Archive for Boundary Waters

Ely, MN – Day 2

July 19, 2008


As you probably expected, I ended up having the most delightful day today.  Mostly because I enjoyed the company of Rob a little too much.


The deal here re canoeing or kayaking is that you go to one of the 22 outfitters in this small town.  They set you up with a canoe, other rigging, and a map.  They put a removable [temp] canoe carrier on your car, and off you go.  You go to the launch area of the lake your of choice.  Canoe it and head towards a tree that has a reflective orange diamond on it.  That is the portage – trail where you carry your canoe to the next lake.  Tool around that lake and look for the orange diamond.  Carry your canoe to the next lake.  Do this over and over again, and stop to camp wherever.


Great concept, but I don’t want to do this on my own.

Having Rob with me was perfect.  Besides his great company, he has the truck, the canoe, can remove and put the canoe back on top of his truck [which I’m not sure if I’d be able to do by myself – without scratching up my car], has the map and “plan”, provides most of the paddling/speed, steers the canoe [especially into the portage] AND carries it to the next lake.


I…ahh…paddled all the time, took in the sights, took photos, and carried the paddles/ backpacks to the next lake.


Great gig, huh?


So, I had much more fun than I thought I would have.  Or would have if I was by myself.


Rob laughed at me cuz I was almost 100% covered in clothes [including the ole pants tucked into my socks look].  This was due to the bug issue, and also the hot sun blazing down on me.


He said that when you are on the water, moving, the bugs won’t bother you. He was right.  It’s the time on land moving the canoe to the next lake where the black flies swirl all around you.


No mosquitoes.


The sun went behind clouds and in fact, looked like it was going to blow up a nice storm, but didn’t.  So, no hot sun beating down on me.


We saw a couple loons, but no other wildlife.


It really is very pretty.


We went to 3 lakes, and of course back to the truck.  Took us around 2.5 hours.


Then we had lunch next to a lake, and then hung out at the hip coffee shop for hours.


Side note – I hope all my clothes wearing paid off in a round about way – Rob found a tick on his foot.  I don’t see anything, but he said his was the size of a pinhead and black –   it looked like a freckle.


Re music tonite, yesterday I saw a poster with 2 guys who are supposed to be playing music outside 6.30 – 8.30 pm.  It was really one guy [but the poster shows him twice – 2 different photos].  He is playing in a 3 sided [with roof] log cabin.  They have comfy chairs and Adirondack chairs for people to sit and listen.  Right next door is …a homemade ice cream shop.  Sheesh.  So, I got some ice cream and listened to music.


It’s that semi-karaoke thing again.  He is a one man band [an ex mayor]…with recorded music of other instruments and backing/harmony vocals.


He’s probably around 60 and playing Golden Oldies.

There is myself, a woman who is probably his wife, and a hippie couple in their late 50’s.


He keeps asking for requests, and the hippie couple are mentioning artists.  After a while, he looks at me and asks me for a request.  I say “Neil Young”.  He says the only song of his that he knows is “Cinnamon Girl”, but that song is too rock and roll and it’s too much for others in the audience.


The hippie woman, who has dyed a patch of her gray hair purple, tells him: “We are children of the 60’s…PLAY IT!”


He does.  They then request Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”.  He plays it.


Then he plays something else NOT Golden Oldies.  That fast [snap of my fingers], we completely changed his act.


Then I went to The Boathouse to listen to a band.  They were a bunch of 25 year olds, and a bunch of 25 yo dancing.  Between that band and the next, I realized that the hip “dance”, at least in MN, is “running in place” –  kinda bend forward, run in place while swinging your arm wildly from side to side.  Just about everyone, including the guys on stage were doing this.


Tomorrow, I’m going to hike to another waterfall, then am off in the direction of Fort Frances, Ontario, where I will most likely spend the nite.  Then head west in the direction of Winnipeg.


Once I hit Canada, I won’t have my computer aire card for internet and will need to find wi-fi.  When I was in Canada before, I could get Canadian service on a monthly basis, but AT&T changed that up, and now I have to sign a 12 month contract.


I did sign up for the “discount” on using my cell phone – 60 cents a minute, vs 80 cents.  This I could get on a monthly basis.

Leave a Comment

Duluth and Ely, MN – Day 1

July 18, 2008


This little motel has wi-fi!


I’m exhausted, so I will make this short.


I cycled down to see the freighter go by, but it wasn’t on the monitor.  Unsure if it went by already or what.  Which is a shame, cuz I really did want to see how big it was and see the coal piled up…or is the coal enclosed [so that it doesn’t blow away into the Lake]?


I drove by Dylan’s house before I left.  I had read that it went up for auction a few years ago and someone paid a little under $100k for it.  It is a duplex [up and down].  I drove by and it’s in a part of town where the neighbors are working on their cars on their front lawns.


I drove back thru town, thinking I’ll see Duluth with new eyes, but it seemed even worse than I thought yesterday.  Best to stick close to the beautiful water’s edge.

I’m in Ely. Theresa and Rob own and run the place.  Long story short, Rob is going to take me out canoeing tomorrow morning.  He said: we can leave mid morning – around 8 or 9 am, OR we can leave at the crack of dawn.  Ahhh, 8 or 9 am IS the crack of dawn for me.


He has something planned out for us.  I told him that I have no idea what I’ll think…I may have had my fill after 30 minutes.  He seemed ok with this.  He thinks that 3 or 4 hours are just going to fly by.


I also told him that I’m OK with “being the babe in the front of the boat” and he can do all the paddling and steering.  He seemed OK with this too.  I told him I was serious.  Unsure if he realized that or not.


About 3 blocks away is Miners Lake.  I cycled around that.  Really pretty.  Lots of people walking their dogs, fishing, just sitting on a lawn chair watching the water, or getting their canoe/kayak in the water.


After that I hiked up to Kawishiwi Falls.  You could hear the roar of the water way before you could see it.  I had to google how to spell it, and saw that there is a youtube video of it.


Hiking my way to the Falls I came upon an older couple who had these head nets on [that covered their entire head].  I told them that that is what I need.  They told me where to buy them.  I’m getting one tomorrow.  Unfortunately it will be after we go canoeing.


Theresa told me that the Boy Scout troop that is here left the waters a day early – due to mosquitoes!!  I told her about the black flies, mosquitoes et al that were getting in my ears and orbiting my head the other day…and she said I hate it when they do that…it drives me INSANE.  Ha…that is the exact same word I used!

There is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial/Wall from DC that apparently is traveling the states.  It is here right now.  Lots of people taking photos of a name, or scratching the name on a piece of paper.

Leave a Comment

Bayfield, the Apostle Islands and Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth and Ely, MN

July 16, 2008


My plan for the next few days:

Today – finish driving along Lake Superior, lunch in the town of Superior, drive to Duluth

Thursday – leave Duluth and drive to Ely, MN which is in the Boundary Waters area

Friday – canoe and stay in Ely

Depending upon how much I like the area, I will stay longer, or head northwest to Canada.  I suspect I’ll be heading north on Saturday.

My main concerns re canoeing the lakes are:

Most importantly, I know I’m going to get lost.  I know this with 100% certainty.  The outfitters set you up with a canoe, gear, and a map.  And off you go. 


Yesterday I went kayaking.  I took the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island, which is one of the Apostle Islands.  I met up with Ed, who is an ex philosophy professor who moved to the island 5 years ago and started up a kayak business.  He looks very much like Ken Lay, but sexier.  I was going to kayak around the part of the island where his shop is, but he wanted to swim at Big Bay State Park – another part of the island. He said the water temp was 45’ degrees.  I believed him…it was ice water.  He wore a wet suit.  It was REALLY beautiful.  But, after a short while, I turned around to see what I have done and realized that I wouldn’t have been able to find my way back except I could see a foot bridge that we had to cross over.  If that wasn’t there, I’d be somewhat panicked.  [There were all these “fingers” – don’t know the right word – feeding into the lake, and I couldn’t easily tell which one I came from.]

In Ely, there doesn’t seem to be group “day trips”.  Ely has 22 outfitters, so I will figure this out when I get in on Thursday.  Even if I do find a day trip:

I’m thinking that a little canoeing will go a long way.  I know that I little kayaking went a long way with me.  Do I really want to be on the water for 4 or 8 hours?

And then…the bug factor.  If the black flies et al are out, do I want to be tortured for 4 or 8 hours?

So, will play all this by ear.


I do want to relay a couple Sexy Ken Lay stories.

As we were driving to and from the state park, he would raise his hand off the steering wheel to wave at certain cars. When we were close to coming back to his shop, he said that the other drivers think that he is waving at them, but he is really signaling to them to slow down.  I told him that he is the only person alive who knows that the International Hand Signal To Slow Down is to raise your index finger off the steering wheel and just lift it up.

Also, when we were driving to the state park, we drove past this man on a bike, that had one of those tagalongs with a girl riding behind him.  She was singing.

We stop at the park and unload, and up rides the man and girl, and she is still singing all by herself.  Simple joy.  How nice.

After I was done kayaking, where I brought the kayak to shore, she is there in just her underwear [she’s 7] and playing in the water.  The water is ice water, seriously.  But she is just playing away. 

She tells Sexy Ken that her name is Annika.  But he thinks she’s saying Chanukah. And he starts cracking jokes, which she of course doesn’t “get”.  She’s with her uncle, and he says it’s Annika [he’s not bothered by the jokes].  She has never kayaked before, so Sexy Ken puts her into the way too big kayak, with the way too big paddle, and gives her a lesson.  Within a few minutes, this kid is doing better than me.  Nothing like being shown [showed?] up by a naked 7 year old!

Leave a Comment