Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cherishing Gitche Gumee

Hi Bill

Last month Pat and I made the 400-mile drive to Duluth to pay homage to our beloved Lake Superior. Rayna chaperoned us old folks to make sure we didn’t get lost, mugged by roving thugs or just decide to never come back home. As you know, we have visited Lake Superior many times and we never tire of it. I can’t explain why we love Lake Superior, although it certainly reminds Pat and I of the ocean, which we enjoyed while we lived in the Philadelphia area back in the early-to-mid-1970s. However, there is no question that Le Lac Superieur calls to us and we must visit her often.

In addition, Duluth also beckons to us in a strange way. We think that the gritty port and industrial areas of Duluth, along with the steep hills, bridges, and rough-looking downtown area reminds us of locations in the Pittsburgh area. However, we also like the area of Duluth up over the ridge where the newer neighborhoods and retail stores offer a softer, more comfortable environment than the areas near downtown.

Within a few minutes after we checked into our large lake-side room in Comfort Suites in Canal Park, we went out to the lake walk to stroll and sit on the benches along the lake for a while just enjoying the relaxing, almost mesmerizing, view of the lake. That’s pretty much all we really wanted to do, i.e., sit and stroll along the lake, and we did plenty of that during this visit.

Pat and Clark in Canal Park - June 2015
During the few days we were in Duluth we enjoyed the lake from many different vantage points. Of course we walked along the breakwater in Canal Park and the canal that provides access between the lake and the busy industrial harbor. We visited the light houses on both sides of the lake entrance to the canal. We also walked across the amazing Aerial Lift Bridge that connects Canal Park to Park Point, a narrow but interesting community and sandbar beach area.

Sail boats on Lake Superior - June 2015
The ambience of the Canal Park area is both interesting and enchanting. Duluth is a very industrial city that is fueled by the huge cargo ships that embark and arrive through the Canal Park area, where tourists flock to see them and the wonderful lake. While we were there, we witnessed a few behemoth cargo ships arriving and departing through the canal with their crew waving at the crowds of tourists.  We also witnessed a beautiful regatta of small sail boats exit the canal and sail onto the lake.

Canal Park caters to the needs of tourists, including good restaurants. We ate at Little Angie’s Cantina where the food is spicy, at Grandma’s where the burgers are large and sumptuous, at Amazing Grace where the half sandwiches are succulent but huge and messy, and of course fast food is also available. Yes, there are also plenty of bars available for those who want them.

Pat and I in Little Angies Cantina - June 2015
The City of Duluth has been suffering from a struggling economy and the evidence is visible in the city. Most tourists probably don’t go to the downtown area, but we like it there and indulged in some retail therapy in that area. Rayna and I spent some money in Electric Fetus, which we have also patronized in Minneapolis. It’s a music store (CDs, vinyl, and other music-related items) and we bought some vinyl. We also like Duluth Trading Company where Pat bought some clothing. I didn’t buy any, but that may fulfill most my clothing needs in the future via online shopping. We cannot visit Duluth without taking in the variety of shops and restaurants at the old Fitger’s Brewery building. Rayna bought a coat and Pat and I bought some books at Fitger’s. In addition, Fitger’s also provides great views of Lake Superior and a charming lake walk that leads to Canal Park in one direction and more great views in the other direction. 

Duluth MN - June 2015
In addition to downtown and the Lake area, we also like to drive up the hill over the ridge to check out the mall area, Barnes & Noble and other retail stores. Rayna dropped us at the B&N for a while and went off to look for some clothing at some other stores in that area. We also like the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park, especially for sweat shirts and other clothing items. In addition, we toured art galleries in Canal Park, where Pat bought some small local art pieces.

There are many options for good meals in the downtown area, including one of our favorites, Pizza Luce on Superior Street in downtown. We also like a small coffee shop named Jitters where we had lunch and coffee. It’s not at all fancy, but the sandwiches are good and the coffee is great. Of course Starbucks are also prevalent.

Rayna showing her cairn - June 2015
We like the Point Park community across the bridge from Canal Park. It consists of mostly small and older homes on both sides of the road that leads from the bridge to the park area. The only way to enter and exit Park Point is via the Aerial Lift Bridge from Canal Park or via the water or I suppose via helicopter. We spent some time there on two different days during this visit. We were delayed in a long traffic jam because the bridge was raised to enable a large cargo ship to depart from the harbor when we were returning to Canal Park after one of the Park Point visits. Luckily we were stopped at the bridge gate so we had a great view of the road surface of that bridge being raised high over the canal to enable the ship to leave the harbor. That bridge is awesome!

Clark and Pat sitting near Fitger's - June 2015
Bill, we had another wonderful visit in Duluth and we hope to do it again soon!

Unfortunately our drive home was horrendous because of heavy traffic jams and bad weather, which only got worse after we arrived.

I hope you and your family are well and happy.

Sincerely Clark

One of the ships we greeted along the canal - June 2015

Another ship to greet in the canal - June 2015

The famous Arial Lift Bridge in Duluth MN - June 2015

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