Monday, June 15, 2015


     Communication's a big part of trip planning.  Like to say I'm good at it but I'm not.  Seems like every boonies trip I plan arrives with its own screw ups, usually mine.  This is my second trip with my nephew Brian.  You'd think on the second go around we'd have it figured out.  Could be he did.  First off, none of our problems were earth shaking.  Brought too much food once again, way too much fishing tackle and half as many sleeping bags as we needed.  Mea culpa.
     Not sure whose fault the bag shortage was but I suspect it was mine.  He said, "pack an extra sleeping bag."  I heard, "pack an extra sleeping pad."  So I packed two Therma-rest self-inflaters.  No problem.  I'd remembered his pad as being close to five pounds heavier than mine, so it kinda came as a surprise on Monday morning when Brian brought along his two and a half pound pad.  A perceptive man would have said something besides, "geez, your pad is much lighter than I remembered."  Also would have figured if we had one too many things for sleeping, we were probably short something else.  Not me, I simply pulled the Therma-rest from the pack and stuffed in Brian's.
     Over the previous week I'd done a serious amount of food shopping.  No way we'd starve if we were weather bound for an extra day.  Or two.  Or three.  Brian knows food so I asked him to pick up a few things he liked to snack on.  And he did.  And it was all good.  And gave us a couple of extra days of munchables.  Good wine, cheese, gorp, dessert snacks, dried apples, cranberries and blueberries.  In addition to what I packed, we might have had an edible forty-five pounds.  Enough for five campers with healthy appetites.  Yeah, we ate well.  In addition to Brian's extras we had steaks, pork chops, apples, New French Bakery bread, iced tea, coffee, two meals of homemade spaghetti, carrots, tomatoes, candy and a variety of bars, two dozen eggs, turkey bacon, twenty potato patties, three sticks of butter, swiss cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, more gorp, and considered bringing along a live hog and goat but figured they might rile the canoe.  What the hell was I thinking of?  Throw in enough ice to keep the perishables fresh and we had one serious food load.
     Loading the gear on Monday morning was no problem.  Racking the canoe took a little more time.  Brian'd never loaded a boat atop his SUV before but had the racks, straps and stops.  Once we figured it out, the Wenonah was rock solid.  All-in-all our putzing took close to an hour.  The drive was a simple affair in good weather.  Couple of stops along the way for food and making water (Read that phrase in a book of age.  Sure sounds better than urinating or pissing).  Had a room reserved for the night so our only consideration once we made Grand Marais was hitting the Ranger Station for our permit.  Of course they were closed.  Seems like they close earlier with each passing year.  I recall Allan and I squeaking in as the clock struck six back in the nineties.  These days it's four-thirty.  Ah well, tomorrow at eight it would be.
     Don't recall the exact moment when we realized Brian had no sleeping bag.  Do remember going slack-jawed.  Good thing we realized the oversight when we did.  Being the considerate man I am, I'd have felt terrible snuggling into my bag and would've tossed and turned for a minute or two before dropping off.  Mostly I feared Brian's shivering would have kept me awake.  Now eight o'clock at the Ranger Station would be followed by nine o'clock at an outfitter, or maybe the world's best stocked Ben Franklin.  Yup, the B. F. in Grand Marais carries a wide range of quality camping gear.  Truth is I felt embarrassed, guilty and downright bad that Brian would have to shell out cash for something I had sitting at home.
     We ate at Sven and Ole's pizza in town.  Yup, that's the one on the bumper stickers and they do make pretty good pizza.  Their pies taste like they came right out of the sixties or maybe Lake Wobegon.  No twenty-first century organic, gluten free, with a smattering of some kinda rare Italian cheeses and herbs, individual-sized, diet-conscious, almond milk based, fur-fru meals for us.  Nope, their pizza's a slab that goes down good, sticks to your ribs and explodes out in the morning.  Leaves a camper with a full feeling in the evening and a flat-stomached, emptied pleasure as he/she paddles out in the morning.  They even have beer on tap.  I recall we might have had a couple.  Didn't meet either Sven or Ole.  Made me wonder if the names are made up.
     Back at the Thomsonite Beach Resort we found an envelope taped to the door.  Inside was a note and a key.  Seems the proprietors had gone out para-sailing on the big lake.  While riding the waves a gust of wind had carried one of them into an eagle's aerie where he was devoured by the younguns.  Those things happen in the Arrowhead more frequently than you'd imagine.  'Course, that it happened once is more than any sane person would imagine.  Anyhow, it turned out an eagle feather was imbedded in the man's remains and the cadaver was arrested.  Yeah, the State of Minnesota takes its eagle feather laws seriously.  At the moment, the widow was trying to raise bail money so she could free her husband and give what was left of him, less the feather, a proper burial.
     In short, we saw neither of the owners while we were there.  Did talk to a guy standing beneath a spruce tree that drizzly evening.  He and Brian hit it off as they both knew the ins and outs of esoteric photography.  Don't recall exactly what or how he was shooting from his tripod with a high buck digital camera but it involved a whole bunch of pictures.  Maybe thousands for all I know.
     We slept well that night knowing the weather was going to improve.

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