“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Friday, October 17, 2014

Up North

It was just a month ago that my husband and I decided to take a trip to what is fondly called "Up North" around here.  We drove away on a sunny morning from the Twin Cities and headed towards the city of Duluth.

As we progressed north, the clouds started to build and by the time we entered the overlook and tourist information center just before you head down the hills to Duluth, it was as if the Apocalypse was near. The lady behind the information both was explaining to some other travels that it had been beautiful up to about an hour before our arrival. Well of course it was!!

Looking down at the almost obscured city of Duluth, I was ready to get into the car and turn around! Even my husband, a seasoned traveler and frequent visitor to the area was taken aback! But we persevered!

We arrived in late afternoon and checked into the hotel. Afterward we went out to check out the marina so that my dear one can gaze at the boats and dream of his retirement! The wind was gusting and we were freezing despite wearing gloves and fleece hats and scarves... and after a few minutes we abandoned that little outing. We headed over to a local restaurant and had a wonderful relaxing meal. And planned the next days adventures. 

Duluth is really a lovely little town and I just wish I had some good photos, but it was so dark and gloomy that most didn't turn out well! The photo above shows how choppy the water was, those are hard core sailors in their foul weather gear.

The next day the weather was much calmer and we headed north on what is commonly known as North Shore Drive. Duluth sits on Lake Superior and we took that path north all the way to Grand Marais. One of the first areas we stopped was at Two Harbors, it was pretty chilly so I cheated and took photos out of the car window. We saw a wood figure holding what I think looks like a giant spoon.  I took that as a sign that he had been at Betty's Pies
and was ready for a return trip.

Mountain Ash Tree

Just outside of Two Harbors is Betty's Pies which is famous around here and has an enormous selection of delicious pies. We tried the Lemon Angel pie and the Berry pies. The photo further below is of a slice of raisin sour cream that we ordered and picked up on our way home. Yes, we ordered an entire pie to go. Having pie for breakfast is really nice by the way!

Sour Cream Raisin Pie Oh My!

We also saw the Red Two Harbors Lighthouse! It looked rather spooky with the lighting and the fence surrounding it. As I said it was cold and we had a lot of other stops to make, so this was an out the window photo!

Next we went through the Silver Creek Tunnel. They had to blast through the cliff to make the road. It was quite the sight.  After that we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State park and checked out the trails and waterfalls. No sign of goose berries, but I did find some wild viburnum cranberries. The falls were partially created from a lava flow.  The rock has a high amount of iron, thus the reddish color in the rocks and water.  Northern Minnesota is still a large iron mining area.

American Viburnum Cranberries

They say the twisted bark and roots are from the 
rushing high water and the winds.

One of the tugboats used to maneuver the large ships that haul iron ore.

We then visited Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and got a few nice photos. It is a retired lighthouse and is no longer in use. It is probably one of the most photographed lighthouses in Minnesota if not in the world.

These are the homes that were built for the three lighthouse keepers and their families.

We passed a home built in the traditional Scandinavian style.
It is called a Stave house.

Still on our mission to visit yet one more stop before arriving at Grand Marais, we drove through the area of Lutsen and stopped in to get some photos of the Lutsen mountains and the ski lifts.  The weather conditions were closing in and the fog was settling on the tops of the mountains.

We headed north again and of course ran into road construction with only one lane part of the time.  It took us twice as long to get to Grand Marais as we thought it would.

I can see Canada from my car.
Well maybe. 
On the horizon we thought we could see Canada only about forty miles away. 
So close but yet so far, maybe some day I will get to visit Canada.

By the time we got through all the road construction is was too late to do much sight seeing. Our first night in Grand Marais we decided to treat ourselves to a gourmet meal.

This was my meal that evening in Grand Marais at the Angry Trout Cafe. The top half of the plate was a locally Smoked Lake Trout and Spinach Fettuccine and the lower half was an incredible salad!  I don't have any photos of the exterior, because it looked like a fishing shack.  I was asking my husband why we were going into this crummy building and he explained that it was the restaurant.  I was shocked when we went inside and it was fabulous! The food top notch!

The sailboat belongs to the North House Folk School.

Lovely flowers in front of the North House Folk School main building. The school teaches courses in traditional northern crafts such as timber framing, wood carving, boat building, outdoor skills, music, painting, photography, fiber arts, clothing, foods, jewelry, story telling, and much more.

We stopped when the clouds thinned a bit to check out this view across Lake Superior.  It's not hard to understand why it is called an inland sea.

The cutest house in Grand Marais! I love everything about this cute little house. The color the simple style, the white picket fence with the lovely flowers all around! They had a huge yard and off to the left you can just make out their little Barn painted in the same colors!

This was on our drive back down towards Duluth. The Temperance River State Park was just starting to show some fall color. We walked through the trails and headed up the steep rock walkway to check out the scene.

The water has driven deep gorges into the rock. We climbed up some fairly steep hills to get to this spot.

The round areas are pot holes that the water has worn through the rock, they are often called 'Devil Pits or Devil Holes'.  I was kind of freaking out a bit because I do not like heights and I even though there was a large rock wall, that is as long as my arms would reach. There was no way I was leaning over the edge!

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful other than we had to stop back at Betty's pie for our lunch and of course had to pick up our pie to go!

Now that I have had a taste of the Up North experience, I know I would love to go back, maybe in summer when it's not so cold. There will be a return trip someday. 

Here are a few more facts about Lake Superior.   Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes in surface area and volume. Lake Superior could contain all the other Great Lakes plus three more lakes the size of Lake Erie. The lake is 350 miles in length and 160 miles across, average depth is 483 ft, but some areas are as deep as 1,322 ft. 

Next time I'll be sharing some more photos of autumn leaves and some scarecrows that I saw at my recent visit to our arboretum!

See you all soon! ~~ Diane


  1. DIANE!

    First of all, thank you for coming to visit me in NORTH EAST MINNEAPOLIS! It was indeed a blustery day, but magical for me since I do enjoy this weather.

    Your music is mesmerizing and fits so beautifully with your lush post on this gorgeous region in OUR state. I have not been up there yet (I'm not a native of Minnesota) but what a gorgeous share here...this reminds me of the northern California coast where my husband and I got our start. That sweet turquoise house with the picket fence is adorable, and the shoreline is sensational.

    So you are up in Minnetonka? Splendid!!

    Enjoy a lovely weekend...

  2. We've been up in that area and even stopped for berry pie. I loved this post as it brought back memories. Your pictures are beautiful...thanks for sharing...Balisha

  3. How beautifully scenic everything is! There is an incredible rugged beauty to the Canadian Shield around Lake Superior -- I'm not sure what it's called south of the border though, LOL! The American Shield? Anyway, I hope you do go a bit further north next time and come visit Canada!

    I have one question though. Shouldn't Betty's Pies sign say "pastries" and not "pasties"? Or is this business a kind of combo burlesque / strip club / dessert place?

    Or did they serve savoury Cornish pasties along with all the pies? You know, I ate an actual Cornish pasty in Cornwall once. It was terrible.

    1. I haven't heard that the area has any special name in the US.. Canadian Shield is a great name.
      I checked the Betty's Pies menu because I couldn't remember seeing any Pasties on the menu, but sure enough they are there! They have beef, chicken and vegetable Pasties (Pass-tees) please! They all have rutabagas in them and that is somewhat of an acquired taste. They sell them here in the stores, I buy them every now and then. That reminds me, I should post my Runza recipe sometime!

  4. How lovely, Diane!!! It looks like a great time, and I felt as though I took this trip myself...and, as always, the music is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Thank you for sharing all of the pics! I want pie now. RIGHT now.

  6. Hi Diane, what a beautiful post, I loved all the photos, and the pie looks delicious. We would love to visit your part of the world one day, never say never, we just might make it. Have a super weekend, xx

  7. Looks like a wonderful and refreshing place to visit... and as for that pie! :)

  8. OHMYGOSH...what fun! I love your images. The dramatic clouds are amazing, and I adore the lighthouse and the tugboat! So cute. Amazing scenery everywhere. And you get to see Lake Superior, too! *squee* Even the food looks great. These are the kind of trips I enjoy. There is always something wonderful to discover along the way. Thanks for sharing all these stunning images! I felt like I toured with you :)

  9. Lovely photos, thank-you for the tour, I do like this way of seeing where people all around the world live and visit. That is a most unusual pie, presume it was good :) You have a little picket fence photo too, like my header, for which I thank-you for your comments :)

    1. Thank you! Yes the pie was good, but not as good as my Mother's... someday I will post the recipe!

  10. What a great post Diane! I really enjoyed it ;o) You and your hubby had a great journey! I know it was cold, but you got some great photos ;o) You should have bought a pie, hopped over to Canada and I would have ate it with you and your hubby ;o) LOL! I love those twisted trees and tree roots! Very cool! Big Hugs ;o)

  11. What amazing and breathtaking photos! WOW! And that Sour Cream Raisin Pie looks kinds awesome :)

  12. Wow Diane - what a lovely trip. I had such a delightful time looking at all your photos. This type of vacation would be something I would love to do. The lighthouse is awesome . As for the Pie place - wow - to me pie for breakfast is the perfect food. How can you go wrong? (LOL). Thank you so much for taking me along. Loved every moment. Hugs

  13. Absolutely gorgeous pictures! I would love to retrace your steps one day! From the absolutely scrumptious looking pie to the majestic views, your post was an absolute delight. Thank you so much for sharing your travels and experiences!!


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane