The Island That Summer Forgot: A Few Days on Madeline Island

My brother has free passes to all the tourist attractions in Duluth for the month of June. We planned to come up and help him use those passes. We finally found a few days where we both had off in a row and he tells us he's moving to Madeline Island. We figured we would still go up and visit him.

I kind of think this was a better reason to visit him.

The last time we were there was during our honeymoon. We quickly realized there wasn't much to do if you didn't have a kayak. I was determined to get both kayaks there. During a recent trip to Costco I saw that they had giant pool noodles. I thought they could work for the kayaks to rest on on top of the car.

I also put our old foam wedges under the kayaks since that trifecta seemed to work well. It started to rain and one of the foam wedges fell off shifting the entire setup. 

I ran down the highway and found the missing wedge, but didn't put it back. Instead I just made sure that the two pool noodles and straps were all in place.

By the time we got to Turtle Lake for some gas everything looked like it was staying in place.

Since we were driving through Hayward I suggested we eat at the lumberjack restaurant. Turns out it doesn't exist anymore. I was pretty bummed about that.

I suggested we go to Norske Nook since thats always a good place to stop in Hayward.

They had a sale on Root Beer floats. I couldn't say no.

Our original plan was to bike on the island again. I really wanted to find a way to pull our kayaks on our bikes too. Then I found out Blake lived on the opposite end of the ferry drop off so biking to his place was out of the question.

I asked if he would come and pick us up on the mainland with his truck. He had already been in Bayfield earlier in the day and didn't want to come back. We sucked it up and paid the 50 bucks to take our car, but the next ferry was still an hour away. 

We picked up some beer and walked around Bayfield.

I kind of wish Bayfield was on the island. The city actually bans chains from opening up shop.

I thought these people were outfitters, but it turns out they just really like kayaking as a family.

We let Meadow sit up front with us while on the ferry. She was jealous we had so many buttons to play with up here.

Blake told me he was going to be living in a cabin. I assumed it was just a dinky cabin for the workers. Even though he gave us his address I wasn't sure we were at the right place.

I really like this split almost-A-frame design. They place has been here for 40 years and is for sale by the owner who is renting to Blake and is coworker/friend Haley.

I gave Blake his birthday present: a dutch oven with ingredients and a recipe to make bread. He loves making toast every morning for breakfast.

Blake showed us a map of all the Apostle Islands. Cottages are relegated to Madeline Island.

Blake took us on a tour of his property despite the millions of mosquitos and chilly temperatures.

It had been in the 80s in Hayward. It was only mid-50s on the island.

Check out his view. I believe that's Hermit Island.

 I asked how we get to the water and he said there was a trail. I didn't realize it was going to be cutting through a ravine. 

Once down the deer path we stared out at the channel.

Walking back up was tough.

I thought I was the only one huffing and puffing. I guess even Blake gets winded from this.

His roommate Haley was out going for a hike, but she had made dinner before we arrived and let us eat some of it.

Blake kept commenting on how calm the water was and we decided to go for a quick paddle. Meadow was being really antsy and almost tipped us. I decided to stay near shore.

The sun was setting as we launched our kayaks from the shore.

Soon the sun had all but dissappered. I though we should head back before it got to dark.

See that ladder behind Meadow? That goes up to Blake's room.

Blake and Haley had to work at 8 am so we had the place to ourselves all day. This place felt more like being in the northwoods than being at my family's cottage.

I loved the simple decor.

The whole place seemed to fit Blake and Haley so well.

Meadow wanted to hang like a monkey.

Blake's room.

Not a bad place to spend a summer.

We had a game going during our stay that we would say Meadow's name up in Blake's room and she had to find us.

It would take her a while, but she'd always smile once she found the culprit.

Note the wood-fired stove. That's the places only heat.


Since I thought we weren't bringing our car I didn't want to bring much stuff with. We brought some food to give to Blake, but not really anything for us to eat. Blake said we could eat whatever they had. They mostly had a few staples. 

They kept the place pretty clean despite being college kids. Even Scott helped out with dishes.

Today was supposed to be the warmest day during our stay. Being in the sun felt nice after our chilly night.

We felt bad eating their food so we headed to go to town to pick up groceries.

First we walked around. 

It's such a quaint place.

We still haven't drank at Tom's Burned Cafe (OR DID WE LAST TIME?). You've got to read about how the place got the name.

We didn't last time because we thought it was a cafe that had food.

We found a little park for Meadow to swing in for a little bit.

La Pointe only has two grocery stores. Ones a shitty convenience mart. We go to the old school place just off the ferry landing.

We were going to get lunch at the market.

We instead managed to buy produce for the next few days, but forgot lunch completely.

 I remembered the place we got ice cream at last time had food. We ordered a pizza. 

Grampa Tony's may not be great, but the pizza is cheap.

Scott decided to get fries last minute.

Sometimes you just have to splurge.

When we got back to the cabin we went for a kayak ride. Meadow was tired and slept the whole time. 

I'm so used to our mucky lake at at the cottage that I'm always impressed with clear waters. 

We leisurely kayaked the opposite direction we had before.
 
All the docks are built form serious wood logs.


We were surprised how small the cottages on the island were. I guess most folks spend more time on kayaks or big boats.

The place was my favorite. They had a pier built for what looks like two giant boats and a tiny one room cabin.

We thought about kayaking to one of the other islands, but the water is still really cold  I was afraid of tipping over with Meadow. 

When we got back it was time to start making dinner.

Meadow and I danced to some Wilco while dinner cooked.

Meadow always puts her hand out and sometimes I copy her.

Between the food they had and what we bought Scott made black bean burgers and sweet potato fries.

The hard workers were happy to have dinner when they got home.

They're removing invasive species from the island for the summer.

Another rare family photo.

After we were done Meadow Mussolini McMunch ordered us to play the clapping game. We were good sports.

I had made a rhubarb cream cheese pie last week and still had rhubarb left over. I brought the rest for Blake since our rhubarb plant is starting to grow like a weed. Haley had some from her CSA so I made a double batch of apple rhubarb crisp.


The place orginally only had gas-lit lights. They still do a great job.

Haley and Meadow got to know each other.

Meadow got to have a sink bath before bed.

The night before Meadow and I shared the bottom bunk while Scott slept on top. Meadow would wake up angry every time I accidentally bumped her, plus she hogs the whole bed.

The top bunk was also quite rickety.

We decided to put the top mattress on the floor for her and Scott and I would share a bed. 

I didn't want to eat more of their oatmeal so Scott made crepes with water instead of milk.

They didn't turn out half-bad. Less hearty, but they filled our stomachs.

We used the rhubarb crisp as filling. 


The weather was much cooler this day.

We had just finished breakfast when Blake and Haley came home for lunch. We are not morning people.

We decided to not kayak today with it being so windy. I debated on going quick by myself. 


We lounged around while Meadow took a nap. I'm a little jealous of Blake. I would love to live like this for the summer. No TV or internet. He works outside all day and kayaks in the evenings, reads and plays music at night.

We ate the last two black bean burgers on bread before heading on an adventure.

I didn't want to sit inside all day so I suggested we go for a walk. We saw a trail in town that we thought we would try. Then I came up with a better idea, to walk along the beach in Big Bay.

It was fun to come back here after camping here two years ago.

That was a fun honeymoon exploring the Northwoods and the UP.

The wind was pretty chilly. We kept trying to tuck Meadow's hands in to stay warm, but she kept trying to bring them out.



Meadow didn't look like she was having fun in the back so I turned her around so we were facing each other.

That would keep the little bugger warm.

We canoed the lagoon the last time we were here.

We walked the entire bay over to the state park.

We were going to go all the way to the point, but figured this was good enough.

I wanted to walk back along the beach for awhile.

It was even colder along the beach. I think it was in the mid 40's.

The water was so dirty from all the driftwood.

Back at home it was time to start thinking about dinner again. This time Blake and Haley wouldn't join us. They were invited over for dinner elsewhere.

Leek and potato soup was on the menu tonight.

Plus a beer or two from the South Shore Brewery.

This would be totally inappropriate at this point in summer anywhere else but Madeline Island.

As it was getting darker it was getting colder. There is only a woodstove to heat the place. We needed Blake to come back to build us a fire. There wasn't any chopped wood.

We put Meadow to bed early and shivered under blankets until they got back.

Blake found some wood pieces in the basement. And read us the Star Tribune from the 90's.

We were hoping the freezing air would kill all the mosquitos.

The next morning it was time to start packing up. 

Hopefully we can come up here when it's too hot in the city. Blake says there's sea caves not too far from him.

Scott whipped up an egg skillet for breakfast. 

The lighting in this house is perfect.

I told Blake to come home for lunch since we would be leaving before they were done for the day.

We tried to convince Blake to keep the kayaks and take them with him when he comes to the cottage next week.

I then realized we'd be arriving before him.


The rhubarb crisp was the perfect accompaniment to our days on the island.

Meadow had fun playing on the table.

She turned every cup into a percussion instrument.

Meadow had to say goodbye to her new friend and her cool uncle.

After dropping off the garbage at the dump we caught the next ferry just in time.

We decided to sit on the viewing deck for this ride.

Meadow had fun playing peek-a-boo with the people sitting outside.



Haley said we should stop at Houghton Falls on our way south. We weren't really in a rush to get home, so why not.


The trail suddenly became very scenic.

Who knew there were dells outside of the Dells.


The waterfall was a little disappointing. I thought it would have been raging with all the rain this year.

It was still a beautiful view.


A sign said this has been a favorite tourist spot for at least a hundred years and that you could spot a ladder from the first tourists at the bottom of the falls. I wanted to get a closer look.

First we had to check out Houghton Point and Lake Superior.


Brooke started hiking down the ravine. It made the dad in me nervous.

It was getting too uneven to be walking around with Meadow so I gave up on that idea.


We decided to skip Hayward and eat in Spooner this time. Scott looked up on his phone where the best place to eat was, but we changed our minds quickly after seeing this place.

Sam Hick's just looked too cool.

We ordered too much food.

For a place that deems itself a "Real Food Drive-In" it sure looked like a lot canned and packaged crud.


Just as we were getting to the border Meadow was getting super cranky. We stopped at Interstate State Park on the Minnesota side so I could nurse her.

I went on a brief walk by the falls.

Not a bad view for a diaper change.

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