Tag Archives: travel

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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Gibralfaro, Málaga

Gibralfaro, the “elusive” castle that we hadn’t managed to get to on any of the last 3 trips to Málaga for various reasons. But we made it this time! And I’m so glad we did. If you missed any of my previous posts about our most recent trip to Spain in September 2019 you can check them out at the following links.  My first post is here.  A post about the food we ate is here. And one other post about the Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción in Málaga is here. I have a couple more posts lined up for the future so I hope you’ll come back for those.

Gibralfaro castle is connected to the Alcazaba (the fortress) below. You can get a combined ticket for both or a ticket for just one or the other. We chose the combined ticket as we love the Alcazaba and thought we could walk down from the castle right into the Alcazaba. Well, maybe you can but apparently there is another path that takes you to the bottom of the hill and outside the Alcazaba. That was the path we took.  Since it was a hot day and we toured the castle grounds first, we decided to skip the Alcazaba in favor of refreshment at El Pimpi. El Pimpi is a very touristy restaurant but we really enjoy it as we sit on their patio with a view of the Teatro Romano (Roman theatre) while watching the world go by.

Below is a paragraph taken from this site as I wanted to include a little of the history here. I’d rather not rewrite what others have already written so well.

The castle was built in 929AD by Abd-al-Rahman III, Caliph of Córdoba on a former Phoenician enclosure and lighthouse, from which its name was derived – gebel-faro (Arabic and Greek, meaning rock of the lighthouse). Yusef 1, Sultan of Granada, enlarged it at the beginning of the 14th century, also adding the double wall down to the Alcazaba.

Wikipedia has a little different take about where the name Gibralfaro comes from as well as information about the famous battle in 1487:

The name is said to be derived from Arabic, Jbel, rock or mount, and Greek the word for light, Jbel-Faro, meaning “Rock of Light”.[2] The castle is famous for its three-month siege in 1487 by the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, which ended when hunger forced the Malagueños to surrender.

Do click the links for more fascinating history of the place! The first link contains information on what you can see today if you visit. It mentions three ways to get there but we took a city bus #35 and that worked great.

I found one other link that looks like a blog post and that was fairly informative as well.

And of course we took photos! Once again I’m combining my husband’s photos along with mine.  I hope you will enjoy the tour through our lenses.

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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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Spain, revisited

We just returned from many adventures in Spain and I’d love to tell you all about them! We spent six nights in Málaga then three nights in Madrid.  It was magical and frustrating and beautiful and all of these things.  This was our fourth trip to Málaga and we got to explore the city further and visit new places like the automobile museum and the Jardín Botánico and we finally got to Gibralfaro, the castle at the top of the hill above the alcazaba.

It was sunny and in the mid to upper 80s every. single. day.  Hubby was in heaven, it was a tad too hot for me. But you put your hair up and just make sure you’re hydrated and take lots of refresco breaks. Because of the heat we did not go to the Alcazaba as planned and ended up paying for it but not using the ticket. We took the bus to Gibralfaro then walked down and we thought it was the trail that lets you into the alcazaba. Nope. By then we’d already climbed in the heat and we’d have had to climb up into the alcazaba. No. Time for a refresco at Pimpi. That’s the huge restaurant right next to the teatro romano. They have a nice patio and after climbing around up at the castle, the timing was good and we sat right down, ah……

We had a variety of meals and tried different breakfast items this time and made time for two of our favorite churros places.  Of course we had tapas many times and several boquerones en vinagre as that is hubby’s favorite. I tried several ensaladas mixtas (mixed salad) and my favorite, hands down, is Cafe Varela’s in Madrid. We saw a fantastic flamenco show in Málaga and it included a sampler of tapas and the food was great!! So was the flamenco. I’m so glad we did that.

We saw lots of art.  We love art. I read about and saw photos of urban art in the Lagunillas area of Málaga, to the east of Plaza de la Merced. Not the best neighborhood but they didn’t seem to mind us taking photos of the art. We naturally went to the Picasso museum in Málaga. We always go there. We love that museum! We also went to the Pompidou in Málaga, then the Reina Sofia and the Prado in Madrid. Lots of art!!

We were celebrating hubby’s retirement with this trip and we wanted to see if we could tell if we’d like living in Málaga. I do still love the city but I am no longer sure that I want to retire here.  We are rethinking our retirement plans and perhaps we spend 3 months in Málaga each year then do something else the rest of the year.  We’re able to stay for 90 days with our passports whereas if we retired there we’d have a lengthy retirement visa process. So, more to think about.

I’m going to create other posts of our trip but for now, I thought I’d share some highlights of our 10 day adventure in Spain. Be on the lookout for some more posts about España!

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Summit Avenue Walking Tour, St. Paul, MN, June 2019

Last weekend my friend Ruth and I went on a Summit Avenue walking tour in St. Paul and I wanted to share photos and what I remember. It’s a 90 minute tour of some of the biggest and oldest homes on Summit Avenue that starts at the James J. Hill house.  We walked maybe a mile total and heard histories of several homes.

We learned the James J. Hill house was the most expensive house on the Avenue at the time.  The enormous mansion cost $1,000,000 to build in 1891, about $2.7 million today. Throughout the tour our guide would tell us how much each of the houses cost to build and the James J. Hill house far surpassed every other house we viewed.  One can’t help but notice the dark stones on this house. It was due to coal being used to heat the homes at the time. Our guide spoke of an attempt to clean the stones using a sandblaster and how that damaged the stone, so they stopped doing that. It sounded like cleaning these stones was low on the priority list of upkeep for this house.

James J. Hill was the guy who created the Great Northern Railway between St. Paul, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington.  He made a fortune in the railroad business and was able to build the home of his dreams.  The tour of his ornate mansion is also worth a visit. I took the tour shortly after I arrived in Minnesota 27 years ago.  I think it might be time to take that tour again. These two photos were taken at the same time but I lightened up the second one:

One of the themes of this tour was money because all of the houses on the tour were owned by the wealthiest people in St. Paul.  Our guide told us how much it cost to build each of the houses on our tour. It’s so interesting especially in today’s market.  Towards the end of the tour we saw Hill’s carriage house(260 Maiden Lane) for the mansion across the street. It’s been converted into condos and one of them sold for $800k recently. We all wondered what Hill might think of this, that one third of his carriage house is worth nearly as much as he paid to build that huge mansion across the street.

Next door to the Hill house was the home he built for his son Louis, apparently the favorite son.  Along the way our guide mentioned the many styles of the houses and you could see that each owner selected styles that appealed to them.  I don’t remember all of the styles mentioned but Richardsonian Romanesque was one that was repeated a few times. The Hill house is in this style. Others mentioned were Queen Anne and Italianate.  The following gallery contains the first several homes that we looked at, including the oldest standing structure on Summit Avenue built in 1858 at 312 Summit.

There’s a bit of a story about these next homes. They are called the Leitner and the Leitner-Young homes. These two owners were lawyers together and our guide joked that they must have liked each other so much they lived in a double house together(322 Summit). Some years later, Mr. Leitner had another home built right next door. Had enough of Mr. Young and family? Hmmm.  There is also a tunnel between the houses.

The following gallery contains photos of the next homes that we viewed.  Our guide pointed out that on the left side of the large red stone house the carriage area had been converted to a garage.  She pointed out the white house across the street(365 Summit) as this one’s her favorite on Summit Avenue. She likes that it’s the only white house on Summit and that it’s the first house on Summit Avenue that was owned by a female, Martha Bass.

We rested a little bit at “Lookout” Park, or Summit Overlook Park, which offers a nice view of the Mississippi river valley below as well as The University Club, a very exclusive club. It was even more exclusive during the time all the mansions on Summit Avenue were being built. In order to become a member you had to be a white male with an Ivy League education. So James J. Hill, who had only an 8th grade education but was one of the wealthiest men in St. Paul, could not become a member. But his son Louis, who went to Yale because his father wanted him to have the best education, could become a member.  Irony of ironies that.

After our short rest in Overlook Park we crossed Summit and our guide took us down Maiden Avenue(parallel to Summit), so named because the female servants for the wealthy people along Summit Avenue lived in row houses here.  We passed the building named The Commodore  where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda resided when their daughter Scottie was born. This was also where many gangsters lived during Fitzgerald’s time. Check out this interesting article about those gangsters that I found on MinnPost. I had never heard of The Commodore before but Ruth had been there for a wedding reception and said it was very nice. I think I may have to check out the restaurant soon!

The tour ends at the St. Paul Cathedral which was designed by Cass Gilbert, a prolific architect who also designed the Minnesota State Capitol as well as the William Leitner house at 318 Summit noted above. Both Ruth and I really enjoyed this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys architecture and/or the history of  some of the wealthiest people of St. Paul.  While doing research for this post I came across several interesting articles that I’m going to link here for anyone that would like to do further reading. Within the first link there is a photo of the oldest house on Summit (at 312 Summit) covered in ivy, quite the contrast to how it looks today.

Summit Avenue History: The Story of Saint Paul’s Famous Street

Another Summit Avenue walking tour

 

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National Gallery of Art and National Portrait Gallery

I’m working my way through my posts about our trip to Washington, D.C.  I did a sum-up of nearly everything we did and another post about the great food that we had,  one political cartoon exhibit , so this time I want to highlight the art that we saw and experienced.

I had been to the National Gallery of Art before but never the east building.  This trip I saw both and what a treat that was!  My first visit was our second day in town.  We had just had a little lunch at the Pavilion Cafe then walked through the sculpture garden en route to the 7th Street entrance of the west building.  As I said in previous posts, the heat was just awful so we ducked into the west building on our way to the east building to avoid said heat. I had read there was a path between the two buildings.  We just followed the signs and voila!  A darkly painted tunnel with lights everywhere made us feel like we were on a ride at Disneyland.

We made it all the way to the east building in that nice, cool air conditioning.  The museum is unique due to its airy and bright atrium in the center.  There are pieces of art along the outer walls as well as hanging from the ceiling in the atrium.  It’s quite calming walking around and visiting the art galleries.  We saw Picasso, Braque, Stieglitz, O’Keeffe and Matisse, to name a handful.  We saw others too but I’m not remembering them now.  At the end we happened upon a piece that contained a mirror so I had hubby stand in front of it while I took that photo.

This first gallery shows some sculptures in the Sculpture Garden and some of my favorites from the East Building:

We visited the National Portrait Gallery with my sister and nephew.  Even after living in the area for a couple of years and my many trips to visit my sister and mother, I had never been to the Portrait Gallery.  When I saw photos and read about the Obamas’ portraits, I knew I had to see them in person so I included this museum on my list of “must sees”. It definitely exceeded my expectations!  The Portrait Gallery has four floors but we only had time for the second and third floors.  We also went to the gift shop on the first floor because you have to visit the gift shop!  Okay **I** have to visit gift shops.

The presidential portraits are on the second floor so we started there.  The portraits are laid out in numerical order in an open floor plan and you weave your way around to see them all.  There were other paintings beyond this area but since we had lunch reservations and I wanted to see Michelle Obama’s portrait, we headed up to the third floor where her portrait resides.  There are many other galleries on both the second and third floors that we didn’t have time to see so I’m hoping to back again.

I am not sure what the theme is or how the artworks on the third floor are chosen, but it was yet another display of fascinating portraits of many important people in American history.  This next gallery contains artworks that I was particularly fond of in the Portrait Gallery.

My last group of photos contains most of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. I have visited this museum many times and it’s one of my favorite art museums.  I never tire of going there to view all my favorites.  This time I went by myself as it was our last day in D.C. and hubby wanted to see the Library of Congress. So we split up and I took my time both viewing the paintings and sculptures that I like as well as spending time in the extensive gift shop.  I think this gift shop might be my favorite museum gift shop.  There are so many things to look at!

But first a little story of when I first entered the building.  I stopped at the information desk to get a map so that I could find all of my favorites.  A nice woman greeted me and asked if I needed help finding anything.  When I said no, she made the most interesting comment:  “you have of course been to the east building.”  This stunned me since I had only just visited the east building a few days ago so I asked her how she knew that.  “You just look like the type of person who visits the east building.” So I told her how I was intent on seeing the east building on this trip and that I just went there for the first time and absolutely loved it.  She agreed and we had a lovely encounter.

On to the last gallery for this post: some of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.

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