In 2003, I was fortunate to be selected for an internship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs. The internship was a requirement for one of my graduate degrees, but it ended up being so much more than a prerequisite, it permanently altered the trajectory of my professional life post graduation. I had learned from my time in the Navy not to take for granted the opportunity to explore a place that I would only call home for a short period, so I made a conscious effort to fill all my off-time with activities specific to the area. There were a handful of other interns intent on doing the same, and that’s how Missy and I became friends.
When she saw my Facebook post earlier this year with the general outline of my summer moto trip, she sent me a message asking where exactly in Minnesota I was planning to go. When I said I was interested in going to Isle Royale National Park, she sent a message back saying that she was a kayak guide in Isle Royale for a few years.
Well hell, wouldn’t it be cool if we could meet up?
OK, let’s do it!
And just like that, I canceled the plans I had made for that area, and turned all North Shore Minnesota planning over to Missy.
As we were communicating back and forth about camping up there, I asked her how cold it would be at night. She replied that it would be like the time during our internship when we camped in Aspen, CO in July and I got up in the middle of the night and put on every piece of clothing in my backpack, and then still made a fire. Yes, I’m a big baby in the cold
We met up in Grand Marais, where we camped for three nights at Grand Marais RV Park and Campground, right on Lake Superior. The campsites were super close to each other, but the only thing separating my site from the beach were a few bushes. It was so quiet in the campground at night that I went to sleep to the sound of the waves lapping onto the rocky beach…while wearing two pair of long pajama pants, 3 shirts, fuzzy socks, gloves, and a hat while snuggled in my sleeping bag under my woobie (Army poncho liner for the uninitiated!)! The temps were upper 40s-lower 50s each night. But the sights, and hanging out with Missy, were oh so worth it! It rained on and off for the three days, but the rain always seemed to stop when we needed it to, so it didn’t interfere with our sightseeing at all.
When I had toured the Water Street Houses in Sault St. Marie, the docent at the Baraga House had told me about the Baraga Cross on the MN North Shore when I mentioned to him that I would be visiting the area. I had pretty much forgotten where exactly he told me it was, so I was surprised when I saw the sign on the side of MN-61 for it, and then again when Missy had it on her list of sites to show me. Known as the “Snowshoe Priest,” Father (and later Bishop) Baraga was born in present-day Slovenia, and traveled to the Lake Superior area to minister to the Native Americans around the 1830s. A minimalist, he traveled primarily via snowshoes and canoes, choosing to live as the Natives did, and even spoke eight different Native languages.
The rain started to pick up as we made our way north, back towards Grand Marais. We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting shops around town and then heading to a state park community building for a little wifi access so I could blog while Missy did a little schoolwork. We wanted to be caught up for our next adventure… Isle Royale National Park!