North Shore Honeymoon

(Note: I wrote this post almost two years ago, and then…forgot about it?! Nothing like a frigid winter morning to reminisce about the amazing summers that make this part of the world so special. Happy 3rd anniversary, my love!)
     If you’ve ever met me, you probably know that I adore Lake Superior. My great-great grandparents settled a tiny community on its shore in Upper Michigan, called Little Girl’s Point, (I’ve written about this before a few times: here, here, here), and I’ve been so fortunate to spend many days and nights at LGP, up at my grandparents’ house or my parents’ cabin. It’s a place rich with Oman history (and extant relatives), and the older I get, the more reassuring it is to feel such a strong connection to my roots.
     But I love other places up there, too! So I’m going to write a little bit about two of my favorites: Madeline Island, and the Porcupine Mountains. I’ve actually written about these two before two, but last year, for our honeymoon, Matt and I spent time in both, and- like my wedding post in June– it’s high time I write about that trip, because it was so uplifting.

So we were up north for something like 10 days. 10 day away in the U.P. is, I think, more special than 10 days away in many other places because internet and phone access is really limited (at least, it is in the places we go). We kicked off our trip with a hike to Lily Pond in the Porcupine Mountains. This is a tradition we started with our most excellent friends, Ryan and Michelle, back in 2009.

Bumper sticker spotted in Ashland, WI, en route to the U.P.

The cabin we stay in has four wooden bunks, some pots and pans, and not much else. Very Walden-esque. As a guest who hikes in, you have just as much as you need. It’s the only site on Lily Pond, so even though the hiking trail passes right in front of the porch, you don’t have much interaction with other people. Which is how we like it. It also means that you have the pond- with all the fishing and swimming you can handle- to yourself.

Ryan, with a solid trout catch.
We eat well in the Porkies.
…And we drink well, too.

I love being out in the woods in part because you have to work hard for everything. Being a teacher is physically demanding, sure, but most of the energy I expend at work is mental. It’s good to change things up.

You’re also rewarded with such pretty views that kind of make you believe in something big, even if you don’t know what that is.

This one makes me believe in the tenacity of beavers.
Lily Pond, aptly named.

My sexy husband. (Hmm, lots of shirtless men in my blog today. You’re welcome.)

So obviously, Lily Pond is incredible. What I don’t have pictures of are the moonless, star-stuffed nights on the rowboat, when it was impossible to tell where the sky ended and the water began. Like floating through space, but not scary because it wasn’t a bajillion degrees below zero and we all had plenty of oxygen to breathe. It was just peaceful and, in the truest sense of the word, awesome.

After we left the Porkies, we spent a few days at LGP. This was a particularly wonderful visit because we were celebrating my parents’ 30th anniversary. Those people- my incredible parents- have been my most important teachers about love and commitment and relationships. I really, truly feel honored to be their kid. I wrote about their anniversary here. It was so great.

From LGP, Matt and I left everyone behind for a sojourn to Madeline Island. He’d never been, and it had been 10ish years since I’d last camped there. We rented a cozy little cabin for two on the water.

On the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline.

Ferry views.

Bayfield.
The other ferry.

Once we made it to the island, we cruised in my Civic down one of two main roads to our cabin. I’d recently purchased Vampire Weekend’s first album at Half-Price Books for some ridiculous price, so when I remember us driving around the island with the windows down, that’s what I hear in my head.

Our cabin.
Our beach. A little paradise.

We spent our time well on Madeline. Sleeping in, decadent breakfasts, glasses of wine on the porch, dreamy sunsets. And when we got tired of all of that crap, we took a boat tour of the Apostle Islands (of which Madeline is part).

Matt with Captain Mark (right).
There are nine lighthouses in the Apostle Islands.
We stopped to tour the Raspberry Island lighthouse.
Touring the lighthouse was such a cool side trip. We learned a lot about the lonely lives of the keepers and poked around in the museum-y house. The only sad part was learning that the lighthouse tower no longer guides ships. That job is left to these little solar-powered scarecrows that require no human help. So romantic. Sigh.
Captain Mark’s boat, from the catwalk. Truly a home office for him, as he sleeps in the hull.

Captain Mark also took us to see a shipwreck. Can you see the outline of the ship in the water?

We floated through the sea caves, too. Please do this someday. It is so magical.

When we were on the water, we poked around the island quite a bit. Shockingly, Nelson is a popular name up there.

The harbor after a storm. The only rain we saw.

Tom’s Burned Down Bar, an island staple. It really did burn down. So they put a tent.

Ice cream treat.
Beach time.
So we had such a lovely time together, but one of the most memorable stories from our honeymoon also includes this guy:
Joel.
I met Joel at my bachelorette party at the Vegas Lounge in NE Minneapolis (if you haven’t been, please, please go- it’s the most supportive and fun karaoke bar EVER). You might have noticed Joel’s crown. Joel was enjoying his own bachelor party, on the same night. We instantly bonded. I also karaoke-bombed his song at one point.
We really bonded when we figured out that his wedding and our honeymoon were happening in the same place over the same weekend. He instantly invited us to his wedding. He drew me a map of the park where it was all going to go down, and I repeated his name over and over so we could connect on Facebook.
Of course, the next morning it was all just a good story, and I did look him up on Facebook, but I didn’t intend to find him and his fiancee on our honeymoon.
Until we ran into them at the island’s pizza joint.

Joel! They were so sweet. They invited us over and over again to their wedding. We did decide to stop by with a little gift.

New Glarus raspberry ale.

We found them as they were taking pictures. Aren’t they sweet?!

Wishing those two all the best. Hopefully we run into them again someday.

It is with a happy heart that I remember our mid-summer dream vacation on my favorite little corner of Earth, with my very favorite travel companion.

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