The first weekend of “official summer” brought a cold front with temps in the 60’s – hardly feeling like the summer we’ve been hoping for.  We were in Duluth to celebrate a friends’ return to Minnesota – a new home and wonderful people to welcome her back.  The roads and highways were lined with lupine, standing upright and in full bloom.  Colors ranging from deep purple, to lilac, to pink, to white – they were a welcome sight from the clouds and cooler temperatures.  But I was most enthralled by the lupines along the shoreline of Lake Superior.  With the huge lake in the background and the billowing clouds, the lupines stood tall against the wind and the weather blowing in from the lake.

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cabin-at-dusk_15552_staatsWe had spent the weekend exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.  Our last day had been cold, with bright sunshine and strong winds.  The snow was deep inland from the lake and there had been no thawing anywhere as the temps hovered near zero.  We pulled into our cabin after sunset, yet there was a hint of light in the sky.  With a bright star high above, the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, and the comfort of a light to guide us, we knew we were back – to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, and to marvel and appreciate the beauty that surrounded us on our explorations and our journeys.

sunset-on-the-north-shore-15536_staatsWe’ve just returned from a weekend getaway along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Winter was in all its glory with temps hovering between zero and below.  Our days were spent marveling in the beauty of the area and of winter along the far northeast corner of Minnesota and across the border into Ontario.  At Kakabeka Falls outside of Thunder Bay much of the water was frozen but there were still torrents plummeting over the edge, and the cold winter air caused sea smoke to rise off of Lake Superior. Along the Gunflint Trail people were out participating in and cheering a dog sled race, and there was also a fat tire bike festival taking place.  It was good to see so many people in multiple layers of clothing, big hats, thick gloves, and heavy, big boots – all ready to embrace the adventures that are unique to a cold Minnesota weekend.

Two Harbors breakwater light 0972_StaatsYes, it is spring according to the calendar.  No, the state of Minnesota must not be subscribing to the  usual calendar this year.  As I write this, we are having our fifth straight day of snow; some days it’s been snow flurries, and a couple of days we’ve had inches of the heavy white flakes pile up again requiring snow shoveling.  Everyone is grumpy and anxious for green grass, blue sky, and temperatures higher than 40 degrees. I was hopeful when I heard and saw my first red-winged blackbird on Tuesday morning.  I’m sure he was a bit confused as we all are. With that said, I could NOT bring myself to post yet another photo with snow in it.  Instead there’s only a small bit of snow in this photo from Two Harbors.  This is the breakwater light at the entrance to the harbors.  On a warm evening, it was delightful to watch the sun set behind the clouds and hear the lap of the waters of Lake Superior as they came into the harbor.

Two Harbors Lighthouse 0994_StaatsLast weekend we decided to go to the North Shore of Lake Superior.  We left the Twin Cities Saturday morning in rain, drove through the fog and into the sunshine in Duluth, and drove along the shore to 50 degree temps.  We were looking for a unique place to spend the night and found the perfect spot – the Two Harbors Lighthouse Station.  Neither of us had spent the night in a lighthouse, and this was the perfect time.  This lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the North Shore of Lake Superior, with the first lighting in April, 1892.  The area was a major shipping point for iron ores and the lighthouse was crucial in providing safe passage into Agate Bay Harbor.  A keeper in residence was assigned to the lighthouse until 1981 when the Coast Guard fully automated the station.  Fourteen years ago the Lake County Historical Society opened the residence as a bed and breakfast, and a unique and wonderful one!  Saturday night, as we came “home” to the lighthouse with a sky-full of stars sparkling above, it was easy to imagine what life was like a century ago.  On Easter morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and noticed that the sky was fluctuating between sunshine and snow showers.  Spring is fickle this year, and especially in northern Minnesota.  When we left the lighthouse we drove inland on county backgrounds, going in and out of the snow squalls, reminding ourselves that spring will be arriving.  Eventually.

We drove north this weekend for a family wedding celebration along the shores of Lake Superior.  The bride and groom met while playing co-ed soccer and have a love of adventure and the outdoors.  They hike and ski, bike and snowboard, and have a goal to visit all the national parks in the United States.  It was only fitting that they celebrate their wedding outside, surrounded by family and friends, with a view of Lake Superior.  Although there were a few minutes of raindrops prior to the wedding ceremony, the clouds passed, the sun began to shine through the clouds, and the bride walked down the aisle in her red shoes to greet her soon-to-be-husband.  With the support and blessings of their families and the friends that came from all corners of the country and the world, they began their new life together with smiles of joy and happiness.  Here’s to a future of adventures and much love!

With blue skies and perfect temperatures we headed north to the shores of Lake Superior.  We set out on our bikes on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail which parallels U.S. Highway 61 and has some of the most beautiful scenery in the state of Minnesota.  Although the bike trail will eventually run the full length of the North Shore, for now it is complete in sections.  We rode north from Gooseberry Falls State Park, through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, to the town of Beaver Bay a distance of about 14 miles.  The trail is anything but flat, with steep inclines because of the rock cliffs that line the shoreline of the lake.  Today the water was the most beautiful shade of blue, reflecting the clear and sunny skies above.  After an ice cream stop the return trip took us into a headwind, but the scenery and the downhill runs made the effort all worthwhile.  This section of Lake Superior is the closest I can come in the Midwest to seeing an “ocean” – the expanse is so large that there is no shoreline to be seen on the other side.  Just beautiful blue waters on a picture-perfect day all the way to the horizon.