Friday, July 31, 2009

Minnesota Excursions


Tuesday morning we awoke well rested and continued our cross-Minnesota-trek through St. Cloud and arrived late in the afternoon in Duluth. The scenery was lovely with its rolling farmland as far as the eye could see. We checked into our hotel and then headed out to the old base housing Capehart, the schools and local haunts I remembered; which you can read about here.


In case you are wondering I did Google the old homestead and found that the units sell between $119-$155,000 with the nicer units up on Bong Hill being the pricier of the lot. Some of the units even have pictures online and that was interesting to see as well. I still wonder if, in my old bedroom closet, my name is still etched on the inside wall. Probably not but you never know.

The next morning, on a quarter of a tank of gas, we headed up to Two Harbors to see the lighthouses and Gooseberry Falls. I found it remarkable that we lived in Duluth for 5 years and not once made it to these three 'tourist' areas.


video


I absolutely loved our time spent at the Split Rock Lighthouse. Loved. Loved. Loved. The views from the lighthouse were just as breathtaking as the views from the shoreline below. After climbing the inside of the lighthouse Tobey and I took the stairs down to the shore following the old Tramway and hiked back up the trail instead of taking the stairs back up. I overheard several wives chastising their husbands about taking the stairs back up and since Tobey didn't have his Ronco pocket crane I knew there was no way I could climb those steps back up. If you take a look at the pictures you will see a few shots of just how steep those boogers were.


There was a nominal fee to climb the lighthouse and we were required to wear day-glo bracelets while in the park. The lighthouse has recently undergone renovations and I learned that just recently they removed scaffolding that surrounded the lighthouse. One note of interest about the lighthouse is that every November 10th they sound the bell, light the beacon and read the names of those lost from the Edmund Fitzgerald. I silently hummed that song the whole time we were anywhere near the lake. "The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down..."

After Split Rock we headed over to Gooseberry Falls. If I am honest with you here and this blog is all about that, I didn't even realize Split Rock was near Gooseberry Falls. We were seriously running out of gas and we couldn't find Gooseberry Falls when we stopped and asked for directions. As always when you stop and ask for directions, if we would have drove 2 more minutes we would have seen the signs for the Falls and subsequently missed Split Rock. As it was I was petrified we would run out of gas in the middle of no where, so we went past the Falls onto Beaver Bay to get gas. That is when I saw the signs for Split Rock and we made the detour on the way back to the Falls.

There was no charge to enter the Falls and we had to hurry because once again, rain clouds were looming over head. I don't remember Minnesota being so rainy. And cold. Very cold. And it was summer. People even commented that I looked cold. Duh. Where was I? The Falls....


The paved paths leading to the lower falls were very crowded. Like Disney World crowded. With folks using walkers. We took a few pictures at the lower falls and quickly tired of being bumped around. We noticed that the middle falls was empty! I surmised the walker generation couldn't make it up that high. We enjoyed some time alone in the middle falls before everyone and their brother saw us up top and followed suit. We then decided to take the 2 mile hike to the upper or 5th falls area.

Living in Florida for so long I think I forgot what a waterfall was. Gooseberry Falls was magnificent even with the crowds. I think I could have spent days there just taking pictures. You can camp in Gooseberry and I have to wonder why as a child we never did.

The sky had continued to turn black though and just as we got on the path it began to spit rain. We turned around and following Tobey's keen sense of direction headed back down to the visitor's area. No, we didn't get lost. Not us. No way. *shakes head, yes we did*

Next we headed to the Two Harbors Lighthouse which was not hard to miss considering all the signs that were plastered all over the place. Once we got to the house itself we saw a Corp of Engineers walkway leading out to another little light and we made the trek out and took even more pictures. Did I mention it was cold earlier? Well imagine it being cold and then deciding to walk a plank a few hundred yards out on to Lake Superior. We are talking snow cold. Blizzard condition cold. And me in a skort. Summer? Yeah, no.

We hurried off the walkway and scooted on up to the lighthouse. We entered and paid the $2.50 each to climb the lighthouse. The sales clerk was less than enthused and I suspect people were just milling around the gift shop to stay warm and not climb the lighthouse.


This little lighthouse was quaint and also housed a Bed and Breakfast so some of the areas were not for the tourist lot like us. And not that I have a ton of lighthouse climbing experience it was the shortest climb to the top I have encountered yet. I think it was 24 or 25 steps, unlike the 4 million steps to the top at St. Augustine. Yes it really is 4 million, I counted as Tobey pushed from behind.

Since the lighthouse was so small we explored the grounds and ship's wheelhouse that was placed on the property after the ship crashed in the early 1980's. The two squealing teen girls in the wheelhouse made me long for home. Ok, not so much.



We then lunched at Black Woods on the main thoroughfare in Two Harbors. The actual food wasn't all that great though. Tobey had the grilled Walleye and apparently I didn't even read the description for my burger or I would never have ordered it: a breaded and fried hamburger. Think a Beef Wellington spicy burger with no where for the grease to go. Not good. The service was wonderful though and we did have the most delicious white chocolate raspberry layer cake which I think was one of the best things we ate on our entire trip.

With full tummies we headed back to Duluth and called it a night.


~ame

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