Thursday, September 8, 2022

A Quiet Spot

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome
than the most luxurious Persian rug. —Helen Keller

Ed and I live a quiet life in the country. You might think that when we travel we would seek the excitement of “Big City” life; but more often than not, we look for other quiet spots where we can surround ourselves in nature. Case in point: this past week, we drove 1116 miles (one way!) to stay at a 1960’s-era cabin on a private island at the edge of the million-acre Quetico Provincial Park, in Ontario, just north of Minnesota. 

You may wonder why we bother. Why not just stay home? Farm Dover is abundant in natural beauty, but our to-do lists are long -- and unceasing. In the faraway wilderness we seem to breathe more deeply, see more clearly, hear more keenly, sleep more soundly.

We are enchanted by the softness of moss under our feet, stretch our shoulder muscles with each paddle of our canoe, take bets on the size of bass nipping at our line, are assured of universal love by the haunting wail of the loon, get pleasurably lost in the pages of a book, savor a simple meal of fresh-caught small-mouth, and anticipate the slow-in-coming evening darkness followed by the blaze of millions of stars.

We are calmer, clearer, and happier in this place of solitude. 

It’s kind of amazing — and quite fortunate — that our introverted ideas of a good time are so compatible. Both Ed and I crave these times of utter silence, acknowledge the need to reflect and recharge, welcome the chance to challenge our wilderness survival skills, and possess a deep appreciation for nature.

So, yes, the rustic, Canadian cabin on Nym Lake was the perfect antidote for our need for solitude. But the rest of the trip was a success as well. Here are some highlights:

On the way up: Rainy River, MN

The second night of our journey northward brought us to International Falls, MN, the “icebox of the nation.” After posing with Smokey the Bear and touring the quirky Bronco Nagurski Museum, we headed three miles east of town to Rainier in search of dinner and a place to stay. We found both, and recommend them highly.

If you don't know who Bronko Nagurski is, don't feel bad. I didn't either! 
Cantilever Hotel and Distillery

Rainy Lake Grill

On the way home: Ashland, WI

After leaving our wilderness cabin, we headed south toward home. Stopping for a fish and chips lunch at The Fisherman’s Daughter in Grand Marais, smoked trout to-go in Knife River at Kendall’s Smoked Fish Shop, and then, just as dark fell, pulled into Ashland, WI and scored the last room at the Rocky River Inn and Bait Shop, a quintessential motel (and Bait Shop). Our expectations were exceeded. 

Dinner that night was a 10-inch pizza down the road at the Pizza Pub. The next morning, being Labor Day, we found most coffee shops closed. But with a little snooping around, we found a good cup of coffee and an excellent orange/cardamom croissant and a cherry danish at the Ashland Baking Company. Then we were off to our next stop: Fish Creek, WI, rightfully designated by Forbes as one of the prettiest towns in America…

Fish Creek, WI

Situated on the Green Bay peninsula, this town is as pretty as promised. We arrived on Labor Day, just as the masses were headed home. Dinner at Barringer's was a delight. Cocktails and a ribeye hit the spot. Stayed at Thorp House Inn, lovely if you like Victorian (I don’t; makes me claustrophobic). The next day we made a tour of the area orchards, picking up gifts of cherry jam, dried cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, fudge with cherries, and canned cherries. Yep, you guessed it: Door county is known for its cherries. 

We capped off our time in Fish Creek with frozen custard treats from Not Licked Yet

On Wednesday, we headed home, intending to stop in Indianapolis for dinner with an old friend. Ed was feeling less than great, so I pulled out a Covid test that I had packed for our trip. Sure enough. After 2.5 years of avoiding Covid, it had hunted him down -- I assumed I wasn't far behind, but would have to wait until I got home to find out for sure....

On the off-chance that any of my readers are interested, here are the details on our private cabin on a private island…

We reserved the cabin through Voyageur Wilderness, located on a 5-acre secluded island, offering outfitting for canoe trips into Quetico Park, as well as lodging and meals. We stayed the first two nights in one of the cabins on the main island, before heading over to the nearby private cabin/island. Their private cabin can also be rented thru Airbnb. 

If you too crave the quiet; this could be your spot.