Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Off to the Grand Marais sea kayak symposium

This will be the last post until after the weekend as the VoiceOfReason and I are off to the 25th Annual Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium in Grand Marais, Michigan. Last years route to the event was a bit more dramatic as we circumnavigated Lake Superior, mainly by car, after an annual family get together in Grand Marais, Minnesota. This year will be a 'shortest distance between two points' kinda trip

Grand Marais, MI does not have a lot in common with Grand Marais, MN other than both of them are dominated by and have their community personalities formed by Gitchee Gumee. The Minnesota community is right on the main highway up the north shore and is crawling with tourists from about July through leaf season and has a population of about 1,400. Its Michigan counterpart, population 350, is at the absolute end of a two lane road and people don't just pass through, they are headed there. Tourism is still big, being that its the eastern end of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, but it retains much more of its small town charm. The Yuppie tourist seems to be more prevalant in Minnesota, lured there by the many gallerys and reputation as an 'artists community'. The topography of the north shore is rocky, jagged, and much of it is private. The south shore of the lake in the Grand Marais area is mostly sandy with 12 mile beach (guess why they call it that?) and the Au Sable Dunes, one of the most amazing natural phenomona on the lake.The two towns are very different but I enjoy them both. Both have friendly local watering holes, the Gunflint Tavern in Minnesota and the Lake Superior Brewpub in Michigan, that offer beers not normally found in towns their size . Their harbors are remarkably similar in size and shape, which is likely why they both have the same name, 'great marsh', coined by French fur trappers. Anyway, by nightfall we hope to be about halfway there at the estate of Pod and the Gurney Granny. Detailed posts to follow.....after the fun, of course.

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