Little Marais, MN June 27
Tettegouche State Park was our primary destination today. A year ago they completed a brand new and expanded visitor center and rest stop on MN Highway 61. The large and attractive park name sign has yet to be installed; we normally take a picture of each park or location sign as a reminder of where pictures were taken. Today I took a picture of the glass door with the park name on it.
Tettegouche State Park is a combination of the previous Baptism River State Park (6000 acres of land) and an additional 3400 acres of land which had previously been the largest lumbering site on the North Shore and then a gentlemen’s club when the pine forests were all cut down. The name Tettegouche originated in the New Brunswick Canada origins of the owners of the lumber company. They replicated many of the French and Algonquin names of that area.
We hiked along the cascades trail. It was a glorious hike; birds were chirping, you could hear the sounds of the river just below, wildflowers continued to be blooming, and there was a slight breeze to complement the 70 degree temperature. Oh, I suppose the undergrowth along the trail could have been cut back a bit but that just added to the ambience.
We could have hiked more trails but we had decided to explore the area. In our travels up to the Finland Co-op Store, we had driven past the Finland Heritage Site. It was a cluster of buildings along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. It seemed to be one of those little curiosities that we tend to check out, so we had decided to visit it after Tettegouche.
The Heritage Site is open Thursday through Sunday from 11-4 during the summer months. A couple of retired RVers from Minneapolis are the volunteer staff. The wife took us around the site. It was originally the homestead of a bachelor Finnish immigrant farmer who, when in his eighties, just disappeared one winter day, breakfast sitting on the table, and was never seen again.
When the property eventually reverted to the county due to non-payment of taxes, volunteers formed an organization to recognize the Finnish immigrant heritage of the area. The volunteers exhibited plenty of “Sisu”, a Finnish word meaning plenty of guts and determination under adversity.
The bachelor farmer’s house and property were the first buildings but they have added a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, the state’s first forestry field building, a museum with informative displays, and a stage and food stands for the cultural events held there during the year. The town of Finland is still heavily Finnish, with several generations of families of the original immigrants still living here. The site is a pleasant means to spend a little time.
Lunch was at Our Place, a typical small town bar/restaurant with a northwoods ambience. Prices were a lot less expensive than the cities and we each had their pork bar-b-cue and potato salad for $6.50 each. A raspberry and a rhubarb shortcake for $2.50 each completed the meal. Everything was quite tasty.
We left and headed out to find George Crosby Manitou state park. This park is a wilderness park, meant for backpacking only. Their literature suggests day hikers use other parks. We thought we would at least check it out.
On our way to the park, we stopped and took a picture of the wood carving of St. Urho, patron saint of Finland. What, you never heard of St. Urho? Well, that is not unusual. St. Urho is actually a fiction, created by a Minnesotan in reaction to constant comments about St. Patrick of Ireland. Finland is over 80% Lutheran and does not recognize saints. But, they celebrate St. Urho around here just before St. Patrick’s Day.
Along the roads in this area, we have just seen an explosion of lupine, particularly purple in color. We thought maybe there was a concerted effort to plant them as an identifying mark of the area. But, no, it seems the lupine tend to grow in clusters when their seeds are disbursed. A few people locally seem to be getting tired of them.
As we were driving to Manitou State Park, the skies darkened and there was lightning off in the distance. The asphalt road ended and became gravel. Then the rains came. We reached the park and agreed we had no need to go hiking in the wilderness under these conditions. The Superior Hiking Trail runs through this park and we had talked to several hikers just minutes before the rains who still had 4-6 miles left to hike today.
Gravel roads were our companion for most of the ride back to Lakeside Cottages in Little Marais. A nap was our reward for our activities.
Before church, we had dinner again at the Northwoods Family Grille in Silver Bay. Good food; not artisanal, not organic, not small plates, not locally sourced, just good food in the old style. The bowl of chili was large enough to feed a family. Reminded me of my parents’ restaurant back in the 1960s.
We spent our last night at the “Nest”, our small cabin at Lakeside Cabins and Estates. The unit is comfy, plenty of hot water; they ingeniously arranged the space so there is room for a TV, small refrigerator, table, chair, kitchen dishes, etc.
Ed and Chris June 28