Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Golden Mile of Grand Marais

It is the weekend, I decided that since the wood pile is officially full I could escape for a few days.  On Thursday night I went out and mentioned that I was thinking of heading up the shore and going camping.  This was responded with, oh, I am going up the shore as well and staying at (mutual friend's house), com on over, here is the address.

Well, damn, how could I say no to that!  This is already better than my original idea which was to head up and sit around a fire with no access to electricity, which could still happen, it is only Saturday morning.

Well I had a great drive up the shore.
My first stop along the way was at Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors so I could pick up a growler of beer.  There was going to be no shortage of beer where I was going (the above mentioned friend whose house we were borrowing for the weekend is a brewer), but I had won a free growler and fill at a bar takeover earlier in the year and this was my first chance to take advantage of it.

I decided to go with the "Wimpy lager" as I figured (rather correctly) that the rest of the weekend was going to be filled with IPA, EPA, Double Bock, etc. I almost went for the Red Ale, but they were on the last keg and were not pouring growler fills at the moment.

Alas, the Wimpy Lager is actually pretty good, and it fills the bill for a mellow lager when you are in need of a mellow lager.

Driving up the North Shore of Lake Superior is a very pleasant drive.  Not only do you have views of the lake you also have tunnels, I don't know why, but I have always been a huge fan of tunnels.  If you have ever seen any of my ridiculous Minecraft builds you will understand.  This is the Silver Creek tunnel, which bypasses what used to be a hair raising road that wrapped around the edge of the cliff with a rock wall on one side and a sheer drop off into the water on the other.  The tunnel is a huge improvement.

I cannot remember what the actual name of this tunnel is, but it i the second one.  I think the main purpose of this one was that it just made life easier for all parties involved.  After this it was just another hour and change of driving to get to Grand Marais.  I arrived in town and started trying to figure out where all of the places I needed to be were.  I eventually found the house and my friend I was meeting sitting at the kitchen table.

We determined who was sleeping in what room and had a quick beer.  Then we were off to downtown, a arduous walk of four blocks since we were staying on the outskirts of town.  

The friend of mine I am up here with (who shall out of policy remain unnamed) is a writer for one of the local newspapers and was also up here to report on when the leaves are starting to change along the shore for a local photographer.  They really had not even begun to reach their peak, but we did find this tree along our walk, trying to make up for all of the other trees that were slacking.

Another block down the road I suddenly noticed that the entire sky had turned bright pink!  Everyone knows (well not everyone, but lots of people) that "Red sky at night, sailors delight, Red sky at morning, sailors take warning."  This really does not hold muster north of the tropics because the Jet Stream causes the predominant flow to be from West to East, but it was still quite the shot.  Ten minutes later we arrived at Voyageur Brewing and it was all done!

Voyageur Brewing has a great deck, which from the coffee shop across the street (Java Moose, they are amazing, also my first stop when I got into town, along with this morning), I can see the deck from which I took this picture of the harbor.

We had a pint from the deck on top of the building and kept an eye on the clouds wondering if they would break, as one of my goals for this weekend is to take sky photos since I am far from the predominant sources of light pollution.

Voyageur brewing brews their own beer, and lots of that beer as well.  I finally got a pint of a red, which I do prefer when I am not drinking watery crap because I know exactly what my limit of watery crap is, but craft brews sneak up on you sometimes.  On this night we left the cars at home and were going purely on sneaker power, so if we happened to end up over the limit it was a risk to our knees, but not our lives.

Our next stop was the Gun Flint Tavern, which was all of about a block away.  They had an interesting little rooftop bar with heat lamps, as it is mid-September, and it does get chilly at night.  Here is where we got accosted by the Canadians who thought that we were some pretty hot cougar bait.  It also made me ask a few questions about Canada that I had not thought of previously.

Grand Marais has a small harbor, which I will be walking around today.  At night you can just see the sailboats moored, but with a camera you can get them to pop out a little better.

Oddly I walk into a bar and I run into a musician I know, Here is Russ Sackett and the gang playing is a very pleasant three piece jazz ensemble.  We had some dinner and some more pints and then we continued on the Golden Mile of Grand Marais.

Our next stop was at the VFW Hall, the third stop on our Golden Mile (we think we hit everything, but we are not positive), they were close to closing time, but we had time to sneak in one beer.  Outside we ran into this couple who were getting married the next day, today.  Also the wedding is the event that my cohort is attending today while I explore the area.

I took some pictures at the last spot, but mostly for a scavenger hunt blog which I will be playing with later.  The last spot was the Birch Terrace, which is more of a local haunt and had karaoke rolling through the evening along with the usual drunken shenanigans, as although we were pretty well behaved there was a large wedding party tearing it up along with what looked to be all of the locals.

I am not sure exactly how the story went but my cohort was being accosted again, this time by a woman who was alternating between the stories that she had come back up here after either being struck by a car, or struck by lightning.  My conclusion is that she had been struck by a car called the lightning.

It was getting to bar close at this point so we walked back to the house.  The entire walk back, which was about eight blocks, we did not see a single car on the road, although we were taking the side streets.  We laughed about the car/lightning conversation and looked at the sky and decided, that although there was evidence of a few stars, the viewing was not going to clear up in time to get any observation in.

This is the story of the Grand Marais Golden Mile, in case you were counting, it involved four bars, and if you start at one the whole loop is about a mile in total.  They were the Voyageur Brewing Company, Gun Flint Lodge, VFW, and the Birch Terrace.

Well, I need some breakfast and to get on with the rest of the weekend.  There are a few spots I really want to go visit this weekend, and I intend to get those done.  I also was just informed that the cabin up on Gunflint Lake is available as well, so my cohort and I may be heading up that way.  If the skies open up tonight the viewing may be absolutely incredible as there will be no light pollution anywhere near us!


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