Weekend Road Trip: On Lake Superior

Last year, after our anniversary weekend at Silver Moose Ranch, we decided that we wanted to make it a tradition to visit a bed and breakfast each year to celebrate. We would have gone back to our original bed and breakfast but since it was back in Utah, we had to search out a new place. Kyle found and surprised me with a weekend at Superior Gateway Lodge, a cabin tucked away in the woods, just outside of Two Harbors, Minnesota. Because of our work schedules, we arrived late Friday night and were happy to find a comfortable bed to fall into.

The next morning, we woke up ready to explore the area.  Of course, this was after the breakfast was served; crepes with a German parfait (that I have already re-created many times at home because it was so good). As we munched, we looked out of the numerous windows into the woods surrounding us. There was still snow on the ground but this just added to the peacefulness of our surroundings. It was lovely. Soon after, we left for our explorations.

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Two Harbors is located along Lake Superior, just a few hours South of the Canadian Border. Though the town is small, the area around it has much to see. Our first stop, Gooseberry Falls State Park. The falls for which the park was named were not the majestic falls of Yellowstone but being so full of rushing water and surrounded by snow, we enjoyed their beauty nonetheless. We walked around the falls and down some trails until our feet were wet from the streams of water covering the pathways from the melting snow. Next stop, Split Rock Light House.

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Just minutes North of Gooseberry Falls, the Split Rock Lighthouse stands on a sheer cliff 130 feet above the waters of Lake Superior. In the early 1900’s the rocky terrain of the Lake Superior coast line, mixed with storms caused many ships to sink into the icy waters. Though the area was uninhabited at the time, and was even without a road to access it, the lighthouse was constructed to guide sailors away from the rocky cliffs. During its operation, the lens could produce a powerful enough beam that people 22 miles away could see it flashing. Though it has been deactivated since 1969, it still stands as a beautiful landmark over the lake.

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By this point, we were getting hungry so we jumped in the car and drove down to Duluth’s Canal Park. This is an area nestled right up against a large Lake Superior port and filled with restaurants, shops, and museums of all sorts. We had heard good things about Grandma’s Saloon and Grill and were not let down (if you are ever there, I highly recommend the Mahi Mahi Sandwich). It was an eclectic mix of vintage and classic home cooking, family friendly and delicious. We left stuffed to the brim.

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We waddled out of the restaurant with full stomachs to view the Aerial Lift Bridge and walk along the canal. The bridge has the ability to lift up the bottom portion, temporarily blocking the road, but lets large barges pass through to go in or out of the port. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any ships go through at this point. However, the cold weather in Minnesota had finally decided to give way to Spring which brought many people outdoors, resulting in great people watching. As we walked, we discovered the Lake Superior Maritime Museum. There were some great exhibits on the history of Duluth, Canal Park, and the shipping industry that helped to develop the city. Kyle and I both enjoyed the insight into the past of the area.

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After getting advice from a museum hostess, we headed in the direction of the shops in Canal Park. There were many great boutiques and antique shops that I absolutely loved looking through. I didn’t buy anything this trip but I plan on going back for more treasure hunting. Hunger struck again as we walked by an authentic Italian pizza shop (Vitta Pizza) and smelled the mouth-watering melted cheese and sauce. We couldn’t resist getting a couple.

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As we left the pizza shop, over the rooftops we saw the Aerial Bridge lifting up. We had waited all day for this opportunity so we bolted down the three blocks to the canal. We arrived just in time to see the bridge finishing its assent and the barge making its way to the port. As it passed through the canal the people on board waved as the horn sounded, echoing through the area. Though it was a simple pleasure for our day, it was the perfect way to wrap it up.

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The next morning we slept in, ate breakfast, packed up the car and reluctantly drove away from the comfortable lodge. We decided as we drove home that we should take the North Shore Scenic Drive down to Duluth. The drive was lovely but we couldn’t resist stopping from time to time to search the rocks for sea-glass and driftwood, to skip rocks, or just listen to the water lapping against the rocks. It was so peaceful and relaxing, something that we both needed.

The lake is so vast that it almost felt like we were driving along the Washington coast, one of my favorite places. At the same time, I felt like I was in the mountains like at my beloved Island Park, Idaho. It was such a strange mixture of my favorite places but I loved the nostalgic feelings it provided.

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Our scenic drive finally ended on a lookout point above the city. Below we could see the Aerial Bridge, Canal Park, and all of the other parts of the port. At this point, we had to head home for our usual daily routines. But somehow, after this little trip, we didn’t see that as such a bad thing. We had some time to relax. We were rejuvenated by the change of scenery. And most importantly, we had been able to spend some one on one time together. I would say that was a successful weekend.

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