Eric and I arrive in Ely five days before our entry date giving us plenty of time to visit with his family before we disappear into the wilderness. We go swimming in White Iron almost every day with his neice and nephews and head out onto the lake in the evenings with his brothers and sisters to watch the stars come out.
One morning we all get up dark and early and drive to a favorite fishing lake. When we get there, the wind is driving whitecaps into the shore and we abandon our hopes of fishing that day. Instead, we have lunch beside the lake and head back down the portage trail to pick the blueberries we saw on the way in. In ten minutes we fill a tupperware sandwich box; by the time we leave we have two gallons of berries!
Eric's Mom's Excellent Blueberry Pie: Combine 5 C fresh blueberries, 2/3 C sugar, 1/4 C flour. Pour berry mixture into dough-lined pie dish, cover with top crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Before we head out, Eric and I have a quest to complete--we scour Ely and surrounding outfitters in search of my very first paddle. It seems as if I pick up a hundred paddles before I find The One. It's so light and beautiful, it moulds to the shape of my hand and feels like an extension of my body. Hardly able to contain my excitement, we head back to the house to try it out.
My paddle is wonderful. It's as if the canoe is paddling itself. I'm glad to have paddled with the old clunky loaner paddles for all those years so that I can now truly appreciate how exquisite a good paddle feels. As we're paddling, we see a helicopter with a bucket dangling below it headed down the lake. We follow and two points down we see a small fire the helicopter is dumping water on. Everything is so dry this year and there are already several fires burning in the Boundary Waters. Needless to say, we won't be sitting around any campfires on our trip this year.