Tag Archives: Minnesota

Our last day on the North Shore

Greetings blogsphere! I’ve been documenting our trip to the North Shore last summer and we’ve reached our last full day. If you missed any of the first three days, you can find them here, here and here. Do check them out if you’re so inclined. We had such a nice time at one of the most beautiful spots in Minnesota. I still can’t believe it took me nearly 30 years to get there!

We awakened to clear skies!! And that made us hopeful that the Greenwood fire smoke blew away again for the day. Our plan was to visit the Grand Portage National Monument in the morning and then do our second hike up Oberg Mountain, the full loop this time, in the afternoon. Since Grand Portage was an hour from our hotel we decided to break it up by having breakfast in Grand Marais, the halfway point.

It was such a beautiful drive along the North Shore! I don’t think the photos do it justice but here’s one that I like so that you can get somewhat of an idea of the beauty along the highway. This was on the way to Grand Marais.

We breakfasted at the Blue Water Cafe in Grand Marais. It was pretty good and we enjoyed a beautiful mural of Lake Superior and the stained glass. And check out the funny sign by the restrooms. Grand Marais is a quaint little town that is well known for its artists.

Grand Portage National Monument: Wow!! A scenic place full of history near the end of the North Shore and close to the Canadian border.

It’s a step back in time to when the North West Company operated the most profitable fur trading business on the Great Lakes between 1784 and 1803. The original buildings were long gone before the site was designated a national monument in 1958. The land was donated by the Grand Portage Band of Minnesota Chippewa(Ojibwe), or Anishinaabe, the original people. There were originally 16 buildings which you can see in the photo of the miniature of the entire grounds. The Great Hall, kitchen, look-out tower and warehouse were reconstructed to give visitors a glimpse of the past. Today the warehouse displays historic items, including birch-bark canoes built by traditional methods.

We started at the Heritage Center which contains galleries about Ojibwean culture and the fur trade at Grand Portage. We saw tee pees made out of birch bark, an Ojibwe carrying a backpack and other interesting displays. We explored the buildings and I especially enjoyed the waffle being made by a volunteer in period dress in the kitchen. In the Great Hall we were treated to a bit of Irish bagpipe music by another volunteer who knew quite a bit about the history of the place.

After getting our fill of the history of Grand Portage, we headed back to Grand Marais for lunch. Then back to the hotel to relax a bit before heading out for our second hike up Oberg mountain so that we could do the entire Oberg loop.

Back to the gondola ride at Lutsen Mountain that I mentioned in my day 3 post. We were driving around a bit on our first day and ended up on Lutsen Mountain taking in the magnificent views. We saw people riding the gondola between Lutsen Mountain and Moose Mountain and decided that would be another great way to experience more scenic views. This was our last day to take that ride but by the time we returned from Grand Portage the smoke from the Greenwood fire had returned and it didn’t make sense to take that ride if the views were going to be obstructed by the smoke. So, we’ve saved that gondola ride for our next trip to the North Shore this summer. We’re hoping for smokeless views this year! I gave a sneak preview of the smoke on our hike, here are those photos again, plus a handful more.

We heard that the North Shore had lots of snow this past winter, and even into April, which means bigger, more voluminous waterfalls than we saw last summer. So, we decided to take another trip this summer to see those bigger waterfalls and visit a couple more state parks that we didn’t have time for last year. We booked different lodging this time, just to try out another place, and we’re going back the last week of June. I can’t wait!

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The North Shore day 3

Remember the smoke I mentioned in my previous two posts about our trip to the North Shore? Before I get to that, if you missed either of my first two posts, I’m doing a day by day synopsis of our trip. You can check out the first one here and the second one here. Brief recap: the Greenwood fire was started by a lightening strike a few days before we headed to the North Shore. Since it was about 40-50 miles from where we were staying, we almost cancelled and I’m so glad we didn’t! The smoke from this fire would come and go with the wind and we awoke to a smoky sunrise on day 3. I love the colors in this photo (taken by hubby) but it smelled really smoky.

We kept checking the air quality since our plan was to visit two state parks today. According to the weather app on our phones, air quality was moderate. After breakfast at Lockport Marketplace and Deli we headed out on the highway to Tettegouche State Park about 30 minutes south of our hotel.

Such an interesting start to the hike as the trail goes under the highway at the beginning. It was a long hike to a waterfall that is more voluminous when we’re not in drought. But at least there was water. And it was pretty. There were paths to other waterfalls and there was one sign that said 200 steps to the bottom of the waterfall which meant we had to climb back up these steps, so we passed on that one. It was a 1.5 mile hike to the High Falls of the Baptism River and it took roughly two hours to go and come back. We passed other hikers on our way back that kept asking if there were waterfalls. We wondered the same thing and we felt rewarded when we saw the waterfalls.

We stopped at Schroeder Baking Company and got some sandwiches to eat at our hotel while we rested and regrouped for our afternoon hike. We got to Temperance River State Park about 2:00 and of course we checked out the map! This hike was a bit more rewarding in that there were several waterfalls that we found. It took most of the afternoon for this hike. We got there about 2:00 and then back to our hotel just after 4:00. Lots of up and down and lots of treacherous spots. We couldn’t take our eyes off our feet too much to enjoy the views because we had to watch where we put our feet so as not to fall down and crack our heads open. Luckily that didn’t happen! And I did manage to get some good photos.

We had another picnic of smoked fish, crackers, cheese and salads in our room for supper. After all that hiking we didn’t feel like eating out. We had talked about taking the gondola ride on Lutsen Mountain for more great views, but there was no time today. The next day we had more time but it was not to be because day 4 was full of smoke which made for some one-of-a-kind photos! Not a great day to see the views of the lake from the mountain as you will see in the photos for that post that is coming soon.

We had an eagle flying by our balcony the entire time we were there. It was so cool!! And it was this evening on day 3 that I managed to capture him in flight, also very cool!! And so my featured photo is of our eagle buddy and I’ll close with the video that I hope you will enjoy. I’d advise to turn the volume down unless you want to hear my commentary. My next post will be about Grand Portage National Monument so do come back for that. Such an interesting place! We really enjoyed it.

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The North Shore day 2

Continuing my series of our trip last summer to the North Shore, and taking a break from the awful news of late…..time to focus on some beauty in the world, even if briefly. If you happened to have missed my first post about our trip to the North Shore, you can check it out at this link.

On day 2 we had a nice breakfast at Coho Café and Bakery and after a short rest in our hotel room we decided to check out Oberg Mountain. I mentioned our quest to find waterfalls in my initial post, but there aren’t any waterfalls on the Oberg Mountain trail. There are, however, fabulous views of Oberg Lake and Lake Superior. We had heard about our “namesake” (our last name is Oberg) mountain over the years living in Minnesota but until our trip to the North Shore, we had never visited. Finally we got the chance to check it out!

It was a great hike! So many people that we passed on the trail kept saying “great hike!” or “the views are so worth it!” It’s a somewhat treacherous path in that there are many tree roots poking through the ground so you really have to watch your step for those sections. Even so, it’s hard to keep staring at the ground and both of us occasionally would trip over some of these roots. It’s also a gradual climb up the mountain so it’s all uphill, at least on the ascent.

We’ve been asked if we’re related to the Obergs for which the mountain is named. I was pretty sure we weren’t but I did some googling to find out who it was named for. Nothing terribly exciting, unless you’re part of this Oberg family. It was probably named for a commercial fishing family living near Lutsen at the turn of the 20th century. My husband’s grandfather had changed his name from Johansen to Oberg when he came to the United States in the early 1900s. And my father-in-law’s brothers did not live in Minnesota so I was pretty sure there was no relation.

We were actually a bit dumb on the first hike of our North Shore adventure. We were so excited to head up the mountain that we forgot to look at the map of the trail. We didn’t realize that Oberg “loop” actually was a loop that went all the way around the mountain. We figured that out after returning to the parking lot and looking at the map. Of course we had to go back another day to do the entire loop. Unfortunately, or fortunately I guess depending on your point of view, our second trip doing the entire loop was full of forest fire smoke from the Greenwood fire. The fire started by a lightening strike several days before we headed north. We almost cancelled but decided to go anyway and we’re so glad we did!! The wind would blow the smoke in and out so thankfully it wasn’t smoky the entire time. This is why there are some photos with and without smoke. What beautiful places the North Shore and Superior National Forest are!! So serene, calming and relaxing.

Included in this gallery are a few photos from our smoke-filled hike a couple of days later to show the contrast with our first trip up Oberg Mountain. The smoke made for some eerie-looking photos!

In my next post I’m going to include photos of the waterfalls that we found, so I hope you’ll come back for that. In the meantime, please enjoy my gallery of our hikes up Oberg Mountain, a few others from Lutsen and the moon rise over Lake Superior our second night. So beautiful!!

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The North Shore of Lake Superior

I’m finally getting back to posting about our trip to the North Shore. I had started this post a month after our trip but it’s been sitting in drafts all this time.

I’ve lived in Minnesota nearly 30 years but until last summer, I had never visited the North Shore. “North Shore” is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not the north shore of Lake Superior, rather it’s north of Duluth and forms the northeast side of Minnesota. But technically this section of Lake Superior is really the western shore.

When it looked like the pandemic might have been on its way out of our lives last May, we decided to travel within Minnesota because neither of us wanted to travel by air just yet. I began looking for places to stay and already places were booked up! But I did find a place right on the Lake where every room has a balcony and a view of the lake. Cliff Dweller was perfect! It was so nice to listen to the lake lap against the shore as we fell asleep. And the location was great for exploring the area.

We nearly cancelled because of a fire that started from a lightening strike the Sunday of the week we were traveling there, the Greenwood fire in the Superior National Forest. But we decided to go and take our chances. The fire itself was about 40 miles from where we were staying so we felt we were fairly safe from the fire. But it did become the focal point of our time on the north shore as the winds would change and bring smoke to the shore at times. It made for some eerie-looking photos!

I attempted to see if the fire ever went out but I didn’t search too long. I did find this post with an interesting video about the fire so if you’re inclined, do take a look. While it shows the damage done, it also reveals the beauty of the area. I would imagine that the snowfall this winter did put out the fire.

We went on several hikes in search of waterfalls. I had seen something on Facebook from the Department of Natural Resources that there were indeed waterfalls, that reports of no waterfalls were not true. Minnesota has been in drought all summer which I guess prompted conspiracy theorists to create nonsense. Typically the best views of the waterfalls are in spring after the snow melts, but there were still lovely views to be had, even at the end of summer and during a drought.

Mostly we went on hikes in state parks. The first one we visited was en route to our hotel the first day. Check-in wasn’t until 4:00 so we set out about 10:00 with a few stops on the way. First stop was lunch in Duluth at the Blackwoods Grill. We had been there years ago so we knew it was a good spot. And its location at the beginning of the scenic portion of highway 61 was perfect! It was a nice break from being in the car.

I had never been north of Duluth so I was pretty excited to finally see the North Shore! I read about Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse which was right along the way on our drive to the hotel. We decided to get some smoked fish and brought some salads and cheese and crackers to have a picnic in our room. We thought this would be a great way to unwind from a long day of driving. We were right! It was perfect. Oh except I forgot to grab some paper plates. I remembered forks and spoons and napkins but not plates. But we made do and the fish was great!!

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park was next on my list of places to see on the way to our hotel. And it didn’t disappoint. Here’s something from their website explaining why the lighthouse was built:

A November gale that wrecked nearly 30 ships in 1905 prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. When the U.S. Lighthouse Service completed Split Rock Light Station in 1910, it soon became one of Minnesota’s best known destinations.

Nestled in a Minnesota State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most photographed and visited spots in the state, with a drama-filled history and breathtaking Lake Superior views. If you haven’t visited lately, now is the time to pay homage to a true North Shore icon.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 but the lantern is still operational. Every November 10th there is a lighting ceremony to commemorate the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. Music lover readers will remember that Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song about this disaster.

I decided to do a chronological posting of our trip so this is the first one. I’ll close with a gallery of photos that I hope you will enjoy. Please come back for more posts about the North Shore coming soon! Click on any photo to see the gallery with larger images.

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Minneapolis Institute of Art – an out of the ordinary visit

We love MIA and go at least once year, sometimes more if there’s an interesting exhibit. For our most recent visit in October I decided I wanted to check out a couple of galleries that I’d never ventured into before. I studied the map and chose gallery 316 as one to visit this time. I took a Friday off so we were able to get there when they opened. We even found a spot on the street in front of the museum.

Gallery 316 happened to have a captivating display of psychedelic posters from the 60s. I chose a great gallery, score!! The rest of what we saw at the museum were bonuses. Click on any photo to open the photo galleries in this post to view larger images.

I chose the Parska/Shada exhibit as another gallery to explore. The exhibit opened in August 2021 and will run through April 2022. It was a room full of pueblo art from New Mexico and what sounded like a pow wow being played on overhead speakers. There were drawings, pottery, mantas and one bronze statue. It was so interesting and it made me want to explore New Mexico.

Here’s some information that I copied from MIA’s website that tells you a little about this exhibit:

Explore Mia’s collection of Pueblo art highlighting Keresan, Tewa, Towa, and Hopi voices and culture. Curated by Juan Lucero (Isleta Pueblo), Mia’s Mdewakanton Native Art Fellow, this exhibition transports visitors to the oldest villages in the United States for a parska (in Keresan) or shada (in Tewa) community dance. Over 40 works of art—watercolor paintings, bow guards, manta weavings, ceramics, and Hopi katsinam dolls—come together to create one ceremonial spirit. Through the breath of memory and longing, you can experience the emotions of distant drums and songs as you travel from Grandma’s house to the ceremonial plaza. There, sights and sounds create kinship, family, and tradition to be handed from generation to generation.

Some photos of the pueblo art:

We popped our heads into a couple of period rooms. I enjoy being transported to a different time when viewing these rooms. As we walked past the impressionists, which we always visit except this time, I caught sight of a Degas ballerina statue and just had to go look. I love these statues. There are more of them at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and I always see them when I’m there. I was curious if there were more of them and learned that after the death of Degas in 1917 his heirs found more than 150 figurative sculptures in his studio. His heirs authorized that copies be made in bronze to sell to museums. But I couldn’t find where all of these sculptures reside. I found this information on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website so click on the link for more information if you like. I knew of one other of these Little Dancer sculptures that resides at the Saint Louis Art Museum from my officemate at the University of Minnesota. She saw one of my photos on my computer’s desktop wallpaper one day at work and said she knew that the sculpture was at the Saint Louis Art Museum, except the one in my photo was from one of my trips to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It seems one could write an entire post on this one statue! Instead I will link you to the Wikipedia page should you desire more information.

Across from the ballerina is another Degas, Woman in a Bathtub. While admiring this piece a security guard approached us and told a story of how he watched Bruce Dayton lift this piece out of his trunk many years ago and how amazed he was that he could do that! The piece was donated by Ruth and Bruce Dayton but the security guard wasn’t sure if that was the day it was donated. Such fascinating people you meet along the way and he shared his unique story with us. Cool!

We also stopped by the gallery called Judaica, a small section containing Jewish artifacts such as dreidels, menorahs and noise makers used for Purim. To view all of the items in MIA’s collection, click here.

I decided to take photos of the museum itself: the entrance, the long staircase between the first and second floors and other areas of the museum. Not only is there great art displayed throughout, the museum itself is a piece of art. Also included in this gallery are other pieces along the way that I found intriguing.

Lastly, a photo of Chihuly’s Sunburst. Always a joy to see at the entry. You get to see it both as you arrive and when you leave, as well as from the staircase. It is definitely prominently placed. I always recommend this museum so if you’re in the twin cities area, do pay it a visit.

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Minnesota State Fair in pandemic times

This was such a different year for the fair. We did not have the fair last year due to the pandemic so we were glad to be able to go this year! I’m still working through how I want to create posts about our North Shore vacation in August so in the mean time I thought I would add my state fair post.

We always take a free bus to the fair and this year masks were mandated on the bus, except that they weren’t enforcing it, at least not on our bus. I counted 8, mostly young people, not wearing masks.

I decided to wear a mask while in the buildings and my daughter wore hers most of the time. It wasn’t my favorite visit to the fair due to the continuing pandemic but I’m glad we went. Normally we go more than once since it’s held for 10 days ending on Labor Day. I was just too uncomfortable to go another time.

I thought I would share some photos of our day and I’ll start with the photos from the art building. We always check out the art and this year was no different, except for the masks. This gallery displays some of my favorites. Click on any photo to open the gallery and view larger photos:

Next, a few Peanuts statues that live at the fair:

We always visit the agriculture building and especially the crop art. But the line was long for the crop art, my daughter had to get to work and I felt uneasy being in that room with so many people, so we stepped out of the line. So we didn’t see much crop art this year but I did capture a couple of them on our way out. Here are the scenes from inside and outside of the agriculture building:

Next, a few more fair scenes. Hubby and daughter decided to go on the big slide and I wish I had captured hubby’s face when he got to the bottom. If I had to describe it, I think it would be something like “whew, I made it!” Later he said that was probably the last time he’ll go on the slide. He said he got a little scared when he was air-born at one point. The first photo is a band we always stop to see on opening day, Darlene and the boys. I am pretty sure I have seen the older couple dancing in years past. In this photo the older couple is teaching the younger couple some dance moves.

I’m hoping next year I’ll feel more comfortable to do more of the things I enjoy at the fair. We didn’t make it to any animal buildings, for example. And no shopping at the grandstand. I just wanted to minimize my time inside buildings so ended up limiting that to the art and ag buildings. Again, I’m glad we went but I’m sure hoping for a more “back to normal” fair next year.

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Back to the 50s

I’ve lived in the twin cities for nearly 30 years and I’ve never gone to Back to the 50s! An old bandmate of hubby’s was performing with her current band, Super Modified, at the Pin-up Contest so we decided to finally attend Back to the 50s and see her band too. Since this event is always packed, we decided to take public transit to avoid the parking mess. We parked at Rosedale and got on the A-line for $2.00 each. And we managed to see everything we wanted to see before our bus tickets expired for our return trip. Whew! And we were right about the parking mess. The bus dropped us about a block from the entrance and the bus driver scooted by all those cars in line to park.

This event occurs every year on the last weekend in June and is sponsored by the Minnesota Street Rod Association. I live close to the fairgrounds so have always seen the cars driving around. And in years past when I worked on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota I’d see many cars on the streets and I felt like I didn’t have to pay admission to see the cars. But it was fun to be on the fairgrounds viewing all those cool cars. Of course there were food and beverage vendors, but curiously no benches to sit on. I did notice, however, that many fair goers brought their own portable chairs.

Check out some of the cool cars we saw!

A couple more photos, one of the Pin-up Contest winner and the band we saw, Super Modified:

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