Bearskin Lodge After-Wedding Trip

March 23, 2020 | My Jottings

I’ve been meaning to share some pictures from our after-wedding trip ever since October. But a few things have happened. And then a few more. And then the Huge Thing happened, and here we are, in our houses, praying for the sick and the bereaved, wondering if life will ever get back to the way it was. I know the answer to that, but for now, let’s just look at some beauty.

This was the tiny cabin Lloyd and I stayed in at Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail. We were there four nights and five days, and didn’t want to leave. It was cold at night, sunny during the day, and there were gorgeous colorful leaves everywhere, and we had a lake at our back door and the woods all around. No phone service, no television. It was heaven.

The Gunflint Trail starts in Grand Marais, MN, which is about 100 miles north of where I live. It winds north and west through Minnesota’s forests, and if you look at the map you can see how close to Canada it comes. The Gunflint is the yellow road below. And you can also get an idea why Minnesota is called the land of 10,000 lakes. Although that is a lie. We have so many more than 10,000.

This is the sign that greeted us on the Gunflint Trail for our lodge. We then drove down a dirt road a couple of miles before getting to the main office, where we picked up our key and headed for Cabin 2.

We just had to stop and have some lunch before we got to our Gunflint turnoff, though. This was the salted caramel gingerbread cake a la mode we split. It had some cayenne pepper in it too, so yummy.

The inside of our cabin was rustic but so warm and comfy. Lloyd’s daughter Angela had called ahead and a warm Forest Berry Pie was waiting for us when we unlocked our cabin.

The kitchen was just a little corner at the front of the cabin, and I warmed a pot of soup for dinner. I made the soup at home and we took it with us.

We hiked, we drove around in our pajamas looking for moose (they abound on the Gunflint Trail!), we read out loud to each other. We had to hike on the Honeymoon Bluff Hiking trail since we had just gotten married and we were on our After-Wedding Trip.

Lloyd’s truck, Lloyd tying his hiking boots.

Such a gorgeous autumn day for a senior citizen selfie.

The morning we drove down some abandoned logging roads looking for moose, we happened upon this lake at sunrise. If you enlarge it you might be able to see the ducks.

We hiked to an overlook near Hungry Jack Lake, and this weathered fence post caught my eye. Look at how the rings formed in the winters (dark) are harder and stood up to the winds better than the lighter colored, softer wood made in the summers. There is a life lesson there.

The lodge at Bearskin has a cow moose and her calf made out of wound up twigs and branches, and they’re lit up with hundreds of tiny lights at night.

We took a kite in case we wanted to fly it. We took it out on the boat with us in Bearskin Lake and flew it until the string snapped. We were able to turn back and rescue the kite from the lake. What a lovely thing to sit with my feet up and read, while the fall sun comes in the back window of our little cabin.

This is the soup I brought — a copy of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana — so mouthwatering. I always add extra of everything, especially kale.

I don’t know what kind of mushrooms these are, but they were super hard. It took a lot to pull one off.

If you have trypophobia, do not enlarge this picture below. And please send lotion.

We boated for hours, but it was windy enough to make us want to come in and build a fire to get warm. Lloyd in a posture and expression I see a lot…

Trees fascinate me and I took lots of pictures of the waviness of the layers of bark on the pines.

From the top of Honeymoon Bluff Trail:

I’m trying to be intentional about how I spend my time these days. Lloyd and I just returned from a two week trip to California and were right in the thick of things. He is home in his log cabin fifty miles south of me, making sure he feels well. I’m here in my home, within view of Lake Superior, “sheltering in place” and doing foster paperwork. I want to knit, write, read, bake, walk, do old-person yoga, draw. So far I’ve only done one of those things. With overripe bananas.

How are you spending your time at home lately? Are you healthy? I pray you are.

May God keep you and help you,

Night time routines

March 1, 2020 | My Jottings

Do you think people develop more firmly established night time routines when they get older? I know I have.

Hopefully everyone brushes their teeth and gets into some comfortable pajamas or a nightgown before they go to bed. Those habits are expected and enforced from the time we’re tiny humans, right?

How about when you’re middle aged or even in the few last years of your life….what kinds of night time routines do you practice that you look forward to, or don’t look forward to?

It takes me a while to get ready for bed, because I like to take my time and I actually look forward to sleep each night. In the winter I go to bed so early one of my daughters pokes fun at me about it. She’ll call at 5:30 p.m. on her way home from work and say, “Are you in your nightgown yet?” In the warmer months I stay up later, but my routines rarely vary.

If my daughter Sara doesn’t let Mildred the Schnauzer out before me, I put Millie’s special collars on (no-bark and no-leave-the-yard) and let her out. I get morning meds ready for my foster resident the night before, and I may or may not load the dishwasher and get it started. When Millie is ready to come in for the night, I remove her collars and put them on the pillow on the oak pew in the dining room, and she goes downstairs to sleep in Sara’s room. I lock all the doors, turn off all lights and the computer, and head down the dark hallway to my bedroom.

I turn on one nightstand lamp, turn off the mist-free humidifier I have on in the winter, and I use the remote to turn on my wonderful electric fireplace near my bed. I turn down the house furnace and set the fireplace temperature to 66 degrees, the timer to two hours, and I enjoy the heat and the realistic flame so much, often falling asleep before it shuts off.

I always plug in my iPhone and scroll to my playlists on Amazon Music, and play something calming. I’ve gotten attached to the soundtrack of the recent movie A Hidden Life, and the music plays through my Bose speaker that sits on top of the fireplace.

Every other night I run a bath and put in a splash of Amway’s LOC liquid so I’ll have bubbles; sometimes my skin is dry and I don’t run a bath. While the super deep tub is filling, I grab the basin of my CPAP machine that has been air drying from its wash that morning, fill it half way with distilled water that I keep in my closet, and slide it in the machine on my nightstand and set it to warm. If I could skip living with a CPAP I would do so happily, but right after Michael died in 2015 I began having severe episodes of not breathing at night, and since then I’ve never gone a night without it. The feeling of going without any oxygen for a whole minute and waking up gasping desperately, heart pounding and limbs tingling, is not something pleasant, nor is it beneficial for my various internal organs. Why my brain forgot how to breathe at night after Michael died is a mystery. I told Lloyd I have brain damage and I absolutely meant it.

Then I brush my teeth. I take my time, sometimes using my Sonicare for the two minutes it’s set for, sometimes my ultra-soft regular toothbrush. After having Invisalign braces a few years ago, I began flossing my teeth a minimum of two times a day and I’ve never looked back. Then I take a very clean white washcloth that has been washed in the sanitize setting in my front loader machine, and clean off my tongue with warm water. Does that sound weird? I thought so too, until I read about how a certain former Bachelorette regularly uses a tongue scraper every day. She admitted it was weird but said “You’ve got to try it and you’ll see why.” Well, I wasn’t going to go out and buy a tongue scraper, but I thought clean white washcloths might do the trick, and she was right. Sounds strange, but wow. It’s a part of my night time routine now. What do you do to get ready for bed, Julie? Oh, I fill my CPAP basin and scrape my tongue. Wait…where are you going? Come baaack!

I use some mouthwash, wash my face if I’m not taking a bath, put a little Vitamin C serum on my skin and then a dab of moisturizer. I put on a plaid flannel nightgown, one of a few I have that are so warm and soft. And SmartWool socks on my feet if it’s cold out.

I pile up a couple of pillows on my king-sized bed so I can read for a while while my music is still playing softly and the faux fire is looking so cheery. The last three books I read: Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy, I’ve Seen the End of You by W. Lee Warren, and Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons. The last three audiobooks I’ve listened to at night are: Hallelujah Anyway and Small Victories by Anne Lamott, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. The narrator on the last one was unbelievably good.

And here are a couple of photos of some kind of lantern flowers on my dining room table, taken years ago. For your visual enjoyment, having nothing to do with my night time rituals.




If Lloyd isn’t here (we both maintain our own houses, fifty miles apart, so we are together about half the time), he calls and we chat before we go to bed.

When it’s time to turn the light off and get ready to sleep, I turn the Bose speaker off, and the music. If sleep doesn’t seem imminent, I might listen to part of a podcast, but most of the time I don’t. I’ve read a lot about Dolly Parton’s America and didn’t think it would be up my alley, but I gave it a try and it’s pretty fascinating. I strap on a wrist brace to keep me from wrecking my left wrist. In sleep I bend my hand down as far as it will go, and the pain wakes me. Why would I do something like that when I’m supposed to be totally relaxed? Maybe that will go in the Question Box along with why has my brain forgotten to signal for regular breathing during sleep.

I also usually put on some kind of Burt’s Bees lip balm. And some Citrus-Mint Beeswax on my hands from a brown little waxy disk. Sometimes I think it smells like Citrus and Mint and other times I think it smells like Urine and Mint. I’m pretty sure the company wouldn’t do that, but the Citrus part is a little, uh, strong. Then I put a little dab of lanolin on one part of a nostril, where the nasal pillow mask sits on my crooked nose. By the time I wake in the morning, that spot is red and sore, and I entertain thoughts of using a full-face mask, which doesn’t hurt my nose but squashes my face pretty powerfully. All so a woman can breathe.

When I finally put all reading material down, turn off the music or podcasts, have my brace on and my CPAP on, I turn on my side and rest my bent right knee on a pillow. It’s the residue of a total knee replacement surgery I had in 2013. Just a little torque or twist and it’s a deep ache. Although walking is great.

Then, I pray. I pray for each daughter, step-daughter, grandchild, son-in-law, friend, and many others. I have probably prayed for you if you’re reading this. I often pray The Jesus Prayer, which is something I would never have done years ago, but I need His mercy, everyone I love needs His mercy, and if He were right in front of me now I would plead for mercy from my Jesus. I sometimes pray an Examen prayer. Sometimes I cry-pray. Actually, I cry-pray a lot.

Fortunately I don’t often have trouble falling asleep. I would guess I’m out within five minutes. I might wake up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. and have some trouble falling back to sleep but dropping off around 9:30 or 10:00 at night is never an issue.

This all takes less than 20 minutes or so (unless it’s bath night).

What are some of your night time routines? Which ones do you wish you could do without? Which ones bring you the most comfort?