Flying from Norfolk, VA to Minneapolis, MN on Sunday morning was one of those beautiful flights where the clouds make you feel as if Heaven is right there. After picking up yet another rental car I drove into Minneapolis and had coffee with Joel Chechik. Joel is on the Board of Directors for The Healing NET Foundation and lost his beautiful wife Sara to NET cancer. We talked about Sara and Anna and shared the unique grief and loss that only NET cancer so cruelly provides.
Then it was off to Voyageurs National Park, which is tucked up against the Canadian border in northern Minnesota.
I was a little concerned about getting a campsite, as all of the National Park campsites are accessible by boat only. But there was a state run campground nearby with car accessibility and as an added bonus ravenous, large mosquitos. Does it get any better? Hopefully...
I couldn't help thinking about those French Voyageurs living with those mosquitos and wet conditions continually through the spring and summer so long ago. How on earth did they stand it?!? After a week of these huge mosquitoes, I would have said, "Nope, I've gotta find a different line of work!"
Lets talk for a minute about the guys that this park is named after. As the name implies, a voyageur is a traveller (in French). They came to this region in 1688 when fur sources started drying up in the east.
The local American Natives taught them how to build giant birch canoes that many men and supplies occupied. The tribes that were settled in this area were the Cree, Monsoni, and Assiniboins. They traded with our intrepid voyageurs and everybody prospered. But by 1750 or so those tribes decided to leave for other parts and the Ojibwe tribe moved in. My guess is they were sick and tired of the giant mosquitoes and suckered the Ojibwe into taking over their lands..pure speculation on my part, but it could've happened.
Mining, timber, and commercial fishing have all seen their booms and busts in this area. In 1975, Voyageurs became a National Park and it seems to suit it very well.
And of course, my two new friends.
Voyageurs is beautiful and would be really fun with kayaks, but do make sure to have lots of DEET insect spray with you.