Monday, July 14, 2008

Vacation begins!

Lake Superior greeted us with some big water and thunderstorms as we rolled into Grand Marais, MN for the VOR's family's annual campout. After the storm passed I completed a rigorous mental risk assessment and decided those inviting 4' - 6' rollers that were crashing on the breakwater needed to be tested. The MayorOfTurtleRiver was up on the breakwater with the camera when a couple folks commented, "Wow, look at that! I wonder who the dumb ass in the kayak is?". Rather than defending me she told them,"I don't know but he must be a real idiot". It was, of course, more fun than a roller coaster. At one point I was in a trough where I could just barely see the top of the harbor lighthouse and was getting 20-30 yard rides on some of the bigger swells. Click on the picture to see the idiot in the waves.

That evening found us at the camp of the VOR's brother, the TireKing. Its a great location at the end of a sketchy dirt path, well off the power grid, and is powered by a solar panel/battery setup. The sauna at our hunting camp is done one better by his wood fired hot tub. This handy unit uses lake water and has a submerged wood stove that heats the water. TheLegend attempted to operate it a while back and, when he found the water a bit lukewarm, stoked the fire "a little". This is a man who believes the words 'small' and 'fire' should never be used in the same sentence. He told me that when he came back an hour later, "you could have scalded a pig in the darn thing".

Sunday found us on the border visiting Grand Portage State Park. We met and talked with the park's interpretive guy, Travis Novitsky. Travis also happens to be a member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and a superb photographer. As I looked at his images, I realized that he was even more hooked in the Lake Superior country than I was. Be sure to take the time to look at his images, they are unbelievable. The Pileated Woodpecker and the dumb Ruffed Grouse are among my favorites.

We crossed the border into Canada and got one of the few surly border guys employed by Canadian Customs. Usually those guys emigrate, become US citizens, and work for the US Customs. The US guys seem to save their most cutting, sarcastic, and lecturing comments for returning US citizens. On my return from England one time, I was busted by the USDA fruit sniffing beagle but that's another post. I can't wait to get to the Soo in a few days. Meanwhile, the VOR and I spent the night on a 38' DownEaster sailboat at the Thunder Bay marina. I stumbled on this as I hunted for a place for Sunday night, knowing the length of the 'Minnesota goodbye' might get us into town after dark. Capt Gregory had a charter going out to the Welcome Islands on his other boat and got us settled in. Had we gotten to town a bit earlier, we could have done the cruise and the B&B deal. Its a wonderful concept.

Off to Rossport! I don't know when next I'll get online but with paddling and relaxing being the priorities, I guess I'm not too worried about it.


Nan said...

Good luck on getting back into the country when you get to the Soo. You're right about the border guards -- seems like the ones on the U.S. side are always ruder, nastier, and generally more anxious to make your life miserable.

Ranger Bob said...

So, did you get any interesting weather last night?

kykr13 said...

Travis has some outstanding images - thanks for the recommendation. Enjoy the vacation!