Royale with Cheese
Hey Hey everybody reading. Hope everyone that is following us is doing very well. Thanks for keeping up with our trip and our cause to raise awareness for water quality of our beloved Great Lakes.
We are back in the States and with all that has happened - climbing Sleeping Giant, meeting inspiring individuals in Thunder Bay, doing a podcast with InfoSuperior (http://infosuperior.com/blog/2018/08/01/four-the-water/), and reuniting with Drew! It's safe to say we are hungry! What's on the menu? A Royale with Cheese! and maybe some mustard. We woke up in the kitchen at the crack of dawn and prepped our meal with water, fiberglass, neoprene, and sunshine. This time leaving out the wind. We got on the water and made our 13-mile crossing to the dining room, Isle Royale. We could not have been more fortunate with our timing getting to Pigeon Point on Sunday night to leave us a windless, cloudless Monday to make our biggest crossing yet. The crossing took about four hours, four hours of silence and flat water, something we have not experienced for quite some time. We decided it was proper to first check out the Rock of Ages lighthouse, one of the most remote and exposed lighthouses on the lake. We were lucky enough to be allowed access to climb to the top and view the Minnesota shoreline to come in the future and reflect on the Sleeping Giant and Canada's Outer Islands that we have been navigating for weeks. Eventually, we made it into Windigo on the island's southern side to get our National Park passes and starting inquiring about moose. Word on the island is that it has been a very "moosey" season and sure enough, we make it over to our first camp site in Washington Creek and there is Mom and her two calves munching on some seaweed in the creek. We watched from a safe distance, they didn't mind us, then two more cows emerge from the woods behind us. Well, now we're fully surrounded by moose and what's a Royale with Cheese without a side dish? Right, so the chips 'n' salsa got broken out to enjoy a live premier of Planet Earth from the seats of our kayaks.
So, now that we're seated in the dining room with a nice hot Royale with Cheese being served, moose munchin' outside the window, and a full crew. We relaxed and indulge for the evening. The next day we take our first bite of the sandwich.
All we can say is, WOW! There are so many unique flavors that make this top-notch cuisine. First, the overall shape of Isle Royale is so bizarre. It is situated on a knife-like ridge that rises quickly from the depths of Superior and in some parts it dips back into the icy waters. On the south side - beautiful sand beaches towards the southwest that change gradually to larger sandstone boulders and eventually back to volcanic basalt. All the while, we'll paddle around a point with no idea what to expect since some points keep going straight and some take a 180 degree turn that leads into a mile deep cove. As we make our way north the harbors get deeper and more narrow. Eventually we made it to Rock Harbor where we found a small city with people, boats, stores, and even a restaurant. We thought about the restaurant, even checked out the prices and menu, but we did not inquire. Our Royale with cheese was far more superior.
While in the area we met up with some good humans such as park superintendent, Phyllis Green, who gave us an idea of the history of the park and what they strive to accomplish. Just prior we swung into the Petersen's summer residency, where they are active in continuing one of the longest (if not The longest) predator-prey studies between the island's moose and wolf populations. Rolf, the scientist of the passionate couple, was in the field and we instead got to talk with Carolyn. That ended up being a very good time and with 50+ summers spent on the island, she had developed a beautiful, passionate philosophy for the island and life. We left there feeling very inspired to do good for our world however we could.
After our pleasant but brief experience in the village of Rock Harbor, we paddled through more of the island's 490 surrounding islands to the northern-most point of Isle Royale. The idea was to wake up at 4 a.m. and make a crossing to Passage Island - the cherry on top. After breaking down camp and enjoying coffee, smoked trout, and breakfast burritos we proceeded to hit open water with our eyes set on the lighthouse 4 miles away. This paddle in particular was very special. We had the full moon behind us, setting over mighty Isle Royale, and a beautiful clear sky directly ahead, where the sun started to slowly penetrate above the horizon. The sounds of the birds in the morning, the slight breeze out of the northwest, and the eye candy of a colorful sky created a surreal feeling. The appreciation for everything that has happened along the trip so far overwhelmed us. From the people we have met, the places we have seen, the support we have been given, and everything that the lake has provided for us - truly a blessing.
After such an amazing experience we continued down the north side of the island towards Windigo where it all began. The north side of the island was much more rugged and straight forward. Literally, we barely had to turn our boats as we paddled into some 15-25 mph headwinds for a 15-mile stretch with no camp spots. We all agree that was our longest stretch with no landings and a nice [strong] head wind that made us work for it for close to 5 hours straight. For such a simple "Royale with Cheese," it really packs some flavor and the flavor in this case, is wind. Due to its exposure it is very susceptible to wind. We however, could be considered very fortunate, for we did paddle our fair share of wind but in general, the weather was very good to us.
The next morning morning, the weather was in cooperation and we were up bright and early to make our crossing back to mainland. Due to interesting borders (Ben Franklin can be partly thanked for that), our route led us from Canada to Minnesota to Michigan and back to Minnesota, all in the span of about 10 days. We paddled a few more days and ended up in Grand Marais, MN.
Now we sit in Joe Zellnar's handbuilt log cabin in Grand Marais awaiting our departure later this afternoon. Joe is a phenomenal paddler and a good friend who allowed us to spend the weekend in his house. There was another little surprise that happened this weekend too. Drew's parents came to visit! And there were even more friends in town too, Roger and Chris aboard Miss Utah that we met in Sault Ste. Marie. Needless to say we had an excellent weekend in Grand Marais. while they had their annual "Fishermens Picnic" festival going on. There was a lumber jack competition, log rolling, artists and handcraft booths, food stands, basketball tournaments, and an overwhelming amount of people in a small town. We strolled the streets and checked out the scene. Getting what we asked for, we got out of town, and was able to make a day trip to Grand Portage. Ya ya ya, we backed tracked to Grand Portage for the reenactment of Drews finish of his 24 days in the Boundary Waters. We checked out the old (rebuilt) Fort Charlotte, which was a fur trading post between the Ojibwe and French Canadians. After learning a few lessons on old craft, we made our way back to Grand Marais to get cheese and butter for the trip and dinner supplies for a nice gathering at Joe's house. Lucky Joe was gone and we had a ppppparty!! The sound of cans crackin and glasses clashing were echoing throughout the wooden house. With the rain coming down, we decided to move the party indoors where we began to cook. Karol and Drew maned the kitchen preparing chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and a salad bowl. Ryan and Jared were in charge of full glasses and eating the snacks (chips n salsa & pretzels w/ dip). As our stomachs are full four the next couple hours so we continue to talk about what's next on the menu!
South Shore before too long! Cheers!