Travel Theme: Wild

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa asks us to meet the challenge “wild”.  Which is incredibly convenient because I just came back from a week on the road/on Minnesota’s north shore/in the woods/on a giant lake, with, roughly, an assload of pictures.  Chock full of wild-ish outdoorsiness.

And yes, I’m pretty sure…almost positive…that’s the technical term for the amount of pictures with which I returned.

We stayed in a lodge that overlooked Lake Superior.  Conveniently, there was a staircase right across the street from said lodge that took us down the (relatively small, but sheer) cliff face to the shoreline.  And once we got there and clambered down the granite the rest of the way, we encountered this.  I have no idea how long that branch and natural tidal pool have been there, I’m just glad they are.

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It was 25-30 degrees colder here than the weather we left behind. It was fantastic.

We went for the wedding of two very dear friends (congratulations, John and Molly!) but, of course, had to spend a few days checking out the local scenery.  As our lodge was right next to the Cascade River–and indeed boasted a few hiking trails up into the hills and along the river–we had to check it out.

The Cascade River. Cascading.

The Cascade River. Cascading.

We went to Grand Marais one afternoon, which is a charming little immensely walkable town with all sorts of local-artisan-fueled gift shoppes (I could have spent, roughly, a bajillion dollars in a few of those stores) and at least one (there could be more, but I was only there for one meal) fantastic little cafe.  While I was there I came across this heron, going about some very important heron business in the marshes along the edge of Lake Superior.

The heron thought process: Mmmm...fishfishfish...what the hell, lady, do I bug you while you're eating? Do I look like some kind of goddamned seagull?  Mmmm...fishfishfish...

The heron thought process: Mmmm…fishfishfish…what the hell, lady, do I bug you while you’re eating? Do I look like some kind of goddamned seagull? Mmmm…fishfishfish…

At first I thought he was a grey heron, but now I think it might be a smallish great blue because of the rusty colorations on its thighs and underneath the feathers.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Anybody?

Grand Marais has a harbor wall and lighthouse that are irresistible draws if you have any inkling (like me) to stand of the very edge of things and recognize the profound boundary between One Thing and The Other.  The Coast Guard warns you to walk out on at your own risk, because it’s designed more for navigation than for public strolling, and they’re right to do so.  It’s not a simple mosey down a manicured path.  You have to do a bit of climbing over rocks in order to get there, so when you get there, wear sensible shoes.

Taken from underneath the lighthouse.  And yes, that kid?  Is skateboarding the harbor wall.

Taken from underneath the lighthouse. And yes, that kid? Is skateboarding the harbor wall.  A significant part of me hoped I would see some shit go down when the wind blew him off.

For the record, the wind?  Came at us like a freight train.  It picked up while we were out at the lighthouse.  If you ever want to know what it’s like to stand on one small patch of cement with nothing to hold on to, while the entirety of Lake Superior stretches in front of you and the wind groans and tugs at you like an impatient and slightly mean playmate, I’m here to tell you: it’s pretty intense, and it’s a great way to recognize your own insignificance in the grander workings of the world.  I was grateful to get back off the harbor wall, because at least the trees created a little bit of a wind break.

When we left for home we cut back across the top of Wisconsin and drove Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, feeling somewhat regretful that we didn’t pack our passports and take the long-long way back through Canada (next time…next time).  If you’ve never visited the UP, then change that.  It’s beautiful, full of trees and sky and trees and…trees.  🙂  In order to get home we eventually had to wend our way back to the mainland.  About halfway through the UP we cut down south and went to the Mackinac Bridge, which is the third longest suspension bridge in the world and spans Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

So yeah, I hit three great lakes in one week.  Which is pretty cool.

It was sunset as we crossed the bridge.

Check out that crazy sunset sky.

Dig that crazy sunset sky.

That’s a sample of some of the wild-ish things, on my recent trip to Minnesota.  Have fun checking out the rest of the “wild” contributors!

Travel Challenge: Sunsets, Boston Harbor

Ailsa over at Where’s My Backpack? wants to speak about sunsets for her travel theme this week.  Ahhh, sunset.  It is a beautiful time of day, with long shadows and pastel colors.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera handy for two of my favorite sunsets…

1) Flying from Texas over the Gulf Coast on my way back to New Jersey to see my family for Christmas.  I had a nice visit, but the gulf at sunset was unbelievable and started things off right.

2) Crossing the San Mateo Bridge at sunset.  The fog rolling in on the San Francisco Bay caught the sunset colors and burst into a confection of swirling pastels.  It was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen and I could have stayed there for an hour strictly to feast my eyes.  Sadly, I suspect my fellow bridge travelers would have had a thing or two to say if I’d forced Christine to stop the car…

Sigh. So, yes.  Reminiscences aside, bring on the photos!

As some of you know, I’ve got a thing for harbor cruises.  As most of you know by now, I don’t like the heat, which means I don’t like the sun, which means…?  Harbor cruise at sunset!  The following photos are the combination of two different cruises–one a straight-up, unassuming sunset cruise, the other a whale watch–out of Boston Harbor.

Ahh, such serenity. Looking back at the city from the harbor.

Thar she blows.  p.s. No that’s not my arm.

Whar???

Thar! Ehr ma gerd! Wherls!

I played with the effects of this pic a little bit to make it look like I’d taken it with my parents’ old camera. I wish the whale’s fin was a little bit more in focus, but otherwise I adore this shot.

Fun fact: if you change the above photo to black and white, it looks exactly like a photo of the Loch Ness Monster.

Some random piece of rigging. I love the contrast of crazy clouds and water and this rigid thing that keeps chaos at bay.

Heading back to the dock. This city gives me a happy.

Ahhhh, sunset.

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