Friday, June 21, 2013

Road Tripping with Ozzie - 8

   The cold fog obscures it, but I know it is there. I can taste it in the northern breeze and feel it in my nostrils. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Gitche Gumee, the Big Lake. Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area.
   The Old Guy senses it too. This is the countryside of his family and the lake has been part of their history for almost 100 years.
   We had overnighted in a small campground at Pipestone, Southern Minnesota, a sacred Indian site of special stone for making ceremonial pipes, then headed northeast for Duluth. The flat farmlands, dotted with large steel silos for storing ethanol corn for gasoline, gradually turn to wooded parkland. The pines, so dominant out west, now are a minority among the birch, popular and other deciduous trees and bushes.
   We pass Cloquet, where the Old Guy’s branch of the family began. His father was born there three years before the Great Cloquet Fire of 1918. The fire killed 453 people, and another 52,000 were injured or displaced. The Old Guy’s family moved north to International Falls and eventually into Canada, but always on the Big Lake.
   The land and the weather have changed dramatically in the seven hours it took to drive from the southwest corner of the state to Duluth on the far tip of the lake. It was in 80s in the morning but on the lake we peered through lake mist created by temperatures in the 50s, much appreciated when you are carrying a coat like mine.
   The others here are shivering and running for their jackets (except for Marcus who no matter what the weather always is in shorts and T-shirt). But if this is what the north is like, I’m loving it! So much so that I romp along the shoreline then wade into the waves for a refreshing dip.
   I expect to sleep soundly, lulled by the waves breaking against the stony shore and without my constant panting that comes with the heat.
   Lake Superior can be unwelcoming, however, and during the night throws one of its famous tantrums. Monsoon rains leave little lakes around the RV. Flashes of lightning illuminate us inside and the thunder is deafening. Later gale force winds rock the RV and start tearing the rain covers off tents across the way.

   This a very unhappy lake and the Old Guy reminds us that it is the same unhappy lake that took down the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald, immortalized in song by Gordon Lightfoot.

Staying Cool Beside the Big Lake

Dictating my Latest Post to the Old Guy
Lake Superior Getting Hostile

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