Starlit Rambler - Adventure Travel Our Way
Back to Chicago/Ogden Dunes, Indiana
Todd agreed to pick us up at the airport once again as we made our way back to Chicago on Saturday night. Sunday, August 2nd the three of us headed towards Ogden Dunes, Indiana to visit Richard Hallman, a friend of Rachelle’s. Throughout our relationship I had heard a lot about Richard and saw his amazing photos. Richard is a professional photographer out of Hood River, Oregon and be sure to check out his work on Instagram @freelanceimaging. Richard grew up in Ogden Dunes, Indiana on Lake Michigan and was back visiting his family at the time. We spent the entire day on Lake Michigan Jet-Skiing, SUPing, swimming, and Richard went out on his kiteboard. Just as the day seemed perfect an enormous Mammatus cloud began to form towards the west over Chicago. One of the most amazing clouds I had ever seen, Richard was able to catch a superb picture of Rachelle on his iPhone 6 as the Mammatus cloud signaled heavy upcoming weather.
After a full day at Lake Michigan and a thrilling jet ski ride with Richard we made our way back to his parent’s house to start dinner. Dinner was exceptional as we ate on the patio during intermittent power outages making eating somewhat of a challenge. The skies grew heavy and electric as the promised storm began to push its way towards Dunes, Indiana. Even though it was late and we had a long drive back to Todd’s the four of us headed to the beach to watch the storm approach. Lighting lit up the night’s sky as if a sibling had snuck into your pitch-black room and proceed to flip the light switch on and off, on and off. This was no ordinary storm, as lighting hit every 2-3 seconds, continuously for over an hour. All of us just sat there with our invisible bowl of popcorn taking in the power and strength of Mother Nature. With the storm directly above us and lighting all around, I began to spread out from the others anticipating a lighting strike so not all of us would be taken out. It felt as if we were in a firefight as we retreated with heads down to the protection of a solid roof. The sky grew heavy as moisture learned the laws of gravity, rapidly descending towards earth. Just as we gained cover at the Hallman’s house at 1 Beach Ave, sheets of water fell from above instantly flooding the surrounding area. This kind of storm really makes you feel small and powerless against the fury of Nature. As it grew later we decided to brave the calming storm in Todd’s Ford truck dodging down trees on the drive out of Dunes, Indiana in route to Chicago; a truly memorable experience with the beauty and fierceness of Nature.
Rachelle’s Birthday – Duluth, MN
Waking up at Rice Lake, MN on August 4th, 2015 was a special and important day; today was Rachelle’s 29th birthday! After a romantic night sleeping in a public park, with fear the local police would come knocking on our door, we arose after a restful nights sleep to an early morning walk around the lake. Rice Lake was about 2 hours from our next destination in Duluth, MN to go mountain biking and meet up with another one of Rachelle’s friends (Not sure how she has so many friends?). With hungry bellies pulling into Duluth we stopped at Duluth Grill to enjoy a birthday breakfast. Wow was this place exceptional as we ordered a pecan caramel cinnamon roll, marinated kale with curry sauce, juevos rancheros, red hash with eggs, bacon and gluten free French Toast. With a quick fix of a brake problem on Rachelle’s bike we hit the trails for a short ride in order to meet up with Matt Schorer to explore Duluth. Matt currently lives in Minneapolis and made the drive up to Duluth for the day. We explored the coast of Lake Superior before heading to “Zeitgeist” for Rachelle’s birthday dinner. Again the food was ridiculously good with smoked Gouda stuffed bacon wrapped dates and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. I guess we kind of ate our way through Duluth and Rachelle’s birthday.
Boundary Waters National Canoe Area Wilderness
Ely, MN was the next stop on our epic adventure to explore the Boundary Waters National Canoe Area Wilderness. This area had come highly recommended by a few sources including my cousin, Zach Penprase who does a trip to the area each year. Zach currently lives in Fargo, ND and plays on a semi-pro baseball team but unfortunately he was at an away game when we came through Fargo after our journey in the Boundary Waters.
So here we were in the most popular canoe wilderness in the country with our whitewater kayaks as our only floatation devices. After securing permits to spend 2 nights in the wilderness we packed up our kayaks with camping gear and started paddling on Moose Lake. Making our way up Moose Lake we crossed into Newfound Lake, then Splash Lake, and into Ensign Lake as we approached an acceptable campsite just in time for a storm to hit. With our tent as our only shelter we did the not so smart thing and cooked dinner in our tent in the heavily populate bear country; its okay they are only Black Bears…as we venture toward Glacier and Grizzly Bear country.
The next morning we set off for a long day of paddling crossing into 5 different lakes, including a 220 rod portage from Ensign Lake into Boot Lake. In the canoe world a rod is a unit to measure the distance of a portage with 1 rod = 16 ft. So 220 rods was around 3,520 feet or just over ½ mile. Now walking ½ mile is no big deal but put a 50 lb boat on your shoulder and try it. All in all we crossed from Ensign Lake to Boot Lake (220 rod portage) to Abinodji Lake (80 rod) to Swing Lake (50 rod) to Gibson Lake (35 rod) to Ashigan Lake (105 rod) to Ensign Lake (55 rod) totaling 8,720 feet about 1 ¾ miles portaging.
Our final day of paddling back to the Rambler was a clear beautiful day with abundant wildlife. A Bald Eagle soared around the blue skies with a falcon perched in the foreground, as the turtles sunbathed on exposed logs. Approaching the final portage of the day we were determined not to get out of our kayaks to at least justify bringing them on the trip when everyone else looked at us and questioned, “Where are you from and why a kayak?” This portage had a very shallow small creek connecting Splash and Newfound Lake with a downed tree half blocking the route. Like a pro Rachelle slide the log and made her way down the shallow section with ease. I, like a rookie, missed the log slide and got stuck on the wrong side of the creek and after a couple failed attempts finally made my way across the portage.
Just as we made our way into Newfound Lake a rustling on the bank caught my attention as a Black Bear scrambled up the steep bank out of sign. Excited with our wild life sighting we stuck around the area hoping to catch another glimpse of the bear. Little did we know this bear was simple a distraction cause as we started back across the lake I noticed something in the distance. At first it looked like a mother duck leading her three ducklings across the lake but as we gained ground these were no ducks. A mother Black Bear and her three cubs were making the swim across Newfound Lake as we frantically paddled in order to get a better view. As the mother bear reached the other side safely with her cubs she turned back at us as if to say “Not this time you humans,” disappearing into the forest.
Once back in Moose Lake (our final lake) the sky grew dark as a major storm approached with the shore in sight. Like clockwork, the moment we got to shore hail, rain and lighting lit up the environment around us. With no time to load our kayaks we sat in the Rambler waiting out the storm. Finally it let up, giving us time to load our gear and get on our way towards Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the half waypoint between Minnesota and Glacier.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
We really used this park as a place to sleep with our long drive across North Dakota and Montana but discovered the importance of the park. Here is where Theodore Roosevelt came to morn his new wife and mothers death and escape city life in New York. Roosevelt fell in love with nature and had the foresight to protect these sensitive areas creating the National Park System. Without his love for nature and his hard work many of our most beautiful and beloved environments would be obsolete.
From here we made our push through North Dakota and Eastern Montana to arrive late into Glacier National Park!
Stay tuned for our adventures in Glacier, Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada), and Kananaskis Country as we head towards Jasper National Park, north of Banff.
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