When I Was Home

Two weekends ago, I set out on a road trip with my bestie.  We traveled home to Garfield for a wedding and stayed a couple of days.  We set off again with my brother toward Duluth.  We took the Brainerd-route that morning then dropped him off at his home away from home.

We met up with friends and spent the rest of the day around Canal Park and at the Park Point Beach.  The water was warm enough for a swim!!  And the black flies were NOT biting!!  We also stopped at Hartley Nature Center for a quick hike up Observation Hill and a loop around through the Pine Grove.  But from the storm a few weeks back, there was little left to see.  In fact, the trails were taped off.  So naturally, we did not pass under the yellow tape, instead, we found our way around and picked our way through the mud and over the downed trees.  It smelled like pine which was lovely.  But my heart hurt.  I had spent so many hours and hours and hours in that place, I could hardly stand to see the destruction!  I had been so excited to share the experience and the sites with my dear friends and colleagues.image

No matter, after seeing the artifacts and animals inside the nature center, we took 53–>169 straight up to our cabin in Ely to meet up with the rest of our group.

We spent the following day lounging around the cabin, at the Wolf Center and in downtown Ely shopping.  The lake was a perfect respit from the heat of the day.  The cool, iron-ore waters were salve to my joints and spine which have been giving me trouble of late.  You know, sitting and studying all day is shit for the well-being of the body.  That is what I learn when I read my books and notes…while slouched at desks which are never tall enough for my 5’11” frame.  Go figure.

Thursday was my birthday!!  I turned 28, I think. :)

Early on Thursday, I convinced my friends to hop in the cars early and to head down Highway 1.  We caravanned to Lake Superior and turned south.  I had planned a surprise at Palisade Head.  Needless to say, they were awed by the splendor of the lake.  We looked up the meaning of Palisade, which is, in short, fortress.  True that.  They were upset with me for not telling them to pack hiking shoes, but really, who wouldn’t bring hiking shoes for a day in Duluth anyway?!  :D

In Duluth, we made it in time to watch the tall ships get in formation for their passage beneath the bridge.  It was anti-climactic, same as I remember it being last time they were here.  Anyways, a few of us booked it over to the lift bridge to see them up close and to watch for the rubber ducky in harbor because no.  They did not set the ducky loose on the lake.  Bastards!  What a waste of a giant rubber ducky.  In fact, in order to see it’s face up close, you had to pay to enter the street behind the DECC.  So we took some photos of its butt and I felt bad to have led us across the bridge rather than over to the DECC.

I also randomly was walking behind a guy with a t-shirt which said ‘Elbow Lake Fire Department’.  So I exclaimed: Hey! Elbow Lake!! I’m from Garfield. I see a chiropractor in Elbow Lake! So the guy asked which chiropractic and before I could fully say the name ‘Kastner,’ the sister of my chiro (who works in the office) yelled hi!  As it turns out, her son (my Chiro’s nephew) is also a chiro who graduated from my school, married a girl who’s family lives in Duluth.  So they were there for the tall ships.  How fun!

Anyways, after watching the ships for awhile, clouds began to roll in overhead, and food poisoning began to implode within my intestines.  So, we booked it back to the rest of the group only to find another group member with food poisoning.   I stayed behind to meet up with my brother at Fitger’s.  We had a coffee and got to chat with his one-on-one mentor.  He was a real neat guy.  Under another circumstance (without the HIPPA protocol), I would enjoy having this new friend!

I departed from my brother and headed up to Burrito Union for a jam-sesh with the toilet.  Thankfully I felt well enough to eat a light salad, as that was my last real meal for several days.

Bestie and I departed from Mandy-Pants.  She headed home and we headed back to the cabin to clean up for check out.  image

I ended up passing out after a generous foot massage, but the group took great lengths to clean up after ourselves!  Thank you all!  After all of them left, bestie and I popped over to Embarrass to help set up for another wedding!  I ended up in the car praying I would not throw up.  We went to my cousin’s house for the night and I pooped my pants.  Yes folks.  That happened. My sphincter decided it had had enough and just left me to my own devices.  Which meant throwing out the clothes, showering, and going to bed.

Really though, what kind of doctor would I be if I did not experience some of the hardships of my patients.  I, of course, have a new respect for elder folks and infants/toddlers. :D  jk

So, after the wedding the next day, I got to meet a distant relative who introduced herself as a 40ish, single gypsy.  I LOVED HER.  And I don’t think I’ve been that encouraged in a long while.  My great aunt Betty also shared some wisdom with me.  She said, Elisa, don’t you worry about what your family and friends may think.  You need to be able to thrive on your own whether you are married or not.  Because your husband could die one day and you will be left alone.  Or you could end up with a divorce, and alone you’ll be, picking up the pieces and learning to make a living on your own.  True that, my dear.  I’m so glad these women are in my life.  I consistently seem to have these magical experiences at weddings which are not immediate family.

In fact, at the wedding the weekend before, I was so uncomfortable having my bestie with me.  She had gone with me to my cousin’s wedding the year before too.  I was so concerned that my family thought we were lesbians.  Well, like Queen Richard exclaimed at the cabin, “what’s wrong with that!!”  He’s right.  This is my opportunity to recognize how uncomfortable it must be for my LGBTQIA friends when others make assumptions about them being sexually/gender-normative.  The Father continues to be faithful to me and my prayers to make me into a woman with deep compassion and mercy for those around me.  If I can understand firsthand what it’s like to be misunderstood, perhaps then, I will be a softer person to those around me who suffer. The truth is I’m straight and faithful to Jesus as can be, if you catch my drift.  If my extended family cared to know this, they would ask…or simply not make assumptions to begin with.

In any case, we ended up at my mom’s cousins home (my home away from home away from home away from home) in the woods outside Embarrass.  We spent the night and I had a wonderful experience looking at the structure and function of P’s shoulder.  She told us ab0ut the nightmare that is the Mayo Clinic and icky doctors and misdiagnoses.  I was glad to get caught up with her and the rest of the family.

Next day, we took 135 toward 61 and hopped on up to the High Falls just off the road from the Canadian border.  This stop had been written on bestie’s to-do list since we drove past last year, not having time or the gumption to do it spontaneously.  Turns out, the visitor center was the highlight.  It was a beautiful facility with a wonderful learning center, including Ojibwe phrases.  The fact that the language is on its way to becoming extinct, is something that I take personally.  Especially considering that I have lived on and near Ojibwe land for all my life.  It would be right and wise for me to support the revival of the language and culture (without appropriating it) as much as I can.

We spent that afternoon on Artist’s Point in Grand Marais, wandering out to the lighthouse and across the stones to sit and listen to the waves.  I was not expecting this to become bestie’s favorite place.  (Mine is Palisade Head, but Artist’s Point is definitely in my top 5.)  Back in Duluth (my home away from home away from home away from home), we went straight to the hotel to sleep out the night.  In the morning, we met with Kaity and Bill at Sara’s Table!  What a blast to catch up and to grab a few laughs!

We wandered around the Glensheen Mansion after that, waiting until my intestines stopped harassing my body.  They didn’t.  In fact, they still haven’t a full week later.  Anyways, we skipped a sunny afternoon on the beach and a hike to Minnesota Point.

And that’s that.  I’m at my home away from home away from home away from home.  Surrounded by collections of decor and trinkets which remind me of life up north.

Maybe one day, I’ll return and find my place among the fresh baby pines.

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