Day one is officially a success! We headed north, to Duluth, to pick up my sister and her husband before spending a day basking in the sun on one of our much loved Lake Superior beaches. Each of the Northern Wisconsin beaches we frequent has it’s own character and quirks. Port Wing has an exceptionally large quantity of driftwood. Inspired by the bounty, folks have dotted the landscape with driftwood sculptures and tepees. Following their example, my eldest son and his Uncle constructed a simple, but effective lean-to; not terribly elaborate, but perfectly positioned to provide a bit of late afternoon shade.
Meanwhile, not 100 feet from our happy-go-lucky group, an intensely focused father directed his children and wife in the creation of a twenty-foot long loch-ness monster, it’s serpentine length rising from the sand.
“Overachiever,” I sniffed.
“Those poor kids,” sympathized my sister. We are both stalwartly against any beach activity that smacks of organized effort. (Except for picnics. Good picnics don’t just happen, you know. Nothing is worse than a dry peanut butter sandwich, gritty from errant sand, which is, incidentally, what my family will be choking down in a few, short days.)
We then had an in-depth debate about whether or not I should put on sunscreen. Decision? No. I had put on a long sleeve shirt and we had compared our lilly-white legs, musing on the odd, but seemingly genetic condition that left us unable to tan on our legs, no matter what. Besides, we had the lean-to.
Surprising to nobody, I’m sure, my upper thighs burned to a fiery lobster-red. I spent the evening wishing for a couple ice packs. Luckily, I am easily distracted and between the fortuitous margarita happy hour special at the Mexican restaurant located in the parking lot of our motel (!) and an evening showing of Sharknado 2, I was sufficiently contented and fell into an exhausted slumber, having convinced myself the radiating heat was “comforting” and not really “excruciatingly painful.”
God bless tequila, anyways.
Continuing my life-long record of never learning a lesson from anything, ever, I woke up early and decided to head off for a long, loping run along Lake Superior. I returned two hours later, with a sunburned back to match my legs. Alas, tequila isn’t a legitimate breakfast beverage, so I couldn’t medicate this one away. Sigh.
This was a long driving day, from Ashland up to Sault St. Marie. A trip made longer by the southernly detour we had to make, in order to swim in Lake Michigan. Amazingly, the kids were adorable to each other the entire route, although that may have been the effects of lunch-time pasties (old timey meat hand pies!) and repeated stops for ice cream.
Once we got to our hotel, we saw that AMC was airing Jaws, (which everyone is pretty much required to watch whenever it is on TV) the viewing of which elevated today to the “practically perfect” category of road trips.
“This vacation isn’t nearly as awful as I thought it would be,” marveled Miss Teen Wonder.
What benevolent God has taken us under his wing? Today was another loooooong driving day. Due to what Hubby terms a “late start” we had to hurry our little clan across Ontario to South Baymouth in order to make our ferry reservations — or be stranded on the wrong side of Lake Huron. (In the children’s and my defense, no jury would agree that 10:00 AM is late whilst on vacation. 10:00 AM is barely late in normal life…. Or at least it shouldn’t be.)
Rather than beat each other to death with empty Sprite cans in a car trip grudge match, the kids took prolonged and repeated naps, waking only for chunks of Canadian candy and, what appears to be our secret weapon, ice cream.
The ferry ride was beautiful, although attempting to drive our car up the steep upper deck ramp was terrifying enough to move both Little Man and myself to tears. Luckily, we could sooth our souls with giant bowls of poutine. (Fries, cheese curds and gravy…?!! Do the Minnesota State Fair people know about this?)
Our rented house turned out to be delightful and mere blocks from the ferry launch. Delighted, we collapsed into the living room floor and watched crappy reality television far into the night. The house was charming and we are so, so grateful to have a break from the road tomorrow.
Really. This trip is PERFECT.
Today is the day WE PULLED THIS CAR OVER! Hubby went so far as to unbuckle his seat belt and make a move to GET OUT OF THE CAR in an effort to quell The Great Backseat Rebellion of 2014. Air conditioning vs open windows has become the major conflict of our time and subtle negotiations are on the brink of collapse.
All we had for lunch were those aforementioned gritty peanut butter sandwiches and no beverages. We had a bag of something called “BBQ Ringalos” but as soon as we opened them, our eldest son tossed one to a nearby squirrel. Big mistake. Within minutes we were beset upon by fuzzy little scavengers, prompting us to eat the rest of our meager lunch in the car. The Lake Huron beach was too shallow and crowded to our increasingly persnickety tastes and the Bruce Peninsula National Park is home to nine – NINE – varieties of snakes, though thankfully the only one we saw was non-venomous.
It probably would have been nice to know that before I jumped into the poison ivy to get away from it.
None of this mattered, however, because of the magical Grotto and Indian Head Cove beach. The grotto is an underground pool. To access it you have to descend a rocky cliff, which can be difficult, especially if you are a slightly balance-impaired middle aged woman and a scaredy cat, to boot.
But it is so worth it. There just aren’t many opportunities to swim in clear water, underground pools in Minnesota. Or at least none that I know of. Though my medical condition (the aforementioned scaredy-cat-itis) prevented me from diving off the rocks into it’s freezing cold depths, I did swim a bit and was so happy to have even stumbled upon this amazing place.
If you manage to scale the rock wall again, Indian Head Cove is just over the hill and it is BEAUTIFUL. The water is a dream, blue and pure as the Carribean, but cold. Perfect for taking a quick dip and then sunning oneself on the rocks. (Probably next to one of those many, many snakes, but it’s best not to think about that.)
Tomorrow we head out with a three prong agenda:
Swim in Lake Ontario
See Niagara Falls
Get Kirk to Buffalo in time to eat wings in his much beloved Duff’s Restaurant…
But I wouldn’t mind staying just one more day at the cove….even with all the snakes.