As you all may now realize, we firmly believe in work-life balance. That’s why we sold our home and went on the road — to find that balance.
That being said, it had been two months since our last vacation. And in accordance with our goal of balance, we decided it was time for another getaway. We tossed around a number of ideas — flying somewhere, camping, etc. But we ended up choosing a place that has always meant a lot to us, a place where we have always been able to relax and reconnect in the craziness of everyday life.
The North Shore.
We have traveled here together every year of our relationship, minus the years we were on the road. We very nearly got married here — that’s how much this place means to us.
Initially, we talked about camping, but some of our other activities would not include the dogs, and we couldn’t possibly leave them in our tent alone. But I wanted them to come with us, because we’ve traveled with our dogs there ever since we got Fritz as a puppy.
And we took Teddy up there as a puppy, as well.
So, to allow them to come with, we decided to rent a place. And the dogs were so happy to come with.
Hotel fees have skyrocketed up there, but we found a little cabin in the middle of the woods that was just right.
No running water, no electricity — it was like glorified camping but with solid walls. Tucked back in the woods along a forest service road, it was just the seclusion we were looking for.
Water from a rain barrel served as our dishwater and bathing water (yep, I washed my hair under the spout).
With a propane fireplace, fridge, and lanterns, it was complete!
We stayed for three nights. And our first full day was spent hiking around Temperance River State Park — our favorite place to hike and the place we go to visit Fritz.
After a refreshing and wonderful swim in the river, we headed back to the cabin before going out for wine tasting at North Shore Winery and dinner at Bluefin. It was a perfect day — the sun was shining just warmly enough to make the water feel good. Temperance is always so rejuvenating.
Day two rolled around and we headed toward Grand Marais. And along the way, we stopped by Cascade River State Park.
Initially intending on just seeing the falls and doing a short hike, our plans quickly changed to include a 3.5-mile hike with a 1,200-foot climb.
It felt amazing to get our hiking legs back. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — most of the “hiking” in Minnesota is just walking in the woods. It doesn’t feel like hiking because it’s so flat here. But the North Shore is a different story. There are hills!!! Some so large they like to call them mountains.
It was glorious, feeling the burn in our legs and lungs. We’ve talked about hiking the Superior Hiking Trail before we do the JMT, and as we followed along some of the SHT, our desire grew even stronger.
After a great climb, we made it to the top. And the views were outstanding.
The tree-covered valley below with hills and “Minnesota’s ocean,” Lake Superior, in the distance, it was jaw-dropping.
After our hike back down, we headed further up the coast to Grand Marais.
There ended up being an art festival in town, which we had fun walking through. We also fully enjoyed our time at Voyageurs Brewing Company.
After a perfect day, we headed back to our little cabin to hang out with the dogs. And they had a blast playing outside.
We spent the evening playing a particularly cut-throat game of Monopoly: National Parks Edition and some poker.
We both agreed that one more day would’ve been ideal, but we had such a good time that we didn’t dwell on that fact. And as Sunday rolled around, we packed up and got ready to head back home.
Not before stopping for one final hike at Temperance and a tasty breakfast at Coho Cafe.
As we passed by the flowers in full bloom, we promised ourselves that there would be another vacation soon.