Grand Marais & Lake Superior

We found our way Up North, where your phone says "no service" and touffalla trees are real. I try to cross the 45th Parallel at least once a year. It feels really good every time, things are just more chill near the North Pole. 

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There's nothing like spending hours on Michigan's lakeshores, specifically Lake Superior; hunting for agates, getting distracted by pretty rocks, braving the chilly surf for a swim, soaking up the goodness when magic hour perfectly illuminates all the beautiful natural treasures. 

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We built campfires by night on Muskallonge Lake at Deer Park Lodge, which was just a few hundred yards inland of Lake Superior. By we, I mean Jason. I made sure we had blankets and mantles and all the cozy things. 

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With dirt roads below and Sandhill Cranes swooping above, we ventured along the coast to spend a day in Grand Marais, a small outpost of a town overlooking a harbor and beach. We discovered beached shipwrecks, aging post offices, and the most delicious peaches either of us have ever had.

On the last night, we wandered over to Lake Superior at Muskallonge State Park beach. Jason went for a swim; I cozied up on some driftwood.

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There aren't a lot of people that far up north. Usually you're the only one on the beach. But that evening a tribe of fellow travelers congregated to soak up the beauty. A couple taking selfies, two best friends walking their dog, a playful group of children wandering into the surf. We watched them in delight, soaking up good vibes and a sunset to remember. 

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Until next time, Lake Superior...

A Great Grandmother Discovery

My 95-year-old grandmother was rummaging around her bottom dresser drawer when I noticed a flash of turquoise. 

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"Nana, what's that?" I asked, pointing at an ancient looking knit carefully folded. "Oh this? This was my mother's, your grandmother's. She used to wear it all the time." We quickly did some math and realized that made this garment nearly 100 years old. 

I picked it up and carefully threw it around my shoulders. My hands found two pockets in the perfect location and allowed me to wrap up.

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Nearly five years into Wild Mantle, I couldn't believe this treasure had been waiting for me all this time. Nana sent me home with it, of course.

It's not for sale, but I call it the Elizabeth. Discovering this family heirloom felt like a wink from my great-grandmother saying "keep going, Avi. There are exciting discoveries ahead."

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Little Women: The Orchard House

And there it was, just like that, the Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set the beloved classic, Little Women. When we made reservations at the Hawthorne Inn in Concord, Massachusetts en route to Maine, we had no idea this treasure was across the street.

Visiting hours were over, but I walked up the path towards the house anyway, half expected Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy to run out and greet me. 

No such thing happened, of course, but I was greeted by a fiercely friendly lion door knocker and built up the courage to look inside.Oh my! It was exactly as in the book, and movie...down to the fire place and the piano in the corner. 

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I left pretty quickly after peeking in the window, so as not to disturb any ghosts of the past getting ready for tea time (or, more like, because mosquitos were biting my legs). On my way down from the house another structure to the left caught my eye: the most beautiful barn house. Did you know I'm obsessed with barn houses? 

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To learn more about Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House you can visit their website. Or, do what I did and go pull Little Women back of the shelf and give it another spin. 

The Hawthorne Inn

Mercury was in retrograde, and I was glad to use that as an excuse to get outta dodge. We stopped at the Hawthorne Inn in Concord, Massachusetts on our way to Maine. 

A member of my family is a fan of Select Registry, which I'm pretty sure is how we found this gem of a boutique bed and breakfast. The land was once owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Of course knowing this ahead of time made the whole stay feel awfully poetic. 

Even though the property was built over 150 years ago in the 1860s, the rooms had all been recently renovated with rich colors and textures that perfectly blended historical details with modern decor. Can I move in? Probably not, but I can at least stay for a night and then blog about it...

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I was also really pleasantly surprised by the breakfast spread. They had lots of gluten free options (for you weirdos like me) and I couldn't help taking out my camera and photographing the amazing delicious sweet potato cakes that were served with homemade salsa. And so, there you have it, the potato breakfast cakes that inspired this post. 

P.S. Just down the street is the Little Women Orchard House (see my previous post), if you visit, it's worth a stop!