The Last Leg

     It’s like the last portage on a long wilderness canoe trip when you’re mind has decided it’s time to be done.  Game over, end of journey, put the vehicle in park and breathe a sigh of relief.  That’s what I hope to do sometime later today when we make it home to the end of the Gunflint Trail.


     Yesterday’s forecast combined with existing road conditions convinced us to stay in St. Cloud one more night.  We were hoping the extra night would provide better road conditions for the RV but an additional 2-3 inches of snow fell in the St. Cloud area and Highway 23 is a slushy mess.  We’ll see what the rest of the roads look like and hope they are in good condition to allow us a safe passage home.


     The extra day in St. Cloud was not lost.  We were able to use some of our Christmas Gift Cards at the busy shopping mall.  I purchased an additional piece of clothing that will most likely hang in my closet while I wear the same sweatshirt and sweatpants for five days in a row in the privacy of my Northwood’s retreat.  The kids had to buy the latest Harry Potter movie on DVD and Mike needed yet another cookbook. 


     The highlight of the day was to spend some family time with Mike’s extended family.  We had pizza at Sheri’s parent’s house (Mike’s Aunt and Uncle’s) and were joined by another Aunt and Mike’s first cousin who is just 2 years older than Abby.  It was nice to have some quality family time not to mention some delicious homemade Christmas treats.  A major bonus of visiting Mark and Elaine’s house was what I left their house with.  Not only did I receive a beautiful photo of a whale Sheri had taken and framed for me but also a jar of pickled beets from her parents.  Sorry everyone who gave me gifts this year but the beets probably win for best present of this Christmas Season.


     We’ve had a wonderful journey this past month and we’ve created some incredible memories.  But now we’re ready to be home.  I can hear the wind rustling in the leaves which tells me the lake must be close.  At the crest of the portage I catch a glimpse of the water through the trees.  As I make my way down the hill and around the rocks I see the final lake I must paddle across.  Just a few more strokes of my paddle and I’ll unload the canoe for the last time on this journey.  I can almost feel the warm shower, smell the campfire in my hair and taste a TrailCenter malt, a highlight to the end of any canoe trip on the Gunflint Trail.  I won’t smell like a campfire and I can’t have a malt at TrailCenter but ready or not, home I come.