March 31, 2015
cabinning with kiddos
Winters are very long in Minnesota. As tough and weathered as we Minnesotans seem to be, there is a moment – okay, weeks at a time – every winter when my whole being wants to escape the cold and gray, and go cook in the Florida sun.
Well, I’ve learned that Florida not meant to be, and the only way to silence the call of the tropics is to run the other way. Which way is that? North, of course, just about as far North as a traveler can go before she finds herself beyond civilization, or worse, in Canada (note to Canadians: I like Canada, but I probably left my passport at home and don’t wish to be eternally separated from home and kin). When perplexed, dismayed, overstimulated, or out of touch, Minnesotans go North, find a cabin to occupy, and see stars, animal tracks, and isolated communities.
Something about Northern MN feels like the end of the world: There is the Great Lake, which, with a little imagination, creates a visceral sense of the end of human reach. There are towns with only one road going in or out (Babbitt), towns that are disputably the coldest in the continental USA (Embarrass), towns that consist only of a bar and snowmobile gas pump (Junction), and towns that have completely disappeared off the map, leaving behind a solitary onion-domed church as the sole reminder of a failed farming community (Bramble). Then, of course, there are the expansive regions that are NOT towns: the BWCA, Superior National Forest, and scenic routes that seem to go on and on while you watch your gas meter dip a little further beyond empty.
We spent some time exploring Grand Marais, Ely, Grand Rapids, and eventually my hometown of Brainerd, which seemed awfully cosmopolitan in comparison to the wild north.