travel

Two Harbors, Minnesota

Two Harbors is about a half hour drive north of Duluth. We took the old scenic drive along the lake.

Two Harbors was originally two separate communities — Agate Bay and Burlington. The towns merged to form Two Harbors and was incorporated as a village in 1888. By the early 1900s, the area was predominantly known for logging and more than 35 logging camps were in the area. It came to be known as the City of Two Harbors in 1907.

The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) was originally started in Two Harbors. They discovered a mineral called corundum which could be used to make sandpaper. It turned out not to be really corundum so they moved on to other things. In 1905, they moved to Duluth and in 1907, they ron Ore was discovered nearby. The Minnesota Iron Company bought 17,000 acres so they could build their railroad. Up until the railroad was built, the main transportation route was on Lake Superior. Agate Bay was chosen as the railroad terminus and shipping port because it was close to the iron ore site and had a clay bottom.

These days the railroad serves as a tourist attraction with one trip that runs on the weekends from Duluth to Two Harbors. It is a full day trip with a stop for lunch and a tour. There are other trips all operated by the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

Two Harbors also had a thriving commercial fishing industry but over fishing, along with the invasion of the sea lamprey, destroyed the industry by 1955. Agate Bay gets its name from the translucent reddish-brown stones called Lake Superior agate, the Minnesota state gemstone. They were formed by basaltic lava 1.1 billion years ago.

The Edna G. Tugboat was built in 1896, and named after Jacob Greatsing’s daughter, Edna. He was president of the D & IR Railroad. Edna originally served the shipping industry but during WW1 she moved to the east coast to serve the US Government. After the war she returned to Lake Superior. The Edna G. was the last steam driven tug boat to operate on the Great Lakes. She was retired in 1981 and donated to the City of Two Harbors to serve as a museum.

Castle Danger Brewery…. for the beer lovers…

Local Two Harbors Castle Danger brewery has now gone state-wide.

“Crafting a North Shore experience…”

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth is about a two and a half hour drive north of the Twin Cities. We had hoped it would be cooler up there but on the day we left, the temperature was the same as it was in St Paul — over 90 degrees F. 

Just outside Duluth there is a large rest stop with a spectacular overlook. There is also a sculpture by David von Schlegell done in 1976 called The Gate. Von Schlegell was from St. Louis, Missouri. His father was an American Impressionist painter, William von Schegell. The plaque says: 

The Stainless steel sculpture functions as a metaphor, tying the horizontal lines of the land and Lake Superior, which are both very visible from this location, together at the point of intersection with the City of Duluth. The Gate serves to recognize the importance of Duluth, as not only a gateway to Minnesota’s north shore, but also to the world through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway that extends 3700 kilometers (2300 miles) east to the Atlantic Ocean.

On the way into town we stopped at the Duluth Grill located a 118 S. 27th Ave. W. The restaurant is open daily from 8 am to 3 pm and serves fresh, local, organic food. Their salads and sandwiches were delicious. Plus they serve breakfast all day.

Our next stop was to check into our hotel right on the lake. We stayed at the Canal Park Lodge at 250 Canal Park Drive. It was very comfortable and the view was spectacular. Breakfast was included. 

The first day I walked along the shore all the way to the lighthouse and back. It was kind of a mistake since it was so hot but I did get to see the bridge go up and got a close up view of the light house.

The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge was completed in 1905, and was upgraded in 1929. In 1973 it went on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most photographed sites in Minnesota. In the busy seasons, it averages 26 lifts a day and operates 24 hours a day. It has a clearance of 180 feet when completely raised and is very similar to a bridge in Rouen, France. They are the only two of their kind in the world.

A couple of big ships had just gone out when we arrived but I was lucky enough to see the bridge go up to let the tug boat back in.

Another important bridge is the one that connects Duluth, Minnesota with Superior, Wisconsin. The John A. Blatnik Bridge is 7,975 feet (2,431 m) long and rises up nearly 120 feet (37 m) above the St. Louis River which is a tributary of Lake Superior. The bridge was completed in 1971 but has been widened and strengthened since then.

Weekend Photo Round Up

Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park

Sucker Lake. Impounding Reservoir St. Paul Water Department. Elev. 883.5 feet above mean sea level. Water surface area 60 acres. Owned and operated by the Board of Water Commissioners of the City of St. Paul. No canoes or other water craft in lake.

Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota

Week in Review

Happy Bastille Day (yesterday)! The French stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. It was the spark that started the French Revolution. Ten years later it ended in a coup with Napoleon at the helm as “First Consul”. They were able to end feudalism, kill their king, come up with the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, draft a new constitution, but in the end they could not agree on how to rule and those in power fought between themselves to the point where the military stepped in. Napoleon went on to conquer most of Europe. Today Bastille Day is celebrated in France and around the world as National Festival Day to symbolize harmony. I find that a little confusing but hey, it’s an excuse to each yummy French food.

I watched the first couple of episodes about Patagonia on CNN this week – “Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World”. What I have seen so far is animal conservation. They are concentrating on species native to the land who are being threatened by the changing environment and humans in general. It is good to know that there are a lot of people out there doing good things to help our planet. I don’t think we hear enough about those things. It is a six part series. You can learn more about it here.

The new version of Jane Austin’s “Persuasion” just came out on Netflix. It did not get a favorable review in the New York Times so I am a bit mixed about it. I will probably watch it since it is one of my favorites. My favorite version is the one from 1997 with Fiona Shaw, Amanda Root, and Ciaran Hinds.

In the news – arrrgghhh. Seems like so many horrible things are happening right now it is hard to take it in. I lived in Russia during both of the Chechen wars and the one thing I remember vividly was the mass killings of civilians and children. What is happening in Ukraine is nothing new.

I made a pretty good casserole last night. The prep was a bit time consuming but it came out yummy.

Chicken Pesto Casserole

Boil 3 medium russet potatoes for about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Two chicken breasts, cubed (I cut them up and cooked them with some shallots and garlic, basil, tarragon, and a little bit of chili powder)
I made a pesto with about a cup of frozen spinach, half cup of sun dried tomatoes, and a small jar of artichoke hearts. (Whizzed in the food processor)
Then I made a white sauce with salt, pepper, basil, tarragon, a little garlic powder. (2 tbsp. butter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 cups milk.)

I added the pesto into the white sauce to combine.
I peeled and thinly sliced the potatoes.

I greased a pyrex baking dish with avocado oil and placed a layer of potatoes in the bottom. Then covered the potatoes with half the pesto mixture, then all the chicken, then another layer of pesto, and topped it off with a mixture of cheeses (about a cup). I used parmesan and a Mexican mix.

Throw it in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. I made everything but the white sauce the day before.

I’m heading to Duluth and a spot right on Lake Superior next week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens is located on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota’s ninth largest lake at 14,528 acres. The Noerenberg family lived on the land until 1972, when Lora Noerenberg Hoppe bequeathed it to the Park District on her death. Frederick Noerenberg, the founder of Grain Belt Brewery built the estate in 1890. The house is gone but the gardens feature tiered rose beds and manicured lawns in the English Landscape style. It is considered one of the finest formal gardens in Minnesota.

Week in Review

Hastings, MN

Did you see it now costs $200 per day above and beyond the regular expenses of accommodation, transportation, guides to visit Bhutan? Will make for a pricey trip. Although I guess you no longer have to go with a guided tour. It is on my bucket list. Have you been there?

I heard a song on the radio the other day that I really liked. It was by Orville Peck. I think he sounds like a cross between Roy Orbison and Jonny Cash. But some say he is reminiscent of Elvis. Anyway, I bought his second album, Bronco. He has kind of a cowboy theme. Orville Peck is an alias/persona for Daniel Pitout. He is South African but left when he was 15 and moved to London and then to Canada. His voice is amazing. 

My internet is out. I love the way you have to go onto the internet to find out if the internet is out. Luckily my cell service was working so I could go on the internet on my phone to my internet service provider’s website for it to tell me the internet is out. Now I have to wait for them to text me to let me know it is working again. I wonder if I will really actually get a text. (I did!) Life is full of surprises. Actually life was much simpler before the internet. It was one less thing to worry about. When it first appeared, I wondered what anybody would do with it. Why would people need something that just looked things up? I suppose it is like any new thing. Once you get used to it you wonder how you ever lived without it. I look things up every five minutes now. 

A young TCK (third culture kid) has written a book about the trials and tribulations of being a TCT (Third Culture Teen), something she apparently coined. I listened to a podcast of her being interviewed. She is Korean and lived in China and other places and went to college in the USA. Interesting that she mostly went to American Schools when she was growing up and identified with Americans and thought she knew about American culture even though she never lived there but when she actually got to the USA, she was clueless. It sounds like a pretty common problem to me, whether you are Korean or American (TCK). Anyway her book is called The Third Culture Teen, In Between Cultures, In Between Life Stages by Jiwon Lee (on Amazon).

Buh-bye to Boris (Johnson). I will miss his hairdo….

Speaking of music… I watched a good documentary on Amazon Prime about Los Tigres Del Norte. Four brothers left their home in Sinaloa, Mexico after their father was shot in the spine. They could not afford an operation so they needed to earn money for the family. They were playing in restaurants wherever they could and in Mexicali they ran into a man who took them to San Jose, California and introduced them to a record distributor. They seemed to have very good luck as well as being talented. Their style is “norteño” music and their lyrics are about the immigrant, the workers, the down trodden. Later they also wrote about the drug traffickers and the movers of contraband. Their concerts could last for six hours or more. They have released 50 albums and received five Grammy awards. They are still going strong and plan to keep going as long as they are able. They are all naturalized US citizens now.

When I went to San Francisco in May, we walked all through Chinatown and I bought some gifts for my great niece and nephew. I went over to their house last night for dinner and to give them their presents. I was greeted by the four year old boy who was very excited about an episode of the dragon cartoon they were watching. So I enjoyed a couple of episodes of dragon adventures. When I was getting ready to leave he told me he wanted to draw me a picture. This is now displayed on my refrigerator. I think it is quite beautiful.

Nicollet Island Inn

The Island Sash & Door Company was constructed on Nicollet Island in 1893. Nicollet Island sits in the middle of the Mississippi river between the east and west banks of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Island Sash & Door Company continued its operations until 1899.

Minneapolis’ flour and grain milling industry flourished at the beginning of the 20th century and the building that was the Island Sash & Door Company became headquarters to several milling companies. Then from 1913, to about 1973 it was a men’s shelter started up by the Salvation Army. The building and much of the land on Nicollet Island was sold to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation District in the late 1970’s. From there, the structure became the Nicollet Island Inn.

Architecturally it has gone through several transformations with the interior consisting of timber and beam construction and windows presenting beautiful views. The bar with original stained glass is over 150 years old and originally belonged to a drugstore in a small New Hampshire town.

Today Nicollet Island Inn is a small romantic hotel with an excellent restaurant including an intimate bar and patio seating. They serve a good Sunday Brunch with mimosas and excellent Bloody Marys.

The Trials of Air Travel

I have been reading lately about all the airline travel problems people are having. Long delays, cancellations, missed events, long lines. It looks pretty bad, but then I read an article today that compared what was happening now to pre-pandemic numbers and they aren’t far off. There have always been travel uncertainties. I was looking through some old writing of mine and found this from 1997. I was living in Moscow, Russia at the time. My two year old child and I were on home leave in Minnesota and we were flying back to Moscow via Amsterdam. Noah is my son, Nicholas my husband who was in Moscow.

“So we got on the plane and at first they said they had to offload some luggage and it would be about 15 minutes. Then they said they couldn’t start one of the engines automatically so they would have to try it manually. Then it didn’t work manually so they would have to fix that. They never knew for sure what the problem was or how long it would take. Noah fell asleep about an hour into it and slept until we got into the air. After they they fixed the engine, the computer program had to be re-entered with the new times so that took a bit longer and then finally we were off, three hours late.

Noah finally fell asleep about an hour before we landed in Amsterdam. I guess I have blocked it out because I don’t remember most of it or how I entertained him but we survived somehow and when we got off, a woman across the aisle said that my child was such a good traveler!! I didn’t know how to respond to that.

Our connecting flight was just leaving when we arrived in Amsterdam so I went to the transit desk and they told me they would have to put me on the next flight out which was the Aeroflot at 12:45 pm. I said I didn’t want to fly Aeroflot and she said she understood completely and I should go talk to the people at the ticket counter. So I went there and they told me that all the flights to Moscow that day eventually connected to Aeroflot so if I wanted to go that day, I didn’t have a choice. They told me I could refuse to go and I assume they would have put me up for the night but then I didn’t know what would happen to my luggage so I decided to just go. the 12:45 flight was fully booked in Tourist Class so they put us in Business Class and as the KLM guy was giving me my ticket he said – Well, at least it is Business Class, whatever that means…. I said I would find out. They also gave me a free three minute phone call to Moscow so I let Nicholas know when to meet us.

There was a couple with two small children also waiting for the flight to Moscow and I found out they had been on my flight out of Minneapolis. It turns out that they were just moving to Moscow and it was their first time. I thought, what an introduction for her… She won’t forget this trip for a while. I gave her my phone number and she promised to call me. The world is small.

Well, Business Class on Aeroflot is a real treat. The only difference between it and Tourist Class is that there is leg room and you get to use the First Class toilet. Tourist Class has six seats across with no leg room, Business Class has six seats across with leg room, and First Class has four seats across with leg room. All the seats are the same size. Noah slept the whole way and I slept through most of it so can’t comment on the service except the beverage choices were Sprite, Coke or mineral water. The landing reminded me of the UTA pilots in Africa. We would dive, then go up, then drop, then dive again. Noah thought it was great fun.

After we landed and arrived at the gate the announcement was made that in fairness to everybody the Tourist Class passengers would exit first and the Business Class and First Class people would remain in their seats until everybody else had exited. We sat there and watched as all the people in Tourist Class filed past us. Unbelievable.

Luckily my bags showed up right away and Nicholas was there waiting.”

I have survived many such sagas. Some worse than others. But it hasn’t stopped me so far…