The North Shore of Minnesota is a feast for the spirit. When I look out on the thick pine forests, rugged cliffs, and never ending water, all is well within me. In a way, the beauty reminds me of who I am.
When I published my post “Thoughts From a Cold Boulder” last month, I thought that was my last time I’d get to see the place that is so dear to me. Thankfully, I have a mom with connections. She’s a lobbyist by trade and she represents several communities around the state. Her job is to use the legislative process to get money to help benefit the well being of her clients. Often times, this involves boosting tourism.
One of Mom’s biggest clients is Lutsen Mountains, the largest ski hill in the state. Because of her connections, we were able to take a free two-day ski trip during my Spring Break last March. Which was AWESOME.
Over the past year, Lutsen has put a lot of money into installing a new gondola. This investment will (hopefully) bring in more people. As the largest business in the county, this benefits the entire community.
Yesterday morning, there was a big opening ceremony for the event. Mom decided to attend and, like the little mooch that I am, I tagged along.
We arrived Thursday night. Mom was invited to dinner with the owners and the local senator (who is also the Senate Minority Leader and the third most powerful politician in the state). I ate separately and enjoyed a relaxing evening watching Sleepless in Seattle in our room while she rubbed shoulders with the powerful, influential people of Cook County.
My original goal for tagging along was to go skiing. I mean, what’s the point of going to the largest ski hill in Minnesota without hitting the slopes? Sadly, due to an unnaturally warm December, most of Lutsen’s runs were closed. They were making snow like crazy to be fully open by the weekend… but not in time for us. No skiing for me. 😦
When the time for the ceremony came yesterday morning, Mom and I made our way to the shiny new gondola platform. We were stopped and informed that it didn’t open for the general public for half an hour. Mom quirked her head and goes, “Did Charles and Tom go up already? We’re with them?” That’s my mom–name dropping like a pro.
The ride from the platform to top of Moose Mountain was stunning. They’ve been hard at work making snow and the trees were all coated in a thick layer of white. The gondola cars have wide windows and we could see for miles and miles. We were riding through the sky above the winter wonderland all the Christmas songs talk about.
Aboard the new gondola! (I think it’s safe to say my selfie game is improving)
View across the valley to Eagle Mountain from the gondola window.
The ceremony itself went very well. Speeches were made, the ribbon was cut, and everyone moved inside to the chalet for coffee and cookies. I met Lutsen’s owner and his wife invited us to come up and ski with them. (Too bad I’m leaving the country in a few weeks…) I met the important senator. His wife, Laura, was VERY sweet and spent a long time talking with me. I also met many of my mom’s Grand Marais work contacts–various business owners and such.
I’ve been attending these kind of events–press releases, grand openings, legislative hearings, etc.–since I was a kid. I’ve learned to be a fly on the wall, following two steps behind Mom while she talks and makes connections. I speak if spoken to, but usually stay pretty quiet.
After everything was done, we rode the gondola back down the mountain and headed to Grand Marais for lunch. We had soup at the town’s coffee shop, then stopped by the home of one of Mom’s friends. He’s the director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and his wife is from England! We stayed for a long time. The adults talked while I made friends with one of their huskies–a retired sled dog from Scotland.
It was a long four-hours home, but the drive along Lake Superior was beautiful as always. We went to Gooseberry Falls State Park to see if the waterfalls were still running (they were!) and made a stop in Duluth for coffee.
I love the North Shore. When I visit, I’m reminded of who I am. It’s almost like coming home. From a young age, the beauty has put roots in my heart and become part of me. I’m thankful to have had so many opportunities to visit throughout my life. I don’t know when I’ll be back, which makes me really sad. But no matter where I go, no matter how much life changes, it’s always there waiting to remind me of where I’m from.