The night prior to the final push to Voyageurs, Wm was having trouble sleeping. While reading Neil Peart’s latest blog entry, he noticed that Neil had just visited Voyageurs a couple weeks prior, where he enjoyed a nice stay on the shore of Lake Kabetogama at the Arrowhead Lodge. Believing in both Fun and Divine Coincidence, we figured it worth a shot to stay at the same place. A quick phone call by Lisa revealed they had a room available in the lodge at a fair rate. So, later that evening, after a long day’s drive across North Dakota and Minnesota with nary a deer-collision or road-frog squashing, we arrived at this lovely retreat, where indeed, the folks were very nice and friendly.
The park itself requires a boat to explore, being 55 miles long and comprised of over 30 lakes and 1,000 islands. Having heard reports that “no more boats were available for the year”, we were happy to learn that they were wrong, and that the final tour of the season still had seats available for the following day. We jumped at the chance!
The next morning, we boarded “The Beaver” along with 18 other passengers and 2 park rangers for a 5-hour tour. The first two hours took us over the glass-like waters of Kabetogama and Namakan Lakes, to our eventual destination: Kettle Falls. On the way we had several bald eagle sightings that gave us the opportunity to see these regal creatures in a variety of natural settings. There was even an occassional beaver dam, whose inhabitants managed to survive the many decades of trapping by early fur traders. This far north, Autumnal foliage was on full display; deciduous trees burning gold, orange, and crimson while standing alongside evergreen firs.
We disembarked at the Kettle Falls Hotel, which was built in 1910 to house lumberjacks. After sharing an enjoyable lunch at the park rangers table, we took a few minutes to explore the hotel once nick-named “the Tiltin’ Hilton” due to a heavily-sloped floor still visible in its bar-room. There, Ranger Jessica was kind enough to drop a few coins into the old nickelodeon for us, which still dazzles the senses as it entertains. She then led us to a nearby dam with a lovely view made famous by Hamms Beer in its “Land of Sky Blue Waters” advertisements.