OK, picking up where I left off… or actually overlapping with the end of the first installment. Whatever, this is a blog, not the great American novel.
I noticed something during the night: the toilet quacked. Anytime the toilet got flushed (which was often with 3 drunks and a pregnant woman) it would quack like a duck for a while. I think it had something to do with the extra-low water pressure coming in from the well. Or maybe our cabin was haunted by the ghost of an angry duck. Although it didn’t sound angry.
I really wanted to sleep in that morning. It had been a heck of a week, and I was way behind on sleep. After a good 7 hours in the truck and a 3-hour show, I was wiped out. Unfortunately, I woke up really early. I can’t say how early, ’cause there wasn’t a single thing in the room that told time, which actually made it much nicer.
Dinner the night before was pretty small, so I woke up HUNGRY. That was probably what woke me up in the first place. I lay in bed hoping everyone else could sleep in, but secretly wanting them to wake up so we could go eat. No one else slept in very late, either, which was just fine by me.
So, breakfast I already discussed, back to the lodge, warm clothes, out for a walk. Still no moose, although the locals seemed to think AVOIDING the moose would be more challenging than spotting one, so I remained hopeful. We learned that the best time to spot moose is with fresh snow on the roads. They’ve learned that the snow plows will leave them a salty treat on the curves, so you have to slow down every time you drive around a curve lest you hit one.
Walking around the frozen lake was absolutely beautiful. We didn’t make it too far, though, as the weather was steadily going downhill. The sky got darker, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and a few flurries started blowing around. We headed back to the cabin for an afternoon of shooting the breeze and sipping the Castle Danger.
Breakfast was so tasty, we opted to head back to the Trail Center lodge for dinner. A light snow was falling just as the sun was setting: perfect moosing conditions. I talked the gang into taking a drive up and down a few miles in hopes of spotting a moose before dinner.
Five is a nice, round number, so we headed five miles past the restaurant before turning around. No moose. However, when I hit the brakes to slow down and turn around, we slid. A lot. Fortunately, it was in a straight line on a straight road. That was all the wake up call we needed to turn around, eat dinner, and get our butts back to the lodge before the weather got any worse.
This is about the time the real world started nosing into our weekend of isolation. As the weather got worse and worse, all we could think of was the long drive home the next morning. The forecast still claimed it wasn’t going to be that bad, but none of us liked the look of the skies.
We played our second night at the lodge to another great crowd. The crowd was a little smaller, as more people stayed home or left early to dodge the snow, now turning to sleet.
We all opted to load up the gear right away, because we had every indication the morning would be worse. It was still warm, which was nice, but the snow/ice/sleet/slush was coming down thick. Ready to head out first thing in the morning, we crawled back into bed, keenly aware that our weekend of luxury was all but over.
Early the next morning, Jimmy and Chrissy were packed up and on the road. My wife and I were not far behind. We had just finished loading the truck when Jimmy came back. His car couldn’t make it up the hill on the fresh ice, and he was hoping to make it out driving in our tracks. My “truck” is really just a bloated car, but it’s heavy, so I was cautiously optimistic. We drove to the far end of the complex to get a running start at the one big hill, and both cars made it.
It’s about 2 miles from the main lodge to the Gunflint Trail. Upon reaching the Trail, we were happy to see that it had been plowed. Unfortunately, that left a 2-foot wall of ice between us and the Trail. With a couple spotters watching for traffic, I got a running start and broke a hole through for both cars.
From there, it was an hour back to Highway 61 and another 30 minutes to a gas station and coffee shop. A couple more hours of beautiful-to-look-at but white-knuckle-to-drive-in roads got us to Duluth, where we stopped (back at Fitger’s) for lunch with a friend.
At this point, I had to admit that I wasn’t going to see a moose. It wouldn’t be impossible, but it was pretty unlikely on the Interstate.
As we made our way south, the ice turned to snow, the snow turned to rain, the rain dried up and we arrived home without incident.