This week was definitely the highlight of our summer so far. We took a trip to the North Shore - including Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais. We still have Silver Bay and Two Harbors that we will be exploring over the upcoming weekend.
Sunday, July 6 - We're still preparing for the 4-H county fair, but managed to take some breaks in between working on projects.
Sophia took Bailey on a walk in the backyard. She enjoyed eating the grass and weeds.
The dogs maintained a safe distance from the horse, but Bailey didn't seem to mind her "backyard pasture" companions.
Monday, July 7 - Olivia made delicious molasses cookies that had caramel sauce drizzled on them. They are for a 4-H project under the "Candyland" theme (a special theme chosen by the ambassadors).
Tuesday, July 8 - We drove to Gunflint Lodge for the start of our trip. After we ate dinner and settled in a bit, we noticed a yearling black bear walking outside our window.
Of course, we all had to go outside for a closer look and better photos than the one above. Unfortunately, the bear was faster than we were and escaped into the woods before we could get better pictures.
Wednesday, July 9 - Today we went horseback riding for about an hour. It was a nice - yet challenging - ride on rocky paths, up and down steep hills, through mud, and through little creeks across the trails.
It was much different than riding on level ground, and we were all challenged (in a good way) with learning to ride through obstacles in our paths.
We weren't allowed to take pictures on the trail. Noise from cameras - or if a camera dropped - could startle the horses and cause problems for all the horses and riders.
So, we settled for pictures of us before we left on the ride.
We each enjoyed the horses we were assigned to, and had a great time.
After the ride, we went to Gunflint Lake and spent time along the shoreline to watch the ducks.
Sophia spotted a butterfly.
Then we took a ride on a fishing boat on Gunflint Lake. It was a bit more choppy than last year when we went. After getting out a bit on the lake, we went faster. Then something happened and the next thing I knew we abruptly went in an almost full circle at top speed, knocking me off the bench and the girls holding onto their chairs. Needless to say, it was one of those times we were very happy to be wearing a life jacket.
Shortly after that, I stopped to take a picture and to rest my hand from operating the power/steering. I moved my hand too much and the safety bracelet came off of the boat and cut off the motor. We were drifting on the lake.
All of us tried to figure out where the hook attached. We thought we had it figured out, but the boat didn't start.
At this point, as we drifted closer to the rocky shoreline, we decided to start paddling towards the nearest dock. We tied the boat and anchor to the dock and then Olivia and I went ashore while Sophia stayed with the boat.
Thankfully, there was a year-round resident at home who came down to help us. He tried to figure out what was wrong. After some time he noticed that the boat was still in gear. After moving the level to neutral, he got the boat to start. We learned something new on that boating excursion.
We explored the lake a bit more, and then came back to the lodge. We relaxed a bit and then Olivia and I went to a presentation about snakes.
The naturalist, John, showed us a corn snake while talking about snakes. We learned a lot of facts about snakes.
Olivia had a chance to touch the snake after the presentation.
Thursday, July 10 - I went on a morning birding hike while the girls rested. Saw a lot of interesting things along the mile or so long hike. One thing that John, the naturalist, pointed out was the orderly holes in pine trees.
The holes are made by the yellow-bellied sapsucker. According to All About Birds,
"The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker makes two kinds of holes in trees to harvest sap. Round holes extend deep in the tree and are not enlarged. The sapsucker inserts its bill into the hole to probe for sap.
"Rectangular holes are shallower, and must be maintained continually for the sap to flow. The sapsucker licks the sap from these holes, and eats the cambium of the tree too. New holes usually are made in a line with old holes, or in a new line above the old."
After I came back, we put our garbage out in the can by the door of our cabin so that it could be picked up while we were on a trail ride. In less than an hour, we came out to find that the bear cub had returned and explored our garbage.
There were holes in the lid left by the bear's claws and/or teeth.
Around 11:25 we left for the trail ride that included lunch. There was a family of five (two adults and three children) and us - so eight riders plus the two guides.
Sophia and I had the same horses as we did the previous day, so we were used to them. Olivia was given a new horse.
We rode for about 1 1/2 hours, and then stopped for lunch. The chef from the lodge and the naturalist were there with food that we each had ordered the day before. We all had something different, and the chef had everyone's food ready to go when we arrived.
After we ate, we rode for another 1 1/2 hours and then came back to the lodge. The girls went to the beach for about an hour to play with the two other girls on the trail ride.
Then Olivia went with the girls to their cabin for a time and then to ours while Sophia and I went zip lining.
There was quite a bit of equipment to put on for zip lining.
After we were geared up and did some basic training at "ground school," we went on an ATV ride to the first platform.
There were a variety of platforms above tree-top level that we stood on while we waited. There were 5 people in our group plus the two guides, so we didn't have to wait very long between rides.
The longest section was 800 feet. You pick up quite a bit of speed by the middle of the run.
We got to Lookout Point and had great views of Gunflint Lake, Magnetic Lake, and Canada in the distance.
After that view, our next part of the zip line course was "The Plank." You had to walk off the plank (essentially the side of the cliff) and then go on the line. Looking at the picture below, you can't even see the next platform it's that far away.
When we returned, Sophia and Olivia spent some time with the girls they met on the horseback ride. They walked on the beach and talked.
They did some exploring in the water and on shore.
That night, Ava and Olivia R. came over to our cabin and the girls played games, talked, and had snacks until a bit after 10 p.m. Judging from all the laughter, they had a great time together.
Friday, July 11 - Today we awoke to fog. Throughout the morning, there was drizzle, rain, and a downpour. Because we enjoyed the horseback riding so much, we decided to stick with going on the ride despite the fog and drizzle/light rain.
We ended up being the only three riders that morning along with the two guides which was nice. The guides knew us by that time, so that was good. They knew the types of horses each of us was capable of handling, and we were given new ones which provided a completely different experience than the rides we had previously.
We checked out of Gunflint Lodge and then headed down to Grand Marais. We had hoped to go on sailing trip at North House Folk School, but everything was fogged in. The captain wouldn't cancel the trip until 1/2 hour before the departure time, so we had 1 1/2 hours to spend in town.
We ate lunch and then went to the trading post and Ben Franklin store. The girls liked both stores, especially the Ben Franklin one. There were a lot of different things to see, and it felt like walking into lots of stores - Michaels, Joanns, Fleet Farm, Target, etc.
Then Mary, from North House, came out and said that she would take us on the sailboat and show us around it. She explained different parts of it - including how the compass worked.
She took us below deck and the girls got to see where people could sleep, eat, sit, and relax.
We are looking forward to returning in the future to go on the sailboat.
We continued onto Silver Bay where we stayed overnight. The girls swam and went down the big water slide. Sophia relaxed in the hot tub for a bit. Then we enjoyed pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon bread that was from a local pizza place.
It was a fun week filled with lots of great memories and experiences!