Friday, May 30, 2014

Back in the Land of the Internet – Temporarily!

Because we don’t have good connectivity up here in the Northland, we aren’t able to update the blog often – sorry!  Today we took a ride to Virginia, MN to sit at McDonald’s and do some computer work, have coffee, and then go to our favorite fish fry in Gilbert, MN.  We’ll fit in a quick update on our fairly quiet life up here.

We have an appointment for repairs on the motorhome in Duluth next week.  We also have a contractor coming to put down Class 5 gravel so we have a better driveway to park on.  So we’re hoping that we can park the motorhome in a week or so  - without the problems we initially had!

Last week we spent a few days in Elk River, going to Sophia’s band concert, meeting with friends, and getting a grand-daughter fix.  Over Memorial Day weekend, we had the entire clan up at the cabin with us.  Grandma Joyce came up as well.  Quite an active time!  David took the girls on an educational field trip, up to the Soudan underground iron mine, which is now a state park:    
With the holiday weekend over, it was back to quiet time, with only the fulltime cabin people on the point.  This weekend the forecast is for rain so the weekenders may be staying home.  After fish fry tonight, it is happy hour on the point at our neighbors.  Tomorrow is the road clean-up day.  Just a few things going on to keep our hearts pumping!  We’re getting a lot of reading done.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Incident

We got to the cabin over a week ago.  Brett and the girls came up to help get the motorhome parked.  One tree and many branches were cut to prepare.  There was standing water in the yard, however, the driveway appeared dry.  Brett and Paige helped direct Bob as he backed the RV into the driveway.  It was a disaster!  First we got Bob too far to the left and this caused the front of the motorhome to drop into a hole and damaged the front fiberglass.  After we luckily got out of that mess, we tried again and backed into a too soft area that caused the back, passenger side to drop into a hole.  The driveway was not dried out enough for the weight of this rig.  We knew we needed some gravel brought in but now we realized we really needed to get a professional to create a genuine weight-bearing driveway.  This is going to be done for us during the first week in June (while the motorhome is at a dealer in Duluth to have the fiberglass repaired!).  After having a tow truck come and get us out of the hole, we were able to park on a level spot next to the garage.  So we’re okay until the new driveway is completed. 

This week we are at Brett’s in Elk River.  We went out for dinner for Pam’s birthday on Monday night and attended a band concert for Sophia on Tuesday.  We also had lunch each day with friends so it’s been busy but good.  On Thursday afternoon, we’ll take Brett’s girls back to the cabin with us for the Memorial Day weekend.  Brett will meet us up there on Saturday and Dave and Valentina are coming on Friday night. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cooler by the Lake

We have always chuckled when the local weather forecasters say it will be “…cooler by the lake.”  We are not chuckling anymore, now that we’ve been alongside the harbor for 5 days.  We are hearing about record-breaking heat throughout the areas we’ve just come from (Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa) but we haven’t seen 50 degrees yet this week.  If it hasn’t been cloudy, windy, and cool, then it’s been rainy, foggy, and cold.  This evening it is so foggy that we can’t see across the harbor less than 1000 yards away.  Just one reason why there are no photos tonight.

Other than icebrakers, US and Canadian freighters have been using the port for a week or so.  But the first international vessel (called a “salty”) arrived in Duluth’s harbor about midnight last night, officially opening the shipping season. The Diana sails under the flag of Antigua.  It was delayed in arriving due to ice conditions between here and the Sault Locks in Michigan.  This is the latest arrival of the first salty since Duluth became an International port in 1959.  Saying the past winter was hard is an understatement. 

Our week has gone by smoother than expected.  The estate sale buyer and his crew (Bob calls them the “pickers”) came on Wednesday morning and filled an enclosed trailer before lunch.  They were back later to load up the rest and were gone by 2:00.  Joyce’s realtor also came over that afternoon so her house is now officially empty and on the market.  Thursday the cleaners (us) got back to work with brooms, mops, vacuums, and scrub-brushes.  The house is now ready for showing – earlier than we had hoped for. 

This will allow us to get up to the cabin and open it up for the summer.  We have to look it over closely before bringing the new motorhome.  We may have a few more branches and trees to remove to get this bigger unit onto the lot.  We’d also like to lay out a harder/flatter driveway.  Oh the joys!!

Brett and his girls are coming up late Friday night so they’ll be around to help with some of the opening chores.  Brett will bring some saws to help with the tree cutting.  The girls are very excited about coming to the cabin.  And…. The weather is forecasted to be dry and sunny, maybe even the 60’s!!!  A good weekend, hopefully!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

We’ve Been “Bridged”

Here is a picture of the aerial bridge from our motorhome at night.  Very pretty view here!

Ever hear of “bridge” being used as a verb?  It is common term around here because Park Point is only accessible by road when the lift bridge is down.  Being “bridged” is what happens when the bridge goes up and traffic comes to a complete halt, sometimes for quite awhile.  Sunday evening we took the photo of the inbound laker, and got back to Canal Park as it was entering the harbor.  After it passed, the bridge stayed up while another ship left, so traffic didn’t move for close to half an hour.  This is a part of life for those who live out here on the point.

“Mesabi Miner” became one of the newer “1,000 footers” built for use on the Great Lakes when it was launched in early 1977.  It is called a “self unloader” because of its automated conveyor system which can move 6,000 tons of coal or 10,000 tons of iron ore per hour.  More specs are available at
We looked up these details because it just passed in front of our windshield.  Here it is lined up on the canal out to Lake Superior. 

A bit later it entered the canal with the aerial bridge up and out of the way. 

The pilot house and bridge both blew their horns to each other as they passed. 

Just outside the canal there is still a lot of broken ice.  They will get to open water about three miles outside of the harbor.  Seeing this has been the highlight of our week so far.

Tomorrow will be interesting when the estate-sale people come to Joyce’s house to load up everything that is left.  They will buy everything and carry it off, which should be a whole lot quicker and easier than a series of garage sales.  Then the realtor is coming on Thursday morning to discuss the preparations for the sale of the house.  Going to be a busy summer!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Into the North Country

We got a lot done while at Brett and Jen’s place, but one of the most important was:
                                              (Success on a 500-piece puzzle)
We had a great time with the granddaughters and look forward to seeing them this weekend when they come to the cabin with Brett. 

Under sunny skies (for a change) we moved north to Duluth where we have Joyce’s house to empty and clean.  We didn’t think our new home would fit in the driveway, due to a low overhead power line, so we have parked for the week near Duluth’s iconic aerial lift bridge.   

This is not a “campground” like most.  It is a parking lot where boats are stored for the winter.  Spring is on the way and the harbor is open water, but only a few powerboats and sailboats have been launched yet. They have a few sites open this early, but more will open up as the boats get launched.  Our windshield is a picture window overlooking the harbor.

After getting parked and set up, we went to Joyce’s new place: an apartment in Duluth’s East End overlooking Lake Superior, beyond the harbor.  Minnesota had a colder than normal winter and Lake Superior froze up even more than normal.  Much of the ice has melted, and the Coast Guard icebreaker has broken the main shipping channels open.  The wind blows the broken ice back into the cargo ships’ way.  Here is a view from Joyce’s new place showing a Canada Steamships laker plowing its way through the ice toward the harbor entrance.

We will stay here for awhile, doing work around the house, and checking out the snow level at the cabin.  Neighbors there are posting photos to Facebook showing the snow levels dropping daily, but the lake still has some ice.  We will slip up there later in the week to look things over.