For several days we have been “off the grid”… Internet and cell phone connectivity has been more than a challenge here on the shore of Lake Superior – it has been virtually non-existent. There is cell phone service in Bayfield, pop. 493 in summer (maybe 23 in winter?), about 12 miles away. Our AT&T cell phone only works within the town itself, which is about 1 square mile area. There are only two coffee shops with Internet, and they close at 1700. But Bayfield is a neat little town, with a short 3 blocks of shops and restaurants, not too busy now the week after Labor Day, but the locals say the best time to visit is in February, when you can cross Lake Superior on an ice bridge to Madeline Island, a couple of miles offshore. (Let’s see, I should leave the sunshine and 75 degree temps in The Villages in February to walk across an ice bridge in northern Wisconsin??? The Chamber of Commerce really needs to do some creative advertising on this one…)
We decided to cross over to Madeline Island on a ferry instead of waiting for Lake Superior to freeze (hey, that might happen next week, but we have a schedule to meet). We left our campground in 75 degree, sunny weather, and drove into Bayfield, parked the Toad, and prepared to load our mountain bikes on the ferry. There was only one itsy, bitsy problem; in the hour since we left the campground, Fall had displaced Summer with a vengeance. The wind shifted 90 degrees, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. Suzanne had a jacket in the car, but I had to buy an Apostle Islands turista tee-shirt to avoid hypothermia.
It was a short ride to the village of La Pointe, Wisconsin, pop. 246, only 20 minutes, and fortunately it was upwind, and the ferry had a small passenger cabin area to huddle in. La Pointe is one of the most northern island communities in the US, but it has a flavor similar to Key West. Okay, no Jimmy Buffet bars and parrots in cages, but more than a few folks who probably dropped out of the wider American society in the 70s to live in small communes, with multi-colored, mismatched clothing, and lots of wild hair, tie-dyed shirts, hippy beads and beards. We rode around the island, uphill and upwind at first into a stiff breeze, then, thankfully, with the wind at our backs. Here is Your Faithful Correspondent at the beach at Big Bay State Park.
La Pointe is actually not the original name of the settlement. The Ojibway (Chippewa) Indians who lived here before French traders arrived called it Moningwunakuaning, which means the center of the earth or the spot on which the Ojibway Tribe first grew.
We departed the Apostles and headed for Duluth, Minnesota, where we met Pat and Jim Suchan at their beautiful waterfront home on Lake Superior. Pat had found Suzanne’s sailing book, Living a Dream, in a local bookstore, and subsequently ordered ALL of her books! Bedside being a discriminating reader, Pat is a fabulous painter, and Jim retired from his auto body shop business in central Minnesota. They gutted a 1930s cottage and completely redid it to its like-new condition.
Pat has an art studio as well as a reading room (in a separate building), while Jim keeps his immaculately restored vintage 1929 Ford truck in the garage.
Jim and Pat took us to lunch at an iconic Duluth restaurant, Black Woods, near their home. I had the best Reuben sandwich ever, while Suzanne had a yummy salmon sandwich. It was a delightful lunch, and we are looking forward to seeing Pat and Jim again in Lake Harriet, Minneapolis on Friday for our Messages of Hope documentary showing.
Finally, a few words on fashion… we decided that paddling in chilly Lake Superior would be safer if we were better equipped for possible “unplanned wet exits” from our kayaks. We dropped in on the local kayak shop and picked up two wetsuits and spray skirts. You don’t normally see me wearing a skirt, but the photo shows the black neoprene molded around my waist and attached to the kayak cockpit, preventing even the most determined waves and spray from entering the inside of the boat.
Here is My Lovely Bride dressed up in a tight, basic black number, ready to head for the Apostle Islands a few miles offshore… doesn’t she look stylish?
And here she is, paddling with perfect form… I am also submitting this photo to NC Kayaks, the maker of these great boats, for their web site…