Chippewa National Forest and Cass Lake Minnesota

It was a driving day and I again stuck to my boycott of inter-states. I planned on taking old Highway 2 across Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota and when possible veer off on those little dotted lines on the map indicating a scenic route. It was a somewhat dreary cloudy day but did not get much in the line of rain. My first goal was to drive the Apostle Island National Lakeshore Road, route 13, which appeared to be rimming Lake Superior in Northern Wisconsin. It was dull gray and windy and though the route was nice, I personally did not find it worthy of those dotted lines on the map. I had anticipated many grand vistas of Lake Superior. For the majority of the route there was a thick stand of trees between the road and lake so there were very few dull gray vistas of the lake. I opted for a picnic lunch at the one rest area on the lake shore drive which turned out to be an expensive mistake to say the least. First a chilly and somewhat windy dog walk and a photo opportunity from the bluff. Significant erosion had cut into the bank and the reddish earth in the area had tinged the Lake Superior water a muddied reddish brown instead of the deep blue crystal clear water I imagined. It append erie. With the fussing around of taking food to the picnic table, corralling dogs, putting leashes on and off, checking phones, taking pics with cameras, putting thing in and taking things out of the car, I couldn’t seem to find where I put my camera after our lunch of cheese, crackers, salami and carrots. Yes I did share with the dogs as the looked so imploringly pathetic. I looked around a bit for it in both the area and the car but as i couldn’t see it I figured it had fallen down into or under one of the ten thousand items I have stuffed in every spare inch of the interior of the car. I figured it would show up when I set up camp and I was eager to get back on the road.

My next goal was to head into Duluth MN. When crossing St. Louis Bay I entered Minnesota, for the first time in my life, and the view of the city was quite stunning. I wanted to see the home where my Grandfather and grandmother Carroll live for many years. Siri lead me there with no hitches and though in an older section of town with homes at various stages of upkeep it was well maintained and definitely refurbished. Though my father wasn’t born there, several of his 11 siblings were. Right around the corner was St. James Catholic Church, which I imagine was the parish of this large Catholic family. The building appeared to have been built many many years ago and they lived there in the late 1800’s. No one was home but it would have been nice to meet the current residents. Siri found me a Petsmart so I could replace Simba’s car harness. Loosing it was a careless $29.00 mistake. Now I could get on the road to the Chippewa National Forest and my camping destination for the night.

As the miles ticked off, my driving foot kept getting heavier and heavier. I couldn’t seem to find all that patience I had talked myself into a couple of days previous. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the land. Very mildly rolling farmland and small towns, straight road and low traffic made it ever so much easier to inch up up up over the speed limit of sixty. I for years was meticulous about not speeding but somehow on my journey west last summer i found that inner speed demon and she has yet to go back to rest. As journey’s end neared the countryside turned to forest and lakes and many national forest campground and other resorts. Norway Beach Recreation Area and Campground is a lovely pine forested area and well maintained campground. There was even electricity for no extra charge!!! SO I felt no need for my coffee pot and could sip my Starbuck’s via with pleasure in the morning. Arrival was ay 4:30 and setting up camp was so much more efficient. BUT there was NO $300.00 + camera to be found in the car! I was pretty bummed but thankfully had downloaded my picture from the card the day before. Cass Lake was quite angry the whole time I were there. The wind had wiped up the waves and with the heavy gray clouds it appeared quite menacing. But a bracing walk in the wind through the area was welcomed after so much riding.

I awoke the next morning to another menacing sky. I pleaded for the rain to hold off until I at least had my coffee. I love my tent home, though it is a bit large to be using in cold weather because believe it or not neither the dog or I are full enough of hot air to keep it warm inside. But I can put my chair inside and sit in there and read etc. if the bugs get too annoying.

With the drizzle beginning, I all of a sudden had a not very brilliant idea inspired by my little internal and at times very alive and running the show Prissy (childhood nickname). This childhood part of me definitely does not think things through. Prissy always believed in St. Anthony’s intercession in helping one find lost items and she thought St. Anthony gave her the brilliant idea of going back to the rest area to search for the camera. As it was raining, my adult self agreed as I figured it was about 40 miles back!!! So off we went retracing our journey. When I arrived at the rest area I realized that this was NOT the one I had lunch at. So I looked at the map and figured it must have been the one before this one. As it was still pouring, back down the road I went to continue on my mission to find that camera. Well you might guess that this next one also was NOT it either. At this point Bernadette called and, in relating my tale to her, it was revealed that I had been taking pictures of Lake Superior on the Apostle Island Drive when I told her I was going to have lunch… yet another hundred miles back!!!! At least my adult rational self took over and I headed back to camp wanting to disparage myself for such a bonehead boondoggle. But I just had to chalk it up to my life-long habit of just jumping in the deep end at times and about 95% of the time things work out just fine. This was part of the other 5%. Back at camp the drizzle had stopped. I went into the tent to retrieve something and noticed a three inch round hole in the side of the tent. I know all about not leaving any food items in campground and tent so I thought I had stored it all in the car. But much to my chagrin, I found a bag of dog treats left in that corner. I saw a squirrel hanging out near the campsite, whom I am sure was the culprit! So we are now on day three of yet another blunder! BUT silver tape to the rescue!!! I had thought to bring a roll and it did a nice repair job. At the rate I am going perhaps the whole tent will end up being silver taped together!! That fixed and making sure there was NO food in tent, Kil, Simba and I took a chilly 5 mile walk through the woods on a well maintained bicycle trail. It was bracingly windy with an occasional spattering of rain but overall a superb walk in the woods. The rest of the day and night were uneventful and I thoroughly enjoyed a campfire. We will be off to the Dakotas in the morning.

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