To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who needs toys...

...when you have rocks, water, logs, imagination and a sense of adventure?
Apparently, not us.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Spray Falls

I have found over the years of camping in a group that things take time. Getting everyone going in one direction takes time and getting where you're going takes time. This day was no exception and we got a bit of a late start on our hike. Then, after the confusion of the missing spouse and child (neither of whom was really missing), having my oldest son and B turn back, much discussion and waiting around, and then stopping at the cove for exploration, it was now rather late in the afternoon. D-I-L turned back with the grandbabes after exploring the cove and that left only 4 of us to continue on - Taiwan son, youngest son, Julie and I. Youngest son said he started this hike to see the falls and he wasn't turning back til he saw them. Well then, none of us were turning back either.
The remaining 1.5 miles turned out to be the most challenging. We traipsed up the hills and down the valleys, scrambled over boulders and tree roots, pushed aside branches to get through the trees and scaled steps that literally had to be climbed, not just stepped up. Whew!
But always the view was right beside us, a glimpse through the trees or over the side of the trail! And the view repeatedly beckoned us off the trail to see what more there was. My goodness!
This was an outcropping of limestone that still had sand on the top. As you can see the tree hung precariously by it's roots, but it was still hanging on. If we fell off, it was going to hurt, but of course we had to walk out and get a better view. Right?
Y.M.C.A. shadows seemed appropriate.
We came from this direction. Can you see that it might have been a challenging hike along the top of the cliffs?
Ah yes, the adventurers!
Hey, they're getting married next year. How about this place?
Just a bit of a drop...and a few rocks down below.
She's not really fond of heights, but she's brave and there are such stunning vistas from along the shore line that she's compelled to go exploring too. I guess the view overrides the fear?
See? Like this one above. Fortunately, we weren't standing on this one.

Onward! The trail really was difficult and we began to wonder if we had missed the falls, even asking a return hiker how much further we had to go. "15 minutes," said he. And then we saw a sign for the falls...and there they were. Success!
Spray Falls. One more reason to add to my ever growing list of reasons why I love this area. The return trip? Oh, we hustled. No one wanted to be stuck in the woods in the dark with no head lamps. Plus, we were out of food and water. I think it was much more difficult on the return trip because we were tired. I laugh because just before we got back to the vehicles we had to climb up tree roots to get back on the trail up above us and I think all of us said, "are you kidding me!?!" Still, I would do this hike again just for the privilege of seeing that cove again. What a hike, what a view, what a day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beaver Lake Basin Trail

1.5 miles to Lake Superior, hang a left, go another 1/2 mile on the North Country Trail and stop when your jaw drops. I've never been on this trail in all the years we've been coming here. Wow.

We didn't know what to expect or what we would find. Our mission was to find Spray Falls, which I'll tell you about next, but the whole family started out on this hike. Through a bit of confusion having to do with oldest son underestimating the speed and stamina of his daughter, we lost my son when he turned back to find his wife and daughter whom he assumed took the wrong trail. lol...they did not. Miss M simply put the pedal to the metal and beat everyone else out to Lake Superior. B turned back at the lake to go find my son and we proceeded without the two of them. Too bad because what we eventually found was breathtakingly beautiful.
Hiking, rock climbing, cave exploring...same thing right? My family thinks so.
Sometimes the view is better from the top too.
We're curious folks. We must see and touch. I'm sure we're not alone in those traits. I think those two are figuring out how to scale the face.
Miss M just before she sprinted to the lake.
"Hey! What are you two doing up there? What are you looking at?" And they point to...
this. Holy mackeral! Where did this come from? It's a hidden cove and the waves were coming in from crazy directions, swishing back and forth as if in a bathtub. It looked dangerous. Like, if you tried to swim in here you might get your head bashed on the rocks and your face scraped off too. But the beauty, yes, the jaws dropped.
Taiwan son is the only one who braved the water in the cove and even he didn't go out very far. Remember me saying that we respect this lake, but we still play in her waves, and that sometimes she wins and gives us a good soaking? hehe...Taiwan son was carefully picking his way along the rock edge to inspect that cave when a rogue wave came in and washed completely over him with verrry cold water. I could see him cringe from up on the cliffs. Score another round for Lake Superior. I swear I heard her laughing at her mischief.

Next up...Spray Falls.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Beauty of Nature

Mostly pictures today.

Oldest son and d-i-l.

We're drawn to the fierceness of this lake, but we do not underestimate her power. She's been a good lake to us and though we don't take her for granted, we do wander to the shore to experience her moods, whatever they may be. When she's in a tempest, we give her space. When she's calm, we run to her and in to her. And when she's in between, we playfully dodge her waves. Sometimes we win, sometimes she wins and gives us a good soaking.

More to come...

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Log Slide

Taiwan son missed out on this hike last year, and after hearing our rave reviews of how spectacular the view is and how no one dared to risk the descent and subsequent climb back up, he insisted we go back to the Log Slide, but this time he was going down to the water and climbing back up. Try as he might, none of us would agree to run down the dune. There are warning signs stating the dune is 500 feet high and there is a 20 foot drop off at the bottom. of the sign states that it takes only 2 minutes to run down, but can take an hour, or more, to climb back up and if you have any medical conditions....don't do it! I'm not going down there. Well, I would, but I wouldn't climb back up. I would walk the 10 miles up the beach to camp. But not Taiwan son, oh no, he insisted he was climbing the dune and challenged every male in the group to join him. In the end, it was the two youngest boys who braved the climb with their uncle. We told them they were on their own, if they went down they had to climb back up, that if they got stuck, none of us were coming down to help. Understand? Got it! Good, we'll wait for you at the top.
The view really is beautiful from up here. There was a heckuva wind blowing off the lake and it was whipping sand up the dune into our eyes and stinging our skin. Rough day up here. But the gauntlet had been dropped and we were here to witness the agony of the climb.
Scoping out the climb. Yep, that's a long way down. Taiwan son is still unfazed. Oldest son isn't having any part in this lunacy and he says as much...repeatedly. Sir K, however, has agreed to the descent and return climb with his uncle...and now Sir S has agreed as well. The warning is repeated regarding the difficulty of the climb and once more they are emphatically told, "we're not coming to help!" No problem, they're sure they can handle it. The rest of us have settled in to the dunes to watch.
And they're off, leaping and bounding down the sand as they laugh and shout to each other. Sir S on the left, Uncle in the middle and Sir K on the right. It takes them less than a minute to get to the bottom, including the drop off.
Taiwan son is in the water attempting to rinse sand from his hair and eyes, the boys are simply dots on the beach. And then the climb back up commences. Good luck boys. Sir S gives out within 2 minutes and Taiwan son loads him onto his back like a monkey. This should be interesting. It's difficult enough without the extra load. I head for a viewing platform to try to get pictures of their climb, but I find I can't get a view of them at all.
I did get this killer shot of the shoreline. By the time I got back to the log slide, all three are back at the top. What? How long was the climb? Ha, it took them just over 11 minutes to climb back up, and that was with a monkey on the back for half the climb. So much for the warning signs. Still, I'm not going down there. I would prefer to see the view from the top.

Okay, okay, they get bragging rights. Congrats guys!

You know how there are signs in parks always telling you not to feed the animals? Well, how can you not feed something this adorable and cute. They know they're cute too and they use that to get you to toss them just a crumb...then a piece...then they get your lunch. We're suckers for the chipmunks and these were our after hike/during lunch entertainment.
"Please," he says, "just a little piece, like this."
With feigned surprise he says, "for me? This is for me?" Begger! Scammer.
"Yeah, I'm just gonna push it over here a little...just a little closer to this log." And then his friends came out to eat as well. They have a whole system worked out. I know they do.

More to come...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Little Exploring

Does this look like a comfortable way to read a book? Taiwan son seems to think so. Even with all the exploring we do up here, somehow a great deal of reading and knitting gets accomplished as well. It's always done in spurts, perhaps you get up before everyone else, or it's raining (not so much) or you're waiting for someone to get ready for an adventure. There is plenty of down time where you can do just exactly as you please and we're often pleased to read or knit, or carve a stick. I believe Julie taught Taiwan son how to knit on this journey and the Littles carved up a whole pile of sticks.
B and I wanted to ride our bikes down to the pier and the lighthouse in the morning and we asked the lLttles to join us, but not until we gave them strict instructions about riding bicycles in the street and how careful we wanted them to be. It's not a busy town at all, but it still requires a ride in the street and I didn't want them getting hurt when they were with me. Right...should have given myself the same little talk because in the end I somehow got Sir S's peg tangled in my front tire and we tumbled over each other and landed in a heap on the street. He was fine, but I was bloodied. ~grins~ I broke a couple of spokes and bent my tire, but thankfully, I could still ride the bike. Good grief!
What a bunch of hams! Don't you just love exploring with kids? They were all over the pier like a bunch of ants, exploring this way and that, climbing over boulders, looking for their uncle's names carved into the lighthouse, peaking down holes and balancing on the narrow walkways. I let them explore as they pleased as long as they stayed away from the edges. Not sure how much fun it would be to fish someone out of the channel.

The local historical society has a hands-on museum you can visit and it's filled with memorabilia from the area. Miss M played the piano and Sir K talked on a crank phone while Sir S wandered about the rooms, asking questions about this and that. Once they found out that nothing was off limits to them they really got to exploring and dress up is always fun, no matter how old you are.

These are the stairs we used to get down the dune and to the beach. I asked Sir S if he wanted to go to the himself. "Really," he asked? And then he was off, down the steps and across the sand to the water. Not to worry, I kept an eye on him from up top.
He won't go in the water without someone on the beach with him or he loses the privilege of being on the shore by himself. He will, however, spend hours picking up rocks and throwing them back in the water. I get that...I do the same thing myself.
Sometimes, though, we can't stay on the beach because the sand flies find us and chew on our ankles for lunch. At those times we retreat deep into the woods and find paths to hike instead. This day was one of those days. We went looking for a lake we wanted to paddle, and we found the Beaver Lake Basin Overlook.
It was a good place for an impromptu camp fire for cooking lunch...
and the view was spectacular! We were on top of the world...and loving it. And we found an amazing trail for later that we need to hike.

More to come...