Extra blankets. Hot chocolate mix. Soup fixings. Coffee beans and French press. Books. Camera. Lawn chair......yup, I'm just about ready! One week until we take off for Northern Minnesota along the shores of Gitche Gummi by the shinning big sea waters! Each year we take my sister Lois on a trip, and this year the trip is to Duluth and all points along the North Shore, Minnesota's scenic jewel. Camping trips at the end of September can be tricky as you never know what the weather will be. Last year we went to the northwestern part of Minnesota, and were treated to bright red and gold trees, along with the first snows of the season. We trust that will not be the case this year! The snow part that is.
Our biggest problem is fitting in all the places we want to go! The North Shore has been one of our favorite spots for many years, actually our whole married life, and believe me, that is many, many years! We have so many of those special spots tucked away in our memories, and we try to revisit those places as often as we can. Definitely our favorite of the eight state parks on the North Shore is Temperance River, near the tiny villages of Schroeder and Tofte. Our goal, along with everyone else in Minnesota, is to always camp in the lower campground, right on the shores of Lake Superior. Huge boulders line the shoreline, making perfect front row seats to the constantly running show of the crashing waves, the huge rusty-red colored ships carrying iron ore, and the squawking, diving, pesky sea gulls. You can spend hours gazing over the ever changing lake with the matching constant change of the clouds floating over it. The waves may occasionally shower you with icy cold water as they hit the rocks along the edge, but that is part of the fun, and the reason for the campfires and hot chocolate! Or you can warm up by hiking the hundreds of miles of trails along the shore and the Temperance River that flows from inland down to the lake. The river has formed a deep canyon in spots, and the Superior Hiking Trail, one of America's foremost hiking trails, runs through the park and in places along that narrow canyon filled with white water and huge rocks.
We have several favorite vehicle trails that lead from the shore up into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There is the Sawbill Trail, the Caribou Trail, and the Gunflint Trail, just to name a few. We always drive the length of the Sawbill, up to the campground and the lakes at the northern end of the road, where we have camped numerous times. Our favorite trip is up the Gunflint Trail, which heads north out of Grand Marais, our favorite little town along the shore. (Do you see how many favorites we have up there?) At the end of the road there is a campground with a little cafe that serves killer hamburgers, so we try to arrive at lunch time!
Speaking of food, we plan to have breakfast one morning at the Naniboujou Lodge, a very interesting place built for the rich and famous back in the 1920's. Two charter members were New York Yankee Babe Ruth and heavy weight boxing champion, Jack Dempsey. Probably the most memorable aspect of the lodge is the dining room painted in the Cree style of geometric shapes in bright primary colors. It has not been repainted since the original painting and the colors are still as bright as the day it was completed. "The almost psychedelic Cree Indian designs covering the walls and ceiling are like a North Woods answer to the Sistine Chapel" wrote Tom Clifford. This work of art continually amazes and intrigues, echoing the elegance and style of another era. For more info check out http://naniboujou.com/photos.php or just wait for my photos! I promise you I'll take more than a few!
Shopping is also fun along the North Shore. Dozens of little shops selling jewelry, pottery, clothing, and the hundreds of regular souvenir items found in any vacation destination. And of course I know the location of at least three quilt shops!
And if we can fit it in, we would like to spend a day and night in Ely, our favorite "Up North" town away from the shore. And from there we like to drive the Echo Trail where we've seen bear, moose, and timber wolf. Again, the camera is always near by and if we see it, you will see it!
Time to head out to the camper and make sure all is at the ready so we can begin adding 10 days worth of food and clothing. Next Saturday we are off to one of my favorite places on earth! Want to come along?