Tag Archives: Minnesota

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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A morning at Itasca State Park

I always try to plan a trip to the cabin while Minnesota’s state flower, the showy lady’s slipper, is blooming in northern Minnesota. I believe they’re in bloom for about two weeks around the end of June and beginning of July(more information about our state flower and a little more information ). Itasca State Park is 40 miles from the family cabin and we went there the last weekend in June seeking the lovely orchid during our three day stay at the cabin. We hoped our timing worked and it did! The blooms seemed very much at peak. Score!!

There’s a spot near Douglas Lodge within the park where there are many lady’s slippers so we always walk down the many steps then back up again just to see their loveliness. But they also grow throughout the park and we drove around the entire park searching for them. Here’s a link to the map for perspective. We did find one small group of lady’s slippers, drove right past them and then I exclaimed “there’s some!!” so we backed up and I got out to photograph them. They really blend in with the scenery so are kind of hard to spot in a moving car but I did find one patch!

No trip to Itasca is complete without visiting the headwaters of the Mississippi. Yep, the mighty Mississippi River starts in Itasca which is a huge tourist draw. My first gallery contains general park photos as well as the headwaters.

In this next gallery are the photos I took of the group of lady’s slippers that we found on the Wilderness Drive. To me, it looks like this group is further along than the blooms near Douglas Lodge.

And here are the photos from the large group of lady’s slippers down the hill from Douglas Lodge. The colors on these flowers are more vibrant than the previous gallery, wouldn’t you agree? Very curious. Maybe it has something to do with sunlight or lack thereof.

I’ll close with some sunset photos from the cabin which is the most relaxing place on earth. If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, or if you live here, do plan a visit to this fabulous state park. There is something for everyone there.

I like that there’s still enough sun to form shadows in this one:

I think this is my favorite of the ones I took between three different nights(sans shadows):

And this is 15 minutes later than the previous photo. Look how much the colors changed in just 15 minutes:

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Walker Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis – Autumn 2019

Back to a local treasure, the Walker Sculpture Garden. It’s been a long while since we’ve visited and I’ve been wanting to go since it reopened in June 2017 after a renovation. We went on a sunny, early October day a little over two years since its reopening. Hey, at least we finally got there!

I enjoyed our walk about but I’m not so sure I like the changes. It seems that it’s not laid out as well as it previously was and that’s hard to describe. Sculptures are mostly arranged in various squares with other sculptures surrounding the squares. So, you enter one side of the square to get a close up view of the sculpture in there.  When you exit you only get to see that side’s sculptures making it a long walk to see the other sculptures on the other two sides?  Yea, like I said, hard to describe.  There is one Alexander Calder mobile on the western edge that felt like it took a long time to walk to. There also used to be a green house and that is gone.  There are, however, nice gardens that probably looked better in spring and summer but I tried to capture some of those. There still was some beauty to behold gardenwise and several flowers still blooming.

The Walker Sculpture Garden opened in 1988 but the history actually goes back to 1906 when the land that would become the sculpture garden was donated to the Minneapolis park board by Thomas Lowry. Lowry was a real estate magnate and head of the Minneapolis Street Railway Co.  His home was where the Walker Art Center now stands, adjacent to the sculpture garden.  There is the Lowry tunnel as part of interstate 94 close by and now I know who that tunnel was named for. Interesting!  The gardens contain more than 40 works of art on 11 acres and is the largest urban sculpture garden in the country.  I learned most of this from the Minneapolis Parks website.  Check out more interesting stuff at this link.  At the Walker Art Center’s website is a page containing photos of all of the sculptures as well as the layout. I grabbed the names of the pieces and the artists’ names from this site.

I was also curious how the Walker Art Center got is name.  Instead of summarizing here I will direct you to this link for some interesting history of Thomas Barlow (T. B.) Walker, a Minneapolis lumber baron who loved art.

I hope you’ll enjoy this photo tour of our day in the sculpture garden. I didn’t capture all of the sculptures but I’m happy with my samples. And it was a perfect, sunny day with gorgeous blue skies.

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Autumn 2019 – Twin Cities Minnesota

I’ve been absent for a bit as I traveled to southern California for my niece’s wedding. It was a fabulous weekend full of love and sunshine, a perfect day for a southern California autumn wedding.  It was a great time!

I’ll be putting together a post about other things I did that extended weekend, as well as other posts that are in the queue.  For now, I wanted to post some autumn photos from the twin cities before autumn is over.  So, without further ado, please enjoy these photos.

More photos:

And a couple of autumn flowers.

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