This post is going to be photo heavy and wordy and personal, just so you know up front. But I had to share with you our summer vacation, at least parts of it. Mostly in praise and thanksgiving. One year ago I could never have dreamed of being able to do all the physical outdoor activities we did while on vacation. Mostly because I was dreaming of being able to brush my teeth and dress myself. Even now my eyes well up with tears at all that my medications have allowed me to accomplish. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a part of my life, but it is not controlling it. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Enbrel. Thank you, Dr. Eyeanson. Thank you, family.
Our vacation started with a 7 mile paddle in a canoe. Our destination was an 800 year old pictograph in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The only way to see the pictograph is to paddle to it and I determined I was not going to miss it. Off we went and our voyage started with an 80 rod portage just to get to the water.
Being out on the water up there is unlike anything you have ever experienced. Growing up on a lake, I know water. The sounds, the smells, the feel of the breeze coming off of the lake in the evening, but up in the BWCA, its pure. Pure silence. No motors. No airplanes. No human noise. Only you and nature. The loons call hauntingly and the sound echoes across the lakes. The wind rustles trees and shrubs and you hear it. Experience it. Feel it. Become a part of it. If fills your soul with so much gratitude and praise and you realize the depth of beauty that only God could have imagined and created.
After a short 5 rod portage and more paddling, we came around the corner to where the pictograph is located. Its unreal. There are several myths about what it means, but does it matter? A Native American created this to share information, his story. The top three curved lines represent canoes. The X is the North Star. The moose is impressive. And it appears to be his dog underneath him. A museum in real life.
The next morning I got up and out of bed and had no pain. No stiffness. So we were off on another adventure! It was going to be a hike into Kawishiwi Falls. Not a long hike, maybe a mile, but downhill and then up on the way back.
The trail was beautiful. Full of roots and old trees. Isn’t it amazing how roots spread and reach? Even through rocks? Soon we began to not only hear the roar of the falls, but to feel the rumbling and shaking.
As we continued nearer to the falls, the air began to get heavy with mist and the plants all glistened in the sunlight. We were instantly soaked.
Around the last bend and we saw the pure force and power of the falls.
The river was well beyond its banks, crashing and tumbling and roaring.
The scenery in the BWCA is an interesting study in contrasts. Blue sky, green trees. Crashing waterfalls, calm lakes. Jagged rock walls, fields of wild flowers. The lupines were in bloom everywhere. I could have sat in this field and taken photos all afternoon.
But we had more plans for the afternoon…kayaking! We paddled around Lake Shagawa. There was a family of wood ducks with at least 18 babies. Two loon families with their babies on their backs, and a calm breeze to keep the heat down. Again, I paddled. On my own. No issues. No pain. Again there were tears of happiness.
We left the little man behind with grandma and grandpa, along with the wilderness for some golf. The Quarry golf course is a top course nationally and one of our favorites. We played 18 holes. I played 18 holes of golf. (Birdied the 4th hole even!) Ultimate gratitude.
The last adventure on our trip was to hike to High Falls at Tettegouche State Park on the north west shore of Lake Superior. It was a cool day, being next to the Lake, which was perfect for hiking. Butterflies floated on the air everywhere, yellow and orange, white and brown. It was like magic.
After the first leg of the hike (read mud, mud, mud), we came to an opening and we saw across the way the stairs. The STAIRS. The stairs the state park employee warned us about…we were headed all the way down there.
The wild roses were in bloom, adding to the magical feel of the day.
The suspension bridge is about the half way point. 5 people at a time only. Its creaky and swings a bit. And see the water, how it stops? That is the edge, the drop off, the falls.
Many, many, many, 340 one-way to be exact (because the little man actually counted) stairs later, we reached the bottom. And this view. Well, that was worth it. And more tears. Of happiness. Of joy. Of gratitude. Of being overwhelmed by the beauty of this Earth. Of prayers answered. Of medications working. Of really and truly living and experiencing this sh0rt and precious life.
Take that RA.