Where Everybody Knows Your Name

On our second visit to the Eagle Harbor Inn

we thought we had walked into the Keweenaw Peninsula

version of the TV series Cheers.

Entering the Eagle Harbor Inn, you walk into a cozy bar with tables near the door and a well stocked bar in full view just behind.  There is more seating to the right and around the bar.  The dining room is to the left.

When we arrived, the bar area was busy.  Most of the bar stools were occupied and more than half the tables were, too.  The atmosphere was inviting.

As we entered the air was filled with greetings of “Hello!” “Welcome!” “Good to see you again!”

We looked back toward the entrance to see who was walking in behind us.  No one was there.

My next thought was that the locals were funnin the out-of-towners.  Wrong.

In of town of about 55 people … in an area populated at the rate of 4.3 people per square mile … they either know your name or know you are a stranger.

They know your name


know you are a stranger

It took me a few seconds to recognize the group seated at the front tables.  Why?  Well, when we met them a couple days earlier in Copper Harbor they had just returned from a busy day enjoying outdoor activities around the Keweenaw … wind-blown, dressed for hiking, the beach … whatever.  Now, they all looked pretty good … cleaned up, hair combed, no hats.

More importantly, I finally recognized them as Bill & Connie … along with their daughter, grandkids, and a few others we had not yet met.  As we chatted with the group, Mary Probst, Eagle Harbor Inn Proprietor, joined the conversation, before showing us to our table.

We felt like we were in the right place.

Eagle Harbor Inn ArtThis was our second visit.

The surprising thing is that it took us more than 20 years to get here.

My recommendation to you …

You should not

wait so long.

What a great place!

Mary, our host, showed us to a table in the dining room where we were pleasantly surprised by the bright and open ambiance.  Large windows brightened the room and offered great views of area around the restaurant.

Are you visiting the U.P. … the Keweenaw Peninsula … this year?

Stop at the Eagle Harbor Inn!

You will not be disappointed.

On our first visit to the Eagle Harbor Inn we tried their pizza.  It was great.

When we are home, Friday is movie & pizza night.  We try a wide variety of pizzas. I think we can speak with some authority.  The Eagle Harbor Inn offers great pizza.

On our second visit a couple days later, we ordered dueling trout dishes … charbroiled v. almandine.  We sampled each other’s entre.

Dueling Trout Dishes

Trout at Eagle Harbor Inn









Eagle Harbor Inn Trout 2

They were both great.

You will find many great dishes on the Eagle Harbor Inn Menu


 Remember the word “Inn”

The Eagle Harbor Inn also offers lodging

7 Single Rooms & a 1-bedroom Apartment



 Follow these links

to learn more

and have fun


Click Here If you would like to know more about the Eagle Harbor Inn.

Click Here If you would like to explore the Keweenaw Peninsula … where the Eagle Harbor Inn is located.

Click Here To see a video clips of “Norm-isms” Greetings from the Cheers series.


#  #  #  #  # 

 A Special Boomer Review “Thank You”

to Mary Probst and the Eagle Harbor Inn

for fine dining experiences and the use of your graphic.


Johanna’s One of the Best!

Whenever you are in Copper Harbor and you would like give yourself a special treat, visit the Spirit of the North Wellness Center located in the heart of Copper Harbor.

Spirit Of The North Wellness in Copper Harbor Michigan

As the Spirit of the North, Johanna Davis can
relax your body and lift your spirits.

She asked a few questions.  I told her about areas of stress in my body, old injuries that tend to have chronic issues, even about sinus problems.

Her combination of Reiki and Swedish massage was very effective.

The Reiki process involved the head, chest, hip, thighs, calves, and feet.

She started with the Reiki method.  This created what felt like an energy flow … like she was drawing the pain out of my shoulders, drawing tension from my feet, calves, thighs, and torso.

It was easy to relax.  She would talk if you wanted to.

Most of my responses included an ahhhh … or a groan as I relaxed further.

Would you like heat?

Oh yah. Bring it on.

The Swedish massage ground several painful muscles into submission.

Then some quiet time to allow Johanna’s magic to sink in …

Two windows were open allowing a soft breeze.

I listened to the wind rustle branches and to birds chirp & call.

Soft music gently washed over me.

Later I had a chance to talk with her.

Johanna grew up in Copper Harbor

Her parents own and operate a local resort and shop.

She lived elsewhere for a few years.  One spot was Colorado … where she learned her profession.

She returned to Copper Harbor in 2002.

Johanna participated in the planning and building of her home / office.

Johanna’s Wellness Center is also
a beautiful cord wood home.

photo by Lesley DuTemple for the Lake Superior magazine

Cordwood Construction
Learn more about this at the magazine’s website:
— August/September edition of Lake Superior Magazine … “centerfold” article

Learn more about Cord Wood Construction at these links:

Go North
Get a Massage

Soon, I will returning to the Spirit of the North.
— I will be scheduling a session or two at Spirit of the North during my July vacation.
— That will give me a chance to apologize to Johanna for the delay in publishing this review.
— The reason for the delay began one day before I met Johanna and affected our home for the next nine months.
— I’ll write an update shortly after my next visit to the Spirit of the North.

Visit Copper Harbor …
Visit the Keweenaw Peninsula …
get Up da U.P.

And treat yourself to a special massage.

Call Spirit of the North at 906.289.4363

Additional Copper Harbor Resources:


Copper Harbor is a Four Season Destination … Johanna is the spokesperson in this video


Boomer Review 2011 Summary
Table of Contents

We are approaching a new year and, like many, we are reviewing what we have done and considering changes for the new year.

Boomer Review was introduced in 2010 with a plan to … be focused on stories by, about, and of interest to Boomers and those who are interested in the Baby Boom Generation.

We think we have a good start on achieving that objective.

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a regular,
take few moments to look around.

The top navigation bar offers links to special sections:

  • Home … Well (duh)Rock_and_a_Hard_Spot
  • About Boomer Review … Review, Evolution, Revolution, Revitalization, Bust
  • Cruzin’ & Cruising … Making choices to take our lives in a very new direction.
  • John Alaska … The adventures of a  Boomer in search of a place to retire
  • Links We Like … This is where we share links to more information and resources
  • Welcome! … We welcome your thoughts and stories about the Baby Boom Generation

If you are looking for something related to a specific topic, check the Categories in a Cloud section on the right side of the Home page.


  • Hello world!  … Boomer Review is a forum for sharing, evaluating, and learning from the Boomer Experience.

AGE & AGINGGramdpa







TRAVELBlue Heron at Buffalo Rock

  • Cruising the Loop  … Sailing The Great Loop – 2 People, 1 Catamaran, 6,500 miles

It was about 6 months later when I arrived in Costa Rica as a homeowner.

I was so excited to start cleaning up the house, and I had traveled with mosquito netting and paint brushes in hand. I rented a small economy car, and stuffed my 2 each 50 pound suitcases into the tiny cheap rental car, and drove the 2 hours from San Jose to Playa Azul.

My Property Looked Like a Jungle

My Property Looked Like a Jungle

I arrived about midnight, and parked on the street in front of the house. In just 6 months the grass/weeds had grown as tall as my head! I had to stomp a path up to the door, which was barely hanging on the frame by one hinge. This house was a shack when I purchased it, but in just 6 months the jungle made it difficult to see from the road.

Frank Sinatra "NY NY"

Frank Sinatra "NY NY"

I kicked open the door, and little shadows were running, slithering, and hopping across the walls, floor and ceiling! Now I have done a lot of camping, and I have slept in some uncomfortable places, but this was just too much even for me. I stood in the dark doorway with a headband flashlight listening to the sound of all the animals at night, and trying to figure out how I was going to sleep in such a small rental car, when I heard Frank Sinatra singing in the distance.

At the end of the street is a saloon/bar. On my entrance to the bar there was a gringo, shaved bald head, with an earring, and a barbwire tattoo around his bicep. Rick was singing Karaoke with a couple Ticos sitting at the bar, and he was really good. I introduced myself as the gringo that had purchased the house down the street, and he said lets’ go take a look.



Pulling up to the entrance of my new house, I jumped out and started stomping through the weeds to get to the front door. Rick yelled at me to stop, and told me I was an idiot for walking through a snake infested area, and took me back to the bar where he showed me some run down rooms that he planned to fix up as a motel. He handed me a key to one of the rooms and said I should sleep there, and wait for morning to start my project.

I laid down on an old mattress and stared at the ceiling illuminated by a dying fluorescent bulb and watched a black spot about the size of my hand crawl out from behind the fixture. I drifted off to sleep thinking to myself, “is that a bat…is that a spider…oh please let it be a bat.

JohnAlaska Returns To His Costa Rica GetAway

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Starting the Search Again …

I returned to Costa Rica about a week later, met up with the same real estate sales guy, and told him I would have appreciated knowing about the original house without having returned to Alaska to get the bad news. It is a learning process for me, and these houses are not really registered for sale…but verbally quoted, and in limbo until an actual offer is made. The houses are “for sale” because a local Tico scout goes through the neighborhood knocking on doors to find out if the owner would sell if someone was interested. Often the houses that are for sale, are not really for sale, unless the price is attractive enough for the owner to get serious. The price is then usually negotiated from this point.

You are not required to have a real estate license in Costa Rica. You are not required to have experience either. You can just get some cards printed up, and start knocking on doors. It is necessary however to speak fluent Spanish, and if you are not a local Tico, you can count on the price being 50% higher than a house found by a local scout.

The house before I bought it

The house before I bought it

I Liked the Neighborhood

One particular neighborhood captured my interest.  I toured the neighborhood again with my sales guy, and spent a lot of time looking at a house that was abandoned, and needed a lot of work, but was at least 50 meters from the high tide line. I had my sales guy drop me off in Tarcoles, a small town just 3 miles from Playa Azul, where I was staying at the Carara Hotel.
So I Returned
I went back to Playa Azul, and walked through the neighborhood for a couple hours, just to get a feel for the place. That is when I met an elderly gentleman named Alvaro, who had been watching me from his front gate.

Neighbors ... Alvaro and Hilma

I had been looking at a shack across the street from Alvaro’s house. The house was not on the beach, and was at least 200 meters from the ocean. The house needed a lot of work, but the foundation was good, and having Alvaro as a neighbor really added to the attraction. Alvaro had also informed me that the house was not in the maritime zone, and had a title. He had been friends’ with the current owner for many years before she had moved to Heredia, a suburb of the Capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.

Alvaro spoke a little English that he had learned from having a satellite dish on his roof, and he was crippled on his left side. I assumed that he had suffered a stroke at some point, and he watched a lot of television. Alvaro owned a VHS tape of Rambo, and I am certain that he had watched it at least 100 times, and maybe more. Alvaro was a very classy guy, and we became friends quickly. He invited me into his home for coffee and I met his wife Hilma, who was equally gracious.

Costa Rican coffee is wonderful stuff. The rich volcanic soil keeps the acid down in the coffee, much like coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii. In Costa Rica the coffee is typically filtered through something that looks like an old sock hanging from a small wooden stand.

Saw It; Loved It; It’s Mine

A title meant that I could fix the house up without the need to be inconspicuous about repair, and additions to the house. This house was not on the beach, but the fact that it came with a title made all the difference to me after the last failed attempt to purchase. I contacted the sales guy and told him to start the process. We drove to Grecia and met with a lawyer that spoke good English. I was informed that the standard procedure in purchasing a house in Costa Rica involved setting up a corporation. A corporation offers some liability protection, and it only cost $300.00. I returned to Alaska and wired the funds to the attorney’s account. The attorney filed the paperwork, registered the paperwork with the municipality, and the house was mine.

JohnAlaska’s Quest May Be at An End

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Back To Square One

We arrived back in Alaska around midnight. The return trip takes close to 20 hours with airport time added to the travel itinerary.  At 8:00 the following morning my friend Mark was at my doorstep with plans in his hand that he had printed from the internet.  The plans were for the construction of a fancy house that offered 3 floors, a garage, and resembled a New England Lighthouse.

Alaska Sailing

Living Well

Mark is an entrepreneur of the highest degree; he lives in a 2 million dollar house high on a hill in Alaska.  He spends his weekends fishing from his $150,000 boat complete with electric reels and powered davits to pull up the shrimp pots. This modest fishing boat is also equipped with theatre screens and surround-sound. Mark sat patiently in the back seat, while I dominated the questioning at each of the dozen or so properties that we saw.

We Have Different Expectations … And Budgets

I was thinking curtains and a new coat of paint, and that was really all my budget would allow at the moment, even with Mark splitting the $42K price tag. Two days later I received an email from my sales guy with the deflating news that, “for $42K, we would own the house, but not the land it is sitting on.” Then he said something about “too close” to the ocean, even for a concession, which is a merely a “right to use” document, similar to a renewable lease.

Basic Tico Home

Has Potential

This was a 20 foot by 20 foot square of old cinder blocks that needed paint, and a new tin roof.  I told the guy I just could not purchase a property that did not include the land.

The Bubble Has Burst

I was really disappointed, and when I informed my friend Mark that the deal had fallen through, and I planned on flying back down to look at another property, he said he was already planning on a trip with his wife to Hawaii, and I had to go back alone. He said he would only be interested in beach property, and I told him that if I was going back by myself, I might find a property that I would purchase without him. I was back to my original plan, and happy to be looking with my budget in mind, and not his.

The JohnAlaska Quest Takes a Hit

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Learning about Property Laws

Beach for Sale

Beach for Sale

Our salesman gave us the rundown regarding the fact that the maritime property laws stipulated that the first 50 meters was the beach, public property, and could not be improved on at the present time because of the zoning laws. The next 150 meters was declared as concessionable property, and also could not be improved on at the present time, but in the future it may be re-zoned. The price was $42K, and it was on the beach!

We talked about the fact that these properties could be improved as long as you were just fixing up an existing structure of the building. The ability to renovate an existing property offers a lot of poetic license to what is actually part of the existing structure. Our sales guy said that as long as we were inconspicuous about the improvements and did not attract too much attention, we would be able clean up this little shack quite a bit.

We spent the next 30 minutes taking about how cool it would be to add a second floor, and improve the ocean view with a big lanai, and what type of drinks we should make for our friends when they come to visit.

Mark Wants in Too

On the way back to the hotel in Jaco, My friend Mark leaned up from the back seat and with a big grin said “COME ON JOHN…LET ME IN…LETS BUY IT TOGETHER!?”.

Quite obviously he had been bitten by the tropical real estate dream, and I consented.

I pulled out my checkbook and said, “Ok…how do we do this? I want to buy this property.”

The sales guy said a check does not work.  We will need to do a wire transfer from your bank in Alaska. Mark and I spent the night toasting to our new beachfront property, and drove back a dozen times in a rental car to daydream about the improvements and take additional pictures of the shack on the beach.

The next day we returned to Alaska.

JohnAlaska’s Quest for Paradise Continues …

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