Our last day was full of familiarity. At Silver Bay Rog and the kids learned about taconite processing. At Gooseberry Falls State Park we actually skipped the falls and headed to the shore for a picnic and some water time. The temp is still colder on these Minnesota shores.
In Two Harbors we were down near the ore docks watching a ship get filled when a local guy told us all about what we were watching – the names of boats, the cargo, their sizes, the amount of time they are docked to be filled. Between this and the guy at the Soo locks, we may now know more about taconite, tankers, and shipping on Lake Superior than we ever have or ever will.
We hit the expressway to Duluth and even more familiar territory like ice cream at the Portland Malt Shop and heading down to the rocky shore to hang out. Believe it or not, we skipped Canal Park and the aerial bridge (too familiar?) to get to Anchor Bar in Superior to wrap up our trip. Sitting there, this quest was deemed an all around success. No bad weather and no tragedies. And tons of great memories.
Our morning hike at Judge Magney State Park did not solve the riddle of Devil’s Kettle. The waterfall that goes into the hole and no one knows where it comes it will remain a mystery.
We then backtracked for the very first time on this trip to visit Grand Portage National Monument. The scale was certainly smaller than Fort William, it was interesting to see them both. Don’t quiz me, but I know more today about the fur trading, voyageurs, and portages than I think I ever have or will.
We beelined it to World’s Greatest Donuts in Grand Marais. A major highlight of the trip for me. I just can’t believe I didn’t go back for a second before we left town. Afterward there was swimming in the lake and Olive and I walked around a bit checking out the shops. Oh! On the way out of town we stopped at Betsey Bowen’s studio/gallery. Her woodcut illustrated children’s books are some of our favorites.
Because we have a stamp book for all the MN state parks (we’re up to 23 of the 69 since Olive was born) we stopped at any we needed down the north shore. There was Temperance Falls where we walked to the falls, we drove the gravel back roads to George Crosby Manitou, and ended up at Tettegouche State Park where we got the last campsite for the night. We had shopped at the food coop in Grand Marais so we were set.
It hit me at some point that this is our last night sleeping in the RV. Apparently I was far more sentimental and melancholy than the kids, and Roger for that matter, based on their response to me corralling them around the campfire to remember our trip.
We’re celebrating by eating at the same place we started – Anchor Bar in Superior – nine days later, almost to the exact minute.
Just rolled over the 1,500 mark between Beaver Bay and Gooseberry.
Getting a little melancholy on our last night camping with the RV.
The sink I’ve prepared many meals and veggie snacks at.
The makeshift stove-turned-countertop I’ve used to assemble aforementioned veggie snacks.
The microwave we used to bake potatoes this last supper.
The closet I finally organized two days ago.
The back bed.
Dinner is almost ready. Roger is grilling part of it.
Steak and salad with blue cheese and baked potatoes.
Whoa. Kekabeka Falls was not to be missed. Olive declared Kekabeka the best falls we’ve seen. And we’ve seen a few. We lingered at the falls in the morning and headed into Thunder Bay for Finnish Pancakes at Hoito Restaurant. I was the only one to have the pancakes (yum, yum, gotta get the recipe), Roger tried poutine for the second time. Apparently the occasional cheese curd is intentional. Other than that there doesn’t seem to be much to Thunder Bay.
Fort William Park is Fort Snelling on steroids (Roger’s description). Did you know the entire fur trade, beaver primarily, was based on men’s fashion in the late 18th century? Men needed beaver felt hats and they had trapped the European beavers to near extinction. Did you know the partners of the North West Trading Company were Scottish and the French were the voyageurs and trappers? The Scots were disgruntled Hudson Bay Company workers that broke away and started NWTC. Interesting factoids aside, it’s a great fort replication complete with costumed time-period characters. We participated in a fire brigade, threw hatchets, and saw some 1815 drama acted out (I’m almost ready for Ren Fest).
Re-entry into the US was very uneventful. We hit the store at Grand Portage for dinner fixings, the beer store in Hovland for a better selection, and rolled into C. R. Magney State Park for the night. Back home in Minnesota feels good.