There’s no place like home

Well, there’s not.  And I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight and taking a shower with hot water that doesn’t smell of chlorine, and not having to hear the alarm bells ring at 4 a.m.

But I am less than four hours home and I am really missing the north woods, the wind, the trees, the ravens, the early morning loons, the sunrises over the swamps, the mist over the lakes, and the lichen rich rocks and tree trunks.  If only the weather was not so cold six months of the year.  I think I could convince Dennis to move there.  I found a nice 10 acre island, surrounded by federal and state land, BWCA access, and affordable.  Sounds perfect.  Except for the winter.

In 23 years of traveling with the same partner I have never had such a peaceful, pleasant, uncomplicated and relaxing week.  We were a photographing and exploring team.  I stood in swamps and watched sunrises that were breath-taking.  He patiently took pictures of miniature lichen landscapes.  I learned how to operate my camera in near darkness and resolved to learn how to use the polarizing filter on my camera.  Dennis drove his precious new truck down narrow dirt lanes to canoe accesses and it sits in the garage tonight so dirty and muddy and splattered it looks more gray than black.  He carried expensive and heavy camera equipment down rocky trails and photographed fungi in the rain.  Every day’s photographing was a gift and we were children living an entire week of christmas mornings.

I didn’t see a moose.  But we found wolf scat, moose scat, moose tracks.  We saw a fox, so many beavers, and a wood frog. Ravens screamed at us at dawn, deer watched us pass from the side of the road, and a ruffed grouse stamped his feet at me.  Hawks circled overhead, squirrels and grouse crossed the roads in front of us, and  on the way home we stalked a heron at the Trade River dam.

Not surprisingly we saw few people.

The roads around the edge of the BWCA became familiar.  The canoe access points were our favorite photographing spots.  We hiked National Forest trails in the rain, and yesterday morning we stood in rain and watched the light bring out the vibrance in fall leaves of the birch and maple trees at Ed Shave Lake.  Then we went to Hegman Lake and chased the sun and breaking clouds across the lake.

It was a glorious time, and we did it all without once getting in a boat or canoe.  I only got my feet wet once, walking in a swamp.  Not that canoeing wouldn’t be glorious.  Not that camping in a tent and cooking on a fire wouldn’t be a great experience.  Still, it’s nice to know there is room in the great BWCA and Superior National Forest for those who don’t canoe, camp, fish, hunt, snowmobile, cross country ski, or ride an ATV.  There’s enough wilderness experience for anyone who wishes to look for it.  It’s pretty easy to find; at the end of any of the forestry roads, along a access track in the woods, or, my favorite, on top of a outcrop of rock.

We never felt out of place.  It was as if we were home, or at the very least in the back yard, a very large, beautiful, and public back yard.

Yea, I’d go back.  I’m thinking February, a week on an island, in a cabin with a fireplace, snowshoes, some good books, Dennis.  It would be like going home, again.