Best Day Ever in Voyageurs National Park

When you ask yourself, “What’s one of the best days I’ve had this year, or even in my life?”, you begin to reflect.  Upon reflection, certain days immediately come to mind with little to no effort.  I know, for me, there are about ten, unforgettable days that instantly pop into my mind from recent years.  Days that I remember with utmost clarity.  Not to say that I’ve only had ten amazing days, because I’ve had SO many more.  But, the type of days that I am referring to are the days when you don’t think about the past or the future – they are the days when you are living so completely in the moment that every single fiber of your being feels at peace with the universe.  Everything feels RIGHT.  Perfect.  This day at Voyageurs National Park this past June (2017) was precisely one of those days in my life.

Photo Mar 06, 10 50 32 PM
Nathan and I kayaking out from our Voyagaire Houseboat in Grassy Bay.                                       Photo taken by: John Bair

It began before sunrise on our second day in this beautiful national park (located in Northern Minnesota along the Canadian border).  Thanks to our Voyagaire Houseboat, we woke up in the middle of the wilderness in Grassy Bay.   My best friend, Nathan, and I decided the night before that we were going to kayak on Sandy Point Lake and explore some nearby islands at the crack of dawn.

Barely awake, we grabbed some coffee and set our cups in the kayak cup holders before departing dry land.  It was a hilarious sight to see the two of us paddling with glassware full of coffee.    Kind of bougie, but we love our caffeine – especially at 5am.  And hey!  We were staying in a houseboat after all.  Any other given trip, you can find me camping in a tent and paddling a canoe.  Or, if I happen to be feeling especially fancy, chilling on a pontoon boat.  This trip, however, we were killing life in this amazing houseboat.

Coffee in tow, Nathan and I paddled past sheer, granite cliffs that towered 125 feet above us.  The sun began to illuminate the lake, lighting up one island at a time.  It was the most brilliant sun rise – totally foreshadowing the day to come.  We finally came to an island that piqued our curiosity and decided to beach our kayaks there (not so easy to do on steep rocks) to watch the rest of the spectacular sun show.

Photo Mar 06, 10 52 12 PMPhoto Jun 20, 6 50 17 AM

The sunrise kayaking excursion invigorated the two of us.  We were high on life and didn’t want to stop exploring.  We wandered to and from countless islands, haphazardly beaching our kayak at each one and hiking all over their rocks and forests.  We laughed while taking silly photos, we gazed in awe of the magnificent scenery, we giggled with enthusiasm upon discovering new land and we ran amok for hours on end.  We were so wrapped up in having fun that time passed right on by without our acknowledgment – until our stomaches began to growl, desperate for some nourishment other than coffee and water.  Now late morning, Nate and I finally decided to journey back to our water home for some grub.

 

Back on our boat (her name’s Rub-A-Tub, which is pure awesomeness), John and Doug already had breakfast waiting for us.  Within seconds, I devoured the most delicious breakfast sausage I have ever tasted, EVER!  Voyagaire offers a delivery service; you radio in to mainland and tell them what goods you need, they then pick up said goods and deliver them to your boat via their own boat.  It’s insanely cool and SO convenient.  With that being said, they delivered this locally sourced sausage to us and it was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C!   So flavorful.   We also had eggs and toast, but like.. the sausage is what matters here.  Feeling as if we already lived an entire day, the four of us voyaged onward in Rub-A-Tub to unchartered territory (for us at least).

Arriving at another equally rocky island, we docked Rub-A-Tub and decided to relax for a bit by soaking in her hot tub.  That’s right, our Voyagaire Houseboat even had a hot tub on the top deck.  As John and Doug fished and filmed, Nate and I took full advantage of this wonderful amenity.  Sitting on the top deck in the soothing hot water, sipping on some wine, being surrounded by absolute wilderness, not another soul in sight – it was unreal.  I mean, was it real?  I even remember thinking, in that moment, how dreamlike it all felt.

 

You’d now suspect our day was just about over, right?

HECK NO!  You suspect wrong.  What comes next was perhaps the whip cream on top of the sundae we were already enjoying (the cherry being the sunset to follow).   We engined back up and steered on over to Burnt Island.

At Burnt Island, we met up with a bunch of Voyagaire friends who guided us to incredible cliffs to jump from.  I’m a HUGE fan of jumping off high things (cliffs, ice breakers, bridges etc) into water.  But, even I was hesitant to take the plunge when reaching the top of this cliff.  I had been a wee-bit out of practice and WOW, was this bad boy HIGH!   Without further ado, I jumped multiple times and was filled with an exhilaration I hadn’t felt in quite some time.  The combination of the free fall, the cold and deep waters, the new friends and the excitement filling the air was all such a rush.  It sparked new life into my already lively day.

We continued to spend the rest of the afternoon with our new friends; boating, hot-tubbing, going down the boat’s water slide (oh yeah, did I mention that our boat ALSO had a water slide?!  Get outta here!).   Each moment was lived to its full extent.  What a truly magical thing it is to live in the moment.  I can still hear my laughter and feel the joy emanating from my soul throughout that afternoon.

 

After saying goodbye to our fearless, fun-loving friends, we decided it was time to find a new camp for the night.  We took Rub-A-Tub further north onto Namakan Lake.  Just when I thought Voyageur couldn’t get any prettier, my eyes feasted upon this stunner.  Namakan offered even more seclusion, more islands, more rocks, more coves and more water.  She’s such a remarkable place.  We found the coolest cove complete with jetting rock cliffs, a tiny beach and surrounding forests begging to be discovered.. AND, it was all ours for the night.

Once again, Doug and John took off in the motor boat to do some more fishing as Nate and I hiked around our cove, excitedly investigating new land.

Photo Jun 20, 6 20 01 PM

The best way to describe this day:  We were lost boys (girl) in Neverland, running wild and free.

I didn’t feel age, I didn’t feel time, I didn’t feel a single negative emotion.  I was too busy LIVING and LOVING.   It was as if I reverted back to a child and was discovering things for the very first time (which, in a way, I was).  Having so many new and beautiful lands to explore, along with waters, lends itself to such a feeling.

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full or wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder    

I believe Rachel Carson did have influence with that good fairy because she certainly gifted me with an indestructible sense of wonder.   A wonder that was in full force all day this day.  It’s a sense of wonder strong enough to keep me adventuring, traveling and ceaselessly exploring.  A sense of wonder with a childlike curiosity to compliment.  Thankfully, time has brought me some wisdom to sprinkle in with my childlike wonder and curiosity.

Honestly though, Rachel Carson’s words above (along with many of her words) are wise and important, read them closely.  Let them saturate.  I feel her desire because I, too, wish I had the power to instill an everlasting, unquenchable sense of wonder to all.   I feel if everyone could escape to Neverland, even once a year, the world would be a heck of a lot different.

Continuing on…

The cherry on top.  Nathan and I kayaked out to, quite possibly, the prettiest little island we found this day.  Here we watched a breath-taking sunset.  How crazy lucky were we to experience both a beautiful sunrise and sunset all in one day?  And just think, nature is always putting on a show that many, MANY miss.  What a shame.  The most underrated, free joy.

On that island, with my best friend, dancing in the setting rays, I was brought closer to nature.  It was an unspoken agreement between Nate and I that this was a bonding moment; bonding with one another and bonding with the earth.   Spiritual.  Divine.  A heavenly moment to complete a blessed day.

After snapping some photos (which I’m glad we did because now the magic can live on), we climbed back into our kayaks, tied them to one another using my hoodie, and floated under the orange and pink hue’d sky.  It was simple.  And it was simply perfect.  All of it.  ALL of this day.

 

 

To cap it off, John cooked his catch(es) of the day for dinner and we all ate around the campfire, serenaded by the residing loons.  We reminisced about the day, told animated stories, star gazed and enjoyed ourselves amidst the total wilderness.  To be honest, I was hoping to hear wolves howling, just to add to the wildness of it all.  We didn’t that night.  But we did the next :-).

Wolves or not, June 20, 2017 will forever live on as one of the best days of my life.

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A huge thank you to Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats because without their boat and their incredible service, this BEST DAY EVER would not have been possible.  Their boats are the PERFECT way to explore Voyageur National Park and surrounding areas.  They enable you to travel a far distance within one day, which is necessary if you wish to explore as much as possible within little time (even a week is little).  It would take a month to explore this vast place via kayak/canoe alone (though I’d totally be up for the challenge).

Voyagaire’s houseboats are extremely well-equipped; a full kitchen, a sizable bathroom (larger than any RV bathroom I’ve been in ), multiple sleeping options (Rub-A-Tub slept 10 to 12 people; 3 double beds, pull-out couches, and 2 single beds), an 8 person hot-tub on the upper deck along with a slide, KAYAKS, a wrap-around booth and table for dining, a lower “porch” with chairs and a grill….it had everything and then some!  For a full list of the included amenities, click here: Houseboat Standard Features and Amenities .

As great as all of this is, the employees are even greater.  They are friendly and helpful, kind and generous.  They’re an utter blast to be around.  OH MY GOODNESS, I almost forgot to mention “Trivia Night”.   The community offers “Trivia Night” where each boat radios in to the mainland to answer trivia questions.  Each boat is a “team” and creates a team name (we were team “Rub-A-Tub” because thats obviously the best name ever).  It was such a neat experience, even though we lost BAD.  It was so fun hearing the questions and listening to other boats (unseen to us) answer.  I hope to stay with Voyagaire again in the future, and for longer next time!  There’s so much more I wish to see and explore.  I fell so deeply in love with all I did see and all I did experience that I can’t even imagine what awaits around the next bend of Namakan and on.

I remember telling Nathan how deeply in love I fell with this place and this adventure and him responding, “Really? After all the places you’ve been, you dote over this place so much?”  He was in NO way dissing it by his disbelief because he, too, fell in love.  Rather, he was merely shocked that I did as well, considering I recently traveled to the likes of Iceland and Yosemite, etc.    I saw where he was coming from, but that’s exactly it…

Voyageurs and Voyagaire unexpectedly stole my heart.  ❤

 

Have you ever been to Voyageur National Park and experienced this magic as well?  Let me know!

Thank you for reading and Happy Travels! xoxo

-Mindy

P.S. Share this place with your friends and family – Voyagaire’s houseboats sleep so many people, it’s the perfect place for a group getaway!

P.S.S. Check out my travel vlog, “Our Voyage in Voyageurs National Park” on My Travel Vlogs page.  Also, check out the videos on my Professional Content page – hint:  they’re of Voyagaire.

Photo Mar 06, 10 51 38 PM

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