"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Duluth, Minnesota

After two days of driving from Toledo through beautiful, solitary woods in northern Michigan and Wisconsin, and sleeping in my car without a shower, I arrived in Duluth to couch surf for the night.  Thank god.

I had never seen any of the great lakes before this trip, and certainly never been to Duluth.  My jaw dropped at the site of the huge, sparkling city rising from the wilderness much like Las Vegas rises surprisingly out of the Nevada desert, or the way the Colorado Rockies majestically announce their presence after days of driving across nothing but flat plains.

Driving into Duluth
I was incredibly fortunate to be able to couch surf with Deanna - for a million reasons!  She is an environmental educator currently working with teachers in local public schools to bring their kids out onto Lake Superior and incorporate local ecology into the curriculum.  She has been working in environmental education her whole life, and had plenty of helpful tips for me on how to break into that world.

Also, she is a healthy eater and a great cook.  Her pantry looked identical to mine before I left.  It was obvious that she only shops at a health food store.  After two days of road-food, my body was quite grateful for a delicious, home cooked dinner of ginger tempeh, roasted carrots & zucchini, and wild rice - that she harvested HERSELF!  Each year, she takes two friends and goes out in a canoe to harvest over 200lbs. of local wild rice which she then eats for the rest of the year.  It tasted nothing like Uncle Ben's.  This was the real stuff.


My beautiful host, Deanna
Over dinner we talked and talked and talked.  She had gone to both yoga and an acupuncture appointment that day.  She has lived in many of the towns I am considering moving to out west.  She backpacks, kayaks, rock-climbs, and pretty much anything else outdoors.  She's in her early 30's and had some fascinating relationship stories.  It felt a little bit like talking to myself!  What a refreshing reminder of how not alone we are in the world.

After dinner, she took me to the local co-op, and then up to a lookout where I could see all of Duluth and the lake at night.

The next morning, before she headed out for work, she made another delicious meal for me - huevos rancheros.  And I made some fresh juice for us with my traveling juicer.  She had just enough time to walk me out to the beach - which is directly behind her house since she lives on a sandbar between Lake Superior and the river (whose name is escaping me at the moment).  What a spectacular sight.

Now I am headed on to the last, long leg of this journey.  I have at least 22 more hours of driving to do across Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.  I will take route 2W, which is the northern most east-west highway in the country.  It is further north than the route I took last year, and more remote.  There aren't even any towns with couch surfers between here and Whitefish, Montana, where I'm going.  I'll be sleeping in my car for one or perhaps two more nights, and filling up on gas and food at every opportunity.  

This will be the solitude I've been looking for.  Like a whitewash of my brain.  I'm hoping to arrive at my friend Katie's in western Montana completely enlightened and having everything in my life figured out. ;)  Yeah - look for that blog post next.

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