Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back from the Wilderness

Arrived home last night after a great trip in the Boundary Waters. I love going out there and doing just a few simple things: paddling in the canoe, exploring the campsite, and pondering the beauty all around. I went out and bought a new book (The Egyptologist) to bring with me and then I only read about 10 pages the whole trip.

Even on the car trip up I mostly gazed out the window and watched the greenery and roadside attractions. Saw the 35-foot redwood Voyageur statue in Pine City on the banks of the Snake River. We also drove right past a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station in Cloquet, built in 1956. Stopped at Piragis (an outfitter store) in Ely where Mike bought a new hatchet and we had lunch at the Chocolate Moose.

Our first campsite was on a lake that allowed small motorboats, and we saw a lot of canoe ferry boats go by that shuttle people and their canoes to some remote spot, and then you'd see them coming out, too, people sitting in a little motorboat with a canoe on a rack over their heads. That didn't seem very fun. It feels really good to have paddled all the way under your own power to your destination. When I come home from these trips I have a tendency to think bigger--like hey, I did that, I really did that. I picked up a 42-lb. pack and walked a half a mile with that on my back. I rule! Now what else can I do that I've been assuming I can't?

We didn't see a whole lot of wildlife this trip, but what we lacked in diversity was made up for in quantity: we saw oodles of loons. I took about 15 pictures of just loons, and none of them came out very well! Oh well, better luck next time. I am always surprised at how big these birds are. One of them looked like it was wagging its tail at us but it was actually his foot--their feet are way far back on their bodies, which makes them great divers. We also saw several bald eagles. Or as M. says, balding eagles. And a mama duck with about a dozen babies riding on her back. Fer cute!

I learned to steer the canoe this trip, finally. We had a nice calm day for it with not much wind and so I tried it out. It was a lot of fun even when I was screwing it up, and much comfier to sit in the back of the canoe, I found out! It would be easier for me if I didn't have that brain cloud about keeping track of which is my left and which is my right (I think I musta been short that neuron when I was born), but I did all right for a beginner. John thought I should have had a "student driver" sign on the canoe. Haha.

One of the things I enjoyed most on this trip was all the swimming we got to do. It was really warm the first couple days and one day we went swimming three times. I'm not much of a lake swimmer at home (slimy water, ew) but this water is so clear and gorgeous, you don't want to get out.

My legs are covered in mosquito bites. I look like I have chicken pox, but I don't care, it was worth it. Maybe by next year I can find those insect repellent sox D. gave me for Xmas...

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