Campfires forge great bonds (no S’mores needed)

Our North Shore camping trip was with our largest group yet (19!), and included Elizabeth’s dad’s whole family! “Grandpa Jerry” had his sister, her whole family, plus all his kids and grandkids (-1, Julia, who opted for a week in Florida. Teenagers?!).

No need for s’mores

We were especially happy the Illinois clan made the trek, since for their meal, they brought (get this) Portillo’s Italian Beefs, sides and the most amazing chocolate cake you have ever eaten. Proof: No one had s’mores when that cake was around! And also the people were a lot of fun, ha:

Cousin Maggie and her Tye, native of South Africa. He was smitten with the North Shore, and helped us all see its wonders through his eyes!
Cousin Maggie and her Tye, native of South Africa. He was smitten with the North Shore, and helped us all see its wonders through his eyes!

italian beefs

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Hiking on the rocks, exploring Gooseberry, touring the Duluth harbor by foot and by boat, making meals, and especially around the campfire, we all realized that campfires together forge great bonds. Thanks for all the laughs and memories, fam.  Some of my favorite images of our precious time together…

Howie, Cara and their hors e'oeuvres.
Howie, Cara and their hors e’oeuvres.

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 Gooseberry Falls!

No mention of diving, however...
No mention of diving, however… 

dive justin

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matt in falls

Back at the campfire, we really raised the bar with the annual talent show. Poetry, songs, magic, comedy and of course the girls’ theatre production…

Eric and Dave as Abbott and Costello in "Who's On First." It was great, but the scriptwriting and performance by Allie and Cara won the grand prize!
Eric and Dave as Abbott and Costello in “Who’s On First.” It was great, but the scriptwriting and performance by Allie and Cara won the grand prize!

 

Little Lucy loved her first camping trip! (Well, it didn't start out that way, but she was a happy camper by Sunday.)
Little Lucy loved her first camping trip! (Well, it didn’t start out that way, but she was a happy camper by Sunday.)

 

Grandma got them started on embroidery! Way to go, girls.
Grandma got them started on embroidery! Way to go, girls.

 

Hats off, Davey, you organized another awesome reunion camping trip. Love you all.

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An illuminating experience at Glensheen

If you could have lived in another era, when would it be? Me, I’d be in Boston, 1770s. Second place: Minnesota, early 1900s. So of course I savor Glensheen Mansion: every brick, window pane, light fixture and step (including the blood-stained ones!). Clara Congdon, the first lady of the home, fascinates me.

During our family camping trip to the North Shore, Cara and I had the opportunity to visit again, this time with sis-in-law Amy and niece Allie, who hadn’t been there before. I saw it through her fresh eyes.

Sorry, Clara Congdon, I left my dress, corsets and bonnet back at the campsite. But I LOVE your home!
Sorry, Clara Congdon, I left my dress, corsets and bonnet back at the campsite. I’ve heard you were very particular about ladies always wearing the latest formal attire. But I LOVE your home!

As Allie said as we waited for our tour to begin: “I like history. And murder.” I had started reading, “Will to Murder,” the most recent book about the 1977 murders at Glensheen on the drive up north, so our Cara had some sneak peeks at specific spots in the Mansion for Allie. And the book made me think of the mansion in new ways with its attention to details. We were ready!

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Every inch of this amazing place is worth a photo. Most of all, it all feels so…. real. Because it is. The Christmas cactus in the breakfast room was Clara Congdon’s and still grows today! Chester Congdon’s top hat is still on its shelf in his closet!

Illuminating

Yet as always at historical spots, it is the lamps and lights that most intrigue me. They illuminate what life was like …

Chester's desk lamp. I can just see him here, poring over his law books.
Chester’s desk lamp. I can just see him here, poring over his law books.

 

Clara's "Paris by day, Paris by night" lamp in the living room, which has tiny dots to illuminate that lovely city at night.
Clara’s “Paris by day, Paris by night” lamp in the living room, which has tiny dots to illuminate that lovely city at night.
Lights in the ceilings even, Clara?! Cool.
Lights in the ceilings even, Clara?! Cool.

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Upstairs…

Yes, those blood stains are still on the window seat/landing area on the main steps to the second floor. No, I did not take a picture. That seemed unseemly. We all saw the dark marks, even though the tour guides won’t talk about the murders…until after the tour, and then only in answer to questions. Fair enough.

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Elisabeth's childhood room, overlooking Lake Superior and so beautifully feminine, serene and lovely. Just as I imagine her.
Elisabeth’s childhood room, overlooking Lake Superior and so beautifully feminine, serene and lovely. Just as I imagine her.
Elisabeth's Blooming Lamp; the "petals" fan out with the heat of the lamp. Lovely!
Elisabeth’s Blooming Lamp; the “petals” fan out with the heat of the lamp. Lovely!

More beautiful light fixtures in the bedrooms upstairs:

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Shadows on these lights

Inside the bedroom where Elisabeth was when she was murdered, the lights are hauntingly beautiful.

Notice the light on the wall, unlit...below it is lit from within.
Notice the light on the wall, unlit…below it is lit from within.

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Ah, the things this poor pendant lamp has seen…

 On to brighter rooms!

My favorite Glensheen room is still the Breakfast room. Clara designed the entire home with her classy ingenuity, and it’s most evident here. The oak motif in the windows and fixtures. The incredible tiles and color scheme.

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The fountain in the breakfast room, which brings water from the on-premis creek to this very room, and watered Clara's plants. It must work, her Christmas Cactus is still thriving in this very room!
The fountain in the breakfast room, which brings water from the on-premis creek to this very room, and watered Clara’s plants. It must work, her Christmas Cactus is still thriving in this very room!

The dining room also has her clever touch, with the button under the table to discreetly summon the butler during dinner. And the massive chandelier, which maids had to hand-polish (tedious, but so dramatically pretty in this room). Love you, Clara!

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The distinctive billiards room, with lights on a pulley system that could be raised to improve the illumination of a certain shot on the table. Some say it was Chester’s idea. I know it was Clara: the longer she could keep the men entertained downstairs, the more time she had for finer arts (she was a gifted painter herself!) and entertaining the ladies upstairs.

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Thanks for another visit to your home, Clara. You inspire me to live with serene grace, class and to shed illumination whenever I can.

The living room, where I love to picture Clara.
The living room, where I love to picture Clara.

 

 

 

The most Superior campground amenity

We’ve camped at spots with golf courses, mini-golf, pools, rivers, tubing, boating, kayaking, waterslides, horses, wagon rides, theatre, live music and, yes, pet shows.

But our most Superior campground amenity (so far): the biggest, deepest, coldest, most dangerous of the Great Lakes. Lake Superior!

The Boys. Matty, Revi, Justy. (aka Matt, Rev, Justin)
The Boys. Matty, Revi, Justy. (aka Matt, Rev, Justin)

It was literally our back yard for 5 glorious days of our annual Kind family camping trip. Bonus: We had a bigger, deeper, warmer and more fun group than ever, when the Day clan from Illinois (some via South Africa) joined us!

More posts later on our other North Shore adventures, but for now, some images of this Superior amenity.

We waded in

jumped off cliffs in

the dogs and crazy Cara swam in

hiked in and around this lovely waterway

All just steps from our campsites at Burlington Bay Campground … Ahhh …

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matt and rev1

 

care and howie

 

Bro-in-law Eric. Nice form for a Packers fan.
Bro-in-law Eric. Nice form for a Packers fan.
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Our Cara, after her umpeenth jump in. Mermaids are not quite as affected by 61-degree water…
So fun! (Not bad form for a Vikings fan, eh?)
So fun! (Not bad form for a Vikings fan, eh?)

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rev

 

matt on rocks

Our last night there, as the campfire turned to coals and everyone tucked in, Greg and I took a hike to the point under the Super Moon. It was a little scary (okay, a lot), but so beautiful. Thanks, Lake Superior, for amazing memories…