Raised in Willmar, MN, Duluth was the place our family would travel to when I was young in order to get away from Minnesota's heat and humidity. Getting to the aerial lift bridge was always a thrill. Not only was it cooler but there was always something new to see. While there were no ships coming into port a few days ago when we were there, the bridge was raised for some smaller boats. it's still a kick to watch that bridge go up and down. I just don't want to be caught on it in my car when it does. It's been known to happen... (Probably not a good idea to be playing 'Pokemon Go' in the area!!)
The day couldn't have been any nicer when we were in Duluth harbor last week (early August). It seemed everyone was was out enjoying the weather as there had been some strong winds and rain in recent days. In this moment? It couldn't have been more blissful.
It's a few years ago now but I have a photo of my siblings and our families on this very lawn. My brothers live across Lake Superior from one another. We had come from California and rendezvoused with them in Duluth.
Seeing these folks on the lawn by the lighthouse felt like a bit of a time warp thinking about all of us together back then when OUR kids were young. Talk about time warp!
After a very pleasant evening out in Duluth (other than a $15 parking ticket we got for being a few minutes over what we'd paid for!), we wandered over to Canal Park to walk across the miniature lift bridge to see the boats moored. It was a calm evening which made for brilliant reflections on the water.
The morning after our night out in Duluth, it was time to head north to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada to visit my brother and his family. The visuals are stunning along the way. The green is such a contrast to the golden colors of Northern California this time of year.
The terrain is hilly driving up to Thunder Bay. Glaciers did a lot of work in this area, to say the least. There was road construction which made the Minnesota portion of the trip north of Duluth slow and tedious. There was no problem crossing the border from the USA to Canada. It was immediately noticeable how good the road (Hwy 61) was when we arrived in Canada. Yay!
It's been years since being in Thunder Bay, Ontario. It has changed. You might say it's grown up. The waterfront is beautiful. This is part of what you'll see if you visit. I believe it is THIS area that becomes an ice skating rink in the winter. Looking out to the water, you'll see a harbour with beautiful sailboats. You won't be disappointed.
My brother and sister-in-law knew just the place to pick up some smoked fish, bread, potato salad, and gorilla cookies for a lunch break on these rocks on our way to Silver Islet - north on Hwy 17. What a complete treat!
My brother is a potter (Early Snows Pottery in Thunder Bay) and a practical kind of guy. He brought a coffee grinder and a camp stove that heats water in seconds. He was able to present us with the best cup of coffee in mugs he made for us. Pretty sweet, yes? We're traveling sparsely but have room for those special mugs. (click the link to see)
After picnicking, we drove to Silver Islet. While it's considered a ghost town, it seemed a very desirable place to live! What's that say about how living on the road in a motorhome has affected me? HA! The cottages are quaint and well kept. Perhaps it's because it's summer that there was more human activity than I think a ghost town should have.
I understand the cabins have been in the same families for years and years. The little 'burb rose up because of silver mining on a little island viewable from shore. I highly recommend you visit if in the area. (Maybe I am suppose to keep it a secret? Oops!)
Silver Islet is quaint, quaint, quaint. We parked at the store (no longer open) and walked for a couple miles taking as much of it in as possible. There were people in the water (they claimed it was warm but I'm wondering) and many riding bikes, walking, chatting on porches. What a kicked back, pleasant place. There is no connectivity. Could you deal with that?
This was the point at Silver Islet which could be seen from the store. The jagged red rock, blue water, green trees made for a striking combo.
There is a tricky-to-find cemetery at Silver Islet. My sister-in-law knew where it was so we walked "off road" to get there.
While we found some of the markers of those buried, it was hard to find them all. Luckily, there were some folks we ran into who know the cemetery well as they live in Silver Islet part time. They were happy to point out well hidden graves. The markers are mostly made from wood and very worn this many years after their placement. Wooden fences were seen around some of the graves but they are becoming fragile and rickety with age. Nature is taking over and one day, before too long, the cemetery may be hard to find at all. People buried here were all involved in mining silver years ago. It was reportedly on the small island we could see from shore, had a 5 foot seawall around it, and the pit went 1500' into the earth. One of the locals we ran into said a big wave came and washed much of the wall away and mining there met its end.
We had a great time discovering Thunder Bay and spending time with family. All too soon, it was time to move on. Rather than driving back through road construction to Duluth and across northern Wisconsin to visit my other brother and his family in Marquette, MI, we elected to drive around the north side of Lake Superior and back through Sault Saint Marie, Ontario into Michigan.
We had no idea about Pancake Bay Provincial Park but we felt like we had again hit pay dirt. We parked KngaBlu and headed to the beach to take a walk down the lengthy sand beach before enjoying a picnic dinner of left over smoked fish, bread, and potato salad.
One of the things that makes traveling the way we are so special is we find a place that looks good and we stop if they have room for us to park our rig. So far, we've been extremely lucky that way.
We enjoyed the beach for a few hours as the evening was nothing short of perfection. People watching and goose watching. This pair of geese swam and walked up into the grass, then swam and walked in the grass. They finally swam away and we resorted to the waves gently rolling in. For those not use to the Great Lakes, they can fool you. It's easy to think you'll need to move your chair for the changing tide. Guess what?! Despite that big body of water, no tide. It's a mystery. :-)
Talk about calm. Lake Superior can have "huge seas" but not during these few hours on this particular evening. We ran across a chart of all the ships meeting their demise on the lake. Many remain at the bottom to this day. Don't let the glass calm fool you!
If you know me, you know I love the moon. It caught my attention as we sat in our "Home is Where you Park It" chairs at Pancake Bay Provincial Park's beach. It was actually setting (vs. rising) that evening. What a spectacular evening it had been. Having no knowledge this place existed prior to coming across it, we were blown away by what we found.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of KngaBlu's Lake Superior Circle Tour.
I have a couple more locations to include in Lake Superior's Circle Tour but this has gotten crazy long already. I will get to that as soon as I can. It continues to surprise me how full our days are. We visited a few friends in Minnesota and my two brothers on opposite sides of Lake Superior over the past two weeks.
I am looking forward to getting someplace in the not too distant future to park for a week with hopefully some time to sit and more fully absorb the goodness of what we're experiencing. I can tell you this. An election year was a good time to hit the road. We rarely watch or hear the news. All I can say to that is, "AMEN!"
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