Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Best. Vacation. Ever.

The last Saturday in July didn't look like a promising start for our family vacation at Star Lake, in north central Minnesota. The weather was cool as we left home, and we were heading three hours north. Forecasts said the temperature would drop to 41 degrees overnight. I packed extra fleece shirts, extra sox, a pair of gloves, a windbreaker. At the last minute I left my winter jacket at home. If it was that cold, I'd just stay inside.

A typically gentle Star Lake sunset
I'm happy to say the forecasts were wrong, and our week was pleasantly warm. The six of us--grandparents, parents, and youngsters--were able to swim, kayak, fish, bike, hike, and enjoy nature's wonders to our hearts' content. Sometimes Abby and Eric took the children out--for a boat ride or a hike or a trip to town--while Peter and I had some quiet time. By the same token, he and I took them fishing or looking for snapping turtles or we played games at the cabin so Mom and Dad could venture off on their own. Peter and I have been home for three days and we're still talking about what a wonderful time we had.

A few favorite memories:

Enjoying the ride, working up an appetite
* See that shopping bag on the pontoon boat? Abby filled it with "provisions" when Peter and I took the kids fishing. She meant for all of us to share, but Peter and I weren't very hungry and we didn't stop them, so they felt as though they got away with something. Ask them what they liked best about our vacation and one of them is sure to say, "Eating all the provisions on the boat."

* Pontoon boats are great--easier for us older people to climb on and off, easier for kids because they can move around, easier to take "provisions," cameras, and other stuff along. But they're designed and sold as party boats. All the seats face in, making it awkward to fish. The kids preferred dock fishing, where we catch tiny sunfish and throw them back "to feed the snapping turtles."    

* Augie and Vi love being outdoors and seeing wildlife, whether it's with their dad's family in Montana or with mom's in Minnesota. Loons, herons, beavers, snapping turtles, deer--or bison, mountain goats, pronghorns. They know them on sight and can tell you where they live and what they eat. And maybe what their scat looks like.

Eric paddling in after tipping the kayak
* Our grandkids love the water. Their enthusiasm and confidence as they swim, or jump off the raft, or climb aboard the paddle boat, is inspiring to these grandparents, who never shared that confidence. Star Lake is a deep glacial gash with very little shallow area, so the kids wear life vests and we grownups set a good example by doing the same. 

video
Augie and his new gymnastic trick
* Augie impressed us all last week with his natural ability to maneuver a kayak. I embedded a few seconds of video just above. But when Peter complimented him today on this "best new skill," Augie said, "Excuse me, my best new skill is my trick." Which involves climbing onto a bar attached to the swing set, doing a sort of aerial somersault, then dropping to the ground. He demonstrated it for anyone who came along.


* When the resident loons set up a loud, constant tremolo sound, it means they have spotted a predator--often the bald eagle that visits regularly. The eagle perches atop a tall pine near the resort and eventually glides the length of the lake, just above the water. He or she is often seen taking fish, but nobody knows, or is saying, whether its prey has included young loons. From the little I've learned watching eagle nest cameras, it seems possible but not likely.

* Vi discovered a small raspberry patch planted next to our cabin. She visited twice a day looking for newly ripe berries. The berries are still tiny; we'll see whether they get larger as the plants mature or whether the birds grab them before we get the chance. Another possibility is that as summer weather varies from year to year the berries might ripen when we're not around.

* Time at the cabin is mostly a celebration of the outdoors, but we all found it a huge treat to drive about four miles into Crosslake for hand-dipped ice cream. In fact, it leads Vi's list of highlights for the week. I liked it, too, because the little ice cream shop carries toffee crunch, with the added title "butter brickle." Bridgeman's butter brickle was my favorite ice cream growing up, and it's years since I'd had any. A little online research has just revealed that I can find it several places in Minnesota, including one just a few miles from my house. 

Dinner on the river, and yes, Vi's at that stage
* We usually try to catch enough fish to have one dinner of our own fresh-caught fish. We agreed in advance that if we didn't catch enough, we'd have Wednesday night dinner at The Wharf on the river just outside Cross Lake. We sat outside where we could watch the fancy boats go by. The food, scenery, and overall experience were wonderful and we all agreed to make it a new family tradition. (We'd still like to catch a few keepers each year, but sometimes undersized panfish are the only things biting.)

* Other than one dinner out, Abby did all the cooking for five days, and when they left Peter cooked for two more days. In other words, I had virtually no kitchen responsibilities for a week, and I loved it. Now that's a vacation. 

23 comments:

Jeanie said...

It sounds like an absolutely perfect holiday -- what is better than being with a family you love and lots of provisions and butter brickle ice cream -- and good weather on top of it! Oh, I just am loving this post and all the smiles and happiness you have experience and are sharing. What a wonderful family you have!

Stephen Hayes said...

You're providing your grandchildren with memories that will last a lifetime. What great fun.

Sharon Longworth said...

Sounds glorious and - just as Stephen has said - what a smashing set of memories you're giving your grandchildren. Lucky them and you!

Ms Sparrow said...

Oh, to be a kid again and spend vacations up at the lake! I remember the excitement of all the birds and animals, rocks and fishes plus the joy of just being away from home. What a great time you had!

California Girl said...

Where is Star Lake? Did I miss the location? Loons indicates northeast, I think. I've never heard of loons elsewhere but I could be wrong. Looks like the perfect vacation. Lucky you & your family. These are the times we know we are blessed.

DJan said...

I think of loons in the Northeast, too, but I have heard a few here in the Pacific Northwest, that unmistakeable call. I love this vacation, which does indeed sound pretty darn perfect. Butter brickle? I remember it, but I think I like mint oreo best. :-)

Jeanie said...

What a wonderful vacation and a great way to spend some time before school starts for the kids. I love the picture of the kids on the boat, and Augie's trick on the swings is well worth a second look.
Yea for you for having no kitchen duties for a week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Good for you making memories! Sounds like you had a wonderful time! :)

Beatriz Skeens said...

Loved your pictures and videos. They look great on your page! Isn't it wonderful to share vacations with our grandkids. Watch and share my video of my 1 year old granddaughter playing with a dead fish on the beach last month, taken with my ipad!
www.filledwithretirementl.blogspot.com

Retired English Teacher said...

Fabulous. I would love a vacation from cooking and worrying about what to eat while on vacation. I also would love to take a boat ride. I am impressed by the way Augie can maneuver through the water. Wow. I too don't have much confidence near water and love it when I see my children and grandchildren fully enjoying water and water sports.

Green Monkey said...

ahhh a vacation surrounded by LOVE! (water adds extra bonus), I so enjoyed the pictures and video! Where is Star lake do tell (curious monkeys want to know)?

Green Monkey said...

ahhh a vacation surrounded by LOVE! (water adds extra bonus), I so enjoyed the pictures and video! Where is Star lake do tell (curious monkeys want to know)?

Kc W said...

How fun for all of you! 3 generations on vacation together had to just be a blast -- and the grands certainly look like they are having fun. Glad you had some time out of the kitchen to just relax and enjoy them.

Deb Shucka said...

What a perfect summer getaway! So glad you got to be spoiled a bit, and to help your grandkids make memories for a lifetime.

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

Sounds like a marvelous vacation. Love the "provisions." A pontoon boat is the only boat I long to have. My grandpa (in Wisconsin) had one as long as I can remember. This entire post made me lonesome for Minnesota, my birthplace and home until age 9, with only one return visit since then.

Lovely memories you and your family are making.

Jenny Short said...

That looks like fun if I were a little younger. The kids would wear me out. Is there a dock where you can put my rocker? Ha. I am glad you had a wonderful trip and the weather was perfect. xo Jenny

Indigo Roth said...

Wowsers! Beautiful scenery, fantastic company, and some quiet downtime when you needed it. Sounds dreamy! Indigo =) x

AiringMyDirtyLaundry said...

That looks like so much fun!!

Pearl said...

The sweetness of a Minnesota summer. :-)

Pearl

Jenny said...

What a fun time!

It just makes me smile to think of 41 degrees!

What a lovely family you have!

Chantel said...

So grateful there are people like you loving the way you do....you renew my spirit some days, Bliss. :) Happy summer....

troutbirder said...

Nothing beats a good ole fashioned "up north" Minnesota family vacation. I'm trying to place Star Lake as I'm sure were drove passed it many times on our way north...:)

Teresa Evangeline said...

Your vacations sounds wonderful. I think I may have fished and camped on Star Lake many years ago ... I try to eat at The Wharf at least once a summer. The atmosphere under the trees is great and so is the food. Glad you had such a good time.

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