Grand Marais to Houghton and back to Grand Marais: Many miles, but none of them were in boats, so we’re not going to count them
We woke up to a clear dawn with a beautiful sunrise. The dew never settled and the bugs were not an issue. It was one of the best nights I’ve spent cowboy camping. The cat snuggled down with us again for a bit in the morning. I was a bit worried that I would wake up to find some small, dead rodent next to my sleeping bag from last night’s hunting, but, luckily for me, the cat didn’t bring back any trophies. We packed up our sleeping stuff so as not to draw attention to our bumliness and talked for a while with a young dad and his daughter who were taking a morning stroll on the beach. We decided that we felt comfortable abandoning all of our gear on the beach for a while and headed out in search of a good breakfast. We settled on the breakfast buffet at the West Bay Diner…it was a good choice to say the least. I’ve never tasted better bacon and they had fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade baked goods, sausage gravy, biscuits, pancakes, french toast, sausage, eggs any way you wanted them, fresh fruit, and some more delicious stuff that I’m forgetting. I can honestly say that I have never had such a good breakfast, and it’s not just the food-deprived paddler in me that’s talking. After breakfast I rounded up some quarters and walked up to the campground to use the pay showers. Three dollars bought me about an hour in the shower which is totally ridiculous, but man it felt good to get clean under water that was actually hot. In the afternoon I sat with the boats for a bit while Matt got his turn in the shower and then we headed up to the Lake Superior Brewing company for lunch. The food there was good, but in all honesty I was still too stuffed from breakfast to enjoy it. My parents pulled in around 8 pm. It was nice to see them, but the highlight was definitely seeing our dog, Rainy. I’ve missed her so much this whole trip. The only reason I could think of to quit this thing would be to snuggle Rainy and now, finally, after 65 days, I get to hug her spotty wiggliness again. We loaded up the boats and hit the road toward Houghton. I had to drive because my parents brought up their car as well as my truck. The sensation of driving was so weird after a whole summer moving at about 4 miles an hour. When we finally made it home it was almost 2 am and I was way beyond exhausted.
After about 6 hours of sleep and a frantic morning of presentation making, an afternoon of showering and finding “normal clothes”, and a few terrible minutes where I thought our slide show might not work, we were ready to present at Down Wind’s Ladies of the Lake Symposium. Our talk went smoothly enough. I lead the presentation because it was a “ladies” thing and Matt sat beside me, chiming in whenever I forgot something important, lost my train of thought, or grossly exaggerated something. Once again, it was just so weird to be not only around so many people, but to be the object of their attention. It was all a bit overwhelming after so long with Matt as my only companion. It was nice, however, to be in a room full of people who were so interested and understanding. I was super excited when I saw that our friends Jon and Kendra who had paddled with us early on in the trip made it to the presentation. Both Jon and Kendra have been super supportive of us throughout the trip and I think we can both agree that we are lucky to have them as friends and honored that they would drive 7+ hours to see our presentation and spend a few days with us in the copper country.
After the talk at the symposium we had budgeted in 2 days to spend with my parents, Kendra, and Jon before heading back out to the lake. The time with friends and family was wonderful, showing them our “new” house, giving them the tour of Calumet, and spending time relaxing and catching up. After our company left we ended up staying in Calumet for 2 more days, basking in the comforts of home, before we talked our friend Dan into driving down to Grand Marais with us and our boats so that we could get back on the lake and head home via kayak. The weather was looking a little rough, but not too bad with 2 to 4 foot waves in the forecast – but Matt and I were feeling at the top of our game, so it didn’t seem like much of an obstacle. We got to Grand Marais late in the evening, had dinner at the Brewery and, once again, set up camp on the beach, this time with a tent because it was looking like rain. It was quite a surprise when we awoke to forescasts calling for 40 mile an hour winds and 12 foot surf for the next 3 to 5 days. There wasn’t much decision making to do, we just weren’t going to paddle into Pictured Rocks with that type of weather going on – we’d be lucky to even get our boats into the water, let alone beyond the break-wall. Back to Calumet it was.
That pretty much catches us up to when we get back to the real deal – paddling.