Looking for the Headwaters of the Cache River


By Chris Hoepker Print Icon Print Report View/Leave Comments (0)
Dates:August 23, 2003 - September 6, 2003
Entry Point:51 - Basswood River (Quetico)
Type:Canoeing
Lakes:Agnes, Alice, Anubis, Basswood, Basswood, Basswood River, Bird, Chatterton, Crooked, Ferguson, Iron, Kawnipi, Lac La Croix, McAree, McKenzie, Meadows, Minn, Montgomery, Moose, Russell, Shelley, Sturgeon, Sunday, Tanner, Wind

Posting Member's notes: This trip report is a copy of the diary written by my son Alex. My inserted notes are identifiable by being inside (parentheses) and initalics.

Saturday, 23 August

Grand Ely Lodge, in a room with a view of Shagawa Lake. I am incredibly tired and it stinks to pack eight packs. Anyway we will be moving soon.

(My wife and I had flown in to Minneapolis from Zurich that afternoon and met our sons Alex and Niki who had flown in from Sacramento.)

Sunday, 24 August

All of us being tired, partly jetlagged, packing took longer than expected and we ended up needing to be towed into Prairie Portage since the ranger station closed at 4 PM.

Alex at the Prairie Portage EntryFire Danger! Prairie PortageBeach at Prairie Portage

Against the advice of the ranger we went upwind against good sized waves in Bailey Bay and later suffered on a hot and humid portage into Sunday Lake. We found a great campsite with a big stone peninsula for good swimming and nice dinner. it will be Pad Thai tonight. Sounds good on an empty stomach.

Monday, 25 August

Niki slept outside last night, stargazing and enjoying the cool breeze from the Sunday Lake. He slept on a not particularly flat stone plate near the water and of course awakened with a damp sleeping bag and mat. The rest of us smoldered in the hot tent until it got cooler in the night . Of course peeing sessions were permanent.

Breakfast was soft Appenzeller cheeze on crackers. We left Sunday Lake to enter Meadows Lake and Agnes Lake with two portages underway. It was still humid, overcast and there was a slight drizzle. Our route was well travelled and we met at least three parties on the way. Agnes is as beautiful as ever. Clear water, long stretches of water and numerous beautiful campsites. And let's not forget Louisa Falls. We picked an old campsite of ours. A dear friend we had first picked eight years earlier after coming from North Bay. Two years later we took this site after coming from Louisa Lake (remember the campsite on the beach). Underway, Niki and Dad caught a smallmouth, which we will have for dinner. We won't need much since we had copious amounts of Billie Bear in tortillas. Toblerone finished our guts off well. We deserved it! Although our day was short, a swim to the nearest island fired up our appetites.

Tuesday, 26 August

We woke up early - around 0530 - and Mom was the first to take a try at the misty waters. We all followed and it gave us the jolt we all needed. Breakfast was cereal consisting of oatmeal, milk powder and water. It was an experiment for the elders and Mom, especially, did not like it. It wasn't exactly gourmet. The morning brought a 17 km paddle up Agnes Lake. It was up to me to navigate. Dad, of course in the other canoe, led and got us lost of course. I'll forgive him this time!

At Bird Lake we hit burned areas. New growth indicated that the fire probably dated back to about 1995. This must be the big burn we witnessed while camping on Agnes that first time in 1995. After finishing a portage through this new growth and being all hot we took a dip in the water and nibbled on some food. We had to fight a strong northeast wind on Kawnipi Lake to get into McKenzie Bay. We found a great campsite in the bay, a little elevated, with a good breeze and large stone plates at the waterfront. We are thinking of sleeping outside if the wind keeps up. Spaghetti was on our menu plan tonight with a Toblerone finish. We are eating well and plentiful this trip. The droppings behave corresponding. Well then, good night.

Wednesday, 27 August

We decided to sleep outside. Dad stayed in the tent and snored the night away. The night sky was beautiful, However, the wind kept us quite cool.

We started the morning with a bath in McKenzie Bay, had our portion of coffee, cereal or porridge and then packed up. Departure was delayed by Dad losing his Tilley hat. He adopted a pirate's look by borrowing Mama's headscarf for sun protection. Luckily, just before leaving, he found his beloved hat again - in the canoe. A long paddle through McKenzie Bay took us to an overgrown, green portage. After paddling on McKenzie Lake we were disappointed by an occupied campsite and then decided to have lunch on a nearby island. The island turned out to be a burial of some animal or human possibly. After spreading our pack over the grave and removing a board and especially after viewing some voodoo fetish bag on a tree branch, we decided it was time to leave. We spotted a decent but not great campsite further north. Niki then butchered the two fish that he had caught along the way. The fish and some Katmandu curry fed us really well. The curry looked suspiciously like digested curry that has at least once gone through the human cycle.

The north, northeast wind means a cold front is possible. We hope our day through to the Cache River won't be accompanied by bad weather.

Thursday, 28 August

I am shivering as I am writing these lines and my writing will be even more illegible. The weather indeed turned on us. The north wind brought big fat, wet clouds that poured on us early in the morning and the good rest of the day. Peeing was dreadful, the puddles building on our tent floor even more so. This tent, or at least its fly, sucks in rainstorms. Dad got up first in the morning and we heard him swearing about the tarp having been uncovered by the wind. I was the dummy who didn't bother fastening it properly.

The rest of us slept in until 10 AM and finally decided to have some breakfast. We had polenta with sugar and it gave us poor souls some warming. The rest of the day we spent arranging and rearranging our camp to either dry our gear or prevent it from getting wet.

Finally we noticed that the wind had turned. Now the wind was out of the south and turned into a strong west wind. These warmer winds should give us a fair chance to hit the river system tomorrow.

After having a fine serving of lasagna we cleared and dried our tent in the wind to get ready to hit the sack. Mama and I decided to cool off in the lake. The wind felt icy on our exposed skin and the plunge in the water sure wasn’t any better. After stumbling over the shallow areas and rocks we swam over to the other island. Water and waves were great. Like two Germanics we dried ourselves off with a wet towel, let ourselves air dry and then dived into our sleeping bags. We were tougher than the SEALS today. But let's hope for some sunshine anyway.

Friday, 29 August

The winds brought what they promised. Despite some cooler air masses, the sunshine felt really good. We got up late this morning and left around 10 AM. We quickly crossed the remaining stretch of McKenzie Lake and then entered Ferguson Creek. It was a good reminder of the Tim River in Algonquin - all the bends and twists one could ever hope for. Some stretches even carried us in the direction opposite to where we were going. We estimated at least double or triple the direct distance travelled in this river system. However, after only an hour we observed an opening in the landscape and a more developed forest vegetation. It marked the beginning of Ferguson Lake, which we entered through a field of wild rice that had already been harvested.

Ferguson CreekVal and Alex, Ferguson Creek

At this point we had managed to succeed over one of today's uncertainty factors. And that was the water level of the creek. The heavy rainfall of the previous day, however, made this a somewhat smaller issue. The second risk was the portage out of Ferguson into Cache River. We canoed along the shoreline in the hope of finding a reasonable trail. But there was nothing to be seen. Some hints of a trail got us into some bushwhacking. We finally chose a different waterway that would bring us closer to the trail. Guess what, it didn't. All it led us to was the shits and worse, Canadian backcountry, but not mosquitoes. The trail didn't exist, it was a remnant of a long overgrown route. This wasn't backtracking!

After giving up on a portage to the Cache River, we spotted the only campsite on Ferguson, in the south part and it was beautiful too. Not that the swampland encountered during the days' portage searching was that incredibly awful. I just prefer a comfortable and dry campsite to stretch out in. Niki exceed all his fishing records. He caught three Northern Pikes, some of which were 50 - 60 cm long. We fried them and ate them with curry and pepper. A rainstorm hunted us down immediately after our feast. We fled into our tent and released our swamp gas in our fart sacks. Dad and I decided to still appetites further with Japanese noodle bowl. It was delicious. That was all for today but we intend to get up early next morning.

Saturday, 30 August

Saturday morning brought us an early start. My breath was fog in the cold morning air. It was only 5:30 AM as we cleaned up and broke our camp. After some cereal and Supradyn, the daily but necessary energy break, we left the island at 7:30 AM. The two hours for breaking camp and getting ready seemed to become routine. We knew we had a long day so we paddled hard to begin with and only stopped to give relief to our full bladders. I think Supradyn is especially stubborn in this respect.

We paddled down Ferguson Creek while cutting corners, accelerating on straight-a-ways and finding the ideal route . Peculiar were the numerous cob webs that were now visible with the sunlight straight against us and the dew on the thin webbings.

After a blast down McKenzie Lake we arrived at the 'green' portage at only 11 AM. Averaging 6 km/h over a distance of 20 km. We are certainly conditioning ourselves.

The wet leaves and branches soaked my pants. The trail was as green as when we came through the first time - a real tree garden. Although we were fighting a constant west wind we got well into McKenzie Bay and finally camped on an island north of our inbound campsite. After a 28 km day we felt we deserved a swim in the Lake. Dad was shocked by the water temperature. The wind and the rainfall probably brought the temperature down by 2°C. It was certainly noticeable. We later picked a picturesque spot on a granite plate and slid into our sleeping bags. Just about when the sun brilliantly went down and shot red flames on nearby clouds, we hit the water a second time. That ended our marathon day before heading further west into the center of Quetico Park.

Sunday, 31 August

The night felt short, daylight came too quickly and rising at 5:30 AM was even more dreadful than usual. Dad left the tent first to light the stove while we were still waking and stretching to get ourselves in the mood of awakening. Camp was broken quickly and after some porridge and milk powder we hit Kawnipi at 7 AM. Kawnipi was inspiring this morning. The surface had taken on a metallic look. The perfect silver grey and dark blue colors with the sun giving the characteristic glitter and shining of metal. After enduring some side wind we enjoyed a good tail wind once Kawnipi turned slightly more east.

Leaving the portage and Montgomery Lake behind we got company on the portage into Shelley Lake. A couple from New Jersey introduced us to their technique of drying food. We even got to taste some of their pineapple and banana. After exchanging some hints about campsites and routes - the usual canoeist small talk and chat - we portaged into a puddle before entering a stream that should lead us into Alice Lake. The 'stream' was living hell - one could not call it a stream - it was as much a mudhole as I have never seen. Every paddle stroke pushed up a pile of mud as we were mud breaking our way further and further into one big freaking swamp. Niki and Dad studiously followed in our tracks since our canoe had to break a path in the mud-water mixture.

(The mudhole is actually an expanse of very shallow water at the west end of the unnamed lake between Shelley and the creek leading north into Alice Lake.)

A stony portage - although unexpected and not indicated on the map - was quite welcome since it led to better travelling. We were exhausted and drenched after finding Alice Lake with a decent little campsite to have lunch. My Dad was stunned by a giant white pine standing right in the middle of the campsite. We took its picture.

The afternoon brought some hot weather. We crossed Alice Lake and Chatterton and then finally arrived at Russell Lake at 4 PM on a beautiful sandy beach. We immediately travelled on to find an extraordinary campsite on the central island of Russell. It was marked by a tremendous granite plate and cedar trees while facing Chatterton Falls in the east. We had Wild West Chili - a spicy and dangerous extravagance. The night will certainly tell!

Monday, 1 September

The morning was covered thick in fog. After having breakfast we packed our gear on the beautiful granite plate that was almost level with the lake. But we were a little hesitant about getting off. The thick fog limited our vision to less than 50m. Finally at 8 AM we decided to leave and navigate by map and compass. We hugged the east shoreline of our island and then crossed Russell Lake blind on a northwest course to hit the shore to the right of the Maligne River outflow. The canoeing was mystical. Water and air became one, an empty space of cool and damp white water vapor.

Into the fog, Russell Lake

It was quite exciting, especially when cruising by a campsite with several people staring down at us in what I surmised to be amazement that canoes were coming out of the fog. Our orienteering was supreme - the campsite was just to the right of the river. We then found the Maligne River and exited Russell. Cutting through the cool air we shot down the Maligne - no portage as shown on the map - and entered Sturgeon Narrows. By now the fog bank was being moved around slightly by the wind.

Mama heard some noises in the woods. A flock of geese emerged from the woods and passed in front of us with great tumult. As we finally reached the main body of Sturgeon Lake the fog began to lift rather quickly and the sun warmed the air gradually. Sturgeon Lake was endless. After paddling several km west we were surprised to come upon a sand peninsula that from a distance off looked like a tropical reef and nearly blocked the way down Sturgeon. It offered a great place to stretch out and have some food. Unfortunately it was too early in the day to camp so we had to leave this little paradise and continue on down the lake. After another hour we hit the Maligne River. What a grand river! A short and gentle portage led us around the first rapids and two more followed. After each rapid I cooled off in the moving water below the rapids. I was able to convince Niki and Mama to join me. It was lots of fun to hop from stone to stone in the fast stream. The paddling was a treat. The current moved us right along and after safely running some short ripples and currents we hit Tanner Lake in the late afternoon. A bush pilot greeted us with his plane by ruddering to the left and right. Tanner Lake offered little in the way of campsites but we finally did find one at the end of the lake. The campsite wasn't great but we were tired and hungry and happy to have had such an eventful day. We had Alfredo del Fettuccine, although it really wasn't, and the usual chocolate bar for desert. Niki tried some fishing but was unsuccessful and we went to bed soon thereafter.

Tuesday, 2 September

We slept well with 30 km of paddling in our bones,. the previous three days have demanded their toll. We were getting weaker. My hands were swollen, my shoulders and upper arms sore from so many paddle strokes. Nevertheless, we rose at 630 AM but were immediately harassed by a threatening shower. We packed and had breakfast in less than an hour and then entered the Malign River anew. The shower never came, a dominant west wind persisted and cleared the sky of all threatening clouds. We paddled down the middle of the river to take advantage of the current and indeed we made very good time in spite of our aches and pains. Leaving the Maligne River we portaged over a series of little land divides that split our canoeing route into tiny segments. The map shows four portages between the Maligne and Minn Lake but we had to add at least two unplanned ones to that. It was tiring at but the creek was pretty. The red brown water was even darker than the Kawnipi Lake tea. Zero visibility down into the water made rock bumping and Kevlar marking unavoidable. The creek then took us into a tiny section of Lac la Croix, which we then left via a 460m portage that seemed more like 800m. This portage, which should have taken us into Minn, led to a little pond and then an unexpected beaver dam had to be surpassed in the aftermath, which then finally opened the gate for Minn Lake. Immediately a grueling head wind greeted us and gave us a hard time to cross Minn. We had to rest and eat at a sheltered campsites. Minn Cafe serving peanut butter burritos, an awful tasting calorie bomb. Peanut butter should be eaten on bread with jam.

After finishing the Wolf Portage into McAree Lake, a two-lane highway compared to some of the more demanding portages that we have managed in the past, we again fought a hard head wind heading further west. After a good km our arms certainly thought it was over but Dad and Niki expectantly turned back toward the portage. Had they perhaps not gotten enough exercise? This was crazy! But they only forgot their fishing rod. We haven't only lost physical strength and were now probably suffering from brain damage. We waited for Niki and Dad to return from their little journey and then raced up McAree while passing some fishermen with great pride. Again the same very hard head wind way the hell up McAree. But the lake was beautiful. It had a steep shoreline with grand stone bluffs and cliffs. Often cedars and white pines were thick right down to the shoreline. We hadn't noticed any campsites but there must have been many. Our goal was the beautiful eagles nest campsite on Iron Lake but we eventually decided to camp right before Rebecca Falls, only 2.5 km short of our destination. The site, however, was beautiful and the swimming was amazing, although a little chilly. The giant old growth red and white pines on this open spot were nothing but stunning. We had mountain chili in flour tortillas after a cooling and refreshing bath. We are now snoozing ourselves to sleep, exhausted from the 100 km covered since the east end of McKenzie Lake .

Wednesday, 3 September

Today was our lazy daisy day. We slept in until 8 AM, a late start for us early risers. We finally left at 10 AM after a good hot cup of coffee and tea and then approached Rebecca Falls. We got lost immediately after we started the portage on the island between the falls. A maze of trails led us in all sorts of directions and they all finally faded away and we found ourselves bushwhacking for the remainder of the way. I lost a few words about people who create such trails and then reached the other end.

Mama was now in charge of navigation. Today might just be our greatest adventure but we gave her good assistance so that we found Curtain Falls with little confusion. This historic portage was used by the voyageurs of the Northwest Company 200 years ago. Dad observed how the trail had been widened by placing large stones and that it was built generally level. It was a little nostalgic. Crooked Lake paid us back our suffering against head winds the previous day. It was a blast. A tailwind gave us a ride down the lake and the wind only increased as we continued. We were soon rolling on waves and then surfing down past Sunday and Saturday Bays. Unfortunately showers crept up behind us. We threw on our rain gear and protected the packs with our blue tarps. We were now dressed in the flashing colors of yellow, green, blue and violet as we were shooting down the channels. More showers roared upon us and the temperature plummeted. We chose a sunny break between the showers to have a quick lunch. It was the usual squirrel food and sausages. When reaching Friday Bay I spotted an island with a high plateau - a potential campsite! Mama and I checked it out and we were pleasantly surprised. It was great. The view down Friday Bay was astonishing and the elevated flat spot above the lake was ideal to pitch the tent and have dinner. It was mushroom pilaf and it probably was one of our best meals as well.

Crooked Lake Campsite, Alex, Niki and myself

The site needed improvement. I cleared it up by collecting dead trees and by just cleaning it up a little. We set up the tent with a tarp over the fly to have shelter from the showers and they came. We simply tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags and snoozed for a couple of hours. We are now having a campfire and enjoying the grand view over Crooked Lake.

Thursday, 4 September

And so it was again time to leave our campsite behind that was such a treat to have. Breakfast was now getting a little primitive. There was no sugar cereal left and our morning dish was now degraded to simple mush. It was energy nevertheless. We supplemented this tough food with oatmeal soup. Crooked Lake was very calm this morning. Paddling was made easy and we soon covered the east-west distance of the lake.

Crooked Lake

Fishermen were now getting more numerous, especially when hitting the narrower stretches in the north-south direction. In spite of the 20 km of Crooked Lake, it really did not seem that long. All its narrows and twists and catty corner travelling gave us short distance goals to shoot for. The scenery of Crooked also was spectacular.

This morning on Crooked, three little dark creatures crawled down a stone slope to quickly hop into the water. They were otters and it was funny to see how the parent otter led the two young ones that were following right behind her. They disappeared in the water. But we could see the air bubbles on the surface and I just got a glance at one of the otters that swiftly swam behind our canoe with its black streamlined body.

While fishermen are often big mouths, one fisherman at least had a real story to tell. At least I think it was believable. A bear entered his camp in the early morning and grabbed his pack, which was simply lying on the ground ready to be carted off into the woods. The bear did this and wiped out at least half of their food supply before the guy managed to chase him away. He was now fishing with his buddy this morning to replenish his food with some smallmouth bass. How stupid to let a food pack sit on the ground!

After lowland thick trees in the beginning stretches of Crooked, steep shorelines with awesome cliffs marked the channels at the upstream end of the lake. We soon passed Beaver Camp with its huge granite peninsula from which we spotted beavers in the process of building homes and dams. Lower Basswood Falls Portage was an early and short portage. We then passed the Horse River turnoff and finished off Wheelbarrow Falls. Travelling then became interesting., I saw Dad raising his hand just when turning east to find a bearing for a next portage. We stopped chattering immediately and there it was, what we had been looking for the past eight years, a family of moose, a mother with two calves. We stopped in amazement and just stared. They stared back. It was an alien encounter. We approached them slowly when the mother started to move back into the woods. After only very few steps she just disappeared. One of the calves followed. We then realized that one of the young moose had a crippled right hind leg. This was probably the reason that the family was moving so slowly and why we were able to spot them in the first place. It was curious, I think, and we got a good look at it. We then backed up and the calf tried to move too. On three legs it found it troublesome to climb up into the woods. It is doubtful that this crippled young one will make it through the winter.

We then moved on to our last portage of the day: some might consider a hike rather than the in between of waterways. An 1800m portage and it took a half hour each way. But the path was smooth an level, a true autobahn and so we blasted right through it to past the falls and rapids and finally ended up at Basswood Lake. The growth on the portage was incredible. We saw large rustic aspens that we could normally only see from the water.

At 5 PM we finally did our first paddle strokes in Basswood Lake after travelling on the USA-Canadian border for probably 25km along which left meant Canada and right meant USA. It was quite curious. We found a campsite on an island not far from the portage and immediately cooked up another Mexican meal. We even added another serving of pad Thai to make sure we wouldn't have to go to bed hungry.

Tonight I made a bear rope throw that probably is historic. The food pack clears the ground by 4m and is the same distance from the tree trunk and some 2m from the limb. There can't be too many people who secure there packs with these measures.

Niki slept outside again while we sissies made ourselves comfortable in the tent and soon found a good night's sleep.

Friday, 5 September

There was a heavy dew fell tonight and Niki's sleeping bag was soaked. We stayed dry but the tent fly was drenched. As I got up I was immediately reminded of a matter that happened to me before going to sleep. A tiny screw of my glasses loosened and dropped somewhere on the tent floor. We retrieved a thing as tiny as a microbe but the screw was forever gone. We searched for it like for a needle in a haystack.

While I was writing up my journal that I could not finish yesterday because of the late arrival, the others packed up and took a swim. The water temperature has now dropped in earnest. There must have something to do with all the wind and some of the rainstorms. We left late that morning with a flawless blue sky and an increasing southwest wind. This meant quick travelling east up the main channel of Basswood but slow and more tedious paddling after we turn south at United States Point. Because of some of my sunburns and the exposure to even more light this morning, I was heating up fast and Mama decided that I should dip in the water. I did so hesitantly but was very grateful afterwards. Thanks for your advice Mom! Isn't she always right? Instead of objecting to the headwind on the way down to Washington Island we welcomed it as a cooling feature. Mama and I always enjoy winds. It's good to feel that constant wind blast and the water spray on your skin. We were cutting through the rolling waves as they built on the sides of our canoe almost touching the canoe gunwales and ripping back again. After some good hard paddling in this brilliantly dark blue water we reached the first island for some shelter. We made a 180° bearing and took off for the next little island. It had two campsites and we picked the second one to call it a day. The camp had no flat granite plates but the grassy open spots and fluffy light green white pines and cedars made up for it. It was a meadow with plenty of place to sit and rest. The wind was still blowing and eliminated all hopes for bugs.

Lunch was a jumble of leftover freeze dried meals. We started with hors d'oeuvre of Japanese noodle bowl (2 servings). The spices were good, the noodles just had the right texture. Next was the entree: beef stroganoff. A flat out disaster. The taste of it was so lame we had to add so much salt and pepper it seemed unreal. There still was no taste. We finished it off and will fart it out later on. That's all there is to that. The third course was chili mac. Mac stands for macaroni as we soon realized. But although it clearly and unmistakably said chili, there was little to be found. The pasta was fine but the taste was nonexistent. Down my throat with this crap. By the way, we are planning to have more chili mac this evening. We will have to reconsider that plan. But there really was not that much left in terms of food. Squirrel food and jerky for lunch tomorrow. Some Maroni Migros Toblerone finished our unforgettable feast. Napa Valley Grill cuisine is now in order.

It was nice, however, to simply stretch out on a mat and have a little digestive help. We did so until shortly before sundown. We then got encouraged to take another swim. Mama led the way and we all followed. The persistent southwest wind kept the waves rolling and we bounced up and down on them when swimming a way out. It was again the ultimate relief. It does not only do the washing, but also takes care of bug bites and massages away your sore spots. Dad says it temporarily cures his sore back.

The moon was bright this evening. We decided to all sleep outside. We found a flat spot, tucked ourselves into our bags and stared up at the sky for a while. The moon gave a good light. I woke up after midnight and saw it disappearing over the horizon as an orange egg. I woke up Mama for the spectacle.

Saturday, 6 September

We rose early on our last morning. After finishing breakfast, all our food went into a little sack. All we had left was a half a portion of squirrel food, maybe two portions of oatmeal, two packages of jerky and two bags of soup. This was exceptional rationing and we really did not ration at all. The sun rose as a red fireball and Dad hit the water immediately thereafter. We followed him like sheep. The cool wet got us energized and we started to paddle down Basswood lake towards Wind Bay with a hazy sky and dimmed sunlight in the east. We soon portaged into Wind lake, past last years' island campsite and soon portaged into Moose Lake, the starting and ending point of our trip. We had done 13km of water and 5km of land travelling this morning in no more than 3 1/2 hours. We were well conditioned. Dad had told us the previous day he would drive us hard.

We unloaded the canoes first and then went for the car. But the white Toyota was dead - its battery was not only low but flat out empty. The thing didn't give a spark!

Canoe Country Outfitters, Moose Lake Base

We got a jump at the outpost, packed up our vehicle and drove to Ely. Again we had reserved a room at the Grand Ely Lodge. We took a luxurious spa bath and did some laps in the pool.

Sunday, 7 September

(Drove to Minneapolis and took got our fine meal at the Napa Valley Grill in Mall of America. The next day Alex and Niki got their flight back to Sacramento to start the fall quarter at UCD. Val and I stayed a day longer to shop and and sightsee in Minneapolis before flying back to Zurich.)