Affordable Vacations at Voyageur
It’s always fun to hear about people’s vacations, especially when they share it with others!
The big deal vacation
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KAREN LUNDEGAARD, Star Tribune
July 31, 2011 – 1:22 PM
‘Oops," my husband called from the back of the canoe, as we set off after our picnic lunch. The sky was blue. The water clear. The boys not fighting. I couldn’t imagine the problem.
"I think we just ate in
"Is that even legal?" asked my 9-year-old son, perched in the middle of the canoe next to his brother, 7.
"Probably not," I answered. "But it was an honest mistake."
And, I thought to myself, scanning the wide, empty
I had no maps, no fishing lines. I didn’t need to steer. After all the stress of getting here — and worrying what could go wrong (bears, thunderstorms, an overturned canoe) — I had fully succumbed to this vacation.
Normally do-it-yourselfers, my husband and I had paid an ou
Our fully ou
Since Groupon and the like have taken over the coupon world, I’ve found great deals on restaurants, golf courses, water parks and massages. But I’ve also been stuck trying to get into a full restaurant on the day a coupon expired, begging with staffers exhausted by procrastinators.
Could I really use a coupon for a family vacation?
Would we be relegated to days we couldn’t use, treated like second-class citizens by those who were supposed to teach us how to keep the bears at bay and survive in the wilderness for two nights?
It was early March — still snowy and cold with no big plans for summer taking shape yet — but the lure of an area I knew only by name and photos outweighed my concerns.
I checked with my husband, Eric, who had grown slightly fed up with my coupon habit but had wanted to take a Boundary Waters trip for years. We’d been waiting for the boys to get a little older, letting summers fill themselves up, and just never got around to it. There would be no backing out of this.
His reply: "Go for it."
The next day another deal crossed my in-box. This was for a two-night, half-price stay at Lutsen Resort’s Sea Villas. I gave pause at the June 30 expiration date, but figured we could make it work. I bought that, too.
I now had a five-night, half-price
That got a little complicated. With school, camps and two work schedules, we couldn’t leave the Twin Cities until about 6 p.m. on a Thursday, arriving at Voyageur Canoe Ou
"That’s fine," the woman from Voyageur assured me on the phone.
She walked me through a few decisions: which lake (Saganaga), portage or base camp (base camp), one or two canoes (one). She checked on our permit for us and we were set.
A quick call to Lutsen, and our
Leave the wallet behind
My vacation that began with saving cash turned out to need none.
As I gave my purse a final scouring before leaving it in the car at the ou
Here all the pleasures were free, or already included. The solitude. Morning coffee on the rocks of as the world wakes up around us. Exploring islands that were otherwise deserted. Playing Connect Four, travel edition, in the tent, on the rocks, by the campfire, over and over again. Wondering where the boys had gone, only to find them fishing together off a rock, the sky turning pink as the sun set behind them. The sound of silence as we all read along the rocks in the late afternoon sun, separate but together.
"What is everyone most looking forward to when we get back to civilization?" I asked as we made s’mores over the roaring campfire on our last night. I was expecting answers of Wii and Nintendo DS games.
"Cold water that doesn’t taste like smoke," said my youngest, Ryan.
"A cold glass of milk," said
"A bed, and a gin and tonic," my husband answered.
My back was ready for a chair with a back.
The next afternoon, with everything packed, we took one last swim off the rocks of
I’m the one who typically wades in, but I took a few long strides and kept going — diving past the shallower rocks lurking beneath the surface, out where it was deep enough to be safe.
I surfaced quickly to cheers.
"Who’s No. 2?" I yelled, treading water. My husband, usually well behind the kids, did a jackknife. The kids stared at us from the rocks, not quite believing the role reversal. This — doing the unexpected — is what a vacation is all about.
Paddling back to Voyageur, I felt guilty that our trip had been half-price. Everyone had been so warm and helpful: The woman who taught us how to hang up our food and start the camp stove and gave us extra ketchup because she worried that 16 packets wouldn’t be enough for the boys. The guide measuring them for paddles. The cook making sure we had enough pancakes and sausage before we left that first day, which 48 hours later, felt like a different time.
Far from resenting the coupon vacationers, the one woman I asked about it said it had opened up the Boundary Waters to a whole new group of people.
I loitered in the gift shop looking for ways to spend money — buying T-shirts, postcards, drinks for the car, cold beer for Lutsen.
Relieved not to be driving back to the Twin Cities, I began making mental plans for Lutsen Resort. A walleye dinner at the lodge overlooking
I did none of it.
By the time we settled into our Sea Villa, just steps from
The next day quickly filled up with things we all wanted to do, things that, surprisingly, cost nothing.
We hiked up nearby
After that, no one wanted to go anywhere except the pool. Perhaps build a fire for s’mores, the makings for which they’d generously supplied when we checked in.
Massages and fancy dinners could wait for another vacation. I had more valuable things to do.
Karen Lundegaard • 612-673-4151