First I must say, who can believe it is September already? I am starting to feel Fall in the air and of course it is football season!!
Minnesota was a new state for both of us and we were excited for it as we got some great recommendations from Steve as he grew up in the Twin Cities. Our first stop was in Apple Valley, which is just south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Lebanon Hills Campground was our home for five nights and it was our favorite campground in quite some time. It was the perfect mix of feeling like we were camping and all of the amenities we have come to like at nicer RV Parks. Our first couple of days here were full of rain, thunder & lightning so we hunkered down and didn’t do a whole lot. Plus, I had developed a sore throat so it was nice to lay low. Interestingly, neither one of us have been sick for the past 16 mo’s, compared to at home where we would pick up something easily from work. It didn’t last long thankfully.
Finally the weather cleared and we were ready to head out to explore. Our first stop was at Matt’s Bar for lunch, home of the original Jucy Lucy (yes, spelled correctly). It is a burger with the cheese on the inside of the patty. Actually I think it is two patties formed together with a slice of cheese in the middle. When they come out the cheese is “like molten lava” so it is important to let it cool. Mike & I split one and I must say it rivaled the burger we had in New Haven, CT at Louis Lunch. We headed into downtown Minneapolis and the riverfront (I didn’t realize the mighty Mississippi originates in MN) and walked out along the many paths and locks system. We had some time to kill before the ballgame, so checked out the Sculpture Garden, then got a bite to eat along the riverfront. We headed over to Target Field and decided to just go in early to check out the stadium, as we weren’t able to find a fun fan area to check out. Disappointing, as this is part of the whole ball field experience for us typically; maybe we just missed it. The Twins were playing the White Sox and it was a pretty boring game and very empty. It was a nice modern stadium though right in the heart of downtown with great cityscape views. We got back to the MoHo in time to watch a more exciting team, the Mariners – it is fun to actually have them be in playoff contention!
The next day brought more rain, so we relaxed in the morning then checked out a Triple D restaurant for lunch, Pizzeria Lola. They make thin crust wood-fired pizza’s with cute names; Mike had the “My Sha-Roni” and I had the “Hawaii Pie-O” complemented by craft beers. A great place, a bit pricey, but we loved it. It was funny, our waitress was from Shoreline. We get a lot of inquiries of where we are from when we hand over our Alaska Airlines credit card to pay. The weather wasn’t great, so we decided to hit the Mall of America. This place was huge, five stories and the middle section was basically an amusement park. We actually walked around for a few hours but didn’t purchase anything; glad we came and saw. It still amazes us how volatile the weather is: rain, lightning, sun, rain, lightning, sun.
We headed into St. Paul for the day, the other half of the Twin Cities, kind of like Seattle to Bellevue. We first drove to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. This thing was massive and beautiful, hard to get a photo to capture the size. The interior was absolutely gorgeous with stained glass everywhere and a very tall dome in the middle. It reminded us of what you would see in Italy. We drove through the capital area and snapped a few pics, then it was time for lunch. We headed to one of Steve’s recommendations, Cossetta’s. It is basically a huge complex featuring a cafeteria-style food line (all freshly prepared), dessert shop, sit down restaurant and an Italian grocery with all kinds of authentic Italian items. After a delicious lunch, we headed into the dessert area to get pistachio gelato for me and then into the store to shop for a few items. We loved this place and would frequent it often if we lived here. Great suggestion Steve! We drove around town a bit more, up Grand and Summit Ave’s to see the huge mansions, then decided to head back to the MoHo. The Seahawks started at 7:30 and we had a party for two watching them pull out the victory vs. Green Bay. I do miss being at home with all of the hype and excitement that I’m sure must be happening in Seattle.
Side note: Shocked and sad to hear the news of Joan Rivers passing. I really enjoyed her wicked sense of humor. One of the best quotes I heard was that “Heaven just got a lot funnier with Joan and Robin Williams.”
Our next destination was Duluth, MN. This was not even on our radar, but Steve suggested it to us, so we decided to check it out. Our campground was in a marina on Park Point, Lakehead Boat Basin and Campground, located across the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge from downtown Duluth. The park was nothing special, basically a blacktop parking lot, but it had full hook-ups and the location was the best part. Kind of like our park in Jersey City, not that I’m comparing Duluth to NYC : ) The weather was absolutely perfect and no humidity! We didn’t expect that we would be back on Lake Superior anytime soon after the U.P. of Michigan, but here we were! We got set-up and when we checked the TV/Satellite, we noticed we didn’t have any sound out of the main TV. This happened one time before and we just had to jiggle a few connections, but this time that didn’t work. The time had come to replace the HDMI cable, we knew this day was coming and we were dreading it. We headed out to explore and picked up a new cable and decided to just tackle our project. After over three hours of battling with working in an extremely small space and limited tools to hook-up this new cable, it still wouldn’t work. The final straw was to call DirecTV and try to schedule a tech to come out. After awhile on the phone (and basically being told that the only place a tech would come would be to Bellevue, WA – they don’t or won’t understand that we are on the road), finally he had us unplug the TV and reset the Genie and voila, it worked! We poured stiff cocktails and sat down at 9:30 to watch the Cougs blow it against Reno (0-2, really Cougs?). Not a great first day in Duluth, but we were optimistic about the days ahead as it seemed like a great town and the weather was looking to be perfect.
We woke up excited to head out and explore on our bikes. We made the short 3 block ride to the bridge and it was up to allow for boat traffic, so we rode out to the end of the breakwater to take it all in. I was surprised at how many people were out to watch, but it was a gorgeous Saturday morning, and there was a huge freighter coming through. The Aerial Lift Bridge is Duluth’s most famous landmark and raises dozens of times a day to let boat traffic through. Over the course of the next few days, we saw this multiple times and it never seemed to get old. We headed down the path along Lake Superior along with many other joggers, walkers and bikers, a great trail system. Next, we rode over to Bayfront Park where there was a local festival going on. The night before there was actually an outdoor concert that we could hear at the MoHo Park. We made our way to the Farmer’s Market area and loaded up on local goodies including some Amish-made baked goods, which were out of this world! Since the MoHo was so close, we rode back and dropped off our haul, then cruised back to Canal Park Brewery for lunch and some local beer. This placed was packed and full of energy with a great outdoor patio looking out on Lake Superior. Loved it. It was time to head back to the MoHo and set up our chairs outside to enjoy the sunshine and watch some college football. Unfortunately the Huskies won, otherwise it was a glorious day. We BBQ’d steaks and had local sweet corn for dinner.
The next day we got on the road up the scenic Hwy 61/North Shore to the Split Rock Lighthouse, about an hour drive. Much of the drive was along the rocky shores of Lake Superior with stunning views. It was Sunday, and the road was busy with MoHoers/Trailers heading back up to Ontario, Canada only about 150 miles away. We got some really great photos and explored the lighthouse area, then drove a bit further up the road before turning around and heading back. We stopped for groceries on the way back to the MoHo for a relaxing Sunday watching football and BBQ’ing.
Lake Superior Factoid
With the entire surface frozen (which has only happened twice), there would be enough space for every person on earth to spread out a 12’ x 12’ picnic blanket. Wow, hard to fathom how huge this lake is. We learned that this last winter with the Polar Vortex, over 90% of the lake froze; a typical year is 30%.
On our last day, we decided to head across the river to Superior, Wisconsin. Actually, it was a waste of time, not much to see, so we headed back to Duluth for lunch at Fitgers, another brewery. We drove back to the MoHo to park the car and set back out on our bikes for one last cruise around town. Since it was a Monday, it was much quieter and the wind was starting to kick up, with bad weather anticipated for the next day. We headed back to Canal Park Brewery for Mike to get a growler of their Stoned Surf IPA, then a last beer on Grandma’s Deck with great views of the Lake and Bridge. We headed back to the MoHo to pack up the bikes and outdoor stuff in preparation for our departure in the morning. We really enjoyed this stop. It was great to ride our bikes around town and not worry about parking. I know the weather made a huge difference too, but also the fact that we had no expectations and we were pleasantly surprised. Love it when that happens! We are both feeling pretty relaxed. Thank you Duluth!
Next stop is Fargo, ND.