Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

The Friendly Flies Trip 2002
by Spartan2

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 06/19/2002
Entry & Exit Point: Cross Bay Lake (EP 50)
Number of Days: 9
Group Size: 2
Trip Introduction:
There are canoe trips that we remember as favorites. Trips where we savor the memories and consider them very special. Then there are other trips that we remember as not-so-favorites. We sometimes complain about the conditions and will refer to them in our comments as "unpleasant", or "icky", or even "disastrous." As I started out to make this trip report from our time in June of 2002, I was considering this trip to be one of the latter. Then I got out the book. There is a very big book, a photo album with over 325 photo prints, pages of narrative for each day, and a variety of clippings and other memorabilia. And, to my surprise, I discovered that the "Friendly Flies" trip, while I often remember it as "disastrous" or "icky", still includes some sweet memories. I can't change the name. It will always be remembered as the trip when we encountered tent worms and friendly flies. They were terrible. But as I choose a few photos from each day to scan, and as I relive the days of this trip almost twenty years later, I can perhaps look at all of it with a bit more humor and still appreciate the blessings we shared. It was just the two of us, 56 years old, married 35 years, each with health challenges. I had recently had a scope done on my knee, and was wearing a metal brace to help support it on portages. Because it was difficult for me to get in and out of the Bell canoe, we took the Grumman on this trip. Spartan1 was dealing with type1 diabetes and kidney disease. We had an "empty nest" at home, and had enlisted our wonderful neighbors to look after our small flock of sheep in our absence. The photos are from a Canon Rebel X film camera (18 rolls of 36 explosures!), so I have recently scanned some for this trip report. Doing a trip book in those days with film photos meant having them all processed, looking at all of the prints, discarding more than half of them, and then inserting them in album pages. Because I didn't consider a fly infestation particularly photogenic, there were surprisingly few photos of the "friendly flies." Go figure.
Part 1 of 11

Departing our home in rural Parma, Michigan on Father's Day, with a stop at Caro in the afternoon to wish Spartan1's father a happy day, we then traveled as far as Gaylord to stay at the nice Super8 there and have our supper at the Big Buck Brewery. For us, the trip to and from northern Minnesota was very much a part of the vacation, so we always tried to make travel days pleasant and memorable, too.

Early the next morning we were on the road, stopping at Mackinaw CIty for fudge, crossing the Mighty Mac Bridge, and heading for the Soo. We were fortunate to arrive there just as a boat was entering the locks. I never tire of watching the freighters go through the locks.

The drive around the northern shore of Lake Superior, called the Circle Tour, is a beautiful way to go! We had perfect weather, bright blue skies with puffy white clouds, and a nice breeze. (Actually the best weather of the entire vacation!)

Lunch stop was near Wawa, at the Kinniwabi Pines Restaurant, which is high on a bank overlooking the Dead River. Our evening's lodging was at the Coach House Motel near Terrace Bay, and we dined at the golf course, which had just a bit of a lake view.

After breakfast at the Red Dog Restaurant in Terrace Bay we drove out to the scenic viewing area for Aguasabon Gorge.

We continued on our drive along the Superior Shore, marveling at the rocky cliffs and the lovely lake views around every curve.

We had noticed many small cairns or 'inukshuks' atop the cliffs and I persuaded Spartan1 to stop the car at one point so that I could take a photograph. It wasn't as easy to get this picture as you might think.

We stopped at the Amethyst Mine Panorama 25 miles east of Thunder Bay. It was interesting to see the mine, and fun to buy some earrings as a souvenir. After lunch in Thunder Bay, a gas stop in Grand Portage, a little shopping at Grand Marais, and heading up the Gunflint Trail, we arrived at our night's destination, Clearwater Lodge, about 3:30. Checked in with Bob and Marti Marchino there, and eventually drove to Trail Center for our supper. (Oh, those delicious 'shrooms!) We saw two moose and a fox, all at different spots on Clearwater Road as we were going back after our meal. (No photo of the fox.)

There's nothing like a beautiful night's sleep in "Charlie's Room" in the historic Clearwater Lodge! Especially if that night's sleep is the night before a ten-day canoe trip! Can't say I slept much, but it surely did feel good to be there.