A Boundless experience in Minnesota’s wilderness

During the 1950s and for years after Hamm’s beer, “the beer refreshing” brewed in the Midwest, glorified Minnesota as the “Land of Sky Blue Waters” in its radio and TV commercials. Reinforcing that image, the license plates on my 1966 Jetstar Oldsmobile states it simply, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” Yet, the entire time I lived in Minnesota, I rarely ventured beyond the Twin Cities.

National Geographic magazine turned out to be the incentive I needed to explore the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by, naturally, canoe.

The magazine deemed this pristine region (1,200 miles of canoe routes, which attract 200,000 visitors annually) as the sixth most popular destination in America’s Great Adventures category. Checking the Minnesota Office of Tourism’s Web site (www.exploreminnesota.com) eventually led me to the Gunflint Trail, the nerve center for the canoe crowd, so remote that just 25 years ago the road was paved. Cellphones cannot be relied upon here, so plan to disconnect during your time here. The mantra respected by visitors is “Leave no trace.”

The highly touted Gun Flint Lodge on the Gun Flint Trail (the actual address is in Grand Marais) was opened in 1927 by the Kerfoot family. From Chef Barry Meyer’s creations, such as walleye pike and wild rice chowder to grilled venison with red currant glacé de viande to the resort’s rustic-inspired cabins, staying here is a rare pleasure. It is worlds away from corporate-driven hospitality. Families return here year after year, yet first-time guests feel equally at home in any of the 23 cabins, many with views of Canada from the opposite shore. Gunflint has packages to suit everybody from “Single Parent and Child Fishing Weekends” to their “Grand Slam Fishing Package” and “Pure Indulgence Retreats for Women.” Our group of three arrived just in time for a marvelous barbecue by the lake, where Chef Meyers was busy dishing out ribs, chicken and freshly baked cornbread from the grill.

Further explorations led to a call to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, at the end of the Gunflint Trail on Saganaga Lake. Thanks to owners Mike and Susan Prom, a full-day expedition was organized in advance. We drove to their headquarters, which offered canoe trippers bunkhouse accommodations, basic but comfortable ($22 a night with a hot shower and breakfast). We started the day on Seagull Lake, portaged (that means transporting canoe on your head for the uninitiated) and then paddled to Alpine, Redrock and then into Saginaw Lake. Our next stop was at another family owned and operated hideaway, Ludlow’s Island Resort on Lake Vermillion, near Cook, Enroute two stops were made in Grand Marais, the first at the Angry Trout, a successful organic restaurant overlooking Lake Superior (for walleye pike), followed by a bag of indescribably delicious glazed doughnuts from the World’s Best Doughnut Shop (soon to be featured on the “Food Network,” the owner told us). Road food in this neck of the woods borders on hearty and sensational, skimpy portions not allowed. How about a slice of rhubarb and strawberry at Betty’s Pies near Duluth?

For those who relish a gourmet dining experience on a private island, Ludlow’s Island Resort repeats its successful Fall Festival of Food & Wine Oct. 7-9, featuring Royal Dahlstrom, executive chef of the Napa Valley Grill, who will travel to this island resort to prepare his specialties at a Friday evening reception, Saturday morning breakfast, and a Saturday food demo and dinner, concluding with Sunday brunch with irresistible Minnesota-inspired entrees such as roasted turkey and asparagus hash with Minnesota potatoes.


And then there are other sky blue water country-culinary delights such as wild orange blossom honey and banana crème pie brulée with caramel sauce and toasted pecans.

Blue skies, banana crème pies, the great outdoors: exploring Minnesota’s many lakes promises a deliciously wild time.

__Gunflint Lodge: www.gunflint.com; 800.328.3325

__Voyageur Canoe Outfitters; www.canoeit.com; 888. CANOE-IT

__Ludlow’s Island Resort: www.ludlowsresort.com; 877.LUDLOWS

__www.ExploreMinnesota.com; 888.629.6466

Pamela Price is the co-author of the sixth edition of “Fun with the Family in Southern CA,” www.globepequot.com

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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