Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spectacular

Last January, as the snow swirled outside and I stressed about a pending business trip to Dallas in tears and a mental state where I would have rather pulled my eyelashes out one-by-one, Mr. Musky made a plan. He shared the scheme with me, but lost me entirely when he said, "In July..."  He might have well said, "In the next century..."

Fast forward to last weekend. With the kids at camp riding thousand pound animals, scaling 50 foot climbing walls, luxuriating in candy before bed and loving independence from all familial influences, we embarked on one of the best weekends of our marriage yet. The excursion involved a hearty breakfast, a rest stop in Ashland, WI to enjoy a bottle of wine we'd stashed all summer, followed by arrival to the beautiful shores of Lake Superior in Cornucopia, WI. When it's hot everywhere in the great Midwest head further north, Baby.

Along Highway 13 from Ashland to Bayfield, my inner kid emerged. Perched on the edge of my seat with the seatbelt protesting my proximity to the dash, I ogled everything. I rubbernecked madly, attempting 360-degree swivels like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. An overwhelming feeling of better-than-Christmas-morning erupted. With every glimpse of that magnificent body of freshwater I uttered, "Spectacular." No less than six times in thirty minutes.

Mr. Musky's reply:  "And they're real."

TV Show? Anyone?

It was the only word I could muster, and it still fell short of describing the sheer sublimity of what I saw. And how I felt. Imagine, you 30 and 40 something parents...your children are off on their own, completely safe, having the time of their lives. They barely miss you. You won't report to work for five glorious days. You share a scenic drive with the love of your life, traveling to a place you've never before visited, all dialed in to explore together and soak up the moment. I think that's what makes me most giddy about a trip like this - not knowing what's going to happen next, where we'll be in 30 minutes or in 2 hours, and just being in the moment.

Well-laid plans are meant to be dashed, so we ditched the wine stop and instead pit-stopped at the Bayfield Visitor Center. I detest local tourist attractions. I'm not a big shopper. I'm not into the three hour commercial boat ride listening to a pimply-faced college kid read a script about boring historical facts of the surrounding area. I prefer to buddy up with the locals to find the best-kept secrets. Upon learning that we hail from Sugar Camp, the kind man at the Visitor Center perked up and announced, "I'm from Rhinelander. Wanna know the best spot ever to see the sunset?"

Duh.

We drove another 25 miles around the Bayfield Peninsula, past Cornucopia to a secluded beach called Roman Point. He warned us that we may have to walk through a small inlet to get to the beach, but the water wouldn't pass our knees. While cursing, hoisting our belongings above our heads and sucking in sharp breaths as the water nearly reached our chests - the very 'refreshing' 62 degree water I might add - we finally arrived.

Homeboy hooked us up. Huge!

Exact number of people to the left sharing our beach for the day...

...and exact number of people to the right.

We decided the bay alone would likely hold all of the water in the entire five lake Sugar Camp Chain. Lake Superior is simply massive (warning - ensuing hydrography lesson).

  • It is the largest freshwater lake in the world based on surface area
  • It has a surface area of 31,820 square miles (approximately the size of South Carolina)
  • It's average depth is 482 feet, with a maximum depth of 1332 feet
  • It contains 2900 cubic miles of water - enough to cover the entire land mass of North and South America with one foot of water
  • The average temperature in the summer is 44 degrees.  We lucked out.


Back to my story. The wine. Oh baby, the succulent nectar of the gods. This would be bottle number three for the afternoon. Bottles one and two experienced very short lives.

Yes, that is me out there.

And Mr. Musky.  Clearly I am braver, as I ventured further out into the Gitche Gumee.

After our divine, secluded Happy Hour we meandered over to Siskiwit Bay Lodge, located on the other side of the bay from Roman Beach. "Lodge" would be the last word I'd use to describe it, as it's more like a log cabin mansion complete with every modern amenity imaginable. Built in 1997, the Bed and Breakfast accommodates eight guests, and the owners Sandy and Bruce Von Riedel were ideal hosts. Although every time Sandy appeared, Mr. Musky muttered "Frau Blucher" under his breath while I stifled my giggles and listened to the whinnying horses in my head.

The flowers were so vibrant and unbelievably fresh with no evidence of dead stems due to extreme heat like we experience in Illinois.  I could not get enough of the flowers the entire weekend. They were natural artworks.

And although we didn't remain at Roman Point Beach for the sunset that night, the Siskiwit Bay Lodge views were absolutely breathtaking (another popular word in the afore-mentioned TV show).


To avoid this being the longest post ever, I will conclude the recap of our trip later this week. There is no doubt that I will return to this sparkling natural gem again in the future.

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