Another Rainy Downday


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Published: July 13th 2018
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Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors, Minnesota

We had plans for an outing yesterday, but it remained overcast all day and rained off and on. We weren’t sure that, with bad weather, we would be able to see very much. Furthermore, we looked at a map and determined that we could include that outing on today’s itinerary fairly easily, so we’ve done that. It will make for a full day.

Instead, I managed to get through the Isle Royale pictures from our last day and wrote up that post. Unfortunately, since we are dry camping, and we didn’t travel yesterday, our phones are nearly dead and I won’t be able to post either the final Isle Royale picture, or this one, until later today after our devices have recharged in the car. Dry camping does impose some limits.

I did finally manage to make up the Bootleg mix and stirred up some Minnesota Bootleg cocktails. Basically, they are a combination of a mojito and a spiked lemonade. Very tasty and potentially dangerous because of how easily they go down. I can definitely see Minnesotans enjoying a bootleg cocktail while boating on one of their 10,000 lakes (or just the big one.)

We also got caught up a bit on our sleep and our reading. Naps are always good - I have to admit that we are getting tired. We had a long trip last year, our Southern Charms trip. But it was over by now and we still have three weeks to go on this one. We’ve had more than one discussion about whether these long trips are worth it or not. The alternative is to break a section up into multiple trips, but the downside to that is that it will cost more in terms of time and money because you still have to get to the area. So those costs will be absorbed every time you travel back.

On the flip side of that, we’ve also discussed just going full-time until the entire bucket list is finished. Just hit the road and travel until we’ve seen everything. We could do it slower than we do now and take more down days. But still that would be a tough proposition and would probably end up being even costlier because we’d have to finance it all at once which would mean increased IRA withdrawals and probably higher tax rates. So who knows how it will end up. I know I wonder if we will be able to complete the bucket list before we run out of steam, or money, altogether. I guess we don’t know. But we will have fun trying.

Also did some reading. I’m still on the book about the voyageurs. Read chapters on the legal and economic arrangements as well as some of the rituals. They were all pretty much French Canadian peasants from the St. Lawrence River Valley. Basically they were farmers who were less than successful, for whatever reason, and took on the voyageur contract as a way of supplementing family income. They were, contractually, paid a fairly good amount, but the capitalists, being the greedy bastards that they always are, figured out that they could recoup a good portion of their wage expense by requiring the voyageurs to buy all their equipment and supplies from them at inflated prices. They also plied the voyageurs with overpriced rum, especially at rendezvous. By binding their laborers into serious debt, they pretty much guaranteed that they would have to re-up their contracts in order to make ends meet. The net result was a system of indentured servitude.

On the voyageur’s side, they justified their position by modifying French catholic rituals. By tying their work experience into their religious beliefs, they were further able to justify their meager position. There were actually stages in the progression of their careers each of which was marked by a kind of baptism ceremony. These stages were tied to the progression westward. The first baptism, which involved water just like the catholic ceremony, occurred just outside of Montreal as newbies began their first voyage westward through the Great Lakes. The second baptism ceremony, a little cruder, happened just west of Grand Portage where they graduated from being a ‘Pork eater’ to being a North Woods man. That was a dramatic change as they moved from 38 foot boats used on the lakes, to the smaller canoes they rowed through rivers and hauled across portages. The last ceremony, much less formal than any of the others occurred when the Northwoods man really became part of the wilderness, sometimes choosing to abandon his life back in Montreal, marry a native woman, and ‘settle’ if that is the proper word in the Canadian wilderness. This whole system is proving to be very interesting.

And there is more to come. We are packing up and moving on to our last big park on this trip. We will be leaving the north shore of Lake Superior and head up to the far northern reaches of our country. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

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