I Spy With My Little Eyes…: Reflections of a new Cook County resident by Traci Crotteau
Aug 13, 2018 06:36AM
● By Editor
I know. I know. I know. I haven’t written in a bit. It’s summer. What can I say, except that I have been adventuring, discovering and enjoying all that is Cook County.
This summer has been glorious. A nice
mix of warm, sunny days sprinkled with just the right amount of rain to keep us
out of fire danger. I hope EVERY summer will be this magical.
The Crotteaus have had some visitors
this summer. Who knew I’d be so popular with the friends and family when I
moved to Grand Marais? Let’s just say, I’ve done a lot of catching up and I’m
loving it! I hope more of my friends and family come visit us and enjoy this
spectacular Minnesota treasure that is Cook County.
As a journalist I was trained to write
about what I saw, heard, tasted, smelled and touched. So, that’s what this
“Bubble Thoughts of a Cheechako” will focus in on.
have I seen my first summer in Cook County?
The sun. Warm and lovely. Remember when
I didn’t know if I lived up the hill or not? Well, I’m not quite 100% sure yet,
but I think I live up the hill. In any case, on any given day, my house is 10
to 15 degrees warmer than down by the lake. I love this. I like to be warm.
Summer is my favorite season. It used to be my favorite season because that’s
when my birthday is, but now I love summer because it’s warm, lazy and we are
outside a lot. Okay, it’s still partly my favorite season because my birthday.
I saw, and continue to see sparkling
Lake Superior in all its glory. Sometimes it takes my breath away. I really
feel as if I’m at the ocean, minus the sea smell. I half expect to see the tide
going in and out throughout the day, and I get a bit shocked when that doesn’t
happen. I have enjoyed watching the sail boats. There’s just something so
majestic about them sailing on the calm waters. I enjoy seeing the boats parked
in the harbor and really like the houseboat that’s been there most of the
summer. I have never seen anyone on it, but it looks so neat and I want to go
inside and explore. However, I might get in trouble if I explore it uninvited. I
admire it from the shore. Promise.
I saw incredible scenery during our trip
into the Boundary Waters. Six portages deep into the wilderness of Cook County.
No electronics. Just a canoe and my little family, and water for miles and
miles. Wow. If you can manage a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCA) I highly recommend it. It’s hard work and not much fun
sleeping on the ground day after day, but the scenery is incredible and the
return to nature unmatched.
In my own backyard (okay, a mile down
the road, but I tell people it’s my backyard. ((Sort of the same concept as
when Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house)) is an access to the
Superior Hiking Trail. Another absolutely stunning sight. The canyon that
oversees the Devil Track River…aaaaaaaa! I cannot express it, so you’ll have to
go and see for yourself. I hear the river is down more than years past, so I
hope to see it rushing and wild in years to come.
I have also noticed too, now that summer
is ending, that my children and their friends have grown. A foot, at least! It
has surprised me. Long and lean and tan with natural sun-kissed highlights in
their hair. Summer has a way of doing that to kids. I think it’s that return to
have I heard my first summer in Cook County?
Seagulls – I swear I’m at the ocean.
Rushing rivers and waterfalls.
All the lovely birds that come to visit. We have a White Throated Sparrow that puts the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to shame. Every morning, even before the sun is up, he can be heard through our open window that lets in the warm morning breeze. I think he must stand on his tiptoes to belt out his song! Check out his tune on YouTube if you’re not sure what it sounds like exactly.
Cows. Never mind. Those are just the neighbors. There aren’t a
lot of cows in Cook County, so that sound is kind of privy to us. I digress.
Bands playing outdoors. There is so much
local musical talent here. I can’t believe I get to reap the benefits of this.
What have I tasted this summer in Cook County?
The Flourless Chocolate Torte at the Gunflint Tavern. Bbbwwaaaaahhhaaahhhaaaa! Hey, it was my birthday, so I had to have one.
In all seriousness, and food is serious.
I’ve been able to hit most of the restaurants in the area now that it’s summer.
A lot of them had closed up shop by the time we set up camp in Grand Marais. So
this has been fun. And yummy.
Of course, the Fisherman’s Picnic
brought in more deliciousness.
Don’t forget World’s Best Donuts.
Uuummm, I can’t believe I’m writing this out loud, the Flourless Chocolate Torte may have a contender. The Strawberry Malt at Trail Center. EEEekkk! The malts there are I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E.
Oh, and I ate a few mosquitoes and gnats
this summer. No flavor, but boy did I work hard to spit those buggers out in a
hurry. A side note: this happens every summer, everywhere I’ve ever lived, and
they’ve never tasted any different, which I think is a plus for Cook County.
I’m not sure what would happen to the Cook County economy if our bugs started
tasting different than other parts of the world?
I’m sorry to say I have not tasted any of
the medleys coming from Kaw Khang Authentic Thai Food. I am going to very, very
soon and I have this feeling I will not be disappointed. If you haven’t heard,
a lovely lady named Parinda Phumipraphat cooks Thai cuisine at the Community
Center in Grand Marais. She usually advertises her meals on the Facebook page
‘Grand Marais Area Sell and Swap’ or on her ‘Ka Khang Authentic Thai Food’ Facebook
page. When she advertises that she’s preparing a Thai meal on Facebook, then
you need to place your order with her and she cooks it all at the Community
Center and you go there to pick it up. Shrimp Pad Thai here I come!
have I smelled this summer in Cook County?
Because taste and smell go hand in hand,
it was only natural to follow with the smells of Cook County.
My son played Parent Pitch baseball (go
Wildfire! Parent Pitch Champions 2018, BTW). Right, what does that have to do
with smell? Yes, there were smells from baseball, oof, but that isn’t what I’m talking
about. Anyway, my son played baseball and often times would practice at the
ball field down at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground and Marina. The smell
of campfire and food grilling made me so happy. Those visiting Grand Marais and
staying in the campground really know how to do it! We also had campfires in
the boundary waters. It brings me back to such wonderful childhood memories.
As if campfires and grilling food aren’t
enough to push a person over the edge, the smell of outside was marvelous.
Damp leaves on damp earth.
And all the beautiful flowers people
planted or nature popped up as little surprises for our eyes AND noses (can you
say lupine?). I literally would be taking a walk and close my eyes to absorb
the smells of nature around me.
have I touched this summer in Cook County?
This one is a bit difficult only because
I don’t go around randomly touching things (I do, but that’s for another
article). I pinky promise I did not touch the tourists without their
I would say this portion of this article
is a culmination of the things I’ve already talked about.
I touched the cool waters of Lake
I waded in the warmer-than-Lake Superior waters of boundary waters lakes and felt the mud between my toes.
I held baby frogs and touched the petals
of those flowers I mentioned earlier. I touched wild raspberries. I ate them
I let my fingertips touch some really
amazing art pieces at the Grand Marais Arts Festival.
I pet many a happy dog and patted the heads of many energetic, light hearted children.
I shook a lot of hands with strangers
visiting Cook County. I got to hear their stories too. For instance, why they
came to Cook County and how they even heard of little Grand Marais from the
faraway places they came from.
Cook County has brought so many fun things to discover and adventure in. And I am glad to be a part of it all. I hope you have enjoyed your Cook County summer too. I’m sure you’ve seen, heard, tasted, etc. much more than I have. Please take time to revel in them.
Before I sign off, there is one favor I do want to ask you. I tossed out a question to a long time Cook County-ian “Does anyone famous ever come to the area to visit?” The answer was yes. Mostly professional athletes. I personally have not seen anyone famous, but maybe you have. If you have, would you please consider emailing me your famous-person-in-Cook-County sighting at email@example.com? It would be fun to see who from the land of the rich and famous comes to visit us.
The gal I posed the question to,
recently sent me a Facebook post from ‘The Mayhew Inn, Grand Marais MN’
Facebook page. Turns out, Genevieve Gorder of HGTV fame and her famous interior
designer fiancé, Christian Dunbar, stayed at the Mayhew Inn. This is the
Mayhew’s post from July 19.
Please continue to have a safe and fun summer! And let’s prepare ourselves for the fall color tours that are about to tantalize our five senses. This is the Cook County Cheechako signing off.