at a table on the lawn, and he said all of the tables were previously on a concrete slab so they moved them onto the lawn for social distancing. He is leaving them where they are because it allows for pets and people to have a lot more room. They even have little kid adirondack chairs! I thought it felt like a picnic and agreed with his assessment to keep the COVID-inspired arrangement.

I got up inspired yesterday morning and climbed the downtown St. Joe Bluff stairs so I can get in shape for our monthly Mt. Baldhead climb. (I’m not sure if Liz realized she wasn’t just theoretically committing to this monthly climb, but I’m serious.) There are 73 stairs on the bluff. I climbed it 7 times yesterday for a total of 511. I exceeded the 306 from Sunday but am not quite there for the 612-stair climb in June. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Perhaps our new tradition will be to climb the stairs and stop at The Barrel for a dog. Sounds like a perfect Sunday tradition to me!

I found a blog this morning that features history and a couple of photos of The Root Beer Barrel. You will find the link below along with articles launching the “Save the Barrel” project and the re-opening.

Have a great day and #getoffyourass!!!

Save the Barrel Effort

Re-Opening of the Barrel – 2018

Blog with Historical Photos and Comments about The Barrel

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