July 17, 2013: Rainy Lake Grand Tour
After another satisfying breakfast, we said goodbye to Sandy Point Lodge and caught the Rainy Lake Grand Tour boat, which goes to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, with an educational stop at Little American Island. Here, our National Park Service ranger explained the workings of a gold mine from the 1890s. The real focus, however, was the surprising number of bald eagles that peered at us from the trees, as well as the occasional loon. We even spotted a little loon family. The captain obliged us by slowing and/or stopping when he or anyone else spotted wildlife of interest.
We were past the halfway point in the trip, and I was tired of all the driving I wasn’t doing. As with the trip to Kabetogama, this night meant another long journey. First, we went to Crane Lake, where we dined at Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats. This is a serene setting, partly because the road we’d taken ends at Voyagaire. I loved the sense of nothing beyond this point, which made it feel remote and magical, even if it is neither.
After that drive of more than two hours, we had at least four more to go to get to our next way station in Two Harbors. The closer we got to Two Harbors, the foggier the darkness became. We traveled almost blindly, and in places where there were houses I thought every mailbox emerging suddenly out of the mist was a deer. I don’t know how long the drive was with rest stops, but we arrived at Northern Rail Traincar Inn well after midnight. Having learned from previous experience, I had had J. call ahead to make arrangements for the very late arrival. Whew.