Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Disaster averted

And by disaster, I mean my camping trip being called off.

Me darlin' Mrs. made with the phone earlier last week and found someone to work for her on Saturday night thus freeing up our weekend. A free weekend consists of grabbing dog, gear and growlers and going away to sleep in the Great Outdoors somewhere. This time somewhere was up on the North Shore -- the northest of the North Shore, the last three parks before you run out of America and are hip deep in the Great White North.

We packed the car Friday and started out early Saturday morning, rolling away with the promise of a beautiful weekend. Of course, most of the Twin Cities was doing as we were and 35 North was pretty busy. Seeing the rush of humanity as we sped north, it was decided to stop in Rush City to gas up and avoid the stupidity and traffic of Hinckley. Pull over, gas up and a "Hey, Hon. How about you pull over to the hose and I'll top off the tires." 35 pounds, need a little. 22 pounds, stupid alloy rims, can't hold air. 40 pounds, 4 lug nuts, good to see it holding air...

4 LUG NUTS! Oh, crap. One of the studs was stripped and the nut was missing.

"We're goin' back," I announce with a sick stomach. My trip was ruined. That's all I needed, the thought of watching the rear wheel bouncing into the ditch was enough to make me spit nails, but canceling my camping trip was the thing that really soured me. I don't know how long it had been missing as I don't drive, but I have checked the air in last couple of weeks, so it may have been fairly recent. Nonetheless, a full car and a wobbly wheel doesn't make for a Happy Driving.

I console myself and Mrs. Yam with thoughts of BBQ's and bike trips. I tell her I'm glad I saw this before she had an accident on the way to work. I'm attempting to call White Bear Subaru to see if they can get us in today (yeah, good luck with that) and save the weekend. I'm fussing and fuming in the passenger seat when me Mrs. says, "I wonder if they're open?" pointing at a joint called TNT Repair that has the doors open and a guy in the bay working on something. We pull in and we describe what's happened and he squats down and says, "Yup, I can fix that." The Mrs has a cooler head and better eye than I do when I get steamed up...

An hour and $95 dollars later, we're back on the road and we're as giggly as school girls with elation. We make it to Duluth and Fitger's to replenish supplies (Witchtree and the Berry/Cherry Pale Ale, both excellent) and out up 61 to a State Park that would have us, which turned out to be Cascade River near Grand Marais (the lack of spot was not surprising, it being a holiday weekend and all). We managed to get one of the last spots and it was across the path from some guy who ran his generator all evening. I guess "getting away from it all" means "watching TV somewhere else." We started a fire, cooked up dinner and watched the sky darken and the stars come out all to the tune of sputtering Honda. Luckily, at 9:30 his show ended and they went to bed and the sounds changed to a giggly group of guitarists and the birds.

Sunday was visiting the two northerly parks (Judge C. R. Magney and Grand Portgage and a stop at the Grand Portgage National Monument. If you've been there, but not recently, you'll probably be as surprised as we were to see the new Visitor's Center. It's really gorgeous. Hikes, but nothing strenuous as we have an aging dog and my knees are still healing from gardening on my week off (more later).

Stopped at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais for some lunch and something to wash the dust from our mouths when we ran into the owners, Jeff and Susan. We're regulars, or, at least, as regular as someone who lives 250 miles away can be and we've chatted with them whenever we're up there. They'll come down to the Cities for shows and when they come to The Cedar, Mrs Yam will comp them tickets and a couple of beers. They're good folks. They were just stopping by when we were there and they invited us to their place for some wine on the deck. I'm glad our paths crossed as they have a lovely place and they are marvelous company on a beautiful evening.

We went back, barely making the 10:00 PM campground time limit and decided that a campfire was more effort that we were able to dredge up and we just went to bed. Leaving Monday morning is always sad, but we found that if we drive sensibly (take our time) and avoid freeways, the good feelings from a weekend away stay with you much longer. It's funny how driving back down 35 can sap your vital essence, so we took highway 23 from Duluth to 61 and stayed away from the madness. Really recommended.

All in all, this was one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend and we had a loverly one to boot. We also purchased another of the State Park Passport club packets, so we're off to see all the parks again. This time, as we've already done the Hiking Club, we're going to to the Geocaching they have in all the parks now. Unfortunately, my trusty Garmin seems to have given up the ghost after going from coast to coast and across Canada. Six years and thousands of miles it has been my companion; on my hip while hiking, on my bike or in the car, it has never failed me. But the years and the falls, water and getting stepped on have all taken their toll and my little buddy isn't feeling well. So, no geocaching at the parks until I replace it -- and other purchases await (e.g., gutters, windows, etc.)

That's okay, I'll come back. I always do.


The Old Bag said...

Sounds like a great weekend -- I agree that staying away from the freeway makes the good feelings last even longer.

Snakebite said...

Most excellent trip!

Doug said...

We solved the I35 sapping by moving to Duluth. One of our best joint decisions.

Matilda444 said...

You need a GPS. I have a GPS (Garmin GPSmap 60CSx)I don't need. I (we), need a ride from Orono to Calhoun Cycle bright and early Saturday AM. We are picking up a Rans Seavo (tandem recumbant). We also need some sort of map/suggestions on a route to get out of the city and back to the burbs on that new bike. Let me know if you're interested in a trade!

Beast1624 said...

That's probably the best $95 you could have spent...especially considering the one it's protecting!

Sounds like your end of I-35 is about the same as our end. Only problem here is or end doesn't lead to anywhere near as nice as what you've described.