Wednesday, October 8, 2014

let's talk about Duluth.

I’ve told you before how much I enjoy summer road trips. Care to guess one of my favorite road trip destinations?

Give up?

I had never been to Duluth before August 2010. That was my first summer in Minneapolis, and James was about to move to Ellsworth to start his teaching job. As our last summer hurrah, we decided to take a day-trip to Duluth. It was only about two hours from Minneapolis: totally doable.

I didn’t know what to expect from Duluth, but I LOVED it. Ever since our trip to a naval base in Virginia when I was 14, I’ve been fascinated with big ships. (During that trip – thanks to a friendly sailor named Paul – we got a tour of an aircraft carrier. Best vacation ever.) Duluth is a great place to go if you like big ships. These gigantic cargo ships sail into Duluth every day, and you can check the shipping schedule to make sure that you’re around to see one come it. It’s hard to explain how absolutely incredible it is to see one of these monstrous ships go sailing through the canal – so close that you almost feel as if you could be crushed. 
(No worries – no one gets crushed.)

It’s not just the ships that make Duluth so appealing to me – I grew up on a lake and therefore gained an appreciation of lakes, so Lake Superior is… well, superior. You stand on the edge of the lake and look out to the horizon, and all you see is water. It looks like an ocean – nothing but cold, deep water for miles.

When I say cold, I mean COLD. James and I have been to Duluth three times, each time in August on a brutally hot day. And each time, I stuck my feet in Lake Superior – and the water was so cold that it almost took my breath away. But I keep going back for more. I might be a slow learner.
In Duluth, James and I stick mostly to the touristy stuff: Canal Park is gorgeous, and that’s where you watch the ships, wade in the lake, walk out to the lighthouse, and get dive-bombed by seagulls. Along Canal Park, there are little cutesy shops and restaurants, and you can stroll a walking path around Lake Superior. (Not ALL the way around, obviously.)

Of all the typical tourist stuff we’ve done in Duluth (the aquarium, Fitger’s, the ship museum, watching the lift bridge go up, etc), just walking around the lake and watching the ships is by far my favorite. 
And taking corny pictures with the lift bridge.
The perfect time of day to be there is just around sunset – by then, many of the tourists have gone home, and Canal Park is filled with a beautiful calm. You can watch the sun go down and the moon rise over the lake, and it’s breathtaking.

And I can't resist a good lighthouse.
James and I have visited Duluth in August 2010, August 2011, and August 2013 (on our way back from our Canadian honeymoon), and each time, I’ve appreciated it more and more. One of these days, we’re going to drive up to Duluth and continue along the North Shore – we haven’t done it yet because we always seem to be short on time. But isn’t that just the way it goes?

The jury is out on when we’ll get to Duluth again, but here’s hoping it’s soon. Until then, if you find yourself in Duluth, say hello to the ships for me.
And the lift bridge, if you don't mind.

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