Superior Trip

In early August my family and four large dogs took a trip to Grand Marais for a week. These are the men and women of the trip, these are their stories.

possible working titles:

  • Grand Trip
  • Superior trip
  • Dog Gone Trip
  • Grand Dog Trip
  • Voyagers
  • Octagon Adventure
  • Grand Octagon Adventure
  • Four Dogs Four Nights
Grand Marais sign Grand Marais Sign, the city we stayed near.

Grand Octagon Adventure (G.O.A.)

Day 0: Goodbye Wilhelm, Hello Car

On Monday Marissa and I said goodbye to our good friend Wilhelm, who was visiting from Boston for the weekend. Marissa and I were not looking forward to saying goodbye for many reasons, including the fact that we had a 5 hour car ride ahead of us.

The Crannell’s (My in-laws) planned a week long trip to Grand Marais with four dogs, and six people.

The drive itself was uneventful, however we did see several downed trees in Duluth due to a recent storm. After picking up beer at a small liquor store we made it to the cabin at around 6.

Bear, (our dog) was very excited to see his three favorite dogs. While the dogs played inside and out, the rest of the family spent time playing card games and having a great time.

All in all the trip has been a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to our next couple days.

Day 1: Always Falling For You

The first day has officially begun. We started early taking the dogs out and getting them tired. After breakfast we laid the dogs down for an afternoon nap, and went out on a very long adventure.

We traveled north along Lake Superior, passing the Grand Portage and stopping at US Canada border. None of us had thought to bring our passports so instead we got out at the rest stop and decided to hike along the Pigeon river which separates the United States and Canada.

As the hike went along three of us got separated from the other three because we were off exploring. In order to locate the other group we began making a loon call using our hands. After sometime Diane noticed our call and had Jamie make the call back to us, allowing us to find each other. After locating each other and after a short hike, we reached two separate lookout points for the High falls.

A picture of the six of us at the high falls
A picture of the six of us at the high falls
The three lost voyagers. The three lost voyagers.
A bear sign. Marissa and I with a bear sign.

There are three falls along pigeon river the high falls, middle falls, (Some other falls), you can tell they were very creative people.

The high falls were easy to reach, so we decided to walk the 3 miles, round trip to Middle falls. After about 1.5 miles of walking we asked someone how far we were, he told us we were halfway. At that point most of the family turned back, leaving just Jamie and I to carry on. In the end it took twice as long as we predicted and we can promise that it was NOT 3 miles round trip.

I can’t promise it was ‘worth’ it, but we did see some very cool plants.

Indian Pipe Indian Pipe seen on the walk back from the middle falls.

Day 1: Dog Lifeguard

After the long day in the kennel we knew we needed to tire the dogs out. Our house is very close to Lake Superior so we decided to take the dogs down to the lake for a good romp.

The four dogs piled out of the car and onto the rocky beach. There were 2-3 foot waves on the beach, which initially the dogs were scared of. Luckily I was wearing boots from my wet suit, and was able to convince the dogs to come in the water with peer pressure. After a couple minutes the dogs were loving it in the waves, soon we started playing fetch into the water which was a great time.

I stayed in the water just in case one of the dogs got into trouble, but after 10 minutes it became clear that the dogs were not gonna run into any trouble.

Bear playing in the water. Bear playing in the water.
Bella Bella playing fetch in the waves.
Maple Bear Bella Nini and me on the beach with the dogs
Maple Bear Bella Dog party by the lake.

Day 2: Rainy Lazy day

Waking up this morning it was sprinking slightly, so we decided today would be a good day for shopping.

After a large pancake breakfast we drove down to the city and explored the shops including, Ben Franklin, and The Trading Post. For lunch we had Sven and Oles Pizza. (Not worth the hour wait).

Pizza Waiting for Pizza makes us crazy.

Day 2: Where’s Beardo

At the end of the day, the family loaded into the van and drove for several hours hunting in the hopes of seeing a bear or a moose.

The following animals were seen

Deer running across the road
beaver Beaver Lodge and the accompanying Beaver (not shown)
Moose Moose, 40 feet away.
Moose pee The same moose peeing! (NSFW?)
Loon calls from a nearby lake.
Sunset Sunset

We were only lucky enough to see the moose so well thanks to the great moose whisper.

We stopped at the campground that Diane and Jamie use to teach at. The Albert Lee Summer Science camp. Jamie and Diane use to teach there in the 80’s, and hadn’t been back in nearly 8 years.

Science Camp Science Summer Camp with Jamie and Diane 28 years later.

Day 3: Settlers Of Grand Marais

The trip is winding down. We have to be out by 11 tomorrow. We had another lazy morning playing settlers of catan and laughing about the moose whisper. (see video above). It has been a lovely trip, the dogs have been marvelously well behaved. But I suspect everyone is looking forward to a night in their own bed.

We went to town again this morning and saw some beautiful ceramic pottery which was made using a stellar glaze. The glaze made each piece look like a seashell.

The weather hasn’t been great so I haven’t had a chance to swim, but the plan is that this evening Marissa and I will take some time to let me play in the water while she acts as a lifeguard.

Chicken Art To be honest I'm not entirely sure what/why this is.

Day 3: Superior Swimming Abilities

Towards the end of the day, Marissa and I finally found an opportunity to get out to Lake Superior. We drove south towards a rest stop that was close to the lake. Sadly the waves were all crashing right ontop of several large rocks. However about 400 feet down the beach was a perfect spot to swim. I put on my wetsuit and headed into the cold water, startling several passerbys.

It had been nearly a year and a half since I had a chance to use my wetsuit in California. I had a great time, and can’t wait till the day I can body surf in the ocean again.

For the amount of time I spent in the water (40 minutes) the cleanup time (30 minutes) wasn’t worth it. But the amount of fun, and memories I had while in the water made it completely worth it.

Day 3: Going on a bear hunt

Gonna catch a big one.

This evening around twilight we decided to drive north along the Gunflint Trail in the hopes of seeing a bear.


  • No Trespassing Please – So Minnesotan it hurts.

In the end we started this trip later than our previous trip and stuck to more well traveled roads

But someone still managed to get lucky(NSFW)

There was also the awesome rest area we came across, seen here.


  • The itsy bitsy spider with accents
  • The rattlan bog

Day 4 clean up

Well the last day has arrived and involved a lot of work. We started cleaning and packing as soon as we got up, and managed to leave the house with plenty of time to spare.

Two cars, six people, and four dogs started the long journey home.

Along the way we stopped in Duluth and had lunch on Grandmas patio with the four dogs.
Of course, it was just our luck to get into MSP during rush hour, but all in all, the trip was uneventful and easy.

Now that vacation is done, it’s time for some R&R.

Games played

  • Moose In The House
  • Tonkers - Thank you Wilhelm
  • Cribbage - Jamie can’t be beaten
  • Yahtzee - Grandma cheats
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Tsuro

Forgotten items

  • REAL Maple syrup (Made by Jamie)
  • jalapenos from the garden
  • Properly sized aida cloth

Extra Information

  • The house we are staying in is in the shape of an octogan, which is where the name for this blog post came from.
Our House The octogan house we were staying in.

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Published: August 09 2016

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