Along the Shores of Gichigami

Gichigami is the Anishinaabe name for the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has been given the name Lake Superior by the United States and Canada. The Anishinaabe are the First Nations Peoples who are from the areas surrounding this great lake. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa or Chippewa. I vaguely remember hearing Longfellow’s 1855 poem about this lake and more clearly remember a racist I Love Lucy sketch. It saddens me that I didn’t know, until 62 years of age, that this is a real place and with real people.

We have had a lovely 2 weeks driving and staying along this amazing lake. Our Gichigami drive started in Minnesota, continued in Ontario, Canada and concluded in Michigan. We’ve only driven about 2/3s of the lake!

We stayed at wonderful campgrounds with winding trails that led to the lake.

Along the way we got to learn a little Anishinaabe history. They were integral to the vibrant fur trading industry of the 1800s.

In Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Canada there is a beautiful trail called Bimose Kinoomagewnan (Walk of Teachings) trail. Along it you can read and learn of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from Anishinaabe elders and enjoy art work, representing the teachings, from the younger generation. The teachings are love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth,humility and bravery.

In Sault Saint Marie, Michigan we saw the locks which enable ships to travel from Gichigami to the lower great lakes.

We are now on Anishinaabe land, staying at the Kewadin RV Park and Casino. It’s a beautiful and restful place. We are looking forward to attending a pow wow on Saturday. I’m really humbled by how little I know about this area and First Nations Peoples. I’m really grateful for any opportunity to learn even a little bit more!

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The ABCs (and more) of RVs

There are many different types of recreational vehicles and probably almost as many articles written about them. It took me awhile to learn the difference between a class C motor home (like the Minnie Winnie we have) and a behemoth class A (like the one in the hilarious movie RV) and then there are all the trailers.

There are 3 basic types of motor homes and they come in all sizes. Class As are the ones that resemble buses. They are built on a chassis and have large front and rear windows. They often have slide outs and can be quite large and luxurious.

Class Bs are also called campervans. They are easy to park and drive and are great for weekend trips. Not so good for full-time RVers like us.

Our Minnie Winnie is an older class C. The way I can identify class Cs are by their cab over design. They come in many sizes, with and without slide outs.

Then there are all types of pull behind trailers like cute little teardrops.

In Minnesota we have seen several of these ice fishing trailers. They drive them right onto the ice in the winter!

There are pull behinds that pop up into tents and pull behinds that are long and luxurious inside. I really love the retro ones!

Fifth wheel trailers are another option. Instead of being towed the coupling is actually in the bed of the truck.

I had fun taking most of these pictures here at at Lake Bemidji State Park. Kathy and I are always exclaiming over fancy new ones and really cute older ones. You can get lots of information on line or by visiting an RV dealership. We are really happy to answer answer any questions you may have.

Why we Travel

Travel is scary. It can be expensive. Simply planning a trip can be daunting. It can be uncomfortable once you set out and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. But for Marci and I that is the point. We want to be in spaces that challenge and stretch us. Not because we are saints or masochists but because we have been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative comfort most of our lives. When we travel we often comment on how uncomfortable we are. But the truth becomes obvious once you set out to places different from our home. Most of the world lives in situations that are uncomfortable for sixty year old women. They may carry their water from a well, for example. I hate doing that. They plant and harvest their own food. I hate that too. They may go to the bathroom outside of their homes. I really hate that.297

But for us it is not the hate we remember. Even now writing this I can’t remember all the things I hate about visiting villages and doing what the women there do. But the love is carried with us. We love visiting women in their homes. We love accompanying them to their work spaces. We love helping to prepare a meal. We are dismal at it all. And most of it is smelly and hard. But it is in these spaces where we find our truest love.

Our love of women of color. Women of means when it looks as if they have no means. Women of resource who look as if they are in poverty. These snaggle-toothed, smiling women who laugh at our feeble attempts to do one fifth of the work they accomplish daily are our truest and deepest loves. It is to them that we travel.DSC01484 For with them we too have an unseen value. A value that is not calculated in how well we cook or how many buckets of water we carry. Our value is multiplied by their patience with our well-intentioned ineptitude as verified by their simple words of “Welcome”. Whether it be in Tagalog – maligayang pagdating or Swahili -karibu or Wolofdalal ak diam.  Or a myriad of other ways, we are better for the experience.

We make no allusions as to our benefit to them. We recognize that when we arrive (most of the time unannounced because of how difficult it can be to communicate with small villages in developing nations) we are an extra expense at best and a downright hardship most of the time. Yet they smile, nod and share their food and homes with us. So although we may hate sleeping on dusty mattresses, we recognize we have the best beds around because someone else is sleeping on the floor. When we complain about having to go to the bathroom outside, we recognize that before the toilet was dug these people went outside for real. It is there where we smile and realize in a very tangible way how blessed we are to have this life and to have the opportunity to travel.

Welcome to BOLT.  Our wish for you is that you will travel in spite of the difficulty. Maybe this site will inspire you. Thank you for reading.