July 16, 2013
One of my favorite stays may have been the shortest. It wasn’t a choice, but came about serendipitously.
The drive from Superior, Wisconsin (Amnicon State Park), to Kabetogama, Minnesota, started late, after the summer sunset. J and I spent eternity passing through what, at night, looked like sparsely populated areas. It was a relief (literally) to find a roadside bar. When we arrived at the planned destination, it was probably after 1 a.m. — late enough to find the windows dark, the door locked, and the phone unanswered. It turns out family-run lodges aren’t like a Hilton or Marriott, with 24-hour desk attendants. Oops.
I was too tired to sit up or think, but I didn’t fancy trying to sleep in a car not designed for camping. Somehow I came up with the thought of calling around, which was not easy to do because cell coverage was weak and intermittent. It was difficult both to find places through Yelp! or websites, then to make phone calls. I can’t remember now, but I think i made some calls that went unanswered before I got to Arrowhead Lodge (still in the “A” section). A tired-sounding woman answered.
I quickly explained the situation and probably warned her the call might drop. She said she had space for us — hallelujah! When I said we’d be right over (before she changed her mind), she answered, “No hurry. I have to get dressed.” Yikes.
Arrowhead Lodge is 2.5 miles, or 7 minutes, from Sandy Point Lodge via dark rural roads. I didn’t know if I could stay awake that long. We made it after 2 a.m.
I stayed in a no-frills room with several beds to choose from, a fan, and maybe a radio — my memory is dim. The floor had a shared bathroom, in which several people (maybe even over time) had left assorted toiletries. I didn’t mind — all part of the adventure and shared outdoor experience. I didn’t see anyone, though, and several of the rooms were empty (open doors).
In the morning (a mere few hours later), we ate a great breakfast (al fresco, I think). Our perch overlooked Lake Kabetogama, which I’ve since learned is “Kab” to the locals, plus a flock of white pelicans. If we hadn’t been due to join a Kettle Falls cruise, I could have stayed there the rest of the day, but we left reluctantly. At the cruise departure point, J. realized his camera bag was missing. We raced back to Arrowhead to find our host keeping an eye on it while it took up a barstool. With our wee hours arrival and forgetfulness, she must have thought we were quite the characters.
Sadly, I took only a few poor photos at Arrowhead Lodge.
Later the owners, including the poor soul I’d woken up, sold the resort. The new owners have restored Arrowhead. which had deteriorated over the decades since its 1931 opening in the extremes of Minnesota’s climate. The first part of the video below shows the restoration effort and is well worth a look.