LEIF ERICKSON PARK-Duluth, MN.
Traveling from Mexico City to "The Northland" proved challenging--there was some wild weather in Chicago last week (80 mph winds downtown!) and Northwest Airlines decided to delay, re-route and cancel my flights. They put me up overnight in Minneapolis when they couldn't get me on a plane to Duluth, but eventually I made it to my destination only about 12 hours behind schedule. I was kept pretty happy reading tons of airport magazines. I love the USA!
Note: none of this VERY LONG entry has anything to do with Mexico. But, Mom, all of your questions should be answered!
I went to Duluth to help my brother move into his new digs. His place is on Superior Street downtown and has a pretty cool view of the greatest of the Great Lakes from his bedroom window:
The view is enhanced by his apartment's location---in the clouds! I got to put my new Mexico City-altitude lungs to work huffing and puffing his household goods up his back stairs! He used ABF to ship his stuff and it was waiting for him in a trailer truck when he arrived from Texas.
Sam's place is very cozy, and tucked way up in the attic. We set up all of his stuff and he is lucky to have a great little study and a really cool set of landlords. Here's his garret-living room:
While the move went pretty smoothly, we still had a few bumps in the road. As Sergio mentioned, Sam's loyal sidekick Duke the Dog got really sick on my first day in town. That night he was unable to stand up and seemed to have terrible pain. We ended up taking Duke to the emergency room where we found out he had pancreatitis, a pretty serious sickness. He stayed the night in the hospital, and after his release we tended to him at home with medication and a special home-cooked diet. Drained ground beef and rice. Yum.
Duke seemed much perkier when we brought him home from the hospital and he seems to be on the mend now. Fingers crossed!
We did manage to spend some time doing some fun things besides home health care and furniture moving! Duluth is a really neat place, way up in the northeastern section of Minnesota. It has been on a boom-bust cycle over the years resulting in a gritty town with a tremendous number of gorgeous lumber-baron type houses and civic buildings. It is the chief city in its region yet it only takes about 15 minutes to drive out of town and feel like you are in the backwoods. Moose, timber wolves and bears are all found in St. Louis County. In the last 15 years or so Duluth has attempted to ramp up its tourism, and it has revitalized downtown. There are tons of public parks and beaches, and a wonderful Lakewalk that hugs the coast and provides a great place for walking, jogging, biking, etc.
Downtown in Leif Erickson (DISCOVERER OF AMERICA according to the local Sons of Norway club and sponsors of the area) Park, on the Lakewalk and about five minutes from Sam's house is a cool lakeside stage that shows movies and concerts outdoors in the summer. I stumbled on a very pretty wedding. I think the bride's dad may have been Kenny Rogers!
Lake Superior is the focal point of everywhere you go in Duluth. I hunted for some agates on the beach, but only found a few pieces of "sea"glass.
We weren't brave enough to go swimming---Lake Superior is so cold! It averages about 40 degrees year round. Lake Superior description here.
These hearty locals on Park Point raced in without any hesitation tho. Kids are so tough!
Duluth is a very important shipping port, and giant lakers pass through with shipments of grain, coal, limestone and other cargo. Duluth is the largest port on the Great Lakes, and about 1,000 ocean-going and lake freighters go through the port every year. They range in size from 400 to over 1,000 feet long. The Aerial Lift Bridge in the Duluth Canal is a landmark for the city, and is a big tourist attraction. When a freighter (or even a sailboat) goes through the canal, the bridge is lifted and crowds wave 'em through.
It is more exciting than you might think!
The Iron Range is just West of Duluth, and there are still ore docks on the Lake. We checked out Two Harbors, about 20 miles North of Duluth, which has a big set of docks.
At one time, due to the tremendous amount of wealth generated by the iron, timber and shipping industries, Duluth had more millionaires per capita than any other American city. That was a long time ago!
This is one of the downtown social clubs, "Club Kitchi Gammi," that has been around since the last 1800s.
And here is one of the more impressive of the Lakeshore mansions dating from the same period:
Our own family has roots in this part of the country---our grandmother grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a mining community. Her parents moved from Sweden, and her father worked as a blacksmith making tools for the men who worked in the iron mines.
There's lots of folks in Duluth who share a similar history. We were cracking up at all the references to Scandinavia. Wouldn't this be a good name for a Death Metal band?
In Two Harbors, we stumbled on this fishing boat that was christened by the King of Norway in 1939.
Duluth has acres and acres of public trails, many groomed for cross country skiing in winter. The area has been experiencing the worst drought in 50 years so many of the rivers were near dry. Heartbreaking when you think of all the flooding downstate this summer. The Lester River Falls were just a trickle, but it was still incredible to feel so far from town just minutes off one of the main streets.
I have high hopes for a cottage in this part of the world someday. In the meantime, I'll just visit Sam a lot!
Of course he's gonna be busy with school. Check out the science building on his campus with our Yooper family name (Swenson, Swanson, Svensson, whatever):
I hope Sam won't feel too isolated up in the Great White North. Luckily, he doesn't seem to be too shy about using his phone. Long distance living!
As I told him, any place where even the supermarket's parking lot has a pretty view seems like a good bet. Good luck learning to kayak, snowshoe and dog sled!
Here's to a wonderful four years in Duluth, Sam and Duke!