Last week we went on a trip to Minnesota and spent a few days on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Given the recent floods, we nixed the camping idea, and I’m so glad we did: there were thunderstorms almost every night! (In Madison we can only dream of rain right now – we haven’t had a single drop in six weeks!)
Our first stop was in Two Harbors, approx. 30 miles north of Duluth. I’m not going to elaborate on our first motel, but let me just tell you that it was sandwiched in between a Pizza Hut and a Subway, and located just across the street from a graveyard and a McDonald’s.
On our second day however, we stayed at the historic Lighthouse B & B and it was the best! We were greeted with homemade cookies and lemonade (and the kind request to take our shoes off). Next to the genuine hospitality, I loved all the little details: the old record player in the dining room that only the main hostess knows how (or dares) to operate, the ghost books in the living room area which contained short stories written by previous guests, the old fashioned kitchen and bathroom (with the added touch of a beautiful antique hand-held mirror that was sitting on one of the shelves). It felt like we had arrived in the early 1900s. No wi-fi, no TVs. Just us, books and the big lake! (OK, there were some modern amenities, such as a dishwasher :)) Unfortunately, I must have accidentally deleted my pictures of the interior. Or maybe a ghost did it! You can see some photos here, though they don’t do the place justice.
At 5 p.m. all staff left and we were encouraged to help ourselves to anything we needed. Together with a couple from Singapore and another from Nottingham, England we were in charge of the lighthouse. I asked Dave to share his experience with you, so here is his description of our night at the lighthouse: “We decided to have the window sill be our dinner table, also feasting on the view. We watched as a dark grey front sped toward us. A powerful gust of wind blasted through our window, quickly followed by a cold rain. A loud “BANG”came from the kitchen, followed by other noises. The wind had blown the large window fan and two water pitchers off the window sill onto the floor! We rushed to close all the windows, puddles quickly forming. Their interest piqued, the couple from Singapore joined us and we ventured up the dark, wet stairs of the tower, guided by the jittery beam of our flashlight (which came with each room). We reached the top. Lighting flashes, magnified by the steady bursts of the lighthouse’s light, the loud droning HUMM of the churning engine punctuated by thunder, created an eerie and unsettling show. It felt like the set of B-movie horror flick. Luckily, Jason didn’t show. After shutting the portals and securing the last room, we felt like truly anointed keepers of the lighthouse.”
The next morning Dave and I got up early to read outside for a while. The homemade breakfast we were served later was delicious (you can see a picture of it here). Keith, who had explored the tower with us the night before, had told us to be at the table by 9 a.m. On their first morning, he and his partner hadn’t known about the “sit-in” (as he called it), so they had been in their pj’s when they heard a knock at the door and were asked to join the breakfast round. I’m glad he warned us! I loved that we all shared breakfast together, the international crowd taking our conversation far beyond our borders.
After breakfast we packed up and left Two Harbors (despite the wonderful lighthouse experience, we were definitely ready to leave the shadow of the massive iron-ore docks). After a hike at the Tettegouche State Park, we rewarded ourselves with one of Betty’s Pies. I’ll let nature speak through the pictures here.
The following days were spent in Lutsen, from where we made day trips to various state parks and up to the very tippy top of the North Shore.
For us the Lutsen Resort worked out well – their service was great, the place cozy and the food delicious (though dinners are quite pricey). We enjoyed day trips to Grand Marais and hiked several State Parks, and in the evenings we would sip our Margaritas by the lake shore.
The further North you go the more beautiful the landscape. We made it all the way to the Canadian border and got to see the Pigeon Falls at the Grand Portage Indian Reservation and State Park. The park is divided by a river – one part is on U.S. soil, the other on Canadian. Unbelievably, we hadn’t found it necessary to bring our passports, so we were only able to wave at Canada from a close distance. As we were looking at the falls, we could see people on the Canadian side touring the park. We were so close (and yet so far)!
While we were gazing at Canada, a woman next to me said in a British accent: “Hello!” And there they were: Rebecca and Ed, who had stayed with us at the lighthouse (about 140 miles south) earlier that week. Of course we had to capture that moment.
We loved our little getaway. Not only did it offer us shelter from 104 F in Madison (vs. 60s and 70s up North), but it was rejuvenating being in nature, traveling, reading and having some work-free time together.