A Grand Marais of Art


On our way to Grand Marais
we sang to pass the time away

With rest stops barricaded closed
thanks to governmental woes
bladders swelled like waves at sea
as travelers kegeled fervently

 When fog crept in on “little cat feet”
one and all cried, “Holy sheeet”

Along Superior’s shores we logged
miles and miles of devilish fog

Up ahead a shadow darted
deer in headlights roughly startled

Heart in throat H hit the brakes
Too close a shave with rising stakes

Relentlessly, the gloom did slither
shadowing contours hither and thither

Unease tinged the remaining drive
looking out for deer-cross signs

As dusk deepened waves described
curling tendrils on the tide

Piercing headlights sliced the mist
angling past Superior’s cliffs.

Up ahead lay Grand Marais
lighting up the pale highway

Once we reached the town we found
phantom specters hovering ’round

Faintly, in the distance, music hailed,
wafting forth melodious trail

Down the street a golden glow
gestured where the music flowed,
a bluesy band from Gunflint Tavern
woke the stars from dark night’s chasm

*       *       *

Thus H blazed to Grand Marais
safely through the perilous haze
navigating the Great North Shore
delivering us to East Bay’s door.

Morning outside East Bay

. . . Dorah the Explorah


Pilot and co-pilot proudly pose before the great Gitchigume


Heading to the Art Festival. . .

With a few detours. . .


A local told us, “Up here, we call it the Grand Marais Dog Festival.”

Even the DMV gets loosey goosey with the rules

One night, A and B discussed where to eat
(C wisely stayed out of it):

A:  Don’t you want to go back to The Pie Shoppe?
I thought you wanted to try it again.

B:  Are you crazy?  I am not going back there.
Do you want a repeat of that night of horror?

A:  That was six years ago!  How bad can it be now?
They must’ve improved!

B:  Improved??  Or gotten worse!  {Grumbling sounds}

A:  I’m just sayin’ – it has to have changed.
And don’t you want a little adventure?
Will it or won’t it be a disaster??

Amazingly, B succumbed to A’s manipulations
and directed C to drive out of town to find The Pie Shoppe.

 Driving past the spot, we discovered
that it had a “Closed” and “For Sale” sign on it!

“Well that serves ’em right !”  B harrumphed.

A nervous C continued to wisely stay out of the fray.

The next day, H, I mean B, suggested a breakfast spot in town
where the service and curried egg salad turned out SCRUMPTIOUS.

To everyone’s surprise, after walking out,
we noticed a sign saying,
“The Pie Place – formerly The Pie Shoppe”
Come visit our new location!


(Amazingly, Faulty Towers waitstaff nowhere to be seen)

Herons dropped by the Angry Trout Cafe

The Angry Trout inspires one to play
with other jazzy cafe names

Like the Fuming Tuna, or the Raging Sardine,
or the Hepped-Up Herring, or the Livid Halibut,
or the Seething Salmon, or the Pissed Off Pike,
or the Belligerent Blowfish, or the Furious Flounder…

Too fun!

For such a peevish place,
the Trout serves pretty delicious food

During our meal at the Angry Trout,
a pirate ship skulked by on the horizon

Looming closer

Okay it’s a boat with brown sails
which is as close to piracy
as you’re gonna get hereabouts

Grand Marais boasts a thriving art colony with workshops,
competitions, exhibitions, classes, an accredited art school
and all kinds of local support for artists.

Disclosure – during our holiday, Love was in the air

As well as lots of facebooking

The gentleman on the right stopped me when I asked to take a pic of his beautiful dog, asking, “Are you with some publication or corporation?” I’m like, “Uh, no, I just have a blog and I like to journal, post pics and stuff.”

Seeing my startled reaction, he comes over, pats me and says, “Not a problem,” before launching into a tale of a guy from last year who took oodles of snaps of “Fido” (without even asking) and next thing you know, weeks later, Fido’s owner sees dozens of photos of Fido in a magazine!

I tell Fido’s owner I agree that was not only rude, but improper and possibly illegal.

Later, when I tell the story, Irene disputes the illegal part, “Once you’re in public, you’re fair game,” she exults.

I am shocked, shocked and appalled at her paparazzi-callous statement, although she is technically right.

“What about the guy not even asking him if he could take a pic of his dog?” I sputter.

“Well yeah, of course,” she concedes, glaring at me pointedly, “You should always ask if you can take a pic…”

 The dual-eyed beauty of much speculation/publication/argumentation

Pottery demonstration, kinda intense, kinda earthy, kinda Patrick Swayze


 Betsy Bowen, artist-in-residence,
originally from Chicago,
now Grand Marais’ adopted daughter
lately accosted by geeky fan

Betsy is uber natural and gracious with geeky fans and such

The woodcut heard round the world

At the close of this year’s festival,
waiting patiently while artsy
owners pack up their wares

Sneaking a cat-nap in in front of the trading post

One day, we traipsed down
to violate the famed Artist’s Point
with our citified ways,
not to mention clunky cameras
and other technology

 The cairns, oh the cairns, enticed us off course.
Like the Mini Stonehenges of Grand Marais,
but somewhat more contemporary productions

Much of Grand Marais’ peninsula reminds one of Cornwall
the crashing seas, the misty air, the rocky coves,
but no delicious 99’s or Cornish pasties


H sporting a cairn of her own,
with that amazing hair.
with a mind of its own,
and recently even qualifying
for its own area code

 Shortly before we veered off track

Tasha thought bubble:
“F-Stop – Shmeff Stop, ISO – OMG,
What the fuh izzat over there…”

Irene thought bubble:
“Oh Gawd, oh Gawd, the golden light,
the golden light, it’s going!!”

H thought bubble:
“I wonder if there’s a chance
we could get lost up here and then get
rescued by a Welsh-camping-
photographer-triathlon-coach . . .  Hmmm
Nawww –  Ridiculous!”

 Carefully hidden scars from the lashing Irene gave us
ensuring we all timely posed during the “golden light”
Even though Tasha blew it!


Woe betide you if you fritter away said golden light


At some point, I realized
Tasha never let out one bark,
not once did she bark
while she was in Grand Marais…

Struck bark-less

Shortly after the night’s golden shots petered out, our Scooby Doo gang accidentally got lost on the Peninsula.  Craggy rocks surround scary woods.  Well, they’re only scary when the sun drops and you’ve widened your arc and missed the path so you’re delving deeper into the “wild,” and in the dimness you could potentially fall into a crevasse forcing you to spend the night wedged in with Canadian mosquitos who must be slumming in town cause you refuse to believe those little scavengers are locals from peace-loving Grand Marais, a town located on the northern fringes of a land of 10 million swamp-breeding mosquito infested lakes…

Hmm wait a minute…  Apologies Canada

Just then, at everyone’s peak of manufactured panic, we ran into a camper, with pitched tent and camera, who was perched on a relatively remote spot of Artist’s Point.  Said camper hailed from Wales and his vagabonding self chivalrously led us out of the wilds of the Great North Peninsula.

Welshman rudely reacts to our navigational dilemma

Considering how relieved and grateful we were to the mysterious Ralph, we must have acted like we were in a cannibal-infested jungle . . . and not some peninsula just a few hundred yards shy of Grand Marais beach, and so what if we’d been Up North many times, and our navigator just showed up yesterday after hitching from Canada, and so what if he managed to lead us all out like Mr. Livingston, we presume, and, oh yeah, whatever you’re thinking –  Shuddup.


At dawn, T-Bone explored the shores untethered

Looking west

One of us became obsessed with finding
nature’s polishing of flotsam and jetsam…

Through years of crashing and grinding waves
smoothly buffed, colored remnants
of broken glass splash up from Lake Superior
rivaling gemstones in their beauty

Everywhere she went, Tasha was as popular as U2 at an Irish pub.

No question I opened up a Pandora’s box of rock hounding by locating a few heart-shaped rocks

Above, the rock H found “not even two minutes” after asking for Mum’s mystic assistance.

Some of us didn’t want to leave Superior’s shores,
its golden light, crying seagulls, rocky beaches,
crashing waves, nightly tinkling of rocks
rolled back and forth by thrashing tides,
where fish have anger management issues
and are duly proud of the fact…

And yes, a magical place where
dogs not only hold a place of honor,
but also routinely take over your pillow
and general sleeping area…

Watercolor from East Bay’s common room

Because in our minds, everything’s for sale,
I was going to ask the manager,
something along the lines of,
“Hey, is that for sale?”

 Irene’s fish-eye captures T-Bone in a wistful moment


From behind us,
comes a whimper, sotto voce:
A pox on the tschochkes!



Rockin’ daisies

Just outside town, H insists on stopping at The Blue Moose
where she and Irene go wacky on the yard tschochkes


“Those who have never seen Superior get an inadequate
idea by hearing it spoken of as a lake.  Superior is a sea.
It breeds storms and rain and fog like a sea.
It is cold, masterful, and dreaded.”

                                        – Rev. George Grant, 1872


 Not so cold, or dreaded, as the Rev perceives,
at least not this time, but masterful, indeed!

*      *      *

On our way to Grand Marais
we sang our lungs out by the quay
we sang to keep the gulls at bay
we sang just for the hell of it
We sang because we couldn’t quit

R.I.P. Amy


2 thoughts on “A Grand Marais of Art

  1. You just outdo yourself with every post. Gorgeous, evocative, funny, moving. You are brilliant! (Though I’d like some elaboration in the next post about “noisy” kegeling.)

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