Sunday, October 10, 2010

The North Shore

Finally!  I haven't been up to the North Shore in three years - so this weekend was PERFECT!  (The North Shore of Minnesota, along Lake Superior, is probably one of my favorite places in the world...  If it wasn't so darn cold in the winter, I would probably live there!)

The hubby worked a half day on Friday, so as soon as he got home we packed up and headed out the door.  Bailey was at Grandma and Grandpa's for the weekend...  so we were off!

Our plan was to camp at Cascade River State Park, near Grand Marais...  A 4 hour drive from home.  So, no stops along the way - we'd have to do our sight-seeing and playing on the way home.  The fall colors were stunning all the way up - many leaves had fallen, but that just allowed the undergrowth to show-off!  Blue skies, lots of color, and the deep blue of Lake Superior - absolutely beautiful!

We got to the park, parked our car and got situated for the hike into our campsite.  The hubby had told me it would be a 3/4 mile hike, on flat ground, by the river.  Ummmm...  Not so much.  When we checked in at the park office, the ranger woman said it would be a 3 mile hike.  Interesting...  Luckily, hubby was smart - he brought all of his ultra-light backpacking gear; we only brought in the clothes we would need to keep warm that night; and we only had dinner to prepare.  So, he carried everything - except the picnic backpack with our food.  Even if my asthma attacks - I got this!

I have to admit...  the hike was gorgeous.  We saw a "marten" - a very cute little animal...  Apparently known for being aggressive.  Good thing we didn't know that until the next day!  There was a lot of climbing up hills and stairs, uneven trails, and times we thought we weren't on the right trail...  But I was proud of myself for doing just fine - It wasn't the torture I was expecting...  And the hubby is so good at watching out for me - when there's a big step down or an uneven footing area - he's always right there, offering his arm before I even know I'm going to need it.  I have to admit - if I'm going to do these kinds of trips, he's who I want to do it with!
(Well, hello L'il Guy!)
(This WAS the trail.  Good grief!)
(Yep.  One night meant we would carry our pillows in!  Ha ha ha. We were really roughing it, huh?)
(I hate uneven stairs.)

So, since we started late, and we were hiking in the woods... we were pretty aware of fading sunlight.  It felt like we had been hiking forever... when we came across a "campsight" along the river.  I thought it looked perfect - a nice big fire pit, a bench made out of logs and rocks, a cleared spot for the tent...  But then we realized there was no sign and no pit toilet around.  Bummer.  This was not an official site.  We kept going for a while and realized... we were not coming to anything else anytime soon.  So we went back.  I thought it was a perfect sight - I love being right by the water!  (But no pit toilet was a little unnerving...  I hadn't squatted in the woods since I was in high school!  Time to re-learn!)

We set up camp, got the beers cooling in the stream, built our fire, and cooked a yummy dinner of chicken mango brats with sliced grilled peppers...  Nightime fell - cool, but not cold.  Clear, starry skies - we could easily sit on the boulders down by the water and look up at the night sky - so peaceful.  Our cozy little tent kept us warm...  It was a great night!
(The "fridge.")
(The "stove.")

The next morning, I awoke to a cup of coffee being handed in to the tent.  Now, that's what I call service!  We got up, enjoyed the peacefulness of our site by the river...  Then broke down camp and headed out.  Hiking out... took half the time as hiking in...  And it was easy.  We realized we probably didn't hike near as far as we thought we did the night before!  Too funny.
(Mmm...  Coffee.)
(And we're off again!)

So we're getting in the car, realizing we're smelling REALLY smokey and could REALLY use a shower!  Note to self:  Cascade River State Park - doesn't have public showers.  Ok.  Now what?  As we're driving into Grand Marais for some breakfast we're keeping our eyes peeled for a place to shower...  and spot a campground.  Yes.  We were naughty.  We snuck into their showers.  Took the quickest showers either of us have ever taken and got the heck out of there right as the bathroom attendant was showing up!  (The hubby has worked at campgrounds in the past - and was sure we'd get our car towed if we were found out!)

Once showered, we headed into town for some breakfast.  "The World's Best Donuts" was calling our name...  Who could pass that up?  Coffee and yummy deep-fried dough?  Sounds like the breakfast of champs!  (And it was delish...)  After that, we spent the morning roaming through town, playing in the fun shops, walking alongside the lake, and just purely enjoying the day!  And of course, we ended our day in town with lunch at "The Crooked Spoon" - one of our favorite places!  (The hubby even decided it was time to bring some of the "Spoon" home with us.  We bought one of their pint glasses and a crooked spoon!  They have spoons made out of birch branches - too cute!)
(World's Best Donuts - Yummmm...)
(The Crooked Spoon - highly recommended!)

When we finally gave in and left Grand Marais, the hubby had some trail access points (to the Superior Hiking Trail) he wanted to check out on the way back.  We ended up driving into the Lutsen Ski Resort for one of them - and found some great surprises!  The gondola was running - giving rides from one mountain to another...  So, of course, we decided we needed to do this!  So fun - beautiful views and a peaceful ride!  Then, when we got to the top - there was a wedding getting ready!  The bride and her bridesmaids were already at the top, having pictures taken - the colors were gorgeous!  The girls were in deep plum-colored dresses, carrying burnt-orange cala lillies.  The fun part?  Everyone coming to the wedding would have to ride up in the gondola!  It was fun riding back to the lodge and seeing all of these people in formal attire, squeezed into the gondola cars...  Too funny!

Next, we just simply enjoyed the rest of our ride to Duluth - stopping at favorite shops along the way and picking up a pie at Betty's Pies.  We got to Duluth as it was getting dark - just in time for dinner!  We walked around Canal Park for a bit, but weren't really seing anything that appealed to us, so we went into the city for some Pizza Luce.  We watched the Twins lose - again, and for the last time this year - as we sat and ate delicious pizza.
(The sky as we drove into Duluth...  So pretty!)
(Part of the sign over the bar at Pizza luce - so cool.)

Finally, it was time for the final push home.  We arrived back at our house about midnight...  and fell straight to sleep with no problems!  We had 36 hours to enjoy fall on the North Shore - and we did a pretty darn good job of it!  Love it.

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A hubby who likes to take crazy weekend trips with me!
2.  The beauty of the state I live in.
3.  Camping.  Love it.
4.  Our tiny little tent - so cozy.
5.  Re-learning to pee in the woods.  It's a skill we should all have, right?  Ha ha ha.
6.  Funky little shops.  We always manage a little shopping when we go up there!
7.  Having a "been there, done that, check it off the list" moment at Betty's Pies.
8.  The way my hubby takes care of me. 
9.  Good music in the car on the drive home.
10.  Falling asleep the moment my head hit the pillow!

1 comment:

Carol E. said...

What a gorgeous weekend!!! I love where you camped at Cascade... and the secret showers. WTG!

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