August 3, 2014: Tower to Ash River Visitor Center to Orr Bog Walk to Ely
On which I discover the job I should have had and then am eaten alive at a bog
August 3 began as a leisurely day — a little time in the whirlpool, then quality time at Tim Horton’s, located within Fortune Bay. I’d never had the chance to go to a Tim Horton’s, although as a young Buffalo Sabres fan I knew his story. After sipping the famous coffee, stocking up on doughnuts and Timbits, and raiding the hotel gift shop (unusual for me), we set out for the Ash River Visitor Center, part of Voyageurs National Park. Along the way we stopped at a tiny, picturesque gas station and convenience store that was fun to browse, especially for some interesting maps.
Ash River Visitor Center, or Meadwood Lodge, turned out to be a beautiful log building constructed by Finnish carpenters, according to male half of the couple who runs the center. I envy them their jobs in a great location overlooking the water. If I could go back in time, that might be me. They were friendlier than I am, however. With a glance at our Nikons, he told us we should enter the Voyageurs photo contest that was soon ending. (Alas, we never got around to it.)
We took advantage of the center’s picnic table to eat some of our leftovers from Blue Spoon Creamery Café while enjoying the serenity of the intense greens, blues, and white of the trees, water, sky, and clouds. I know winters at Voyageurs are harsh and bitter cold, but this painfully brief summer moment made me wish I live nearby. Fortunately, I was reminded that I hadn’t died and ascended to the heavens by the painful bites of the omnipresent flies and mosquitoes.
We explored some of the short trails along the road from Ash River, running into a man whose children, led by one determined girl, were on a quest for berries. So far, he said, they hadn’t found the mother lode the ranger had told them about, and the girl pointedly showed me her nearly empty container.
With the perfect weather and the beautiful views, we stayed longer than planned and got back to Orr as the sun was heading toward the low end of the downward swing. Here we braved the mosquitoes along the Orr Bog Walk, which is a botanist’s dream. I took photo after photo of flower after flower while being eaten piece by piece by the ubiquitous mosquitoes. It was an easy, uncrowded walk, with lots of visual rewards along the way. I did miss getting a photo of a sapphire blue dragonfly, and the dull green guy that appeared afterward was no substitute.
This night’s stop was at a Silver Rapids Lodge, which, despite its great location, needs an overhaul of its 1950s trappings. It’s a little too retro.