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The Drive Over to Minnesota - July 18, 2000

plus ... preparation for the trip

Well, we started preparing for this trip in late August of 1999. We ended up purchasing our reservation in February, despite the professional guy telling me they'd already be sold out. I found some good resources online for suggested trips and printed them out just to see what kinda choices there were. We decided on a trip that would take us in a loop starting at Moose Lake. We started planning our supplies and exact dates of the trip around Christmas of 1999. The night before I went up to Escanaba, Shawn had been out camping with his younger brothers Tim and Joe, so he was getting back in the hang of roughing it!

I went up to Escanaba from Madison on July 16, 2000. That gave us a day and a half to snag any food and supplies we needed. Thankfully, my Dad was able to register his canoe with the state of Michigan, so we didn't have to worry about registering in Minnesota. We stopped by the supermarket on the 17th, loading up on spaghetti, ramen noodles, water jugs, cereal, Quaker Chewies, and stuff for trail mix. That night Tracy and I both had our hair cut really really short by Mary. That was interesting... We then loaded up our stuff that night and tried the canoe on the roof of my Saturn, this was going to be an interesting drive.

Early Tuesday morning, we set off on U.S. 2 toward Minnesota. We planned on snagging a hotel in Ely for an early start the next day. It was a pretty nice day, a little chilly starting out, but not too bad. We popped CDs in left and right and listened to all sorts of stuff. I'm sure there was some Aerosmith, Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, ZZ Top, Twisted Metal III soundtrack, and other miscellaneous stuff. There was a huge detour on U.S. 2 that made us go about 30 miles out of our way. That was annoying.. Well, we got to Ashland, WI, before we stopped and just had some trail mix. We just figured we would snag some there and eat dinner in Ely.

As we prepared to cross the Minnesota state line in Superior, U.S. 2 quickly reduces from 2 lanes to 1 before crossing the water into Minnesota. Well, the right lane ends, so I put on my turn signal and wait for an opening to move over. One appears, and I prepare to move over when a semi whips around me far above the speed limit from my lane and cuts me off. Then he slows down with me so I can't get behind him either. Now I'm hurtling at a concrete barrier with no way out. So, I have to slam my brakes on and come to a complete stop before another opening appears and I can get over. Needless to say, some choice words were said in my car. Of course he exited before I could catch up and tell him how I felt about his driving...

Thankfully, there were no further traffic incidents. We travelled up the coast on Minnesota Hwy 61 to Two Harbors. Then we headed up toward Ely on County Highway 2. Finally heading into Ely on Minnesota Hwy 1. This last part of the drive was great, as the road was full of cool turns and roller coaster-like rises and falls. Thankfully the straps holding the canoe on the roof held strong!

We pulled into Ely and headed for the first hotel we saw, the Super 8. Well, they were a bit pricey for our taste - \$90! So we said we'd come back later. Then we tried the Motel Ely, it was a Budget Host. I think it was only $55 or so, and the room was pretty nice. We decided to stay there. After relaxing for a minute, we decided to head over and get our entry permit. The permit station was just east of Ely, so it wasn't a problem. They made sure we were who we said we were, and took a few bucks for the entry fee. We almost forgot to include Tracy in the Under 17 list, cheaper! Thankfully we remembered. After that we drove west through town to check it out. Then we headed east to check out the entry point where we'd be leaving from the next day. It was a considerable drive, probably 20-25 minutes. We checked out Moose Lake. As we walked down to the canoe landing, a loon called from across the lake. All three of us just knew it was going to be a fun trip then.

Noticing a grocery store and Hardee's on our drive through town we headed back to the hotel and parked the car there. We walked over and snagged some duct tape from Zups (the grocery store with a cool name, kinda like Lums in Madison). Then we went across the street to snag some dinner. Shawn remembered that Famous Stars were on special for 99. So we snagged a couple of those each. That was going to be our last meat for a 9 days! After that, we headed back to the hotel room. Some Ely residents heckled us because we looked like three cops. All three of us had closely shaved heads but only Shawn was about to become a police officer. Tracy and I just didn't want ticks lurking in our hair. Upon returning to the room, we watched a little TV. We all took showers because we knew that we wouldn't be doing that for a while either. I tried out my weather radio, but of course they have no station that reaches to Ely. Well, at least it made my backpack lighter!

We drifted off to sleep pretty early with loon calls in our heads (well, at least in my head).

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