I recorded no less than 46 voice memos over the 13 or so hours I spent in the car on this trip. In between podcasts and Marco Polos, and strange playlists only in rotation because they were downloaded to my device and the cell service was gone, I had some pretty intense hits of inspiration that tend to only pop up when I carve the space for them - nothing like hours alone in a car to declare “space” for the universe to talk to you.
Most of my memos were things that even I can’t pretend I understand what I was trying to get across. But a few were pretty poignant- including this, which I tried to explain 14 different ways (and I’m going to have to launch a podcast now, because clearly I have a lot to say here…):
Staying open, living presently, and allowing life to show me and shape my experiences allows magic to unfold. This is only available when I am open, interested in conversations and connections, willing to strike-up conversation. When I feel that nudge to make eye contact, ask a question, go in a store, pick up a book, tell an artist I love what they created, share my heart, humble myself, I do it. I believe I have to trust and follow through. So for you, if you’re open to hearing this: follow nudges. Let them take you somewhere you didn’t see coming and choose to believe it’s an experience worth having. This is how we find the next best things for us. This is how God, the universe, whatever you believe in, is trying to connect the dots with and for you...
This was the theme of the trip.
This lil trip to Bayfield started because I wanted to visit Bayfield this fall, and once I saw the Seagull Bay Motel’s beautiful Instagram feed I knew that I wanted to collaborate. I instantly connected with Mollie, who owns the motel with her husband Isaac, and we were off and running. Since Bayfield doesn’t get sunset, we thought we’d capitalize on Golden Hour and bring folks together for snacks, community, and portraits from the super talented Cassie Rosch (one of my oldest friends and one of Lake Effect Co’s most aligned photographers). More on this later. The event was scheduled for Tuesday evening, and while I had planned on getting in on Monday, weather was gross all across the state and my workload was expanding by the minute. So Monday became Tuesday morning, and I hit the rainy road at the crack of dawn. I knew I wanted to pop into Steven’s Point on my way north to grab breakfast and check out a shop I’ve been following on Instagram for what feels like forever.
PING: As I was nearing town, the rain was slowing and I was tempted to just keep heading north, skipping this first stop. But my gut told me loud and clear to message the shop, to stop by, and to make a morning of it.
So I listened. I sent a message to Quyen, owner of Assembly asking about where to stop for breakfast near her shop. She sent some suggestions and let me know she was heading into the shop right then. So after an amazing breakfast at Ruby - like, oat milk hint of maple latte and minimalist, low key, vibey vibes - I popped back into the shop and ended up talking to Quyen for an hour. Maybe two. I don’t know, but what I do know is that she had so many insights, and she was a gift to my attitude, my drive, and we had about 14 synchronicities to laugh over. What a light. (She actually photographed the wedding of my friends Carly and Bill, so I’ve been scoping her for years now). Back on the road…
So, the rest of the drive was beautiful. Peak colors for much of the state. My wisco-love was at an alltime high. But this doesn’t change the fact that I was a wee bit stressed about timing. My gabbing had set me back majorly on buffer time and it was looking like I was about to be late to my own co-party. That did not happen, because like the universe often shows us, it’s ok to just allow things to flow.
When I arrived at the motel, easily identifiable off the main drag due to beautiful new signage, I parked and popped into the lobby. The lobby of course has lovely views of the lake, and I instantly felt at home. I snagged an apple (Isaac’s parents have an orchard and provide apples for the motel). I was pointed towards my room and when I headed outside, owner Isaac was in the lot. He showed me my room and after I got my ducks in a row and started unloading, I noticed my phone going nuts. It was a call from a reporter with the Journal wanting to run a follow up on our shop staying longer. After quickly fitting in an interview that I’m epically grateful for, though minus 15 minutes from my prep time, I scrambled to setup, gave Cassie the biggest hug upon her arrival, and off we went. Things were set up and one magical vibe was created just as the first guests arrived. Twinkly lights on the lawn facing the water. Epic charcuterie, Lake Superior and motel-logo sugar cookies, locally made hard cider, BEAUTIFUL harvest floral centerpieces. Bayfield and nature brought their a-game, and as temps and the sun dropped, the fire roared and rosy cheeks chatted into evening. My heart was happy. Mollie, Isaac and their adorable kiddos connected and chatted. Motel guests and event attendees visited, lingered, disappeared over the next few hours, and suddenly the sun had truly set, but not without first putting on an epic golden hour and beautiful clouds against a festive fall sky.
The motel has been in operation for years with the Carriers running the show for a bit over two of those years. Mollie Kae, Isaac, and their two adorable sons relocated back to the area (Isaac’s family is from here) a few years ago from Minneapolis, and they’ve created what we’re seeing as a bit of a shift in the vibe - in the best way - in this little town. The motel is comfortable, simple, and a perfect launching point for your Bayfield and Lake Superior adventures. And might I add, the branding is spot on. PSenjoy 15% off your first stay with the motel - it must be booked directly bywww.seagullbay.com or calling 715-779-5558. Use code LAKEEFFECT Expires: December 31, 2020.
At the event we met a sailor (who specializes in teaching women to sail) on her last night before migrating south for the winter, the manager of Kickapoo, a couple who owns a mercantile that will be sourcing some mystical goods for our shop, and countless other smiley faces and curious humans. Such an awesome group.
After takedown, we settled into our our double queen room and drifted to sleep. The bed was incredibly comfy, and the only reason I had trouble sleeping was Mama Superior was HOWLING. She had a lot to say, and she was hellbent on expressing it. As such, our Apostle Islands Boat Tour for the following day was cancelled because she was still yelling at us all, so Cassie and I began to assemble our alternative plan for the day. We didn’t make a plan b, so this “go with the flow” feeling felt quite freeing, and honestly just knowing we wouldn’t have to battle high winds and 6-8 foot waves was a relief.
The next day we saw so much beauty and charm, and enjoyed many amazing people. To sum it up:
Ate an insanely delicious spread at the Fat Radish
Shared life-stories, biz info, rock-secrets, hugs and so many laughs with Lissa at Silverwaves. Bought an amazing copper bracelet and Cassie found three silver rings. I’m eyeing a few other pieces made with Leland stones (did you even know that was a thing? I didn’t - they’re the most beautiful and much less common than Charlevoix or Petoskey, friends)
Talked Indigenous culture with the owner of the beautifully curated Apostle Island Booksellers. He so generously gave us hiking tips (that we are saving for a second trip) and shared his experience with his life in Bayfield.
Talked shop with our friend Anneleise in Kickapoo Coffee. We’re about to receive our first shipment of her hand-foraged Sweet Fern products in the shop!
Ate a lot of local apples (the upcoming weekend was Apple Fest, where 60k+ apple and Bayfield lovers come shop, browse and enjoy all things apples)
We enjoyed many more shops and stories, ultimately making our way back to the motel for a quick change and then hitting the trail. Ok, it hardly seems fair to call it a hike because we also made sure that our hike clothes could double as dinner-clothes, so we took the Houghton Falls 1.5 mile out & back along a river and some falls that ended back at angry Mother Superior. She was stirred up, and when you stood on these rocks, you could feel her waves slamming into the earth below. We survived. It was cold. We were thirsty. So we headed into neighboring Washburn, and while we waited for Dalou’s, the suggested Italian restaurant, to open, we enjoyed Old Fashioneds at Snug’s, the friendly neighborhood Irish pub next door.
I left Bayfield with so many questions.
How high are these water levels in comparison to normal years?
Why is the Chequamegon Bay so brown right now?
Why on earth did I think that 36 hours in that charming town would be enough?
Am I really this far north and not visiting the Lake of the Clouds or heading over to the Keewanau?
Where did September go? Where did 2019 go?
How is it that the Co-Op in Ashland has a better selection of produce than most groceries stores in the Milwaukee area?
My drive was a fun mix of sunshine and drizzle, often simultaneously, and I was so distracted by the gorgeous peak colors that I almost missed the rock shop in Ironwood, MI. Ok, I didn’t know I was looking for the rock shop, and truly I think the fact that I was looking off to a sloping hillside full of colors was HOW i found the rock shop. I was heading to my cottage in Three Lakes, WI, so instead of taking the main drag, I opted for the Hwy 2 to Hwy 45 route. Higher speed limits. Less towns. More hills. More UP. Back to the rock shop.
The last few years I’ve come back full circle with rock collecting. 8 year old Katherine couldn’t spend enough time rock hunting and rock shopping, and after I recently found my collection, my interest could be edging on obsession, and so this visit was amazing. The older gentleman who owns Nature's Picks Rock and Gift shop has owned it for twenty-ish years, his favorites are quartzes, and he keeps a ton of them in his car. He asked me if I was a tv reporter because I looked familiar (no world, I do just have a familiar face), and we talked about like, a lot of things. He gave me a free pyrite when I bought my haul: a superior copper, a really cool Superior agate, and a yooperlite. The yooperlite was the showstopper and it blew my mind to think that this was something only discovered a few years ago. How are there still undiscovered species? I love this planet. Anyway, John was so excited to dim the lights and show me the magic of the yooperlite. I obviously could not handle myself. He also has a unique, well-curated collection of other stones, and the whole shop is brimming with a certain kind of fun, “there’s gotta be more to this story” vibes. I love rocks. I love people. I love the UP. Anyway...
The rest of my drive was more peak colors, more magic, and so many fun connections truly at each stop. Maybe it was the magic of the big lake energy or the rock shop that I was carrying with me, but each person seemed to treat me with a certain something. Like we were all on the same page and it was in a book that not many others are reading…
We’re all related or connected in some way, even if it’s just in our shared living space of Planet Earth. If we’re tempted to take it all too seriously or see the disconnect or feel like our experience is so one of a kind, can we take a step back and just remember that we’re truly all in this together. Any separateness is our own construct - and that just sounds like more work.
So what started as a trip to the Seagull Bay Motel snowballed (did I mention we saw flurries in Bayfield?) into 48 hours of magic.