When I was very young, my Grandpa Chuck used to talk about the Gunflint Trail. He had this promotional video he got from a sporting goods store; it was about 15 minutes and offered a quick glimpse of the Trail. Even though there wasn’t much to it, he’d watch it at least once a week and tell me how much he’d love to go there.
I watched the video with him (a lot, actually) and always wondered where the Gunflint Trail was. I’m sure he told me but, like most directions, they don’t mean much to you when you’re a kid. To me, it was just kind of a mythical place. I didn’t even bother to check a map.
It’s funny that years later this “imaginary” place that my grandpa mentioned is now my, well, stomping ground. I mean, I lived on the Gunflint Trail–the very place Grandpa Chuck said was his favorite place in the world. When I talk to him on the phone, I can tell it just blows his mind that I’m living up here.
That’s why it’s tough, as Father’s Day approaches, to think that he’s never been able to visit me up here. Nor my dad. He’s a busy guy and, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a drive.
I always imagine what we’d do if we just had a day. I’d take him to all my favorite spots. Like the Devil’s Kettle, where they still don’t know where the water goes.
Or Palisade Head, where it’s so high up, but you feel like you’re soaring over Lake Superior.
It’d be a big change from the stuff my dad and I usually do on Father’s Day: go see a movie, hit up a Chinese Buffet…you know, the usual.
But “usual” is a pretty relative term. And I started to wonder what “the usual” was up here for Father’s Day, what with the lack of movie theaters and Chinese Buffets. What do dads do on the North Shore?
So I ran it by my main man, Shem. Saying Shem’s a good bartender is like saying Mozart wrote good jingles. He’s legendary.
He also happens to have a pack of strapping young lads at home. So surely he’d know what a does for fun ’round these parts.
And of course, since he’s a bartender, I opened with what his Dad’s Day drink of choice was going to be.
A Bloody to start, he said, and a champagne Mojito for happy hour.
The rest of his answers were good too. Surprising to me, although they probably shouldn’t have been.
Shem said his Father’s Day would probably spent by taking the kids and hiking the Temperance. And later find a nice, quiet patch of beachfront and build a fire.
He said he might paddle a canoe and, if he was lucky, catch a fish for dinner. Perfect day.
It was so simple. Peaceful. Such a juxtaposition compared to what my dad and I would do. Where the old man and I would at the very least rent a movie and order a pizza, Shem was looking to catch his dinner. And instead of a movie, his “big screen view” is a bonfire in front of the endless blue-and-white whorl of Lake Superior.
Then I remember how lucky Shem and I are to live where we do. I was thinking about it all wrong–I was wondering what Shem’s alternate plans were, in lieu of the things my dad and I would normally do. But it’s not an alternate choice–it’s the best choice!
So I won’t be able to get my dad up here this Father’s Day, but I will get him up here. Soon. He’s missed out on this for too long.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by the restaurant. We’re doing All-You-Can-Eat Ribs and a FREE tap beer for dads!
That might actually get my dad up here this year…