A Few Days Up North

October 21, 2020 | My Jottings

Recently, to celebrate our one year anniversary, Lloyd and I spent a few days in Northern Minnesota, just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border. We went to the same place we stayed for our After Wedding Trip, except we stayed in a slightly larger cabin this time. Here’s a view of East Bearskin Lake from our cabin door. The first day was drizzly, but the wood stove in the living room warmed us up and we kept it stoked almost the whole time we were there. I’ve since wondered, how can 70 degrees from my forced-air furnace feel so unbearable, and 82 degrees from a steady, radiating woodfire feels so wonderful? I’m sure there’s a scientific answer to that.

There was a double swing and some Adirondacks on our dock, and I went down to read on the swing as the sky was clearing — you can see a little blue on the right of the photo below.

This is our cabin (Balsam Cabin, #4) from the dock. We were tucked away in the woods and could have stayed for much longer, if not for the toilet. This was an old cabin at a great resort that had been nicely remodeled, meaning they put new flooring down, new kitchen cabinets, new wood stove. And they tiled the tiny bathroom floor and put in a new toilet and sink, but they must have purchased the toilet at www.HobbitPotties dot com, because it was like using a mixing bowl. Soooo low to the floor (a challenge for someone with a knee replacement), soooo tiny of a seat circumference, so precarious a flusher. Lloyd and I laughed about it a lot, but by the time we headed home, I was surprised how much I was looking forward to seeing my own toilet in my own bathroom. How ridiculous is that?

No wi-fi, no televisions at this resort, hardly any noise. It was heaven for two introverts who love the beauty of outdoors.

We took a long hike one day, up, up, slowly up, toward Canada, on winding paths with lots of rocks. We stopped and smelled the white pine needles, the balsam too, and hoped to see a moose. Here’s the little map that showed the hiking trails available to us.

You can see the red star where we stood, and of course I wanted to head up the trail that led to the “Moose Pasture.”

This is Lloyd getting suited up, since it was chilly. We parked on the side of an old logging road and set out. I have walking poles and by the time we got back, I wished I had taken them. The big rocks sticking out of the paths at times made me feel unstable and I walked like an old lady.

Below you can see the type of path we were on for at least half the time. Lloyd rubbed my sore feet that night, God bless him please.

But the smell! Oh! It was like heaven. The autumn leaves on the ground, the dry air carrying the various evergreen fragrances everywhere, I could have just set up a camp chair, lifted my nose and sat and sniffed all the livelong day. I could have switched my vocation to Professional Pine Sniffer.

I thought these needles were interesting — like hundreds of tiny witches’ brooms hanging up waiting for their diminutive riders.

We saw zero moose. Others were posting pictures on Instagram from all up and down The Gunflint Trail that day, with moose and their babies crossing the road, bull moose browsing the low-hanging twigs of the forest. We saw blue jays, grey Canada jays, chickadees, woodpeckers, eagles, ruffed grouse, red squirrels and a bushy-tailed red fox, which were all so delightful anyway. Lloyd made a pot of chili at his cabin before we drove north, and we had that for dinner two nights in a row. He has always eaten chili over rice, so I made a batch of brown rice and we enjoyed it that way — very good! I made muesli for breakfast and we had grapes and Honeycrisp apples for snacks.

We read out loud to each other and are still thoroughly enjoying this book, about a couple who left their jobs in Chicago in the late 1950s and bought a run-down cabin off the Gunflint Trail, staying for sixteen years. He illustrated the books she wrote about their time in the forest. With a little online research, we were able to figure out what their address had been way back in the early 1960s, and we drove north to Gunflint Lake, driving down the little road they lived on so we could get a feel for what she was writing about.

Today as I type in my office, there is snow on the ground from an early storm that blew in yesterday. I like snow. I love Minnesota. But I would prefer if my snowstorms would come in early December, just in time to put us all in the Christmas mood (although this hasn’t worked for me for quite a few years). I am getting too old to be chipper about snow in October. I had to be out driving in it last night and it was slippery, and I thought to myself, “Ooooh yes, I remember this. And I think I’ll go see what the vrbo winter rentals in Florida look like.”

So I’m having a cup of tea with creamer made from PEA PROTEIN, because I took a food sensitivity test and it turns out I’m very highly reactive to milk and eggs. But that is another story for another day.

How are you? What is your weather like? What animals have you seen lately?

Thanks for stopping in,


  1. Nancy Roney says:

    Thank you for your lovely post. I wish my late husband had liked camping or spending time in cabins but he didn’t. He wasmore into long train rides and historic hotels. Your refuge for yor anniversary looks heavenly to me. It looks wonderful. weather here in New England is fine. We are in what used to be called Indian Summer. I think the temps today were 68. I am hoping for more of this weather to do more bike riding. Salem is gearing up for Halloween even though the city cancelled it because of Covid-19. Salem is a destination in itself. The street to the house filmed in Hocus Pocus has been closed as too many fans go there. I am going with my son to Williamsburg on Sunday by train. The train goes direct from Boston to Williamsburg. Will visit Jamestown and Yorktown settlements. There is supposed to be scenic drive connecting Williamsburg and Yorktown about 28 miles. Virginia is lovely especially the Shennandoah Valley. Once Visited Harpers Ferry. If you ever go that area of the country is is beautiful. Happy Anniversary to you and Lloyd. God bless you both and your familes.

  2. Just Julie says:

    We have missed our Indian Summer here, Nancy. My favorite part of fall, when it’s warm and dry and colorful during the day, then cold and crisp at night. I would love to take a train ride to Canada someday. Did you and your husband do Amtrak? I also would love to visit your part of the country more thoroughly someday — what you’ve shared sounds so lovely. God bless your weekend, friend. xoxo

  3. Machelle Palmi says:

    Your potty story made me laugh. Thanks for that blessing.

  4. Just Julie says:

    We need to laugh especially during these times, right Machelle? 🙂 So nice to see your name in the comments when I signed on. God bless you and yours this week. xoxo

  5. Kay in Cornwall says:

    Hello Julie,
    I loved reading this post and I admit I felt very envious. Your trip sounded like heaven, apart from the toilet. 😉
    We often say that it’s lovely to go away and just as lovely to return home to our own facilities.
    Louisa is getting married on 10th December and we would so appreciate prayer for this wonderful occasion.
    England is going into lockdown until 1st December, but there has been talk today of it being extended.
    It’s bad enough not being able to be with Louisa during the planning (Wales is in lockdown until sometime later this month), but if we miss the wedding it will be so upsetting. Especially as we have abiding by ‘the rules’ whereas we know of so many who haven’t.
    Also, our dear little Archie is very poorly. He was admitted to the vets’ last Tuesday because he had a high temperature of 39.9 degrees. During that day his temperature reached 40.7!
    Archie’s temperature dropped to 39.4 by the end of the day and he was able to come home with us, but he is not well.
    He will only eat chicken! Normally he gobbles up anything. He is so very lethargic and depressed looking. We will take him back to the vets tomorrow (Monday) for another check-up. Please pray for our little fur baby.

  6. Just Julie says:

    Oh Kay, reading about Archie made me sad. I pray the vet finds exactly what is wrong and can smooth his path to complete recovery! Our pets are such beloved family. Yes, I read about England going into lockdown. I can’t imagine that preventing you from attending Louisa’s wedding. Lord, please, please make a way. My love to you, dearest Kay.

  7. Kay says:

    Hello Julie,
    Just an update on our Archie Parchie!
    After two weeks of being seriously ill, he has now fully recovered from the reaction to his annual vaccine. What relief!! We are both so very grateful for prayers for our little dog’s recovery. His health is priceless to us. However, our vet is going to try and get compensation from the vaccine company because they’d changed the formula of the serum and Archie is not the first dog to have had an adverse reaction. (Though the other dog reacted in a different way.) £600 of vet’s fees is quite a lot. xx

  8. Just Julie says:

    I was worried about Archie and am so relieved. I did pray for his full recovery and your news made me happy! Yes, I think for all you’ve been through, the vaccine company should take some responsibility. Love to you and Alan, dear Kay!

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