I had always dreamed of living somewhere close to water. Close to lakes, to be precise because I grew up near the Rock River in Oregon, Illinois. Back home I would ride my bike over to the Honey Creek on gravel roads that meandered into town the long way; took me there slowly along the back way. I could sit there, when I got the chance, for hours watching a bobber or flipping a Mepps spinner over and over again. I waited for catfish, for bass. Occasionally Dad and I would park our car near the dam in town, walk down the bank and stand on the rocks to cast for walleye in the cool and rushing water.
I longed for water. We swam in the town pool with enough chlorine to turn your hair green on long summer days. Those days only made me long for a country full of lakes even more. Just to be able to sit by one. To cast a line when I wanted, to jump in when it got too hot. To listen to its songs after the darkness fell. The lakes were calling.
My dream wasn’t huge… I didn’t have to own property on a lake or a second home/cabin with my own beach. I just wanted to be nearer to water than I was. Preferably water that didn’t have its own perfume of “muddy river”.
For many people, Ely, Minnesota is the personification of that dream. When they think of such a place as I did during my childhood, they ultimately see a green sign with only three letters: “ELY”.
As I grew older I thought about how great it would be to leave work at the end of the day and go fishing somewhere. To grab a canoe and just go. In my mind I saw only water and endless possibilities. That was my Ely. More lakes than I knew what to do with.
Somehow I made it here and began life all over again as a husband and then a new father and life itself got busier and busier. The dream stayed alive, but now that I was living it, it changed to encompass Little League and ballet and church and friends and family and a career and traveling and art and new books and more art and antiques and hobbies and…
The lakes are calling and I must go. Yes, it is a take off from a John Muir quote, but it is a fact. A fact of life. They call. Loudly. So now, I answer the call. I go. I just don’t have to go very far.
One of the most exciting things is to go to work with the knowledge that when your work day is over a canoe trip awaits. Portage packs full, family ready, dog ready, canoes on the van, Zups Polish in the pack, fishing rods and hammocks — check, check, check. I can hardly wait.
Many times there isn’t time enough to do that. There’s just time enough to go for a paddle, or go for a paddle and bring our fishing rods. To catch our dinner. Many times there isn’t time for that, either, there’s just enough time to take our dog down to the edge of lake on a walk, to get all of our feet wet and to watch the sunset. That’s okay. At night, as I fall asleep, I can still hear them calling. I can fall asleep saying lake names that I have and haven’t been to. There’s a lot of them. More than I can remember… Abinodji, Ahsub, Angleworm, Big Moose, Boot, Cattyman, Confusion, Crooked, Disappointment, Ella Hall, Fourtown, Gabbro, Good, Hula, Isabella, Jitterbug, Kawishiwi Lake, Little Trout, Mudro, North Hegman, Owl, Parent, Parent, Rum, South Temperance, Tin Can Mike, Trease, Unload, Vista, White Feather, Wind, Wood, and Zoo Lake get me started on the long doze.
When I am fortunate enough to be loaded up and the afternoon sun is tattooing its mark on the back of my neck as I stretch my paddle to the campsite up ahead, then I relax and think, how lucky I am to be living my dream.
Do the Lakes call you? Pick up your phone and call our Outfitting Department today to begin planning your canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. 1-800-223-6565.