Minnesota TripMark A. Reynolds
Friday, May 23rd.
I had a direct flight from OKC to Minnesota, which was very nice. The flight was fine and all the little kids didn't scream too much.
After getting my rental car, I drove up Highway 5 to get to I-35. It's a little strange, because the road is inner city highway. I was never sure if I was on the right road or not. It was pretty easy to find Vine Park Brewery. I enjoyed their beers, but only had a little of each - I still had many miles ahead of me.
The drive to Duluth was fairly boring, not much to see at night. When I drove over the hill that drops you into Duluth, it was pretty cool. The city was well lit, pretty neat. Getting off the highway and finding the hotel wasn't too much of a probably, just a little weird because I wasn't sure how long I was to be on Superior Street before the hotel was there.
The Voyageur Lakewalk Inn was nice, probably built in the 50's. Not a Marriot, but very comfortable. It is a block away from Fitger's Brewery Complex, a very blocks from Downtown, and not far from the Canal Area. I slept very well, pretty tired after all the driving.
Saturday, May 24th
Two good reasons for getting up early and driving were you are going: 1) not much traffic, and 2) lots of deer. I saw 12 does on the way to Bayfield, WI. The scenery is nice, mostly pines and birches. Getting to Bayfield was easy and finding the dock for the cruise wasn't too bad.
Bayfield is a small tourist community, much like ones you see on the east coast. Lots of tourist around, along with myself, of course. Our cruise today was on the Island Princess, a 2-level cruise ship. It was mostly seats, a couple of bathrooms, and a snack bar. The narrator on our trip did a nice job; he seemed very familiar with the islands and the area.
The Apostle Island are pretty interesting to visit. The temperature on the top deck was a little too cool for me, so I quickly moved to the lower deck on the sunny side. The most interesting island is Devils Island. It has a lot of tunnels dug out by the water, plus a lighthouse. On the way back, we also saw Raspberry Island Lighthouse. The cruise last
I briefly stopped at the National Park Visitor Center and got a national park map. The drive down to Ashland was nice. I stopped at the North Shore Brewery for lunch and a taste of their beers. They had a good selection and some good beers. They had a huge bar that was imported from Germany.
After returning to Duluth, I took a nap. Fitger's was on my list of place to taste beer. I had some very good beers they, plus it was within walking distances, so I could have more than a taste. The food was decent and it's a place worth visiting again.
Sunday, May 25th.
Along the way today, I am stopping at a lot of places that are on Roadside America. Mostly, silly big statutes and such. In Two Harbors, I stopped by the lighthouse, which wasn't opened at the time. Next was Gooseberry Falls State Park. There are 3 falls to view. It was easy to walk around and get to all of them. Definitely worth the stop.
After that, I toured the Split Rock Lighthouse. The guide blew the foghorn for me, which scared a couple of little kids. It was loud. It was probably the best lighthouse I visited.
I stopped at Tettogouche State Park and learned a 2 big lessons; 1) 1 1/2 miles is a long way when it is uphill both ways, and 2) always carry extra batteries. By the time I was 1/2way to the falls, I noticed that my batteries were dead. Of course, I had spares, but I left them in the car. Anyway, the falls were nice.
The drive between Illgen City and Soudan was long and whined (sp). Lots of pines to see, but not much else. Once I arrived at the Soudan Mine, it was around 12:50. I had missed the cut-off for the 1:00, and decided to walk around before I bought a 2:00 ticket. By the time I got back the 2:00 tour was sold out. So, instead of waiting a 1 1/2 hours, I decided to move on. Too bad.
Outside of Chisholm, I stopped at the Rust Hull Mahoning mine. It's a very large open pit mine, much like the one I saw in Salt Lake. Next, I moved on to the Greyhound Bus Museum. It was pretty cool. In Chisholm, I stopped briefly to see Bob Dylan's childhood home.
On the way back to Duluth, I passed through Cloquet to see Frank Lloyd Wright's only gas station. It was nice. Back in Duluth, I returned to Fitger's for dinner and a few beers. I was glad I went back. I had some nice conversations with the other bar patrons. Seems like we always end up talking about the bombing in OKC.
Monday, May 26th
The first thing in the morning, I took the Skyline Parkway around Duluth. It has a great view of the city and was worth the drive. Lots of great houses to look at.
Glensheen Mansion was next on the list. It is a huge mansion, but in the early 1900's. The upper floor is all done in Craftsman style. It had a lot of similarities to my old house. I tour the house for around 2 hours. This is a must if you are in Duluth.
In Duluth, you can take a 1 1/2 hour train ride up the north shore. I was just OK, not something I would repeat, but I was pleasant. The museums at the Depot were pretty lame. The railroad car were interesting, but the Art Museum lack ALOT. Oh, well.
After drive around Duluth for a bit, I decided it was time to head to MPLS/St. Paul. About 1/2 way, the traffic really started to back up. I got off the Interstate, and took some back roads. Lots of stops, but I got to see some more of MN.
After checking into my hotel in Bloomington, I went to Great Waters Brewpub. This was the least favorite of all the brewpubs I visited. I had a good nights rest.
Tuesday, May 27th
If you go to the Minneapolis Arboretum, go early. I got in free, because there wasn't any one to take my money, which was fine with me. The Arboretum is an excellent place to visit. Lots of neat plants and flowers.
St. Paul's Cathedral is a huge cathedral, just south of the Capitol. Lots of stained glass and interesting things to see. While I was there, there was a high school practicing for graduation, so a lot of activity was going on. The Minnesota Capitol is another good place to visit. I was able to go into the Representative's Gallery, but not the Senate.
Mills Street Brewery was the next brewpub I visited. Lots of good beer and a very friendly staff. I also ate a Chinese Chicken salad.
My visit to Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul was outstanding. Our tour was directed by the CFO. She was very informative and friendly. You should check their website for tour times. We saw the entire brewery, which was compacted, and then tasted some of their beers. They are mostly an ale house, but they did have a pilsner and a wheat beer.
After traveling hard for so many days, I decided to call it an early evening. I ate a pizza from the local restaurant, and got a free beer for being selected 'guest of the day'. Woohoo!
Wednesday, May 28th
Harry Hughes and I did our first site visit in Anoka. Afterwards, we drove up to Fergus Falls and checked into the Best Western. Western Minnesota is fairly flat, with lots of lakes.
That evening, I drove over to North Dakota, which is one of only a few states I have not been to. The road that lead from Fergus Falls to the state line was extremely straight, I could almost see from end-to-end. On the border, is town named
They had a nice park with a old-time wooden horse carousel. It was interesting. I had dinner at an Italian place
Thursday, May 29th
Source of the Mississippi
Friday, May 30th
Site Visit, drove back to MN/St. Paul
Looked at houses, garden, zoo