Last week I took a mini vacation, first stopping in Shoreview, Minnesota – just north of the “twin cities” of Minneapolis and St. Paul. There I visited family for a few days. Then I drove northeast to Duluth, Minnesota, also known, together with Superior, Wisconsin, as the “twin ports.” Located at the western part of Lake Superior, this is the largest freshwater port in the world. The Ojibwe call Lake Superior Gichigami, meaning The Great Sea. The French called her Le Lac Superieur, meaning Upper Lake. And that’s been anglicized to what most of us call her today, Lake Superior. Seeing the beautiful and majestic Lake Superior reminds me to highly recommend a book I recently read titled The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan. So good.
A handful of super-fantastic-awesome women friends live in the twin ports, and I stayed in Duluth with the strong, smart and lovely Carin, who acted as my tour guide and host. The first night we hiked to a park just blocks from her home with another friend. Hiking and mountain biking trails ramble through gorgeous woods and prairie. We stopped at a creek to rest and watch birds and tadpoles. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
The next day we drove up the north shore to Gooseberry Falls State Park. The north shore runs up the western side of Lake Superior, eventually leading to the Boundary Waters (GO THERE!) and Canada. Gooseberry is over developed in my opinion, but because it’s the first of many state parks along the north shore, it probably gets the most visitors, so I suppose development is understandable. It’s still beautiful despite the development. Here’s a pic of the grand Lake Superior from that park.
Although the hot sun made it seem almost warm enough for a swimsuit on the beach (but NOT in the frigid water!) I could still see steam from our breath as we chatted!
The next day we visited friends who live on a spit of land called Park Point that reaches out into the lake near the port. There’s one road on this skinny slice of earth and you can see the lake/port on both sides. Here’s a view from the backyard beach of one friend. Gorgeous! It was hard to walk away from this peaceful beach.
And another friend lives closer to the port. We heard the horn of a ship, so ran over to “Old Lifty,” the aerial lift bridge that allows boats and ships in and out of the harbor, connecting Lake Superior with the St. Louis River. It’s a vertical lift bridge, so the whole thing rises straight up. Here, you can view a list of all the ships that go in and out daily. Following are a couple pics of a huge ship passing through.
Seeing it live and in person was such a blast! Both seeing the bridge go up and down, and watching this huge ship pass by. All the boats and ships that this bridge lifts for go through a call and response routine with the bridge, each blowing their horn: long-short-long-short means to raise the bridge, and long-short-short as a friendly salute.
Duluth reminded me of a town I used to live in – Dubuque, Iowa. Both are old towns built on the hilly shores of big bodies of water: Duluth on Lake Superior and Dubuque on the Mississippi River. Both were originally homes of Indian tribes who were pushed out from their homeland: the Ojibwe in Superior and the Meskwaki in Dubuque. Both have some of my very best friends living in them. Perhaps that’s the best part.