Bald Eagles and The Alibi: Paddling Into Ionia

Joe’s Photo Essay (followed by Tom’s writing)

Lyons to Ionia on Michigan’s Grand River

August 10, 2018





Tom Writes . . . 

Lyons to Ionia, a Perfect Morning on the River, about Six and a Half Miles

Water Temperature 78 F, Air Temperature 75F

The Grand River is public, but we made use of private property today, rather than the public access points. I already described our put-in place: the sandy beach on the downstream side of the Lyons bridge. Same place we pulled out last time. I have learned that this actually is private property and the property owner is generous, he lets people such as Joe and I use his property. Maybe I should not have publicized it.

So . . . I am somewhat hesitant to tell too much about our pull-out place in Ionia, because it also is somebody’s private land. It is a nifty place. People use it to moor their boats and park their trailers. Before Joe and I paddled there, I scouted, and learned that we would be welcome. But it is not my place to describe it in detail, to invite the world to pull out their kayaks and canoes at that spot.

I call it the River Rat Enclave. I do not believe the people who stay there would be offended by that name. And, just so you know, Joe and I went to a high school where the sports teams are named the River Rats. I hope to devise a River Rat flag to fly along with Old Glory on our canoe when we paddle.

Anyway . . . We had a lovely morning on the river. Clear sky with just a few pretty clouds. Nice breezes cooling us, and the wind was not always in our faces. Sometimes, it even helped us.

Brother Joe was hoping to get some great nature photos (editor’s note: he did, see above). We saw eagles and herons. I hope Joe got some pictures of trees with green leaves, because many of our previous blog photos are of brown trees in the spring and fall. We need green photos, in order to entice you guys down to the river. This time of year, Michigan is green and lovely.

We ended our time together at one of Michigan’s great restaurants: The Alibi Bar and Grill In Ionia. Do yourself a favor and go there! The Alibi is at the south end of the Cleveland Street Bridge, just across the river from Ionia town proper, corner of Cleveland Street and Riverside Dr.

Before we even ordered the owner sent us fresh, free samples of a new Russian dish she is developing. Delicious! The owner’s name is Gala (“Like the apple,” she told us) and she is Russian, with an incredible soft attractive accent in English. Who would ever expect to meet a Russian restaurant owner in Ionia, Michigan? Unexpected, but true. She has great tasty burritos, salads, burgers and more on her menu. Even Russian Burritos. All yummy. (I have been there three times: today and on a couple of scouting trips).

Brother Joe says he loved the Alibi because it checked off all the boxes that are important to him: it is not a chain and they are doing innovative and adventurous things with food as opposed to offering nothing more than the standard mom-and-pop restaurant fare. The Alibi offers more than just burgers, etc. (although they have WONDERFUL burgers).

The Alibi is no flash-in-the-pan. They have been in business in Ionia for five years. I hope Brother Joe will post links to their website (done, they are on Facebook as well, search ‘Alibi Bar and Grill Ionia’ on FB).


I always take the river’s side; Industry and Big Agriculture have plenty of friends already. Thank you for visiting our blog, please share it with a friend. You may contact us by leaving a comment here or via email: (Joe Neely) or (Tom Neely). 

We would love to have you join us on the river, but it’s BYOC.


This entry was posted in Environment, Michigan, nature, paddling, rivers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Bald Eagles and The Alibi: Paddling Into Ionia

  1. Another wonderful post guys! Love the pictures of the Grand. Sounds like not much adventure on this trip. LOL

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