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The best of the North Shore remains the same
On the calendar, summer arrives June 20, but that’s not when summer begins. For some, summer starts when school is over, although it may not seem that way this year. For others, it kicks off with Memorial Day weekend. Gardeners know summer has arrived when the soil becomes warm enough to accept cold-sensitive seeds and seedlings. By any measure, summer should be here about the time you receive this issue.
We know that summer will be different this year. Along the North Shore, many businesses are easing back into operation as the state eases work and travel restrictions associated with “flattening the curve” of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their challenge is restarting in a way that is safe for staff and customers as the North Shore experiences the annual summer surge in tourism traffic. Various communities and businesses are approaching reopening based on their own needs and comfort level. In Grand Marais, most retailers are taking a slow and cautious approach. Some will open in early June, while others plan to wait a few weeks. Most stores intend to limit the number of customers allowed inside. Customers may be required to wear face coverings, which will be readily available at many businesses. While some folks may not want to wear a mask, we suggest you just go with the flow. It’s a polite way to show respect for others.
A big change this summer is the cancellation of all large events, including Grand Marais’ venerable Fisherman’s Picnic. Many organizations are figuring out ways to celebrate without gathering together. You can learn more about their plans in our Events section. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, paddling and fishing are available. Most lodging facilities are open, but you are advised to call ahead for reservations rather than expecting to find a place to stay when you arrive. At this writing, camping is allowed in the BWCAW and at dispersed sites outside the wilderness, but public and private campgrounds are closed except to seasonal residents.
Visitors to Grand Marais should know that the town is open for business. A two-year Highway 61 reconstruction project is ongoing. Expect detours, possible traffic delays and changes to downtown parking. You can find more information about the project in this issue, as well as a link to a website with current information.
While this summer will be different, the best things about the North Shore won’t change. The sun still rises over Lake Superior. Deep in the forest, you can listen to the song of the white-throated sparrow. The rivers tumble over waterfalls. The night sky is a wonder of stars. If you’re lucky, you may even encounter a moose.
Whether you experience the North Shore as a visitor or a resident, we’re all here for the same reason: we enjoy the beauty of this special place. Please be patient, calm and respectful of others. Sure, it’s different this year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to make it the best summer ever.—Shawn Perich and Amber Pratt