For the fifth year in a row, I spent the Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends at the wonderful Lutsen Resort, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. If you have not had the opportunity to explore this gorgeous wilderness area in the heart of the country, put it on your bucket list. Here are a few photos from the weekend to whet your appetite:
Nothing like a Lake Superior sunset.
The sunset reflected in the windows of Lutsen Resort.
A couple of weeks ago I went up to the North Shore of Lake Superior for a writing retreat. I stayed at the gorgeous Naniboujou Lodge, just north of Grand Marais. No phones; no TV; no Internet — a perfect place to get some writing done.
When I needed a break one afternoon I jumped in Big Red and headed for a drive along some of the back roads in the area.
Where else are you going to see fun signs like this?
I’m safely ensconced in a warm condo along the North Shore of Lake Superior. The fire place is on (switch-operated) and outside the temperature is 2 (!), with a howling wind. It’s a perfect reading getaway!
I may not succeed at knocking all four of these books off in the next four days, but I’m going to try:
“Set the time machine for China, the year 1921. Experience first-hand the Middle Kingdom’s Golden Age of Travel, a time when steamships and railways had opened up new possibilities for the adventurous sojourner, yet the country had “lost none of its unique charm” and remained “as interesting and strange as it was to Europeans who more than five hundred years ago read Marco Polo’s amazing account of the land of the Great Khan.”
This Camphor Press book is a specially abridged version of the original The Travelers’ Handbook for China by Shanghai-based American newsman Carl Crow. It comes with maps, illustrations, and has a new introduction from Paul French (Carl Crow biographer and author of the true crime bestseller Midnight in Peking).”
Prize-winning author Michael J. Totten’s gripping first-person narratives from the war zones, police states, and revolutionary capitals of the Middle East and North Africa paint a vivid picture of peoples and nations at war with themselves, each other, and—sometimes—with the rest of the world.
His journeys take him from Libya under the gruesome rule of Muammar Qaddafi to Egypt before, during and after the Arab Spring; from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights in Syria on the eve of that country’s apocalyptic civil war to a camp on the Iran-Iraq border where armed revolutionaries threaten to topple the Islamic Republic regime in Tehran; from the contested streets of conflict-ridden Jerusalem to dusty outposts in the Sahara where a surreal conflict few have even heard of simmers long after it should have expired; and from war-torn Beirut and Baghdad to a lonely town in central Tunisia that seeded a storm of revolution and war that spread for thousands of miles in every direction.
Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia, by David Greene
Far away from the trendy cafés, designer boutiques, and political protests and crackdowns in Moscow, the real Russia exists.
Midnight in Siberia chronicles David Greene’s journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a 6,000-mile cross-country trip from Moscow to the Pacific port of Vladivostok. In quadruple-bunked cabins and stopover towns sprinkled across the country’s snowy landscape, Greene speaks with ordinary Russians about how their lives have changed in the post-Soviet years.
While the church today looks quite different than it did two thousand years ago, Christians share the same faith with the church fathers. Although separated by time and culture, we have much to learn from their lives and teaching.
I am sure that we will cross at least one river, and we’ll definitely be driving through some woods on our way to Lutsen this morning. My nieces are scattered around the country (Edinburg, TX; Hollywood, CA; Juneau, AK), so neither my mom, sister, nor I had much interest in putting on a big Thanksgiving Dinner.
So we’re going to Lutsen Resort, on the north shore of Lake Superior. We’ve rented a condo and made reservations for the Thanksgiving Buffet at the lodge so we’re good to go. If you were hanging around this blog 4 years ago, you may remember that Lutsen is the sight of the infamous blizzard wedding of Pierre and Kari. (my niece).
In case you missed it, and in honor of the happy couple who now live in Juneau, Alaska, here is a reprise of the blog:
“THIS IS INSANE”
I could be wrong, but unless you were one of a small group of people who attended my niece’s wedding last weekend, you have probably never heard a bride utter those words into a microphone just before reciting her vows. Don’t worry. It wasn’t a reference to those upcoming vows, but most likely was a reference to the fact that we were all standing outside along the shores of Lake Superior in a blinding snowstorm.
We Minnesotans spend most of our winter existence walking a fine line between being hardy and insane. I guess at that moment my niece surmised that we had all crossed the line into insanity, never mind the fact that she and the groom were leading the way. Her statement notwithstanding, however, the consensus among the guests was that it was the most fun wedding. Ever. It wouldn’t surprise me if the headlines in the local newspaper read “Beach Wedding in a Blizzard.” When it was all over, there was a foot of new snow on the ground and a happily married couple. And, as far as I know, no one caught pneumonia, which is a good thing as well.
To say that the wedding of Kari and Pierre was unconventional would be an understatement. But then again Kari has never done anything conventional in her life, so there was no reason to expect that her wedding would suddenly be conventional. To start with, neither of them like to be the center of attention, so the thought of the typical American “princess for a day” wedding was out of the question. They wanted something that would be fun — for their friends, not just them, and something that would allow all of us to get in touch with our inner Minnesotans. The logical place then was outside, and in Minnesota, “outside” doesn’t get any better than the north shore of Lake Superior, that greatest of Great Lakes. And along The North Shore there is no finer establishment than Lutsen Lodge, a historic resort nestled in a cove where the Poplar River runs into the Lake. Never mind that the date was December 1.
The weekend wedding festivities began on Thursday night, with Pierre’s father preparing a home-cooked Lebanese meal for the families and the other early birds who had arrived. Stuffed zuchini, pita, bakhlava—all in the heart of lutefisk country! Friday was a day for “playing” (as the Chinese would say). Some folks went to Sven and Olie’s Pizza in Grand Marais, some played hockey, and others just enjoyed the beauty of the shore. Friday evening, the guests convened again for dinner at a restaurant at Lutsen Mountain. Another unconventional aspect to this wedding was that there were no groomsmen or bridesmaids (they didn’t want friends to have to spend money buying outfits they would never wear again). And since it was to be a short ceremony outside, there really wasn’t anything to rehearse, so instead of this being a rehearsal dinner for members of the wedding party, it was a groom’s dinner for everyone. Pizza, buffalo wings, and dart-games were the order of the evening.
The wedding announcements had stated that the ceremony would be held outside “weather permitting.” If weather didn’t permit, then it would be held in a conference room in the lodge. Saturday morning we awoke to news of a major snowstorm headed our way. A big one. A “ten-incher.” Would this be the impermissible weather that forced us indoors? Not likely….that would be far too conventional for this couple. By noon the snow was flying. By 3pm, it was flying horizontally….off the lake! Never mind. At 3:30 all the guests gathered down on the shoreline, sipping coffee and hot chocolate. Then Kari and her dad walked down from the lodge. I probably don’t need to add here that the ceremony was short, and as soon as it was over we all fled back to the lodge for a wonderful sit-down dinner. I think one thing is clear—this wedding has forever raised the bar on what is meant by “weather permitting.”
After dinner, the plan was to gather around a bonfire on the beach. But there was this little problem of a raging blizzard. Could one actually start a bonfire in a blizzard, and if so, would anyone in their right mind actually go out and enjoy it. Well, we learned that the answers to both questions for this group were a resounding YES. It wasn’t easy, but eventually Ken became the hero of the weekend and got the fire going. The bride and groom changed back into their ice-fishing clothes and joined the party by the fire, singing and dancing to Johnny Cash tunes (Pierre had driven his truck down to the beach) late into the night.
The next morning we bad the bride and groom farewell as they headed off on their honeymoon….to Ely, Minnesota! The rest of the family loaded up the vans and cars and headed back to the Cities, still chuckling about the beach wedding in a blizzard!
Not surprising for a couple who were married in a blizzard on the beach, Kari and Pierre spent last winter homesteading in Alaska, on the edge of the Aluetian Islands. You can read about their adventures ontheir blog North to Alaska. Now they are living in Juneau, and they blog at Whaleburps. Click on over and check it out.
Earlier this week my mom, sister, and I took a trip up to the gorgeous North Shore of Lake Superior for a couple days R&R. It was typical June weather up there — cold and wet! Yesterday it was pouring cats and dogs when we set out for the drive home. The wind and the rain were coming straight off the lake. When we stopped in Duluth for lunch, the temperature was 38 degrees F. 38!!! In mid-June!!! That means we were just six degrees away from a blizzard. Below are some photos that I was able to get in the few hours that the clouds lifted on Tuesday. Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse and The Shore. Enjoy.