On top of that it was 5:30 in the morning and I already had two cups of Trader Joe's Chocolate Mint coffee in me. So, if I couldn't write or sleep the only thing left to do was read my book of short stories by Russian author Anton Chekov. And I was pissed about it.
Our accommodations were on the bottom floor of the house in a combo guest room/movie theatre. With Donna still sleeping I sat down in the adjoining room, which had a pool table and tasteful Bob Ross landscape paintings on the walls. It took some time to become comfortable with the rhythms of Chekov's 19th century phrasing and the how to break the names of his Russian characters into syllables. But you could turn the stories over quickly since they were mostly three or four pages long. After getting through a few of them, still sort of pissed I couldn’t write dawn was breaking. Rather than sit there I went outside and got one of our deluxe lawn chairs from the van and went down to the eight-acre lake that was like fifty yards from the front of the house. The lake was named after Joy and Andy’s two daughters. It was called Lake Julie-Anna.
From the moment I sat down and cast my gaze across the small lake I was consumed a sense of well-being. As mentioned in a previous post, though things had gone pretty much to plan since we hit the road it was all still new and still a grind. It was so calming to look out at the water. I just sat there not processing, not planning, not thinking—not doing. I took in the morning sounds of the birds and bugs and felt the light breeze as it swayed though the grass and on the surface of the water. Without sounding like some overly fucking optimistic social media meme I felt a restorative sense of equilibrium come over my entire being. Donna came out after a little while and we talked quietly. It was so nice.
But the day was upon us and Andy had a big plans along Highway 61—yes that Highway 61 on the north of shore of Lake Superior. The rocky north shore, as Andy informed us, was the result of lava flows from millions of years ago. The south shore which we went past the previous day through the upper peninsula of Michigan, Wisconsin and then Minnesota was sandy.
Our first stop of the day was the Enger Park Tower. The tower was surrounded by very chill park with picnic tables and a Japanese bell that you could ring—the result of exchange with a sister city in Japan. The views from the top of the tower were spectacular. Duluth and Lake Superior spread out in picture post card fashion, especially the old grain elevators. The breakfast burritos at food truck could have been better, but they weren’t terrible, and the service was good.
Next we went to Stoney Point where Andy regaled us with stories of his younger days and engaging in substance with friends at this cool rocky place on the water. As we drove along, we told Donna stories about the Westerberg board. It was interesting to get Joy and Andy’s interpretation of events and the people. My reading of these things was pretty different from theirs.
Before heading to the fascinating Split Rock Lighthouse, we stopped at the family-owned Great Lakes Candy Kitchen where Donna bought some delicious caramels.
The famous Split Rock lighthouse was born out of necessity after twenty-nine ships were either lost or damaged during the Mataafa Storms of 1905. So remote was the area in the early 1900’s materials either were brought in by donkeys or shipped in by water. The shipped in materials lifted to the top of the sheer cliff by cranes. The lighthouse was operational for sixty years and now is a national historic site and the subject of a billion calendars and stamps. The views of the expansive lake from the lighthouse were really impressive. It was hard to imagine, given this endless water before my eyes, that there could ever be a shortage of this resource.
|Split Rock Lighthouse|
From there we headed to the Palisade Head and walked on more lava formed rocks. There were plenty more outstanding views of the never-ending lake from sheer cliffs. Donna has a fear of heights and didn’t have the right footwear—sandals—and was very careful as she walked along.
Our final stop before getting dinner was at the Temperance River which comes out of the Brule Lake and flows into Lake Superior. There’s an uphill hiking trail along the river with many fast moving and amazing water falls that cuts through the million-year-old stone. Again, because of footwear and heights, Donna stayed behind. Joy waited with her and Donna told her our famous fire tower story.
When Donna and I were first dating I climbed to the top of a secluded fire tower in Allegany State Park. Being the magnanimous person I am, I did this to help her conquer her fear of heights. To this end I took off all my clothes threw them down to her and dared her to come up and have her way with me. Instead, she took my clothes and ran off into the woods. I had to run naked through the brush to get my clothes back. When I caught up with her she did have her way with me, but it didn't do anything to mediate her fear of heights.
Dinner was at a place called the Rustic Inn which had the best Lemon Marange pie I ever tasted. When we returned to Andy and Joy’s house in Saginaw it was dark. We had a couple of drinks, talked and laughed some more.
It was a great day.
How we got here...
An Ode to Fire and Donna
Posts From The Road In Order
Going Mobile: What We Learned
Our Rig: A Pictorial Essay