The wind whips through the newly sprouted leaves on the trees, their shadows a fluttering dappled pattern on the deck. Beyond, the sky is that classic deep blue with small cottony puffs floating here and there. The sun is warm on my face as I type, drinking it all in. When the sun shines, I have to be out in it. I’ll endure the dim laptop screen in preference to my superior computer setup inside. The sunshine is too precious to waste.
One of the greatest benefits of retirement is the loss of distinction between the days. No longer do we have to confine our activities to weekends. Nor do we have to take our holidays when the calendar schedules them. So we took our own Memorial Day Weekend early, based on the weather forecast. We chose the days when the sun would be shining.
Our first priority was to do some cycling. Between Rich’s back injury this winter and alternate travels by car and plane this spring, we had yet to cover any significant miles. Finding that lodging was difficult, even midweek, we chose two 55 mile out-and-back day trips using the cabin as our base.
The first followed the Great River Road from Jacobson to Palisade. The Mississippi River meandered back and forth in that stretch, greeting us roadside every now and then. We had the route to ourselves, and reveled in some wildlife sightings. A deer crossed in front of us, followed by a wolf. He paused to give us a glance but resumed his original pursuit. A skunk stopped me abruptly, blocking my path down the shoulder. I felt it was not worth risking his wrath to pass. Rich followed a porcupine into the woods, as the critter spread his back quills in a showy display as he fled.
We found lunch at the Palisade Cafe. Your typical small town cafe with ceramic roosters and memorabilia adorning the shelves, the waitress knew the locals’ orders before they uttered a word. Sampling the local offerings, we recharged our batteries for the return trip.
The next day took us far north. Driving to Littlefork we cycled from there to Lake Kabetogama on the border. The sun shone gloriously all day and like the day before we benefited from good pavement and lack of traffic. We made our way to the Voyageurs National Park Visitor Center. Although it was not yet open for the season, it did give us access to the lake and a view of its blue expanse. This time it was breakfast that we ate at the Rocky Ledge. The area was heavily populated with resorts, and the staff was bracing for the onslaught of the holiday weekend. That morning, however, we were the sole customers.It felt good to be back in the saddle and doing multi-day rides Naturally I became anxious to get out touring again. It also told us we were not quite ready. We were grateful for a tailwind to push us home that day as we began to tire, and our sore bottoms were evidence that we needed more time in the saddle. But it was a start.
Nestled back in the cabin, we stayed on for two more days, while the sun shone. The lake was still quiet, with few cabins occupied yet in advance of the weekend. We had the place to ourselves. It reminded me why I love being there so much, particularly when the weather is nice. By the time it began to cloud up on Saturday, we were packing up to go home.
We missed spending Memorial Day at the cabin. But we also avoided the rainy days. We made our own holiday weekend, when the sun was shining.