We own a wonderful cabin nestled in the north woods facing a pristine lake. A pontoon boat awaits, as do multiple kayaks, a fire ring and a sauna. Inside a stone fireplace begs for a blazing fire. So what are we doing renting a lake home?
Having put all our bike touring, lighthouse keeping and travel on hold for the foreseeable future, Rich and I decided we deserved a vacation. A real getaway, on a different lake, in a dwelling with more space and amenities (including heat that doesn’t involve stoking a wood stove in the middle of the night), and new territory to explore.
New is the key word here. A place with no expectations. No chores. No established routines. Only possibilities. Wonderful options. The outdoors awaits, and I just know the indoors will delight.
I pack all my notes for the pile of magazine stories I’ve promised to write. But before the first night falls I set them aside, out of sight. My head hits the pillow without setting an alarm. I’ve already dismissed the idea of an early morning run or bike ride, kiboshing my daily ritual. I’m off to a good start.
Our home for the week is on the edge of Gunflint Lake. We came loaded with bikes, kayak, and hiking shoes. I set about putting them all to good use.
Mornings on the large lake are my favorite. Launching the kayak into the tranquil water I cling to the shore, exploring the deep rocky lake, peering into the woods to catch glimpses of cabins and lake homes. Smoke from the forest fires out west reach us early in the week and creates eerie reflections, but can’t spoil my reverie.
Strong winds keep me off the lake for a day, but in their wake the deep blue of the sky returns. The air borders on freezing and the lake gives up her warmth.
The hills behind us are criss-crossed with hiking trails and I set out to conquer them all. In the resort office I pick up a hand-drawn map, and get pointers on where the best overlooks are. I can’t resist labels like Lost Cliff and High Cliff, which live up to their names.
Rich and I set out to hike to Magnetic Rock. It’s not a long walk, and I don’t know much more than that this rock has magnetic qualities. I was not prepared for its sheer size.
Fall colors grow more vivid by the day. Yellows punctuated by brilliant gems of red illuminate the trail.
I’m so busy watching where I step – over tree roots and around rocks – that my eye is easily drawn to nature’s minutia beside my feet.
Traffic on the Gunflint Trail tapers off beyond Gunflint Lake. So I set out on my bike for the end of the trail – literally.
Nightfall lures me back to the lake where I can hear the waves gently lapping while warming myself by a crackling fire. Rich joins me and we sit, mesmerized by the dancing flames.
Five days of finding new things to do, seeing new sights, lingering over views, staring into fires. None of it resembles my daily routine.