We started our Michigan adventure in Detroit. I found a campground just outside the city, Detroit Lakes State Recreation Area, and we arrived there on the Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. We arrived early in the day so there weren’t many campers, but the sign said they were full for the weekend. I reserved a spot earlier that week, but I think I probably only got the spot because we were only staying the one night. We dropped off Ziggy and headed to downtown Detroit. We stopped at the Heidelberg Project, community art started in the mid-80’s.
I would have liked to talk to someone from the neighborhood, but all of the folks we saw appeared to be tourists like us. We continued to downtown and had a lovely afternoon/evening walking the Riverwalk
and exploring the GM Renaissance Building. We were very impressed with the inner city park and especially enjoyed watching the kids in the fountain.
Corey picked out the truck he wants – he’ll have to get his license and a job, but dreams are good, right?
We got back to the campground and even though we didn’t eat dinner till 9 pm it was still light outside! We enjoyed being in a full campground which brought back great memories of camping at Penrose State Park in WA with Mount Cross friends for so many years.
The next morning we hit Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore for a brief visit.
We drove Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and watched people climbing the “big dune.” Warning signs counseled against the experience – a very costly rescue if you got hurt or couldn’t make it, and an expected 2 hours to make the climb, but I’m pretty sure if we had had the time Chris and the kids would have made the attempt.
I wasn’t tempted as when I climbed a much smaller dune in White Sands National Park in New Mexico, I barely made it because I was laughing so hard at my struggles.
We crossed the Macinaw Bridge and were finally in the real U.P.
I have wanted to visit since we moved to University Place (we call it U.P.). Any time I used the abbreviation with someone outside of the area, they assumed we were referring to the UP of Michigan and now we were there! We stayed the night with Rachael Button’s parents, Julie and Rich in their cozy cabin in Naubinway. It sits on the side of a creek and has a wonderful screened in porch which I couldn’t get enough of.
We loved getting to know Rachael’s real parents (we have Holden-adopted Rachael) and her brother, Keith. We share a love of adventure and books and of course, Rachael!
Painted Rocks National Lakeshore was our next stop after a leisurely breakfast with the Buttons. We first explored the western area/entrance with a couple of short hikes to Miner’s Castle, Miner’s Beach and Miner’s Falls.
The colors on the cliffs really do look painted. After hearing about Julie and Rich’s week-long hike along the Lakeshore, seeing it in person made us want to hike more. One more example of how even when you have 7 months to explore there is always more to see and do. We made a quick stop at Munising Falls (another area of Painted Rocks)
and then it was off to Marv and Lori Franson’s cabin in Hayward, WI.
Not only did we get Marv and Lori, but Ev Lennon was visiting as well.
We spent a lazy day with them, laughing and talking and eating. We did manage to hike about four miles on Mosquito Brook Trail along the Berkie Trail where Marv has skied the Birkebeiner Race for nearly 40 years. They were headed to Holden two days later and we were so grateful we were able to see them before they go.
On the last day of May, we entered Minnesota, land of so many of our family and friends. We talked about how at the beginning of the trip, Minnesota seemed so far away, both in time and distance. We could hardly believe we had made it to this long-anticipated state. We made a quick stop at Canal Park, just long enough to snap a photo because of the howling wind and frigid rain.
The weather had calmed a bit when we stopped at Gooseberry Falls and we enjoyed a leisurely walk around the falls.
We got permission to eat our lunch of bread and cheese and apples in the visitor center lobby for which we were grateful. We stopped to get gas in Grand Marais and were overjoyed to meet Steph there! Steph and Chuck are caretakers for a cabin/house on Seagull Lake in the Boundary Waters at the end of the Gunflint Trail and when we asked them if they would show us the Boundary Waters, they invited us to meet them there. We were lucky to run into Steph, because our GPS would not have gotten us to the right spot. We followed her to the cabin and could hardly believe we had pulled off a Carpenter/Shultz reunion.
Chuck, Steph, Cailan, and August were all able to come and the eight of us enjoyed four relaxing days together. We hiked to Magnetic Rock, finding a geocache on the way.
We played with the compass at the rock, which had the dial spinning.
We had a picnic lunch at the Trails End Campground, site # 18/19, an idyllic spot.
In the afternoon, we went for a short paddle to Wilderness Canoe Base, where Chuck and Steph were directors when Cailan and August were toddlers.
That night we had a fiesta, complete with margueritas and Mexican music. The next day we took a longer paddle to the Palisades, enjoying our lunch on the top of the cliffs.
The weather held out and no one swamped their canoe, and Cailan walked on water.
We loved having the Carpenters introduce us to a place they love and has so many memories for them, including their wedding.
That night we stayed up late reminiscing about our time at Holden and sharing our hopes for the future. Kasey, Corey, Cailan, and August played games and watched movies and caught up on their post-Holden lives. The Carpenters had planned to leave the next day, Friday, (we were leaving Saturday morning) but got involved in a project and we got to spend another day together. We are pretty sure that we spent more time together that week than we had in the entire 5 years we lived and worked together at Holden. What a blessing.
On Saturday morning we were up at 3 am so we could get to Grand Portage in time to catch the boat to Isle Royale National Park. The stormy weather made for a rough crossing. With the boat rocking sideways, it was hard to keep your eyes on the horizon. None of us fed the fish, but I got pretty queasy and was quite happy when the 2 ½ hour ride was finished. The ranger met the boat and gave us a quick orientation to the island. We were relieved to find out the campsites in Windigo where we planned to stay had shelters. We picked out shelter #8, set up our tents inside, donned our raingear and embarked on a 9.6 mile loop hike to Huganin Cove.
I’m sure a gorgeous sunny day would have been beautiful, but rain and clouds bring their own beauty and keep the bugs away. We got a taste of the island and it misted more than rained for most of the hike. Steady rain fell for the last mile or so and we were especially grateful for dry tents and boards to hang our clothes on in shelter #8.
We cooked dinner and spent the evening playing Five Crowns (I won!). The next morning our clothes were just as wet as they had been when we hung them the day before, but we all had dry socks and the sun was shining, so we ventured out on a 3.6 mile hike to an overlook on the way to Feldtman Lake.
Our socks didn’t stay dry long in wet boots, but we enjoyed the hike and were back in plenty of time to catch the boat back to Grand Portage at 12:30.
Our boat ride back was sunny and calm and we sat on the back deck for most of the ride.
We drove across northern Minnesota on a scenic road…with few and far between gas stations. Unfortunately, we ran out of gas just one mile from a station, but fortunately we made it to the parking lot of the Timber’s Edge Bar & Grill. We went inside and ate dinner while we waited for AAA to bring us gas. Our premium membership has definitely paid off! Our waitress was super friendly with an accent worthy of Fargo and once we had some food, I wasn’t nearly as grumpy as I had been. (Recently Chris and the kids decided I have “H” allergies – hunger, headache, heat, and humidity. I don’t disagree. ) We arrived in Bemidji at the home of Chris’ Aunt Alice and Uncle Gordy on Movil Lake at 10:30. What a great visit we had with them!
Chris learned things about Alice’s career and research he had never heard in the chaos and energy of huge family reunions. The coolest (we thought) was learning that she completed research for NASA in the 60’s in preparation for sending folks to the moon. Her research focused on potential eye damage and whether or not the eye could heal in zero gravity. We stayed two nights with them and the day in between was wonderfully unproductive. The big plan was to go fishing so we went into town for licenses, and ended up shopping at Target, getting a Starbucks, and stopping at the post office. The rest of the day was spent trying to get the boat ready and waiting for the wind to die down. It never did, so Chris and the kids got up at 5:30 the next morning and had a productive fishing trip, before we hit the road again.
Everyone caught at least one fish, but Gordy got the lion’s share. We stopped for coffee at Cabin Coffee in Bemidji where Holden friend, Chance worked in high school. We loved it and would recommend it if you’re ever in Bemidji!
We visited lake Itasca State Park and crossed the mighty Mississippi along with a third grade school field trip. Quite entertaining.
Our next stop was Pelican Rapids to visit Alice Toso who with her husband Erv had been our surrogate mom the year we lived in Madagascar.
One of their daughters, Becca, joined us at Alice’s apartment and we had a wonderful visit. Erv died in January and we won’t be able to come to the memorial service in July, so it was really good to be able to see her. We were off again headed to Minneapolis…via Fargo. As we were on our way, I told a friend our route and he said you do realize Fargo is not on the way. We did, but we also wanted to get to North Dakota and we were close enough in Pelican Rapids, it made sense to go out of our way, so we had dinner there at Kitchen Gremlins on Broadway.
The food was VERY good and we splurged and shared a dessert. YUM!
We got to Brooklyn Park and the home of Linda and Jeanne around 10:00 that night. Linda and Jeanne are two of our closest friends from Holden – they arrived on the same day as us, August 23, 2010, and Linda and Chris were on the Holden management team together for three years. Jeanne worked in the school with Kasey and Corey. They attended both Kasey and Corey’s graduation – returning to Holden for Corey’s – so they are family as well as friends. Jeanne was in her last week at school (she teaches third grade) so on Wednesday, we hung out with Linda and played foot golf at the local course.
I’m not a fan of golf, but walking on the course, kicking a soccer ball was highly entertaining and great for conversation and laughs. Linda and I were at a distinct disadvantage, but the two of us against the three of them evened the competition.
Colleen Foote joined us for dinner and the Holden visiting spree began!
After dinner, we took in the sunset at Coon Rapids Dam not far from their home. Clouds are pretty cool here.
The next morning Chris and Molly Tau joined us for breakfast – eggs to order, a Holden favorite.
Chris was a fixture in the Holden kitchen for most of our Holden time, although at our giveaway before we left, only a couple people knew the significance of the Chris Tau jacket Chris Shultz was giving up. Chris T. decided since that was the case, he could now return to Holden! We loved hearing about the life they have made and Chris’ upcoming student teaching. He will make a very cool math teacher.
We took off mid-morning to meet Chris’ extended family for a bike ride.
His Aunt Faith (married to his mom, Julie’s brother, Carl), who missed her calling as a travel planner, provided a two+ page itinerary for our grand tour of Minneapolis by bike. Various members of her family joined us for the ride around the city. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and were quite jealous of the quality, variety, and extent of the bike trails in Minneapolis. The Shultz family bike skills were not as proficient as the Lindell’s but we rode about 25 miles, albeit at a much slower pace than they usually ride. Faith had also organized a barbeque at Beckettwood, a cooperative community where they live.
The mini family reunion reminded us of what a great family of origin Chris has. We don’t see each other nearly as often as we would like.
That night we drove to Melrose for a Shultz/Dennison/McNair sleepover.
Rob and Hayley and their girls Oakley and Olivia hosted us for the night in their beautiful home… that they just sold! They will move closer to Hayley’s job in a month or so. We wish them happy house hunting! Rob continues to work for Pool, one of the contractors at Holden so we enjoyed hearing how far the project has come already this summer. It’s definitely at the stage where everyone is ready for it to be finished. We had a leisurely breakfast with them in the morning and then it was back to Brooklyn Park. We rejoiced with Jeanne on finishing the school year before heading to Falcon Heights to have dinner with Joel and Suzanne Toso, boarding schoolmates of Chris in Madagascar.
With temps in the 90’s and that lovely Midwest humidity, Suzanne prepared delicious salads and we had a wonderful visit with them catching up on our family happenings since the last time we were together.
Saturday brought a Holden get-together at Linda and Jeanne’s. We had waffle bar in the morning and then spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon getting ready. We had nearly 30 total over the course of the afternoon and evening, which I decided was a perfect number. There were enough people to feel like we really got to see a lot of folks, but also few enough that I felt like I got to visit with everyone who came.
We have had the privilege of living with some pretty cool people at Holden and are grateful that just because our time at Holden has ended, the relationships we forged there have not.
The next morning, we attended church at Our Saviour’s with Linda, Jeanne, Kari Alice Olsen and Andrew Kingsrider. With Chris Scharen preaching, and Tom Witt and Mary Preus leading worship, and Martha Schwehn Bardwell presiding, it felt like we could have been at Holden! We had a picnic lunch with Linda, Jeanne, Kari, and Andrew at Nakomis Lake before we reluctantly said goodbye.
Our Minnesota portion of the trip was finished and what a portion it was! We did not stay in a campground our entire 12 nights there. We re-connected with so many different layers of our lives – Chris’ childhood in Madagascar, his family’s Minnesota roots, our time together in Madagascar in the late 80’s and of course the plentiful Holden community. Life is good.
Note: this is the first of two posts for today. It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted and to do an entire month in one post seemed overwhelming both to read and to write. Read them at your leisure!