Our next destination after a warm and fuzzy visit to the “Nations Icebox” in International Falls, MN was going to be a short stopover in Duluth, MN then work our way to Bayfield, WI for a couple of days.
Once again we decided that the most scenic route was the road less traveled, so we pointed Heidi (adorable wife’s car) down Highway 53 which would take us through Voyageurs National Park. Prior to us leaving on our journey through the Heartland we had read an article in our local paper about Voyageurs and felt that if we were close we would have to take it in. We were close.
Voyageurs is an enormous National Park with 134,000 acres of woodlands, 84,000 acres of water containing 500 islands surrounded by 655 miles of shoreline. This park hugs the Canadian Border. This area must be where the term North Woods originated. Our drive took us through beautiful expanses of woods and water and enormous fir trees. We made a turn up a side road that led to the Visitor Center at Lake Kabetogama, one of the four lakes inside the park.
When we made that turn we spotted another walleye statue built for picture posing and we couldn’t resist. Helen (adorable wife) smiled bigly for the camera from behind the walleye statue. That picture is displayed here.
Growing alongside the statue were some very pretty wildflowers and when we reached the Visitor Center we asked the Park Ranger to help us identify them from the picture shown here. She tried mightily to find the name, but finally gave up, saying that flowers were not her thing. I hope some of our Easin’ Along readers can come up with it. After walking through the displays at the Center we had to move on. I have attached a link (here) to the Voyageurs National Park website. I hope you’ll visit both the site and the park during this year as we celebrate the 100th birthday of the greatest gift Americans have given to ourselves. (See EA link).
Moving on, I was hell bent to get to Duluth, but Helen, in her role as travel guide felt that we needed to stop in Gooseberry Falls State Park for a short hike…Hike! Oh well, we’re just a couple of old retired folks with time on our hands so, why not! Thank you, AAA Guidebook!
Gooseberry Falls State Park sits on the north shore of Lake Superior and attracts visitors year round. On the day we arrived, the parking lot was full as nearby residents were taking advantage of the last few days before the start of school. It was also early leaf season. We found a spot as a visitor departed, parked and walked through the Visitor Center and on to the falls.
Gooseberry Falls are actually three waterfalls, upper, middle, and lower, and we worked our way to see all three. The falls were pretty and running quite rapidly on this day, but we were told that the water really gets roaring after the spring snowmelt. (See link) I tried my hand at capturing the flow with my camera. Walking back to our car was delightful as we found a path that took us away from the crowds. The fresh air and the woods were invigorating. I’m glad we took the time. Thanks to AAA. Now we were on to Duluth and some more sightseeing.
The purpose for our stop in Duluth was to visit the waterfront. We had met some travelers on this journey who said that we had to see the Aerial Lift Bridge, one of Duluth’s major landmarks, in Canal Park. We arrived in the later part of the afternoon and parked about five blocks from Canal Park. It had turned cool, breezy, and cloudy by the time we arrived, but that didn’t seem to hold back the crowds walking the streets. It felt good to walk (again).
The Aerial Lift Bridge was built so that the entire bridge platform could be raised some 135 feet to allow tall ships to pass under it. The bridge spans 390 feet and was completed in 1930. We were hopeful that we could see it being raised, and our luck was good this day. Within minutes of arriving at Canal Park, a ship passed under the raised bridge on its way to Lake Superior. This was a fun experience and we high fived each other for our fortunate timing.
We made a slow walk back to the car along the busy street composed of shops, bars, and attractions. Young twin boys were having a big time in one of the street side fountains. I wanted a picture of them but it was tough catching them still long enough for my camera, but I managed. They were a handsome pair.
At one shop, Helen decided that she needed a break. I caught her in the lap of a big silly moose on the loose. She managed to break away…
Bayfield, WI and the Apostle Islands are next on the itinerary and they are a few hours away…time for us to be Easin’ Along.