We spent the past 3 days in Duluth, MN. I have to admit that while of course I’ve heard of Duluth, it’s not somewhere I ever thought much about. In fact, prior to visiting I am not sure I could have told you where Duluth was, other than somewhere in Minnesota. Well that’s all changed. After 3 days of exploring we have a pretty good feel of this small city by the lake…and we like it.
For those of you who don’t know, Duluth is located on the far eastern corner of MN, right over the Wisconsin border and along the north shore of Lake Superior. It boasts the largest metropolitan area on the lake with a population of around 85,000 people. The city is built on a steep hillside with houses at the top, big city buildings along the shore to the east and and a large section of train and ship yards to the west. We took a drive along Skyline Drive high up in the residential hills and from there were able to look out over the city below.
Duluth experienced the worst flooding in its history this past June. Nine inches of rain fell in just 30 hours-overflowing river banks, wiping out streets, damaging bridges and even flooding the zoo where 14 animals drowned! The downtown seems fully recovered and repaired, but when we drove through the residential area we saw lots of buckled side walks, roads with huge cracks and gullies and even quite a few roads that were still closed to traffic. We went on a hike in a city park and the entire path was washed out, leaving behind what looked like a stream bed in its place.
Downtown Duluth has a friendly, touristy kind of feel to it with brick paved streets, bustling restaurants and cute shops. The waterfront has a boardwalk/ trail that begins at the Aerial Lift Bridge and continues 5 miles north to Lester Park.
We walked about half the trail starting at the waterfront and ending at the Leif Erikson Rose garden.
Do you know about this guy?
Yeah, we didn’t either. His name was familiar, but neither one of us knew who he actually was and why there is a statue erected in his honor. Apparently, this guy was the first European to “discover” North America- 500 years before Columbus. If you want to know more about this Nordic explorer you can read about him here or here, but the basic story is that he was born in Iceland, traveled to Greenland with his family, and later during an expedition discovered Baffin Island and the eastern coast of Canada. Leif is renowned by Nordic Americans and Nordic Immigrants to the US- many who settled in this very area. This statue in his honor was built in 1956 and later in the early 1980s the rose garden with over 3,000 different rose bushes was planted.
By the time we arrived at the park is was a little past 8 pm on a cloudy night- so the pictures are not so great, but they will at least give you an idea of just how many roses there were.
The garden was laid out in circles with long curves of rose bushes dotted with standard roses trees (or “roses on a stick” as Tim calls them) and surrounded by cedar hedges. A very formal design fitting of a rose garden.
Not a lot to say about the campground we stayed at in Duluth. Indian Point is a small privately owned campground located on the Saint Louis Bay. We choose it for the convenient location and amenities. The funny thing is that the two amenities we wanted, laundry and free WiFi, we never even used. The laundry room consisted of 2 ancient washers and 2 ancient dryers, one of which was out of order. I decided that a real laundromat would be a better bet. The WiFi was indeed free, but the speed was actually slower than what we got through our Verizon data card so we opted not to use it. Oh well, the price was right, the sites large and we were only minutes from the heart of the city.
I only took one picture of our site- it just wasn’t that exciting.
Today we leave Duluth and travel up the north shore of the lake. There are a bunch of state parks on the along the shore that sound cool. All the reserved sites at all the parks are booked for the weekend (no surprise), but there are a number of non-reservable sites at each campground so we are hoping to get a spot. If not, we will either drive inland a bit where there are more campgrounds, look for a private campground on the shore, or spend a free night in the parking lot of one of the many casinos in the area.
Since I can’t seem to write a post without including at least one food photo, today I leave you with a picture of the best melon ever. We got this cantaloupe at a roadside stand in WI for the whopping price of $1! It was perfectly ripe and juicy when I cut it open. Here you see it sprinkled with a bit of lime juice and fresh basil- yum!