Saturday, December 28, 2013

#Time Travel // October 2013 // Up North

After Minneapolis, we woke up with a new optimism, reassuring ourselves that a trip around all the Great Lakes were bound to have hidden treasures worth seeing, if not, at least we were having weeks of uninterrupted time being alone together. Something you can never complain about in an international, long distance relationship. And looking forward to a new stamp in the passport is always exciting! 

With our habit of always waking up late and ignoring the alarm every. single. morning., not only did we leave Minneapolis later than expected, but there was a five hour drive to our next destination, Bayfield, Wisconsin. Their biggest weekend, Apple Fest, happened to be taking place, where the town blooms from it's 500 permanent residents to thousands of tourists flocking in from all over. Arriving late wouldn't be the best way to show Torsten around the town I lived in this past summer.

Instead we opted to take out time driving up. With a much more flexible itinerary, we sought out a park that'd make for a good pit-stop. We found one along the St. Croix River that had no sign of life other than a gravel parking lot and locked-up canoe rental. We had the trail along the river totally to ourselves, dreaming of how gorgeous a paddle on the calm river would have been if that stand we saw  would have actually been open. We clearly were traveling this route in the wrong season! 

We arrived late into Bayfield's neighboring city, Ashland, where we found our Walmart parking lot to sleep in and made sure to set the alarm early enough to beat the Apple Fest crowds. That was probably the only successful morning of waking up to an early alarm. I made the 45 minute drive into Bayfield while Torsten continued sleeping in the back. Between the cold, wet conditions and our early arrival into town, we managed to score a parking spot right in town. 

We emerged from our van once the stalls and festivities started to open. Even in the morning it was pretty busy as we walked around all the stalls, sampling various apple-flavored goodies. We really only spent about an hour walking around and checking out all the stalls and attractions, I imagine on a nicer day and more towards the evening it livens up a bit more. But honestly, we didn't really intend to come during the festival, it just happened. Torsten mostly wanted to see the little town of Bayfield outside of the background of our many, many skype dates this past summer. 

Bayfield itself is alright, it's a nice central area to sleep and get drinks when you come up for the real attractions surrounding the area. Two of the biggest being the sea caves and outlying islands. Due it it being late in the year, options are limited to actually get on the water and visit the uninhibited islands (other than Madeline Island, which needs at least a whole day to explore).

Other attractions in the area include some really nice hikes, like the one trail that goes along the shore and leads to the top of the sandstone cliffs that make up the sea caves. The Sea Caves Trail is owned by the National Park Service, and if you are keeping up with this road trip series you'll know that we had to change our route due to the shutdown. Meaning this trail was technically off-limits during our visit.

We noticed a car parked outside the caution-cone barrier and decided to trespass and hike the trail anyway. Even though I spent months in Bayfield, I never fully hiked the trail so I was just as stoked as Torsten to see the caves from above. The trail was easily a highlight of the trip, just to be able to stand on the sandstone cliffs and look out into the vastness of Lake Superior while the waves crashed against the caves.  By the time we finished the hike and came back to our car, there were three other cars parked near ours where the owners must have decided a shutdown wasn't going to ruin their trip either! 

We hopped back into the van and were surprised to see how much time we had spent hiking and ogling Superior. The first leg of our new route was proving to be great... so far. The coming days we really had no idea what we were getting into. Between my National Geographic map and some quick online research, we would discover some new and not hugely known treasures for sure! 

Check out where else we've been on the road trip so far by clicking here.
Next up is the north coast of Minnesota!


01 09 10