Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Queen of Bear Lake

Bright and early Thursday morning we jumped in the rental and punched in the 'address' for Bear Lake. The GPS couldn't find the address and we were stuck navigating the old fashioned way: mapquest. Once we got far enough out into the country where there was no man but plenty of animals the mapquest map failed us. We did manage to see a family of 5 deer on the side of the road as we looked for humankind and directions. We never found a human and had to resort to our trusty Rand McNally.

We did see signs for a horsecamp and as luck would have it there was a map with Bear Lake on it and the roads that led to it! Yay! I won't mention that when mapquest failed us at a 3-way intersection I asked Tobey if we should go left. He said, "No, right." I further won't mention that about 5 miles down the road we turned around and headed in the direction I said we needed to go in the first place. I told him that since half of his genes are in Barbie and she can't figure out which way is north on Hwy 19 here, I wasn't going to trust his sense of direction. And really, who could blame me.


Finally we saw the campground sign and headed down the dirt road. The same dirt road that my father would make Yeti walk when we went camping in and after rain storms. I told Tobey if I thought the road was going to be washed out ahead that he could play the role of Yeti. He wasn't amused.

We turned off this road and took another short trip down a dirt road before we arrived at the campground. The signs gave us a choice to go to the right for the campground and left for the picnic shelters. We went right and parked the car near the boat dock and landing area. I could remember the landing but not the dock and I thought the landing was much further from the campgrounds.

There seemed to be another larger landing area further to the right and we walked the road towards it. Tobey was running the handicam at the same time the loons began to cry. We have a few seconds of Nat Geo blurry footage but the sound was perfect. And then they stopped and didn't start back up again. We walked back to the campground and skirted the sites by way of the beach. Beach? There wasn't a beach here before. Well there was one or two sites that were waterfront but not like this.

The area left to 'our' campsite was now sold off and cabins stood where the turtles used to nest. A nice wire privacy fence ran the length of the property with Keep Out signs posted. I think this is the point where I really started to cry. I walked back to our old site and the gentleman there told me I should be smiling and that made me cry even harder.

About this time his wife steps around and we struck up a conversation. I asked how long they had been coming to Bear Lake and he said a few years. I explained to him that I hadn't been here in 28 years and I was shocked by the change.

He went on to say the locals have found this campground and they are the ones in the RVs. He told us of how low this lake and others in the area were and how the fishing is non-existent. I told him the story about Matt, Yeti and I in the canoe and the BIG fish I lost around the bend in the lake. He said he hooked a big'un out there a while back and I told him it was mine. They were a nice couple and I told them to enjoy camping in my spot and we headed out.

We did stop to take a few more silly pictures. Like of the water pump and the new potties. We stopped at the campground sign to take a picture of me and the sign and they pulled up in front of us. The man called out jokingly and asked if I was the queen of bear lake. I replied, "Why, yes I am." We chatted for a few more minutes and we both left the campground. Them to probably get bug spray and us back to Duluth.

We arrived back in Duluth a little past lunch time and had lunch at the Chinese Restaurant on Haines and Miller Trunk which was right near the hotel. They served the most delicious cream cheese wontons and the food was yummy and very inexpensive.

After our late lunch we headed down to the lakewalk and park point. I wanted to make sure I knew how to get there for the reunion which would take place the next day. We walked about and took pictures and Tobey and I walked the lift bridge which was pretty amazing.

Later in the evening we met up with one of my besties from middle school, Kim. We had coffee at the Caribou Cafe and chatted for about an hour. The second I saw her get out of her truck and head to the cafe I started crying again. It was so good to see her after all these decades and it was nice to be able to see her family in the pictures she brought to share.

We reminisced about old times and talked of new ones. And all though we might be older, if I would have seen her any where else I would have recognized her in an instant.


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