Go North, Part 2

What I am inclined to tell you about today is the beautiful weather. I want to tell you that I spent the day outside tidying the yard and potting a few annuals for extra color and dining options for the pair of hummingbirds that have started visiting. I’d like to share that I have that itchy skin reaction I always get to the first couple of times I’m out in the sun and that I’m positively swoony for all the color and flowering trees that are suddenly everywhere, so much so that I took the kids on a golden hour bike ride around the neighborhood this evening and it was heady, like I was flying.

But that’s all I can say about that. I have a story to tell, after all. A story that my spring-intoxication (springtoxication?) kept me from continuing with until this very moment. Now where was I?

Ah yes. It was the end of day two at the campfire and the clouds were rolling in. We went to sleep and I briefly heard the neighborhood Saw-whet owl (or something that did a mean impression of one) before falling asleep. The clouds, of course, kept the temps more mild overnight and we all slept like logs from all the fresh air. I awoke before Mr. Knitting Sarah which is nearly unheard of and even more miraculous is the fact that I managed to sneak out of the tent without disturbing him. I stumbled around with shoes half on and found the kids both awake. I got them set-up and our boy off on an early morning bike ride and then on to the business of starting water for coffee. As I waited for the water to boil, I did a little spindle spinning. In the campground just as in the kitchen at home — some things remain the same.

Within 30minutes or so, Mr. Knitting Sarah groggily got up. Roughly 4 minutes after that, the wind started to pick up with some noticeable gusting. I knew it was supposed to rain that day and the next, but I didn’t think it was supposed to start this early. I looked to the south at a dark, slatey wall of clouds and realized that sometimes in the campground, as in the kitchen at home, the weather report is not dependable.

Mr. Knitting Sarah and I looked at each other and I said, “I’ll start getting camp buttoned up for the rain.” And he volunteered to get a simple breakfast set for the kids. While he cut sausage and cheese for cracker sandwiches, I sealed up the windows of the tent and moved all the important things away from the walls and up off the floors just in case of leaks. I got the car cleaned up and ready to go. We all grabbed a bite to eat and then piled in our van, commonly referred to in our house as The Adventuremobile. Rain or shine, adventure always awaits us!

We stopped at the visitor center of our campground, Gooseberry Falls State Park and sat by the waterfall for a bit. It wasn’t yet raining and the falls were nearly devoid of people. We sat with our travel mugs and sipped coffee and chatted…


We hopped in the car and headed back to Split Rock State Park, but this time to check out the lighthouse…


The wind was brisk and the skies were gloomy as we read about a ship wreck not far from that spot that inspired the eventual construction of the lighthouse, we could totally believe the weather was bad enough to cause it. Despite our layers and our water and windproof coats, that chilly Gitchi-gami wind blew straight through us. We took in the beauty for as long as long as our bones would let us…img_0968

And then we took our leave.

After a warm lunch at a local Scandinavian spot, we discussed our options. The weather was not improving and as this was Tuesday and it would likely not stop raining until Thursday after which it promised to dip near freezing at night, Mr. Knitting Sarah made the executive decision to take our Friday night hotel reservation and extend it starting immediately. Hypothermia is a real threat when you have no means to really warm up from being cold and wet and with two kids and the dog along, we were not interested in pushing that envelope.

And thus, we headed back south. South through the tunnels and the rain, south along Lake Superior until we came to our basic, inexpensive little inn in Duluth. And from this new base camp, I think we may have seen almost everything in the area over the next few days. Hiking in the cold rain is not bad at all when you know you get to return to a hot shower and warm, dry bed.

And so we hiked through the rain in so many beautiful little city parks…


We had fun like only we can in these conditions…


Except maybe Moose. He was less enthused about it all. He prefers his water in the form of a lake, not falling from the sky and the only thing he likes less than rain is walking over rocks. You’ll see, though, desperate puppy dog eyes, eventually he forgives us.

Through the rain we drove to a park outside of town, spotting a fox along the way, and we were rewarded with yet another impressive view…


The Dalles of the St. Louis River…


Dynamic, upturned broken layers of ancient rock jutting out or a river creating white waterfor as far as the eye could see. Like the mysterious, brooding cousins of the Flatirons of Colorado, I felt like I was glimpsing the heart & soul of this Earth. Humbled by the unrelenting landscape, and chilled to the bones from the cold and the rain, we headed to our base camp for pizza delivery and an early bedtime. Having halted the sweater knit I’d started for the vacation due to some unresolved gauge issues, I did knit a few stitches on my Clayoquot Hat…


Before falling soundly asleep.

And we awoke the next day to blue skies. Glorious blue skies!img_1006-1

And a hike up to the famed Hawk Ridge that did not disappoint. We had a ramble here and then on to a few more parks. Now that our home is close enough to Duluth to make it easily accessible, we decided to take advantage of our extended stay there to do a kind of survey to make notes as to all the places we want to investigate further.


There were more than a few places that made the “must revisit & expore further” list…


My son & I even grabbed our bikes and took a spin down the lakeshore bike path…


It’s a well-maintained path and a very pleasant ride along which I even spotted a small raft of Buffleheads. It was so fun to bike out and then look back toward the infamous Aerial Lift Bridge.

There were so many places we saw and things that we did that I could not possibly share them all here or I’d be here for a month, but I will add that on our last day in Duluth, we grabbed a picnic lunch (my favorite!)and headed back to the Dalles of the St. Louis where we had a nice long hike through the forest…



and along the river…


And eventually Moose forgave us.


Whether Moose is making this face because in that moment he was so in love with us and happy to be there or because Mr. Knitting Sarah was holding a baggy of leftover picnic lunch meat and cheese, we may never know. Or we do know, but we are pretending it’s the love. Whatever the case, Moose was happy and life was good for all of us in the sunshine along the Dalles of the St. Louis.

Back at the inn, as we all started to organize and pack for the trip home the following day, it was hard not to be a bit sad that our wonderful North Shore vacation was coming to a close not to mention that the giant laundry bag seemed to weigh at least as much as I do. Thankfully, there was one last treat left in store and it was something that Mr. Knitting Sarah had planned just for me. He’d actually planned this entire vacation around the final day’s event. I was so excited, I could barely sleep that last night in Duluth.

Stay tuned later this week for the third and final installment of Go North!