In the dark. Walking on the side of highway 61. At the end of our 19th day in the woods. After hiking the historic Grand Portage to Lake Superior. There was light. We looked down onto a field of parking lots.
There was a “Trading Post” gas station. Through more parking lot there was the Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. I felt giddy with delight and horror of modern civilization. I have never paid so much or been so excited for so much mediocrity. It was large and rather ugly. Our room was standard ugly. But it had hot water, and toilet paper. We showered but didn’t have clean clothes. Gleefully we went to the bar for dinner. The burger and the fries were straight out of a freezer. But the beer was cold, and the food satisfyingly calorie dense.
Grey morning light revealed even less to be excited about. We went to the dining room for breakfast. We had a panoramic view of a great bare lawn of gravel leading up to Lake Superior. Breakfast was topped with plasticky triangles of cheese. This place was grim. We were in purgatory.
Our friends would be arriving with our car (and clean clothes) late that afternoon. We checked out and decided to wait at the Grand Portage National Monument Historic Center building. On our way there we strolled though the exhibits, log trading posts, historic gardens, and read plaques along the lake shore. Upon arrival we discovered the park building to be closed. So we hiked the mile back to the gas station “Trading Post” and bought sugary preservative filled baked goods and filled thermoses with coffee. Back at the park building we made camp on the large porch over looking the lake. Will trekked about a mile to fetch the canoe and gear he had hidden in the woods the night before.
It was a cold windy mid October day. Hunkered down, we waited. And waited. It felt like a very long afternoon. There are no pictures of our last 24 hours of the honeymoon adventure.
Then, they came. Our friends Erich and Cara pulled into the parking lot. We ran (or really limped, considering our soreness) to greet them. I felt like a happy puppy way too excited to see friends and to get in a car. With way too much to share, and beaming with gratitude we took them to have a beer at the Lodge and Casino.
A few hours later they were on their way back home, and we were on our way to Duluth. Duluth is our home away from home. It is where all canoe trips end and our default vacation spot. We always stay at the Downtown Best Western hotel. We walk to all our favorite places. That night we ate at Pizza Lucé. The next morning we awoke full of sunshine.
We ate breakfast at the Amazing Grace Cafe. Will had a smoked salmon and spinach omelet. It was perfect. We were very very happy.
…Until new adventures were dreamed up…
Previous installment of the honeymoon story: Crippling Grand Portage.
To read from the beginning you could start with my first installment A Beginning where stewing in my tent on day 17 I share how it was all dreamed up in the first place. Or And We’re Off where the trip actually begins.