14 Months ago I moved north to Grand Marais from Eau Claire, WI. Before that, I had spent four years in Milwaukee – Quite the change…
Boss/Aunt Virginia asked me to jot down some thoughts on the transition to a small town in Northeastern Minnesota, and here they are:
Whirlwind Summer: Between keeping up with the increased business brought on by all the wonderful people visiting Grand Marais and finding time to enjoy the fantastic weather, summer on the North Shore is a whirlwind. There are festivals with great art and lively music. There are fish to catch, trails to hike, and blueberries to pick. There is more, lots more, and you’ll have to spend an entire Summer up here to fit it all in!
The Food: Not much more to say here, the food rocks. Whether you’re in the mood for tacos, pizza, fish, burgers, or breakfast all day, your culinary needs will be met in Grand Marais.
The Big Lake: I still gape in awe of Superior every time I drive down the Gunflint or watch its angry waves crash over the breakwaters during those gloomy November gales. Pack a lunch and a book, find a spot in the harbor and enjoy the majesty of big lake they call Gitche Gumee.
The Wildlife: Every time you venture up the trail, you never know what you might spot. In my first year up here I was fortunate enough to see a number of creatures you won’t find roaming city streets: Wolves, foxes, owls, hawks, eagles, snapping turtles, beavers, snakes, loons, deer and moose all made an appearance. That’s not even counting the some of the best fishing in the country. AND, if you’re into dogs, I think I saw just about every breed known to man make its way through Grand Marais at some point or another.
Mosquitoes: Duh! I knew they were thick in the Northwoods, but the swarming clouds of the unofficial State Bird were astounding. Bring your bug spray and buy a net, they’re hungry.
Closed-for-Winter: While winter on the North Shore isn’t all bad – there’s ice-fishing, winter sports, and always something to commiserate about with strangers at the post office – it can be a bummer when your favorite restaurants are closed. On the other hand, the mandatory break from the local food joints makes it all the more exciting when they open their doors come spring.
Winter Blues: It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s winter. The roads are slick and the days are short. BUT, a nice pair of boots and a snowsuit will keep you warm enough to enjoy some of it. Of course, you could just stoke the fire and crack a good book. Yes, the winters are tough, but they’re a price I’d pay gladly to enjoy this place when everything thaws out.
Community: I knew it was a small town, but it was unexpected how connected everything in Grand Marais, and even Cook County, appears to be. For me, getting involved in the community meant volunteering at WTIP North Shore Community Radio. For others, there are many different ways of getting involved; the clubs, the classes, the festivals, the high school sports and adult leagues, the boards and committees, it seems like everyone you meet is entrenched in the community in some way or another.
The Hub: Everything you need to know about the tip of the arrowhead can be found from two websites: Boreal.org and WTIP.org. Everything from community news to classified ads to music venues, all can be found in these two places, and that’s pretty cool.
On The Whole
The move to the North Shore has been an positive experience. I’m not sure how long this move will last, but one thing is for sure: I’m glad I made it. The North Shore has so much to offer. Whether it’s two weeks, two years or a permanent move, it’s something everyone should experience. The people are welcoming, the food is delicious, and the woods, trails and lakes are always waiting.