Archive for Duluth

Duluth and Ely, MN – Day 1

July 18, 2008


This little motel has wi-fi!


I’m exhausted, so I will make this short.


I cycled down to see the freighter go by, but it wasn’t on the monitor.  Unsure if it went by already or what.  Which is a shame, cuz I really did want to see how big it was and see the coal piled up…or is the coal enclosed [so that it doesn’t blow away into the Lake]?


I drove by Dylan’s house before I left.  I had read that it went up for auction a few years ago and someone paid a little under $100k for it.  It is a duplex [up and down].  I drove by and it’s in a part of town where the neighbors are working on their cars on their front lawns.


I drove back thru town, thinking I’ll see Duluth with new eyes, but it seemed even worse than I thought yesterday.  Best to stick close to the beautiful water’s edge.

I’m in Ely. Theresa and Rob own and run the place.  Long story short, Rob is going to take me out canoeing tomorrow morning.  He said: we can leave mid morning – around 8 or 9 am, OR we can leave at the crack of dawn.  Ahhh, 8 or 9 am IS the crack of dawn for me.


He has something planned out for us.  I told him that I have no idea what I’ll think…I may have had my fill after 30 minutes.  He seemed ok with this.  He thinks that 3 or 4 hours are just going to fly by.


I also told him that I’m OK with “being the babe in the front of the boat” and he can do all the paddling and steering.  He seemed OK with this too.  I told him I was serious.  Unsure if he realized that or not.


About 3 blocks away is Miners Lake.  I cycled around that.  Really pretty.  Lots of people walking their dogs, fishing, just sitting on a lawn chair watching the water, or getting their canoe/kayak in the water.


After that I hiked up to Kawishiwi Falls.  You could hear the roar of the water way before you could see it.  I had to google how to spell it, and saw that there is a youtube video of it.


Hiking my way to the Falls I came upon an older couple who had these head nets on [that covered their entire head].  I told them that that is what I need.  They told me where to buy them.  I’m getting one tomorrow.  Unfortunately it will be after we go canoeing.


Theresa told me that the Boy Scout troop that is here left the waters a day early – due to mosquitoes!!  I told her about the black flies, mosquitoes et al that were getting in my ears and orbiting my head the other day…and she said I hate it when they do that…it drives me INSANE.  Ha…that is the exact same word I used!

There is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial/Wall from DC that apparently is traveling the states.  It is here right now.  Lots of people taking photos of a name, or scratching the name on a piece of paper.

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Duluth, MN

July 18, 2008

Last nite at dinner, I sat outside listening to the busker sing and play his guitar.  I had veggie chili, so it kept me warm.  Then it started to rain, which I hadn’t counted on.

I met these interesting 2 couples, who were friends.  One couple lives near Minneapolis, the other in Round Rock, TX [which is just north of Austin].  During the winter, the MN couple visits/stays with their TX friends, and vice versa.  THAT’s how you can afford to have a summer and winter home!

The big freighter’s time got pushed back to near midnite.  There are no places near the water to sit inside and watch/wait. So I cycled and walked around until dark.

Trains bring in the coal, ore … from MT, Utah et al.  The locks at Sault St Marie are 1,030’ long.  Apparently there is one freighter that is 1,013’ long, and 31 that are 1,000’.  I really wanted to see it come thru, but am not going to be out and about in cold, rainy weather until midnite…especially when it could get pushed back even later.

There is a 680’ coal freighter that is supposed to leave today between 11 – noon.  So, I will soon cycle on down to hopefully see that go thru.

I must say, near the water, this is an incredibly beautiful place to be.  Especially at nite…when the lights on the bridges, silos, various structures are all lit up.  Cycling away from downtown along the water reminded me of Maine.  There are smaller cliffs [30 – 40’] with the waves crashing against the rocks.

I had cycled enough along the water and came up to the street to get back to my motel – which is just a ½ block from the water/path.  I came across a small shop with about 15 people standing outside.  Of course is had to stop and find out what’s going on.  It’s a malt shoppe!  I have forgotten to add to my blog that I have [once again] started eating my way, ice cream wise, across the country.  I chose a hot fudge malt.  $6.  It was exceptionally tasty – very malty and thick.

For grins, mapquest Ely, MN.  Check out the roads and water/lakes.

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Duluth, Minnesota – Day 2

July 17, 2008

It is around 6.30 pm Wednesday nite.  I came back to my room to change into warmer clothes, and thought I’d write up my thoughts real time.

I didn’t cycle to Dylan’s home, cuz it is 5 blocks straight up a steep hill.  There is no way I can make it up there, and then I don’t want to burn my brakes coming down.  I’ll go by tomorrow when I’m in my car again.

I cycled all around town.  It does absolutely nothing for me.  “Dirty” and dull.  The old timey downtown theatre is now a Gentlemen’s Club…with the flashing theatre lights [remember them?] on the marquee on.

I knew there was a trail along the lake, and also “shops” in a certain area [Canal Park].  For some reason, I assumed this would be touristy, and didn’t want to go down there.  However, instead of cycling back down main [Superior] street, I thought I’d go along the water. 

Oh my.  WOW.  Talk about a pleasant surprise.  There is a 5’ boardwalk along the lake, and also an asphalt path for cycling.  The view is spectacular.  Simply amazing. There are people everywhere.  It’s 5 pm and 65’ and just packed with people.  I have no idea where they all came from…more people out and about enjoying than I have seen in a while.  There is a sunken concrete old building that is turned upside down, and fools [teenagers] in the water swimming to it and jumping off. Lots of bridges.  Duluth is still a working port with coal, iron ore, limestone…  The entry way to the port – on one side is a regular looking lighthouse, the other side is a regular looking house, with a lighthouse on top.  Hopefully that makes sense.  This makes up the entry to the Aerial Lift Bridge and port.

I see the Shipping News sheets all over, so I pick one up.  It’s information re what freighters are coming in/out and the stats on them.  The “big deal” is a 1,000’ freighter that was supposed to leave at 4.30 pm.  There is an older couple nearby, so I ask them if they know if it’s left already and they said no…it should leave tonite around 8.30.  There is a TV around the corner that gives updates.  I commented on how many people were out and about, and they said this is nothing…wait a few hours.  People come by to watch the freighters go by and the bridge go up and down.

Re the Aerial Lift Bridge, I was trying to figure out where/how in the world it “breaks” in half to let boats et al by, which I couldn’t figure out.  ESPECIALLY since there is the “pilot”/bridge master house smack in the middle. 

Just then the horn blew and a ship needed to get thru.  The bridge raises and lowers/up and down…instead of breaking in half.  Pretty cool.

I spoke with the couple for a while.  They are here staying at the Univ of MN campus.  $30/nite and there are all sorts of free learning activities all summer if they want to participate.  There are 5, 9 and 11 week stays.  Their daughter and grandkids live here, so they are here to visit, and staying at the Univ gives them activities to do, and also their own space.  They are from Iowa and said most people are trying to beat the heat from southern states and Arizona.  They didn’t get flooded out, but their water supply got contaminated for 5 days.  The program they are staying here is only for Seniors.  It is called Summer Senior Program.

I cycled around the shops/restaurant area, and it is 100% opposite of what I thought.  Not a chain in site [except subway and Caribou Coffee].  Offbeat shops and restaurants.  The couple told me of a place to have dinner [Amazing Grace] that sounds perfect for me.

So, I’m blowing off the classical concert in the park.  Will put on winter clothes, head out to watch the big freighter go by. 

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Duluth, Minnesota – Day 1

July 16, 2008


Real quick…I’m in Duluth.  A town I could easily bypass, but logistics wise, I’m staying.

I didn’t have cell/internet service up to Duluth, and I anticipate I won’t have it for the next few days.  I’ll try to find wi-fi and get an email out.

I’ll send an email out later tonite, since I suspect it will be an early evening.  I am going to a concert in the park.

The best thing, so far, about Duluth?  I’m staying about 5 blocks from the house Dylan grew up in…til around the age of 6!

I’m off now to check it out.


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Bayfield, the Apostle Islands and Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth and Ely, MN

July 16, 2008


My plan for the next few days:

Today – finish driving along Lake Superior, lunch in the town of Superior, drive to Duluth

Thursday – leave Duluth and drive to Ely, MN which is in the Boundary Waters area

Friday – canoe and stay in Ely

Depending upon how much I like the area, I will stay longer, or head northwest to Canada.  I suspect I’ll be heading north on Saturday.

My main concerns re canoeing the lakes are:

Most importantly, I know I’m going to get lost.  I know this with 100% certainty.  The outfitters set you up with a canoe, gear, and a map.  And off you go. 


Yesterday I went kayaking.  I took the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island, which is one of the Apostle Islands.  I met up with Ed, who is an ex philosophy professor who moved to the island 5 years ago and started up a kayak business.  He looks very much like Ken Lay, but sexier.  I was going to kayak around the part of the island where his shop is, but he wanted to swim at Big Bay State Park – another part of the island. He said the water temp was 45’ degrees.  I believed him…it was ice water.  He wore a wet suit.  It was REALLY beautiful.  But, after a short while, I turned around to see what I have done and realized that I wouldn’t have been able to find my way back except I could see a foot bridge that we had to cross over.  If that wasn’t there, I’d be somewhat panicked.  [There were all these “fingers” – don’t know the right word – feeding into the lake, and I couldn’t easily tell which one I came from.]

In Ely, there doesn’t seem to be group “day trips”.  Ely has 22 outfitters, so I will figure this out when I get in on Thursday.  Even if I do find a day trip:

I’m thinking that a little canoeing will go a long way.  I know that I little kayaking went a long way with me.  Do I really want to be on the water for 4 or 8 hours?

And then…the bug factor.  If the black flies et al are out, do I want to be tortured for 4 or 8 hours?

So, will play all this by ear.


I do want to relay a couple Sexy Ken Lay stories.

As we were driving to and from the state park, he would raise his hand off the steering wheel to wave at certain cars. When we were close to coming back to his shop, he said that the other drivers think that he is waving at them, but he is really signaling to them to slow down.  I told him that he is the only person alive who knows that the International Hand Signal To Slow Down is to raise your index finger off the steering wheel and just lift it up.

Also, when we were driving to the state park, we drove past this man on a bike, that had one of those tagalongs with a girl riding behind him.  She was singing.

We stop at the park and unload, and up rides the man and girl, and she is still singing all by herself.  Simple joy.  How nice.

After I was done kayaking, where I brought the kayak to shore, she is there in just her underwear [she’s 7] and playing in the water.  The water is ice water, seriously.  But she is just playing away. 

She tells Sexy Ken that her name is Annika.  But he thinks she’s saying Chanukah. And he starts cracking jokes, which she of course doesn’t “get”.  She’s with her uncle, and he says it’s Annika [he’s not bothered by the jokes].  She has never kayaked before, so Sexy Ken puts her into the way too big kayak, with the way too big paddle, and gives her a lesson.  Within a few minutes, this kid is doing better than me.  Nothing like being shown [showed?] up by a naked 7 year old!

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Heading NORTH

July 14, 2008

I am headed NORTH to the Apostle Islands [Lake Superior] and then Duluth.  Have been told both areas are really pretty.

Near the Apostle Islands it’s supposed to be thunderstorms and the low in the high 50’s all week.  It’s sunny and nice is Wausau.

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