Sunday, October 25, 2015

MEA - hurray for a long weekend in the woods

One of the wonderful things about the Minnesota school system is MEA. Is a long 4 day weekend in October where the teachers have conferences but the kids/parents are free of school, homework and sports. Its good timing since the 1st 6 weeks of school are intense with getting back into a schedule, re-learning to learn and making new friends. Everyone needs a break. 
This year we headed up to the Gunflint Trail - Bearskin Lodge.   I was tempted to have this post ONLY be pictures because the are so amazing and really tell the story but ... figured you need a bit of a backdrop.
We coordinated our trip with the Pettersetters.  Krisin is Tracy's good dog walking friend, Anders is Jimmys best friend, Tom/Craig are mellow hang out breathren and Kay/Bill/Bjorn are die hard Hunger Games fans .. .not the movie, mind you, but the neighborhood hide/seek, nerf, survival game they created.   Bjorn also brought along his friend Brandon and we let Kay bring her gymnastics friend Nora - figured she shouldn't be out numbered by boys but ...that's really never stopped her.
Its a 5+ hour drive and we arrived in time for lunch in Grand Marais, the last stop before no gas, internet, wifi, cell service or groceries.  Lunch was a diner affair followed by the worlds best donuts - yep, that the name of the shop and they are that good.  Kay/Nora proceeded to do handsprings, ariels and flips down the street, we should have put out a hat for $$$.  And, it was a precursor for the majority of their activity the rest of the weekend. 
The lodge itself as nice and casual. about a mile from the boundary waters and 3 from Canada. We felt right at home.  It was Very north woods with a dock for each cabin, canoes, fireplaces, a fire pit and hiking trails right out our front door.  We hiked everyday, canoed and even tried to catch some fish on the pontoon. It was COLD!  On our best/longest hike, we were basically hiking through a dusting of snow the whole way. The views - lakes, streams, cliffs, forest - we amazing and we never ran into other people.  Hmmm...wonder that's because we had 4 adults and 7 kids, we were not a quiet bunch.
At night we had potluck dinners followed by a fire, card games (solitaire, exploding kittens, 31 and UNO) as well as dice games (Yatzee and Farkle). 
It was an incredibly relaxing and fun weekend.  make you want to move up there permanently.... 
 The lodge

 Our 1st hike of the weekend

 overlook on lake

 the boundary waters

 Even Jimmy enjoyed hiking and went with us every day

 Our lake view from our lodge dock

 Our floating dock

 Kay and Nora

 At Gunflint lodge, the start of our 2nd hike

 Hmmm ... I'm sure I could do that too

  The snow on our hike

  On a ledge at the top of a cliff - makes me nervous

 and nervouser 

 Having too much fun

 Serious contemplation


 Happy Kids

 Why not? Cant you do this?

 Even more nervous at the VERY top of the hike - yes those are tops or trees at her feet

 finally, someone playing it safe

 by a pokeman rock