Okay, the North Shore is not a new destination for us but we thought it would be a nice way to get Masha used to traveling. It is not too far from our home but it is a roadtrip and requires putting together a suitcase and a long car ride. This is a logistics lesson for Randy and I. It is tricky to go anywhere with 5 kids in tow - (and no, we have not added to the family again - our favorite sometimes son, Christopher, was along for the ride.)
We left around noon after picking up Caelia and Lera from school and after stopping to pick up new glasses for Randy. Evidently Randy forgot about Caelia's propensity for destroying glasses at Masha's age but Masha has quickly reminded him, first with his glasses and then with his sunglasses (less than a week apart). Our van seats 7 which means it is snug with all the kids and luggage. We also brought along our WIKE. I love this thing. It holds Lera and Masha and diaper bags and steers really easily - it also goes through single doors of buildings and not have to be folded. It also puts together in a snap. Lera tires easily (so does Caelia but she refuses to ride) and Masha is too unsteady on her feet for us to take long walks with her, especially on uneven terrain.
We stayed in Lutsen at Caribou Highlands. I really like this place. It has townhouses for rent and they are reasonably priced because they are not on the water. It is a ski lodge in the winter time but in the summer it is equally beautiful and they have a lot of activities to sign up for that I hope to take advantage of next time we are up there. Our home had a beautiful view of the gondolas traveling up the side of the hill. (Hill is an understatement) It also had a huge dining table that I hope to have one of its size in the future. We took advantage of the the kitchen and grill to cook at home. It was really nice to not have to go out for food after a long day of being out. It is a challenge to take the girls out and still manage for Randy and I to eat at the same time. There are a lot of distractions in a restaurant that make eating less interesting than whatever the kids at the table across the way are doing.
This trip was sort of short because Randy has interviews that he needed to be home for the next week but we did go to all our favorite places. We stopped in Duluth's Canal Park on our way to Lutsen. Lera wasn't in the best mood but it was cooler there than anything in Minneapolis has been for the last couple of weeks. The humidity is much lower too. We played on the shore and watched the big boats with the girls while Michael and Christopher burned off pent up energy by climbing all over the big rocks that protect the shore.
The next morning we went to Grand Marais. The home of the Best Donuts in the World. Randy loves them (and so does everyone who was in town for the Fisherman's Festival to judge by the long line). I don't think they are spectacular but as Randy says how can you find fault with something deep fried and coated in sugar and frosting? It was a lovely morning and of course, we had to skip stones. Notice Lera is wearing a coat. It was chilly by the lake. Lake Superior is icy cold which makes the surrounding area cool and is the reason you do not see us splashing in the water.
From Grand Marais we drove almost to the Canadian border and visited Grand Portage. There is a really cool working fort there that was interesting and entertaining for everyone. The girls could run but they also were allowed to touch things and us older people got to learn more history. They have actors portraying period folk that you can ask all kinds of questions. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.
Next to the fort was the camp for the voyagers (traders) and both Caelia and Lera made themselves at home. I mentioned that Lera tired easily right?
---------------------------to be continued------------------------------------