We left from Duluth, to the Gunflint Trail for seven days of family and relaxation by the lake. When we arrived, later that night my Mom, Dad, sister Bridge, and neice and nephew Emilia and Jack came. We visited with them and had a campfire that night, and went to bed.
The next day, we decided to go blueberry picking and were told that the area around the Seagull Guard was a good place to go. Coretta, my Mom, Bridgette, and Emilia piled into my car and we went in search of the perfect blueberries. Before we even left the driveway, however, I backed into a tree. No damage, no worries, so we got back in the car and continued our drive down Gunflint Trail Road. Once to Seagull Guard, we parked the car, locked it, and continued down the road in search of the blueberry.
Mom, being a veteran of blueberry picking, was our leader. As we followed her, she reminsced about her experiences in the blueberry patch with her father, brothers and sisters. Grandpa Geno was a very serious picker, and expected each child (he had fifteen) to pick a pail of blueberries. When the kids would get thirsty, he would tell them to suck on a weed, and continue working. It was clear to me that my Mom had adopted my Grandfather's hard work ethic and the inexplainable love of the blueberry.
After picking for about four hours, I looked down to realize that I had lost my keys. When I said this, my sister and Mom didn't believe me, and continued to pick berries. At this point, I was freaking out. One, I lost the keys, and two it was a rental car. The idea of explaining this to the rental agency, let alone Nick weighed heavily on my mind. After looking for a good amount of time, I finally gave up. The only way back to the lodge was to hitch hike the 10 miles back, and walk until someone picked us up. My sister, however, was not too keen on the idea of hitching a ride (especially in the prescence of her daughter Emilia). She half jokingly starts talking about stranger danger and being raped, which I, in turn looked at her and said we are in the northernmost part of Minnesota and I reassured her we would be alright.
It only took a matter of minutes, and we had our first car pull over. It was a big pick up sedan vehicle, we explained our situation, and they were happy to help. We jumped in their vehicle laughing and joking about our predicament, and they brought us as far as Round Lake. We thanked them for their help, and started hitching once again. Again, in a matter of minutes, we had a car stop. They offered to help, but clearly didn't have enough space for us. We then pulled over another in a pick up truck with a dog sitting in the front seat. We again explained our predicament, and he drove us all the way back to the lodge in the back of his pick up. Once back, we learned that he was the husband of the Mayor.
I have to say that this was the most interesting blueberry picking adventure I have ever had, and my Mom still managed to get a full pail of berries.
The next day, we had scheduled time for the girls and Grandpa Beaver to go horseback riding at the Gunflint Stables. This has been a tradition since last year when Emilia and Coretta went for the first time. Once to the stables, they learned about the safety and precaution measures, and then each were saddled on their horses. Coretta had Mrs. B, Emilia had Daisy, and Grandpa Beaver had Jasper. Once in line, they were off for an hour horseback riding adventure. It took a few minutes before they were ready to go, because Jasper, Grandpa Beaver's horse, decided to take a poop and then a pee before they went off. If you have ever witnessed a horse excreting these bodily fluids, you would be amazed.
Later that day, Nick and I took a hike on the Magnetic Trail where we hiked for approximately five miles and at the middle of the hike stopped to take a rest at the foot of the huge Magnetic Rock.
Throughout the first three days, the kids all spent time swimming, throwing rocks, having campfires, and even playing UNO. Bridgette and my Mom even managed to go blueberry picking a second tim (I opted to stay back) since my last experience was still fresh in my mind.
The fourth day at Heston's Lodge, Grandma Marilyn and my niece Imania showed up. We, including my Mom, Dad, sister, and kids decided to go out to eat at The Trail Center located at the end of the trail. Greg, the owner of Heston's, had told Nick that they had the best burgers in the area. Once there, we all piled out, and entered the restaurant. I think we may have overwhelmed the poor worker, since she was on staff by herself and had an order for eleven, as well as other customers. I would have to say that Greg's recommendation was quite true, the hamburgers were excellent.
The next day, we said goodbye to my Mom, Dad, sister, niece and nephew, and had some time alone with Marilyn and Imania. That day ended up being a wash out, so we spent time sketching, reading, playing games, and working on puzzles.
The next day, we took Imania and Marilyn blueberry picking and had lunch at the Gunflint Lodge. Nick and his mom decided to take a hike together and I stayed back with the kids swimming. That night, Barb and Greg, the owner's of Heston's Lodge, had their famous wood fired pizza evening where you get to build your own pizzas. This is definitely one of the highlights of our stay and gives you a chance to chat with other people staying at the lodge. It never fails that Geno finds other kids his age to play with, stick fight with, and play with trucks and tractors.
The next day, we had to say goodbye to Imania and Marilyn, and had the next two days alone. Coretta and Dad decided that they would go on a hike. They chose the Centennial Trail because there were lots of cliffs and rocks to climb. The trail proved to be a lot more challenging then they first thought. They found themselves walking in brush up to their necks without a clear path. Suffice it to say,they still had a good time together.
Hestons Lodge continues to be one of our favorite retreats in Minnesota and look forward to it again next year. Even my Mom, sisters, brother-in-law, neices and nephews are set on staying for a whole week next year.