We lunched at the Greenstone Grill one last time. We’d had the same server all the times we’d been there. Her name was Katie, and although she’d worked on the north rim of the Grand Canyon last summer, she hailed from Ferndale, Michigan.
After lunch, we had some time for last-minute souvenir shopping while we waited to board the ferry. Adam struck up a conversation with Ranger Lauren in the visitor center. She explained how about forty of the park’s sixty-five summer staff were seasonal since the park shuts down between October and April, and that she’d essentially be laid off at the end of the season. She hoped, though, to return to Isle Royale next year. She also said that full-time, established rangers are able to move from park to park until they find the one they want to stay at.
While we were waiting on the dock, two cedar waxwings flew over to feed on berries.
Soon we were onboard the Queen. The Saturday afternoon crossing back was much rockier than the bizarrely calm trip to the island on Monday morning.
Our original backpacking itinerary was so different from what we eventually did. Although it would have been nice to reach an interior lake, I don’t regret the route we took. It was good to let the island and circumstance dictate and to give up control a bit. We also were able to do amazing things that our original plan wouldn’t have allowed for, such as attending Candy Peterson’s talk and Justin Olson’s presentation, both of which enriched our time on the island immeasurably. We also would not have had the opportunity to go boating and see the fishery and lighthouse.
In sum, it was a rich, thorough experience of the northeast end of Isle Royale.
Soon we were arriving in Copper Harbor.
We loaded up the car, got gas at Copper Harbor’s ancient station and headed down the Keweenaw toward Houghton.
We stopped for pizza in Houghton before continuing on as far as Green Bay, where we spent the night.
We rose early Sunday morning and continued on down Wisconsin, trying to make good time to Chicago so that the guys could make the drive back to Detroit that afternoon. We did, however, need to stop at the newly-renovated Mars’ Cheese Castle of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
We made it home in the early afternoon. After seeing the guys off on the final leg of their trip, Sean and I sat down and teared up because we were so sad to be home.