This week I revisited my photos of Lost Creek Falls, an isolated, primordial waterfall on the escarpment overlooking the south side of Lake Superior. I hardly ever look back and perhaps was seeking solace after the results of the national election a few weeks ago. The reflections on the water and stones, together with the light patterns in the foliage drew my eye inward to the waterfall and reminded me to give Thanksgiving for having experienced this magical place.
On our third day in the storm, we rented a car and drove north with no destination. A few miles north of Grand Marais, on the banks of Lake Superior, we came upon the Naniboujou Lodge and walked in. Definitely a psychedelic experience. The Lodge, completed in 1929, remains true to its history with no modernization in sight.
Naniboujou began as a private lodge for the rich, with charter members who included Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Ring Lardner. The main dining room displays Cree Indian designs (allegedly) over the walls and the 20 foot high domed ceiling is said to resemble a canoe. A French artist named Antoine Goufee did the painting, of course. Naniboujou has been called the “North Wood’s answer to the Sistine Chapel.” The Lodge fell on hard times in the Great Depression that immediately followed its opening. Fortunately, it was saved and currently operates as a lodge during the warmer months of the year.
Naniboujou’s dining room left me feeling hallucinogenic, and its silent ghostly worker in the corner reminded me of “The Shining” so we didn’t stay for lunch. But I did buy $32 worth of a bright blue hand-made bar soap from the gift shop because it was advertised as made from Lake Superior ice.
We also stopped for a few minutes at a solitary overlook on a cliff from which Lake Superior’s islands and shoreline could be seen.
Postscript: When we drove home in early September, the Naniboujou soap started melting in the heat of the car (because it was made from Lake Superior ice!) So I put it in our freezer at home to solidify it again. I had planned to give away the soap to the pet sitters and friends but as I write this I realize that I forgot about it in the freezer where it remains frozen.
At dawn on Saturday, August 22, 2015, we set sail from Cornucopia Wi, the marina where we keep San Francisco, traveling to Grand Marais, MN. We had originally planned to sail first to one of the outermost islands in the Apostles, spend the night and then head to either Grand Marais or Isle Royale. On my urging, we chose instead to make the long trip to Grand Marais to avoid the heavy weather forecast for Sunday on the western side of Lake Superior.
I started the sail, actually the trip, in a funk, anxious about the possibility of thunderstorms ( the forecast called for “isolated” storms) and the potential for high winds with rough, rock and rolling waves. But nothing happened and we arrived in Grand Marais in the early evening that day.
Getting to Grand Marais a day early turned out to be the right move as Sunday brought three days of gale force winds, rain, cold and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) warnings of waves dangerous for small watercraft.
Through it all, the boat remained cozy. But not quiet. One night, Monday I think, as we tried to sleep the wind screamed and howled over the boat, rattling the rigging and jerking us back and forth even though we were securely tied to the marina’s dock and within a breakwater. As I laid awake, all I thought about was having a good cup of coffee in the morning because it meant that we were through the night okay.
The lingering storm must have scared Grand Marais’ tourists home because the town became a remote, forlorn outpost under threatening skies. Howard and I captured these photos as we remained weathered in at the dock.