Sunday, August 12th dawned hot and humid. There had been a late summer heat wave and the air was thick to breathe. We can’t leave as early as I’d typically like for a canoe trip in Minnesota as Evie has been involved in marching band camp all the previous week and today’s the big parade. I had been up late the night before getting the car packed as best as I could, knowing a few items would need to wait for today before I could secure the canoe to the top. Naturally, I overslept my alarm today and while the final bits of packing are a little rushed and frantic than I’d like I get it done before it is time to leave for the parade.
The plan is to grab Evie right from the end of the parade and start driving immediately towards our destination for the night – Seagull Outfitters & their paddler’s bunkhouse. Devin is along for the trip too, and while moving his booster seat to the other side of the car is a novel change to what he’s used to and is appreciated for not having the sun on him all day, having the seat belt on the opposite side to what he’s used to presents a dexterity and motor skill challenge. The drive up has some planned stops – first we need to stop at Mars’ to get some cheddar for the trip (Thanks Tyson for the recommendation on the 3 year), then there’s a bait place I located in Portage that I hope works out, then there’s a few Speedways I plan to use as fuel stops as we make our way North. The Prius V gets a solid 42-45mpg during it’s regular life driving me back & forth to work and whatnot, however when a 60lb 17′ long canoe is strapped to it’s roof the penalty is a 25% or greater hit to fuel economy.
Mars’ Cheese Castle is busy but we make it in & out in about 15 minutes including a bathroom visit for the 6 year old and several samples of cheese and candy. Around the West side of Milwaukee, we encounter a very large back up that causes us to try to bypass it for 4 or 5 miles on local roads. The rest of the way to Portage is uneventful, save for construction around Madison. We encounter the typical 10 mile Southbound backup around the WI Dells and I marvel at all the poor folks stuck in it, and wonder if we will suffer the same fate in a week? Now we’re at Portage, and as it turns out this is a 20ish mile out of the way loop that we take to go to the bait shop (turns out to be an outbuilding on somebody’s property, the shop is closed, but the self serve fridge has some blue tubs of crawlers. I buy 2 tubs for $7 and we get back on the road as quickly as possible… The sun’s starting to get low and we still have a long ways to go.
Dinner is had in Superior just before we cross over into Duluth. A few minutes out of the car to stretch before we’re back on our way. We make a stop just before we get out of Duluth when Devin has to use the restroom. It works out, as we have what turns out to be our last fuel stop of the night – by the time we get to Grand Marais and we turn onto the Gunflint Trail all the gas stations in town will be closed. I get an extra strong coffee and turn the Prius NE onto Highway 61. It’s too bad that it’s nighttime and the views are obfuscated by night. I’m pretty sure both kids would like the view out of either side of the car, but especially the right towards the big lake. Sure enough, we get into Grand Marais a little after 11PM & the gas stations are closed. By this time Devin has fallen asleep and Evie is dozing as well. The extra strength coffee from Duluth is doing its job though, and I’m wide awake.
The drive up the Gunflint goes fine. This time of night there’s hardly anybody out. At some point I realize that even before I lost cellular coverage back in Grand Marais, my GPS app isn’t estimating our arrival time correctly…. The app thinks it will take us 2 and a half hours to get from the shore to Sea Gull. In actuality, we pull into Sea Gull’s Parking Lot a little after 12:30AM. Evie handles getting Devin out of the car and they hit the restroom while I get our bunks set up. I’m not really picky, and I know Sea Gull hosts a lot of people every season, but if I had to have one piece of feedback for them it would be the quality of their bunk mattresses SUCK! Like, these were 2 or 3″ thick foam-with-a-vinyl-cover mats that maybe you’d find in a daycare or gym on a plywood shelf. I could not get comfortable for the life of me, and the coffee was still doing it’s thing. It was probably close to 2 by the time I fell asleep. The alarm is set to go off at 7:30 tomorrow for the kids, hopefully they rouse when asked and we can be quick about getting breakfast & out the door.
Miles driven: 622