Our Minnesota rv adventures began with us spending just over a month parked in Skip’s meadow. Robert emptied out his apartment in record time and we took almost daily walks in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and a nearby Nature Center.
I had my first dinner of Walleye; we took a trip to Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis and experienced the wonders of the Mall of America; we visited Cabelas, a giant sporting goods store with millions of dollars worth of stuffed animals from all parts of the world – an amazing place.
Spring, our second this year, was rich with color during our Minnesota rv adventure. Lilacs bloomed everywhere and the fields of oats, grass, or alfalfa were the most brilliant emerald green. Some grassy areas were completely gold they were so thick with dandelions. Enormous fields had been planted with corn by the second week of our stay - most of it destined for ethanol production in our country’s misguided attempt to create an alternative fuel. By the time we left, the corn was 6” high.
Rain! Almost every day for a good two weeks we had a downpour at some point, plus lots of wind and thunderstorms. On June 9th we were ready to start our trek to northern MN in Mehitabel, but needed some help from Skip; the ground was so soggy, the wheels just spun in the mud. He hooked up a chain to the front of my rig and pulled us out of the meadow with no trouble – perhaps a fairly common Minnesota rv adventure this time of year?
We spent two nights at Jay Cooke State Park, about 20 miles south of Duluth. The park is gorgeous, situated right on the St. Louis River which was very high because of all the rain. We explored along the river and up by the dam. The water in all the rivers looked just like root beer due to the acids leaching from the vegetation in the watershed.
That first night we went to a nearby casino & lost some money in the slot machines. What ever happened to the old-style slots? They no longer take coins – you have to stick dollar bills in & push a button, instead of pulling a handle. I miss the sound of the coins falling when there’s a payout! Some of the excitement is gone, I’m afraid.
The next day we drove into Duluth and I got my first look at Lake Superior. I couldn't seem to get my mind to believe this isn't an ocean. We had a good time wandering around, had a drink and snack at Grandma’s Saloon in Canal Park, and just missed seeing a 1004’ ore carrier go under the Aerial Bridge as it left the harbor and headed out into the Lake. The Lake is the defining feature of Duluth – shop clerks bid you to “have a Superior day” as you leave their shop.
We left Duluth and continued North, stopping to hike along the Temperance River and falls to the shore of the Lake. A bit further on, we stopped in Grand Marais, and climbed all over the rocks at Artists’ Point.
As we got out onto the rocks, a very chilly bride and groom and their entourage appeared, having just completed their ceremony.
On June 11, our Minnesota rv adventure reached the “End of the Road” in Ely and we hooked up in the Fall Lake Campground in Superior National Forest. The road north really does end here; we are surrounded by lakes, right on the edge of the Boundary Waters, about 6 miles from Canada. The rain and wind continued for the first few days, though we escaped it one day by heading east 60 miles, then north along the shore of Lake Superior to Grand Portage State Park and the Pigeon River which is the boundary between the US & Canada.
At Grand Portage, we hiked in to the High Falls where an incredible amount of water plummets about 120’. The sign says 3200 gal/sec goes over the edge, and that may be just in normal times. All the rivers are very high this spring so the various waterfalls are awesome. The spray got us pretty wet, and there was a double rainbow.
This part of MN reminded me of the Pacific Northwest and the coast of Maine. It’s very rocky, with lots of spruce, pine, aspen, poplar and birch. On the drive back to Ely, we saw several deer, a cow moose and, finally, a bull moose just starting to grow his horns. We got home about 9:30, enjoying a lovely sunset toward the end of the drive.
Lilacs were in bloom in Ely – our third spring this year! This
Minnesota rv adventure seemed to be carrying us from one spring to
another. If spring is your favorite season, this is one of the serendipitous perks of heading North.
The International Wolf Center is here also – we spent some time there and saw the two new pups that arrived in mid-May. Having always believed I was a wolf in a previous existence, I was thrilled.
Another day we went to the North American Bear Center which had just recently opened. There was a huge black bear named Ted that weighed in at 789 lbs. Though his weight was down from almost 1000, he was still quite obese. He apparently loves humans even more than bears – a very gentle type. There was also a 1-1/2 year old cub, Lucky. His behavior was typical of any kid his age – galloping back & forth, rolling around with a boat bumper and an orange cone (his toys), and then heckling Ted. The female bear, Honey, wasn't as sociable, and only showed herself briefly.
There's some terrific fishing in Minnesota. I got a 7-day fishing license and we went out two days running with no luck. Then one morning we walked in to the foot of Kawishiwi Falls and caught 7 walleye. I caught 5 of them – Robert would have caught more, but I kept him busy putting the leeches on my hook and taking the hook out of the fish I caught. So we had wonderful pan-fried walleye for dinner.
We went back to our fishing hole again, but this time only got two walleye (Robert’s catch this time) – I caught a 4-5 lb smallmouth bass (very exciting), but Robert made me release it, saying it wasn’t as tasty as walleye and we had enough for dinner anyway.
The last few days were sunny and warm – a welcome relief for everyone around here. We left on the 21st to head back to Faribault, with an overnight stop in Duluth. Robert had a few things he needed to do in Faribault, but our Minnesota rv adventure would end in a couple of weeks and we'd be on our way to South Dakota and points West.
We chalked up two more wildlife sightings on this leg of the Minnesota rv adventure: A huge bald eagle and a turkey vulture!
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