Sunday, September 9, 2018

North Shore Trip Part 2–Bucket List Item

For the second half of our trip, we rented a wee (and I do mean wee!) cabin right on the shore of Lake Superior.  I wanted a true lake experience for our trip and was fortunate to find this gem had a vacancy for our stay.  That’s no small feat, as the majority of accommodations are booked very steadily.

Cabin 1

Our cabin located in Croftville, MN, just north of Grand Marais.  The ground drops off at the side of the cabin down to the rocky shore.  Yes, the lake is right there!

This cozy abode is just the right fit for us with everything one needs, including lots of windows with lake views and a fire ring! 

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View of Lake Superior from cabin porch

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View of cabin from the beach

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Looking out the kitchen table window

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Start of campfire on arrival night.  First campfire in 4 years!

As you can see, we are right on Lake Superior.  Boy, is it noisy with waves crashing onto the rocky shoreline!  It’s more like being at the ocean shore!  The first night it took me a while to go to sleep, perhaps combined with the excitement of being here.  Last night, well, the waves lulled me to sleep.

Grand Marais is really a tourist mecca, and the cost of food and goods reflects that.  Another factor is that it is really away from cities of any real size.  We’re not really into touristy stuff, spending most of our time here at the cabin.  The “lake experience” is what this is really about for us.

We’ve had campfires both nights so far and will again on this final night here.  This … the sharing of time spent by the fire, the simplicity of just “be-ing” is what makes our memories.

Being here, it’s really about the lake.  She is majestic, powerful, beautiful and fascinating.  And huge! 


Here’s a few Lake Superior fun facts from Lake

World's largest freshwater lake covering 31,700 square miles (82,100 square kilometres), or roughly the size of Maine – and holds 10 percent of the world's surface fresh water.

Length: 350 miles (560 kilometres)

Width: 160 miles (260 kilometres)

Volume: 3 quadrillion gallons, or 2,900 cubic miles (12,100 cubic kilometres)

Shoreline: 1,826 miles (2,938 kilometres)

Average depth: 483 feet (147 metres)

Maximum depth: 1,276 feet (389 metres) - Note: Some sources put it at around 1,333 feet in depth

Note: Another source says it is the size of all the other Great Lakes + 3 additional Lake Eries


We can’t even see the coastline on the other side from here, something one can do at other points.  We also are not on shipping lines (there’s a website for that, too!), so we don’t see ships from here.  Lake Superior has “tides” of a sort twice daily of around 0.5 to 1.5 feet.  Seriously, sounds like one is at the seaside here with the waves crashing against the rocky shore. 

We have had campfires both nights and will again tonight.  Once the fire is out, we enjoy looking at the night sky.  What was that line from 2001: A Space Odyssey – “My God.  It’s full of stars!”  Well, yes, it is. I don’t think either of us can remember a night sky so filled with stars.  It is seriously awesome.  The only thing that would top off our stay here would be experiencing Northern Lights, but that’s not in the forecast.  We were told they appear straight up in the sky, not on the horizon like at home.  Just. Look. Up.

It is simply amazing to be here … this experience.  Wow.

Along the lines of the beach house we rented for some holidays in Cape May during our years in New Jersey, this cabin is a place where we would return.

This trip has been pretty much of one of reconnaissance.  We have learned that we can make the trip here in one day, although it would be a long one.  We know that this cabin is a good fit for us.  We know that we would plan our entire stay here, and would bring our own food provisions and grill to do meals here at the cabin.  Eating out in Grand Marais is extremely expensive and choices are limited.  We find it more relaxing to do our own meals, anyway.  Of course, that doesn’t preclude a trip (or two) to World’s Best Donuts!  Today was our second visit there!

I would like to get up to Grand Portage and perhaps even Thunder Bay in Canada; however, we just don’t have time this trip.  We’ll save that for a future visit!

All in all, we’re having a lovely holiday.  We head home tomorrow.  It’s nice to get away, and it’s nice to return home.  We’ll have two full days before returning to work.

With that in mind, I’m outta here to go soak up the environment!

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?

North Shore Trip Part 1–Bucket List Item

One of the things I wanted to do when I lived in Minnesota years ago was a trip to the North Shore, including Grand Marais.  Well, it’s finally happening, albeit 11 years later.  I’m ticking off a bucket list item!

We started last Tuesday, the 4th, with our destination for 3 nights being Two Harbors, MN. 

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First evening, down to the harbor

Dave rode his bike each morning, and we had two lovely main meals out during our stay.  The big thing here is the harbor and the iron ore docks, which are still in use today.


Cargo ship taking on iron ore at the docks

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Dave having worked in the taconite mines a bit during our time in Hibbing (on the Iron Range) and with his history of being a pipefitter on naval vessels, this was interesting to both of us.  Using a website that lists harbor traffic, we made two attempts at being down at the harbor for their arrivals.  Unfortunately, shipping schedules allow for quite a bit of leeway.  We did get to see one fairly close to the harbor entrance, but its ETA was bumped out a couple of hours, so we decided not to hang around.  Good thing, because the ETA was later extended until 11 PM!  Really was interesting to see one that close, and would have been awesome to get a truly “up close and personal” experience as it entered the harbor but … oh well.

After a relaxing stay in Two Harbors, we headed off on the 2nd part of our adventure up to a cabin on the shore of Lake Superior just outside Grand Marais.  Check-out time at the hotel was 11 AM with check-in at the cabin at 4 PM, so we had 5 hours to travel about 87 miles.  We had plenty of time for stops along the way!

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We stopped at Cascade River State Park and took a short hike to view the falls

Whenever we saw an interesting scenic overlook (and there were a bunch!) along Highway 61, we’d pull over for a bit.  Our next planned stop was Split Rock Lighthouse.

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View of Split Rock from scenic overlook

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View from base of lighthouse

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You’ve probably heard about the Edmund Fitzgerald from Gordon Lightfoot’s song.  Interestingly, the maintenance guy for our community had a grandfather who sailed on the Edmund Fitzgerald, although he was not aboard that fateful night.

Traveling north on 61, Lake Superior is to one’s right. There is so much to see and do, but the predominant feature is the lake herself. 

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Lake Superior at Knife River

Looks like this will need to be a two-part effort, so I’ll end here for now!

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay safe out there, okay?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Summer is moving along

We are moving right through summertime, and I’m definitely fine with that.  It has felt like we’ve had warmer weather this year as compared to last and, sure enough, there have been days when I’ve checked.  Last year there were days when we were 20+ degrees cooler on the same date this year.  Wow.  Still, it’s much better than parts south of us, and there’s no 80-degree days in the forecast for the coming week. 

The annual Water Carnival was held earlier this month, and we went for a stroll through like we did last year.  We first went in the afternoon, but there really wasn’t anything going on.  We decided to return again that evening.

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We’ve decided that evening is indeed the best time to go.  More people, music and lights from the rides … just much more “festival-like.”

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Bemidji was voted Best Minnesota Town in 2017 by the magazine Minnesota Monthly, so for a week in July we had this down at the Visitors Center by Lake Bemidji …

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Snapped my own photo late on the last night it was here

Early in July I attended volunteer training for our local animal shelter, Great River Rescue.  I’m enjoying socializing kitties and looking forward to helping out in other ways in the future.  We’re still contemplating adopting a kitty later this year.  We’ll see!

What else?  The tomatoes keep coming off our hanging basket plant.  We’ve started playing chess again on one of our “weekend” evenings, and our games are intense and fun as usual. 

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July evening from our porch

In family news, my uncle Virgil passed peacefully earlier this month at age 92.  We talked frequently by phone and, a couple of weeks before his passing, I took a day and went to Hibbing for an in-person visit.  It was a good-bye visit, and we both knew it.  Such a special time spent together, and I’m grateful I was able to see him one last time.  He was my “second dad,” and I’m also grateful for his presence in my life all these years.

Nano Virgil Betty Cedar Park

Aunt Nano (who passed several years ago), me, and Uncle Virgil in 2009, on their visit to us in Texas

Our North Shore trip is booked for later in the year, and we’re soooo looking forward to that!  It will be our first “real” vacation in 4+ years.  We’ve booked a wee cabin right on Lake Superior for a few nights.  Yay!

Life is percolating along nicely.  The days and weeks fly by!  It won’t be long before Winter is on our doorstep once again, along with snow!  We did well last year by purchasing quality winter gear, so we’re all set and looking forward to the magic that comes with that season.  Season, heck.  If it’s a repeat of last Winter, we’re talking 7 months with snow on the ground.  Hahaha!

“Bring it,” I say.  It wasn’t so bad at all, and will be even easier now that we have a garage for our car.

Okay, stuff to do, so I’m outta here for now.  Life is Guid!

Thanks for stopping by!

Ya’ll be safe out there, okay?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Summertime on the patio

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Our patio area in evening

It’s back to work today after a pleasant “weekend,” our two days coming during midweek.  Can’t say we did anything exciting, but we do enjoy our days off just “be-ing.”

We’ve started playing chess again, usually at least one of the nights we’re off.  See the table in between the chairs in the photo above?  Turns out it’s just the right height for a chess table.  As we progress through the summer months, you may just find us set up on the patio for a match or two in the evening.  Right now it’s still a wee bit on the chilly side for that, so we’ve brought the table indoors and have the chess set on it.

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Residents in our community are not allowed to plant in the flowerbeds, but we can place pots around.  Flamingo now has a bit of company and color to the front of our townhome.   Folks have all sorts of decorations, potted plants and bird feeders in their flowerbeds and on their patios.  It’s fun to walk around and see what everyone has.  I’m pleased with ours this year.  Last year being our first summer her, we really didn’t do much with our area.  This year, however, it’s cozy, cheery and pleasant.

I’m grateful that we do have a patio area where we can just step outdoors instead of a typical apartment with no immediate access to the outside!  We feel we have the best location in the community located on the far side.  Our entrance and patio area are both very private.

One needs to remember that whatever one puts out on the patio, one will need to bring in once Winter starts to appear.  The plants will succumb to Mother Nature’s chill and the decorations will be stored in our garage.  Put the Summer things in and bring the snow shovel out!

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At our site in New Jersey, I had a lovely clematis.  Have been wanting another and found this cutie the other day.  Repotted it and am hoping the blooms will indeed be the dark violet/purple color.  Should find out pretty soon, as there are a couple of blooms waiting to open! 

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The newest – and probably final – plant addition this year is a Roma tomato!  We’ll see how that does.  If it and the cherry tomato plant produce, we’ll have tomatoes galore!

It’s June, but feels more like April with the exception of about 2-3 days of temps in the high 80s.  No complaints about that, but thinking it’s going to be a short summer!  Realistically, we have about 2.5 more months of “summer.”  With the arrival of September, it’s anybody’s guess.  We could ease into a nice autumn phase or … it might just start snowing with Winter fully upon us! 

For now, it’s enjoyment of the sunshine and warmth!

Hope your days are sunny and pleasant!

Ya’ll stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wrapping up May

We had a lovely 4-day mini vacation, staying home but making day trips.  One of those included an outing to Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.   We’re fortunate that so many state parks are just a short drive from home!

Weird – I notice the date on my post about the Itasca State Park outing is May 16.  Really?  We were on vacation from the 21st through the 24th, and the trip occurred during our time off.  Looks like Blogger was off about a week on that post.  I’ll be curious to see what date shows up for this one.

We wandered over to Park Rapids one day, just because we could!

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We strolled down the main drag, stopping in a few shops here and there.  Just playing tourist a bit.  The population of Park Rapids is just around 4,000, so it’s not large by any means. 

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That’s not traffic in the middle of the street; it’s parking!

I had not seen a Ben Franklin store in … well, I just don’t remember.  It’s been that long, and I had no idea there were still any in existence.  Just had to duck in there for a wee look around.  It contained literally just about everything!  It was like stepping back in time a few decades.

One thing we did notice was the high cost of goods, even in Ben Franklin.  Yikes!  I wonder if that is because it is such a small town and is pretty much geographically away from everything.  There is a Walmart there, but we didn’t see it.  Park Rapids does have community activities and festivals, and I bet during summer months it is busy due to its proximity (there ya go, Sue!) to Itasca State Park.

At any rate, it was a nice run for the Wee Beastie and for us.  Yes, it really was that cloudy in the photos!

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Our patio with some new additions this year.  The yard crew will be around soon to mow the grass.

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It was raining somewhere on this evening.

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One of the pieces from Bemidji’s 2018 Sculpture Walk.  (The website has not been updated for this year yet.) In addition to the sculptures, there are various painted dogs throughout downtown this year.  This one was, of course, outside Lucky Dogs, a hot dog cafĂ©!

We’ve resumed our usual routine of work and life after a pleasant respite.  It was good to get out and about, but we also enjoyed just hanging out at home and truly relaxing. 

There is another vacation in the planning stages, this one a #MNbucketlist item for yours truly!  We’re looking at doing the Highway 61 North Shore drive in early Fall.  As former full-time RVers, this is not a massive undertaking, but will take a wee bit of planning. 

Looks like fun!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!