Annual North Shore Family Vacation (Mostly In Photos)

With everything that was going on with the transfer, I kept pushing aside putting together this post on when we went to the North Shore at the end of September. But I wanted to talk about it here because it shows how incredible my life can be sometimes when we aren’t thinking about the next fertility treatment.

I heard once that a vacation is a trip without kids, and a trip is, well, a trip where kids are with. This article talks about it:

So, you’re headed out on a family vacation this summer. Great news! But are you sure? Are you sure it’s a vacation? You might want to think about that for a minute. Because a vacation is best described as time away from a job and/or the monotony and frustrations of day-to-day life, with the goal of relaxing and having fun.

Not to be a super downer, but chances are, if you have kids (and they are coming with you), you aren’t going on a vacation at all. You’re going on what I like to call… a trip. You see, a trip is simply a journey to a place.

While there is nothing wrong with a family trip — and, in fact, it can be a memorable time of family bonding — it should never, ever be confused with a vacation.

Maybe I just got really lucky. Maybe it’s the result of those years spent taking these vacations with Chris and always feeling the pain in my heart of the kids that were missing from our own family vacation.

But last year, while yes, it was different than Chris and I just vacationing alone, it was still so much fun with Olivia. It was still relaxing. It still refreshed my soul.

And this year was no different. Olivia was stoked for “family vacation” and couldn’t wait to “throw da woks in da water!”

We stopped for breakfast about halfway through the drive and then drove to Duluth to spend the rest of the afternoon.

It was definitely cool out, but we fed some seagulls and walked up to the lighthouse before spending some time on the shore so Olivia could throw rocks in the lake.

It was later in the evening when we made the drive further up the North Shore, almost to Grand Marais, where our lodge was. My biggest concern with this trip was Olivia sleeping in the second bed because last year, we had the pack n play and she couldn’t escape. Our lodge had a second bedroom, but was more of an open area, with a bathroom separating the two spaces where we all slept. We brought two pool noodles which we shoved on either side of her bed and she actually did pretty well sleeping in there by herself. Chris and I had to keep the TV low, but it all worked out pretty well.

The next morning, we walked over to the restaurant associated with the lodge for breakfast. It was sprinkling out, but we were hoping it would be over by the time we started our hike.

Then we drove to Grand Marais and made a pit stop at the doughnut shop because they weren’t open on Sundays, so we needed to take advantage.

Then the hiking began! The weather was cool, but it wasn’t raining anymore and was actually really nice.

And yes, that is socks on her hands. We underestimated the weather and didn’t pack any gloves. She was totally good with socks.

We hiked for a few hours (Olivia was obsessed with finding mushrooms from her perch on Chris’s back and would holler, “Mushroom! Right dere!” every few minutes, along with “You tell me if you see a mushroom, OK Mama?”

Lunch was at a brewpub and I had amazing fish tacos and Olivia had quesadillas. Chris had a flatbread and the only beer out of the group, which was really good. Then he took her back the lodge and I spent two hours shopping around Grand Marais by myself. Later in the evening, we ate at Sven and Ole’s who are famous for their pizza.

The next morning, after breakfast again at the restaurant, we decided to make stops along the way back to Duluth at different hiking trails along the shore. Our first stop was at Sugarloaf Cove and it was beautiful!

We took a short hike through the woods to get to the Sugarloaf, and while it was really short, Olivia was not wanting to walk. She wanted the pack, so Chris ran back to the car to get it while I tried to coax Olivia into a better mood.

It wasn’t working out well. But then Chris stuck her in the hiking backpack and she was good to go, shrieking out, “More mushrooms!”

At the nature center, one of the staff told us about Black Sands Beach that was on our way back to Duluth and said it was gorgeous there. So, of course, we had to check it out. And you guys, there’s a reason the North Shore restores my soul. The beauty here is just breathtaking. Pictures don’t do it justice.

We got back to Duluth after stopping at Betty’s Pies and then hung around Canal Park, feeding the seagulls again and walking around until evening when we needed to start the drive home.

Olivia found a little nook that fit her perfectly, so of course her mama probably fit too. And since I’m a sucker, I smushed myself in there. She thought it was hilarious.

We had such a great time. This was right before I started the medications for my FET, which by now we know, ultimately failed. I wasn’t sure if this was the last trip we’d be taking as a family of three because I was holding out hope that by this time next year, we’d have a three-month-old tagging along. But that ended up not to be the case.

I’m not sure what the next North Shore vacation will bring. Will we be missing it because I’m hugely pregnant? Or will we be going, because there’s nothing more holding us back? I don’t know. But this time together with my husband and my little girl was so cherished. This is what it’s all about.

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I love the North Shore. There’s so much beauty there and it truly is awe inspiring to see it in person. There’s a lot of parallels between the North Shore and the Pacific Northwest, but there is also a beauty there that one cannot find anywhere else. I’m so glad you went.

And now I’m craving Sven and Ole’s pizza….


Hah, so when you said North Shore for some reason I was thinking Hawaii…LOL
Clearly I’ve never been to where you live!
It’s SO beautiful. And I can relate so much to the saying that going with kids isn’t a vacation, because it IS a lot of work! But I also find it rejuvenating because of the beauty and nature and sounds that we don’t have at home in the same way. Also, watching my children as they dig happily in the sand does wonders for my soul.
So glad you guys had this amazing trip.