Saturday, November 14, 2020

Grand Marais and the North Shore and other Odds and Ends from the Beginning of October


At the beginning of October we drove the RV up to the North Shore of Lake Superior for a few days of camping, hiking and hanging out. This was before the virus spiked like it has been doing for the past couple of weeks. We were in Cook County, Minnesota, which is very rural and sparsely populated. At the time when we were there they had only had 7 cases of Covid since the start of the pandemic. Here is my report on our trip.

October 1st:

We drove up to the North Shore today. We are staying in an RV Park in Grand Marias. It’s beautiful up here, and COLD! We are right on Lake Superior. I will have more to tell about this in the coming days.

Last week I suddenly cam down with a case of shin splints. I have never had a real running injury. I have had injuries but they’ve been from falling, either while on my bike or while running. So this is new.

I actually don’t know what caused it. Maybe ramping up my mileage too quickly after the virtual marathon in July. But one day while gardening I noticed it was sore and the next day it hurt while walking the dogs. I went for a run and it got worse as I ran so that wasn’t good. I’ve reasearched stretches and I’ve started doing them religiously and that’s helping. It’s been a week and short walks don’t hurt anymore but longer ones still do. It’s hard to be patient but part of me is a bit relieved. I’ve been pretty burnt out on running and now when I start back up I plan to take it very slow and easy.

I took Leo back to the arboretum on Tuesday. We went on a little hike and he had a great time, looking at leaves and rocks and flowers and pretending to read the nature signs. 

My bladder training seems to be working. I’m slowly extending the time between going to the toilet. Last week I aimed for one hour and 35 minutes. This week my goal is one hour and 40 minutes. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s really hard, but staying calm and going to the toilet slowly and without hurrying really helps. No accidents!

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday Trump attended a fundraiser in Shorewood and his motorcade went right down Eureka. Any other president and I would have been excited and out there but I won’t give that man the satisfaction of any sort of attention so I stayed away.

I did make a few signs however. One Biden/Harris 2020 with “Will you just shut up man?!!!” Across the bottom. One ByeDon 2020. One 200,000+ Dead, and Counting. One $750? What did YOU Pay in Taxes Last Year? 

Eureka was periodically blocked off. We put the truck on Mann so we could get out if we needed to. We had Leo and the road was blocked off first right around 4 pm. At first Lee and Leo (with a yogurt popsicle for his afternoon snack) went outside to watch the cars go by, but Leo got cold and bored waiting so he was off playing when they went by. I walked the dogs instead.

When the road opened up I took Leo home. I had a pretty tight window to get him home and then get back to our house before the road closed again when Trump left. I made it, barely.

Now today (10/2) he’s tested positive for the virus (Trump I mean). Can’t help thinking of all the people he has probably infected by his irresponsible behavior. Including all those rich SOB’s at that fundraiser. Hmph. 

October 2

Today we explored Grand Marias, within the limits of the coronavirus. In the morning we walked to the lighthouse with the dogs. Fun, and cold. On the way back we stopped at the Food Coop and the hardware store, because that’s what we do. Almost everyone was wearing masks, even outside, especially downtown, anywhere it was hard to stay socially distant. Maybe compliance is easier when it’s cold!

Went back to the RV for lunch; Lee made meatball subs. In the afternoon we took a drive, up the Gunflint Trail to Pincushion Mountain and took in the view. Lots of trails to hike up there. Then down through some back roads and over to look at Five Mile Rock, a big rock sticking up in the lake. Then back to Grand Marias. Parked the truck, left the dogs and walked back into town for coffee. 

That’s it for today. Tomorrow we’ll pick a state park and go exploring. We have wood to make a fire, but it’s pretty cold.....I don’t think I have enough clothes to ride a bike up here either.

October 3

In the morning we hike up Sweetheart’s Bluff, a short hike right by the campground with nice views and a lot rocks to scramble up. The dogs love it, although I do have to carry Heather up one steep cliff. We get to the top and the views are great, but we can’t figure out where the path back down is so we end up back tracking. I might go back sometime and try again. It’s got to be there somewhere!

In the afternoon we drive about 8 miles north of Grand Marias and do a short hike along a riverbed to a falls. Pretty! Once again the dogs are gung-ho, but by the end they are tired, and so are we. We leave them in the RV and walk into town for coffee. This time I get one of the World Famous Donuts too, cinnamon sugar. The town is buzzing cause it’s Saturday, but 99% of the people are wearing masks, both inside and out. It’s great. I feel so much better when people comply.

We have to wait for the donuts, and then again for the coffee, so Lee leaves me in line and runs to the Food Coop for some supplies, and a steak for dinner.

After all this walking my shin is a little sore. Not bad though.

October 4

Bright and sunny today, and a little warmer. Upper 40’s anyway, but windy.

In the morning we drive to Magney State Park and hike to Devil’s Kettle, a double waterfall where one side disappears into a hole. It took them years to figure out where the water that went into the hole came out. Turns out it rejoins the main stream farther down.

It’s not far, less than a mile, but steep and rocky and lots and lots of steps. Actually compared to Hong Kong no big deal, but still. The Westie’s scamper up, even Heather. I’m very proud of her with her short little legs. We look at Devil's Kettle and then hike back down and stop at another waterfall, called the Upper Falls, even though it’s below Devil's Kettle. 

My shin feels fine today, just a teeny bit sore.

In the late afternoon we light a fire. It’s chilly but nice. I wrap myself in a Westie Blanket and put Harper in my lap. When the sun starts to go down it gets colder and we go inside.

October 5

We decided to be lazy in the morning. After lunch we drive to Oberg Mountain near Lutsen and hike the loop, about two miles. Beautiful views, nice hike. 

Stopped for coffee in Lutsen on the way back. Reading the signs at the coffee shop and realized this area was devastated when Covid hit this spring. It runs on tourism and when they were shut down there was no work for anyone. They started a special brand of coffee called SISU to help people that were impacted by the shutdown. Things are open now but still. I think they’re worried about the winter. How are people going to sit on chairlifts and stay socially distant when they go skiing? One person or family at a time? I guess.

It’s warm this afternoon, we actually have the screen door of the RV open. Later we’ll do another fire.

October 6

We did a fire again last night. It was very nice. It wasn’t as cold and it was windy so it burned like fury without a lot of trouble. We had wood left over so we brought it home to use in the fire pit.

We drove back and we were pretty tired by the time we got the RV unloaded, but we did make time to go get my car at the repair shop. We had a lot of fun, but it’s good to be home.


I'm glad we were able to take this little trip before the virus slammed us all again. Who knows how long this current surge will last, and when it will feel safe to go out and about again.

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