Boundary Waters — a Start

For well more than a year, the guys in the hiking group had tossed around the idea of taking a trip together to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Since Phil had experience there and it was his idea to start with, he organized a plan and started taking names.

On August 19, we began arriving in Duluth. Those of us who were there early got to check out the equipment at Gander Mountain and the books at Barnes & Noble, relax and talk, and do some birding in the parking lot behind the Days Inn. When all eight guys were assembled, we went to supper at Grandma’s Saloon and Grill. Our adventure was underway. Late night conversation with the Olympics on TV finished the evening.

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Early the next morning we loaded into two vehicles and headed out along the north shore of Lake Superior. Our destination for the day would be Seagull Outfitters, near the end of the Gunflint Trail, but along the way we would stop several times to enjoy the territory, Minnesota being a new state for several in the group, myself included. We ate smoked fish from a roadside vendor and had a late lunch at Sven and Olle’s Pizza in Grand Marias.

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We arrived at the outfitter after 4:00 and began the orientation. After getting reasonably settled for the night in the bunkhouse, Don Germain, a long-time friend of Phil’s, came to talk to us about his vast experience of paddling, guiding, and outfitting in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. He shared lots of helpful insight into what we would soon be facing.

After a night of rough and restless sleep (for me, at least), we woke up, finished loading our personal gear into the large packs, had a quickstart breakfast, and gathered at the Chevy Suburban with the trailer of canoes behind it. We were fitted for PFDs and paddles, endured more of the orientation guy, and finally hit the road back down the Gunflint Trail to our put-in.

Beyond the dry facts of these few paragraphs are eight personal and constantly reshaping perspectives about the moments of the week as they rose and fell, like waves beneath the hull of a ready canoe. Next, I’ll attempt to express some that were my own.

[Additional pictures of this trip are posted on my Flickr site. You can see them by clicking here.]

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Published in: on August 31, 2008 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Saw Four Great Lakes Today

On my way home from canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Widerness (Minnesota) with friends, my flight from Duluth to Detroit showed me Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie. Some stories and photos from the week will appear here in the next few days.

Two shots of Superior from early in the trip:

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Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 9:28 pm  Comments (9)  

Saturday is Coming

August 23 is approaching. Here is a post that discusses its significance. Join me, if the interest is there. With a storm down in the gulf, the air feels right for writing.

You don’t have to show it to anyone, but say something you’ve never said before!

Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 7:04 am  Comments (1)  

Ever Seen a Kayak on a Buick?

Well, here you go. One of the big fun items on the recent family vacation was kayaking in Santa Rosa Sound. Getting there, we did fairly well with the carpooling thing: twenty of us arrived in five vehicles. Here’s the Rendezvous getting ready for the trip down.

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The boat is a Necky Elaho HV, which weighed a little less than the car. It does make a good-looking ensemble, though. And once in the water, it performed to the satisfaction of its operators.

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Published in: on August 14, 2008 at 9:45 am  Comments (2)  

One of the Good Things

It rained today. So I put on running clothes and pointed my Asics into the weather. The ground was saturated from more than an inch that had fallen in the night. Everything was so wet, and I wanted to be part of this kind of everything. Getting between gravity and cloud, I would intercept as many drops as I could. Where did this water originate? Where has each molecule been before splashing against my skin or dripping off the bill of my Haskett Realty hat? This was cold water, and it was a little shocking to feel the volume of chill at first. The wind made it cooler, still. I shivered, but kept running, feeling a little sorry for the people riding by in cars whose schedules made dryness preferable or necessary. But not much, because usually I am those people.

Eventually, 2.85 inches fell, a generous blessing in the midst of drought.

Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 3:45 pm  Comments (4)  

A Morning in Florida Last Week– from My Journal

I’m standing on the beach, looking onto the Gulf of Mexico from the shelf above surf reach. Breakfast will come later. Today’s primary amazement is out there in the clear green water. Countless tiny fish in thick schooling swarms pock the overhead view like shadows of clouds. They are too many and wonderful. Glass minnows, someone told me they were. Each group, some as big as a whale, moves slowly westward, like a dark furry amoeba.

For more than an hour, I’ve watched them, unmolested. Now some Brown Pelicans have begun to dip their faces full of them. (But that’s not how they feed. White Pelicans dip; Brown Pelicans plunge. Am I seeing a new behavior?) Black Skimmers and Black Terns cruise the plenty.

Being here in the presence of all this is why one vacates. These clouds and this wind pull at me, tugging at a primal gear within me like the gravity of a flywheel. On this beach of empty decision I look out into the doorway of storms and imagine I smell morning glories. It’s the time of year for it, but not here. Sequences and cycles overlap one another’s realities when the right breeze rustles one’s shirt.

I need to be here more than my life can allow. The edge of storms… The edge of migrations and other soul movements… Sand that scrapes away the dead layers, exfoliating… Moisture on the wind, hydrating. It doesn’t matter whether the gild is tarnished or the tarnish is gilded — scrape it away! Stand still in a moment when everything else is moving, and re-become. Air, clouds, birds, water, sand, words. Be there, until standing beside you is one who knows and loves your kinetic stillness without needing you to advise her why.

Elijah knew something about this, I think. Foam needs to form and settle, sometimes. Clouds need to gather and rain.

Published in: on August 11, 2008 at 9:35 am  Comments (6)  

Lunch on the Road

Bates House of Turkey.  Yes, there were other options, but I wasn’t going to pass up a name like that.  Greenville, Alabama.

Published in: on August 2, 2008 at 11:01 pm  Comments (3)