A Road Trip to Lake Superior

Over 4th of July weekend, Lydia and I went on another road trip! We drove through several small Minnesota towns along Highway 210. We went through Duluth and on to Bayfield, Wisconsin, via Route 13.

Bayfield was once a booming town on a prominent shipping route. Today, it’s a small town along the Lake Superior South Shore, gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Lake Superior

We drove the six or seven hours from Fargo to meet my parents and two other couples from their sailing club (in Illinois). The eight of us had a fun adventure together!

I was looking forward to seeing my parents and crossing some items off my “travel bucket list.” I have wanted to see the Minnesota countryside, including some of the “10,000 lakes” and Duluth. I have also wanted to explore Lake Superior for quite some time.

But guess what? We almost didn’t go!  It was a lot of work to prepare for the trip. I had to pack for two, reschedule a commitment, plan for our return, etc. I have a couple other big plans (and projects) for the summer, so I wondered if taking time away was a good idea. Still, I was excited for the opportunity, and I am so glad we went!

Lake Superior at night

Lydia is an awesome little traveler, and we had a special time away with my mom and dad. Usually when we travel to Illinois, there are other people or plans vying for our attention. We stayed together in a cute bed-and-breakfast and had perfect weather for the entire trip.

What a blessing!

Our new friends were very eager to show us around. Excellent hosts, they generously took us all on their sailboat, speed boat, and dinghy to explore several of the Apostle Islands.

The first night (Friday) we went out to see the stars. We used the ‘Sky View’ app to learn about the constellations! Lydia loved going fast on the boat ride!

Devil's IslandCove at Devil's Island

Saturday included a dinghy ride to see an old shipwreck. The water was so clear! We also motored out to Raspberry Island to see a light house. We toured the buildings, and it was compelling to think about the history and importance of lighthouses. Such brave men (and their families) gave up everything to ensure the safety of sailors and other travelers.

Sunday was spent on an all day trip to one of the farthest islands. On Devil’s Island, we saw another lighthouse and natural sandstone caves eroded by years of wind and water. The colors were beautiful and I took pictures of the caves, water, and ships passing by.

On Sunday evening, we experienced the Big Top Chautauqua (think old tent revivals). The Chautauqua has been around for 30+ years. Its concerts bring many famous acts, but also showcase local talent. We attended a show called ‘Riding the Wind,’ a musical history of the Bayfield/Apostle Islands area. Lydia clapped along with everyone else. But when asked what her favorite part was, she enthusiastically said, “The hot dog!”

Sandstone Caves at Devil's IslandOn the Dinghy Lydia asleep on the boat

Monday was the 4th of July, and truthfully, the best Independence Day celebration I’ve had in years! With just me and Lydia, the holiday has not been all that exciting. This year, we all boated over to Madeline Island for a parade. Lydia received a beach ball, small root beer float, ice cream sandwich, and some candy. Pretty good for her first parade! She was a little timid at rushing into the street for candy (two things I generally don’t encourage!). But she got the hang of it and had fun!

Monday afternoon, my dad and I joined a blindfolded dinghy race! Dad wore the blindfold while rowing and I was his skipper. We raced around a buoy and back to shore, where I talked Dad through a mini obstacle course. We came in third, but had so much fun!

In Northern latitudes, it seems fireworks start around 10:30 pm, just as it starts getting dark (at the peak of summer). In the past, keeping Lydia up hasn’t seemed worth it. This year, however, Lydia enjoyed her first ‘real’ fireworks show. We sat on the dock and watched a couple different shows with several other sailors!

4th of July 2016

I wonder if the fireworks could be seen in Canada?!

Originally, I planned to drive home Tuesday. But, everyone kept asking, “Do you really have to leave?” Now, if I have learned anything these last few years, it’s that life is short. Sometimes, it may upend our plans. Sometimes, it may be costly or inconvenient. But there are limited chances to spend time with loved ones. We will never regret those moments in the future. Also, an open invitation from new friends doesn’t come often.

I realized that as much fun and adventure as we received, we also brought the same to our hosts. When I thought about all we would’ve missed if we hadn’t made the trip, the choice was clear: We really didn’t have to leave Tuesday. So, we stayed for another great day…and enjoyed a few more adventures!

Deep colors

 We all walked knee-deep in the Sisikiwit River, and Lydia loved the hands-on learning! We found two types of wild ferns, wild roses, and a hummingbird nest. We played in waterfalls and saw many types of beautiful trees. After enjoying a steak dinner on the way back, we saw the most gorgeous sunset heading down across the lake. A front was coming in and the wind picked up. But, we all got some great pictures!

Front coming in

It was a memorable trip, one I hope to repeat. If we had stayed home…the easy choice…we would have missed so much. And, I earned a new perspective on what’s really important!

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God, thanks for a great adventure! Thanks for the grace and freedom You bring into our lives. Help me to have the flexibility to make changes when needed and live the life You have for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Have you been on a road trip lately? Where did you go? Did you learn anything new on your adventure?

Finding Grace #17

I love the concept of giving God a shout out for what He has done.

We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot. I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

lake

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

  • This week was fairly restful. I had a gazillion things to do (as usual!), but took them at a slower pace. I just decided to enjoy myself! I treated myself to a massage and went to the chiropractor. Wow, I really needed it!
  • I met with a new friend, and helped her feel more connected at church. We had a long discussion about starting over after loss. She recently moved to Fargo and needs to rebuild her support system. (Her family lives several hours away.) She spent several years running from God, and I pray she will see the pattern of His abundant grace and mercy in her life all these years.
  • When I pick up Lydia from daycare, she always asks if we can go for frozen yogurt. Nearly every day! Usually I say, “No.” and we go home. This week, I told her if she had a good attitude for three days, we would go for frozen yogurt. Man, that worked like a charm. Except it actually took about five days for the three days to really “count.” 😉 But, by God’s grace, she did it! I’m not sure who was more proud!!
  • Earlier in the week, I posted a cute story about Lydia on my personal Facebook page. We had a great conversation about serving the Lord and volunteering at church. I explained, “Someday, you will get to do something to help others know God better, too.” Excited, Lydia said, “Well, I’m going to have lots to do if I am going to do that AND be an astronaut and ballerina!” A radio host/friend noticed it and shared it on the radio! Lydia was in awe as she listened. The hosts encouraged her to dream big and do great things for God. You should have seen her little face!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Where did YOU see or experience God’s grace this week?

A Road Trip, Relaxation and Pie

Last week, my daughter, Lydia, and I took a road trip to see a few friends and family. Most often, I aim to get to our destination as quickly as we can, with minimal stops. This means we usually combine fuel stops, restroom breaks, and mealtimes, no less! Even beforehand, while packing, I feel rushed and in a time crunch.

It may be efficient, but it is not much fun.

Generally, we start out before dawn and arrive late afternoon. However, this time, we started out later in the day and so I determined to stay at a hotel along the way. I am so glad I did. At each stop along the way, we were able to really soak in the experience. I even felt more peace while packing, knowing that I didn’t have to rush to get ready. We could meander instead.

That first day, Lydia and I visited with a dear family that we had known in Fargo. We enjoyed swimming and eating dinner with them. Then, back at the hotel, Lydia and I had fun watching television in bed. She was elated about having a television, sink, refrigerator and microwave in the same room as her bed. That alone was worth the cost of the hotel! The following day we arrived at our next stop by lunch time—and we were not feeling hurried or exhausted. Nice!

Lydia eating pie and ice cream

On our return trip, we did make the long drive in one day. Yet, I decided to skip the highway and took the scenic route instead. We drove around Lake Pepin on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It added a couple hours to our travel time, but was well worth it. We stopped at beautiful scenic overlooks and interesting historical markers. We even had a picnic by the Mississippi River. After stopping at a park to play for a few minutes, we wandered into the Stockholm Pie Company. Needless to say, I was glad we stopped for some delicious pie and ice cream.

I started to think about Life’s detours and how God uses them. He provides peaceful rest, teaches us and prepares us for His continued work in our lives. When I only aim to get to the next stopping point, I can miss many lovely details. Like any good vacation, I had few pressing matters weighing on my mind. Time could have stood still, and it would have been alright in my little world.

But, on our return trip, I also felt God’s love in unexpected ways. It was as if He had planned the scenic detour especially for me. The warm breeze and sunny day… the classic tree-lined waterline…the kiss of warm pie and ice cream…shared with my adorable little girl… circumstances seemingly designed just for me. That was the most refreshing part of all!

Powers Lake, WI

In the daily hubbub, I can forget to notice God’s voice, which is usually heard best when I am being still. How about you? His grace is always present, but we can miss it because of our own agenda or our fast pace at breakneck speed.

At times, I do have to hurry back home after a long trip. But, I am now content to stop and smell the roses, as they say. Or should that be…Life is short–stop and eat pie?!