“Go not abroad for happiness. For see! It is a flower that blossoms by thy door”. – Minot J. Savage

We just returned from a week’s summer vacation “up north” in Minnesota near the Canadian border. We began our trip in Ely, a small town that is known as one of the jumping off points for one of the largest federally protected wilderness areas in the United States, the 1.1 million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area (BWCWA). The BWCWA is one of the most pristine wilderness areas I have ever visited and its extraordinary beauty and tranquility is unequal to any place I’ve been except the far reaches of Patagonia. Its 1,000 untouched lakes and streams, and 1,500 miles of canoe routes are like no other place on earth.

It was our third visit to Ely at the tiny Northernair Lodge that sits upon Mitchell Lake. As always, our stay was a peaceful, beautiful break away from the stress of everyday life. After a day of hiking around the different wilderness trails, we would grill dinner and then watch the sunset. Every night was magical. Here are a few of my favorites.

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour”. – Walt Whitman

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota“Only that day dawns to which we are awake”. – Henry David Thoreau

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

Northernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota“Learning to live in the present moment is part of the path of joy”. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Northernair Lodge, Ely MinnesotaNorthernair Lodge, Ely Minnesota

I am so grateful to have so much beauty right in my own backyard. Sometimes you don’t have to go far to find peace and tranquility.

If you go:

We love the Northernair Lodge. You can rent 2-5 bedrooms cabins right on Mitchell Lake, which is very undeveloped. I’ve seen loon, eagle and deer while kayaking around this lovely lake. There is also great fishing. Feel free to check out my other posts on Ely here.





  1. Beautiful pictures! Enjoy the rest of July and August in Minnesota, then return to the ten degree latitude of Costa Rica before the snow and ice hit.

    1. Thanks! I took all these with my iPhone and ran them through filters in Instagram. However with the proper knowledge of how to use my camera on manual the colors could have been this great if not better! 😁

  2. You are hereby crowned Sunset Shot Queen of WordPress and Instagram! I swear I have not even seen as many sunsets in my life as you have snapped in the last few years! I think it must be the lakes near your home and on vacation … I’ve been positioned amid buildings for so long now that an unobstructed sunset can only be had on a trip. So that bodes well for me as I set off on a vacation in a few months, I hope!

    1. Yay! I will wear that crown with pride! 🙂 I do love sunsets. Perhaps it is because they are easy to get right! I try to watch the sunset as much as I can because it makes me so happy. Where are your next travel plans Lexi? How is Houston?

      1. Thanks for asking, Nicole. Houston is great – I love it! I’m off to Pennsylvania, DC, and Chicago for much of August, and then Jeff and I head to Central Europe for a big road trip with lots of hiking stops in September! What about you?

      2. Sounds like fun Lexi. I’m so glad you love Houston. I have to check it out someday. Central Europe sounds amazing. What countries are you seeing? I don’t have much except weekend trips for awhile and then my Dad and I are going to Chile in late November. We will do some short day hikes around Santiago in the mountains and go to a few other cities. Wish we could go all the way south again to Patagonia! I love it there.

    1. Thanks Janet! This is where we went last year for our summer family vacation too. I love it but the mosquitoes this year were terrible! Tons of rain up north. One hike we were swarmed by them the entire time and it was actually quite miserable. They bit me even through four layers of bug spray! Oh well!

      1. I learned to paddle and handle a canoe on my own. I paddled the Potomac solo one day. It was awesome, but then I thought of the depth I was in. I soon returned to camp.

  3. Hello Nicole,
    Your pictures are beautiful and it must have been more brilliant time with your family there 💐

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