One of my first memories is of walking over the bumpy sand in the shallow lake water in Eagle River, WI where my family used to rent a cabin every summer. We would take a week in the Northwoods to fish, swim, grill out, hike and listen to my dad read ghost stories aloud to us at night. As my brothers and I got older, it was more and more difficult to find a week to get away.
Flash forward to 10+ years later. A gracious family friend let us stay in their cabin just across the border into Michigan. Just into Yooper territory 🙂 We managed to find a weekend where Mike and I could both take a day off, and one week ago we caravanned up to Iron River, MI. 3 days, 2 nights, no makeup or hairdryer. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while. The cabin was gorgeous, with that cozy, Northwoods feel that makes you want to start a fire in the fireplace, even in the middle of August (I was vetoed).
After taking the kayaks out for a spin around the lake, I’m proud to say that I jumped into the lake and even swam around for a while. We stayed out by the pier until it was dark. The air is so clear and everything smells great.
The next morning was perfect – the water looked like a mirror it was so calm and
the sky was bright blue. After morning coffee on the pier, Mike and I took the kayaks out for a couple of hours. I wrapped my point-and-shoot inside a Ziploc bag, tucked it into my sweatshirt, and we were off. We toured the shoreline to look at the cabins, and we could glide through the really mucky, marshy areas that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise, winding around the islands. I was ashamed to discover that my instinct of avoiding a spider nest on a reed that was heading straight for my face preceded my instinct to not tip my kayak over in the middle of lake, but I saved it at the last second with only minimal water in my boat and camera still in hand.
On the other hand, I was thrilled to discover that we were only about 30 miles away from Eagle River. We took some time that afternoon to visit the small town that I remember from my childhood. Walking into the Trading Post was like walking back in time. Nothing had changed in 15 years. I literally think some of the same postcards were there. The same counter where it took me an hour to pick out a leather pouch one year, the same counter where I thought I’d be cool like my brothers and buy a pocket knife for fishing (yes, Steve, I actually went fishing…), and sliced my finger open before we even made it out of the store. We drove down Military Road, which was right where we used to stay. Our dad used to read us Wisconsin lore and ghost stories, and one of the ghost stories took place right there on Military Road. I didn’t put two and two together as a child. He says you don’t want to scare your kids too much – just a little bit 🙂
I think we had forgotten how great it feels to be up in the Northwoods. Sunday rained on and off, but the guys swam and my mom and I hiked. The on-and-off storms produced beautiful cloud patterns. Right before we left, the most beautiful rainbow I’ve even seen made a complete arc over the lake. It was a nice way to say goodbye. The rainbows (and thunderstorms) followed us the whole way home, and we even manage to stop at some of the “scenic view” markers. I think we’ll all find a way to take more time out to head Up North from now on.
Rediscover – CMK