Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 58

Our latest adventure has continued as we have moved on to another state. This morning we left Grand Forks and headed south to Mitchell, South Dakota. In laying out our route for our return to Oklahoma we are still seeking out places and things that one or the other of us have never seen. Although Joanne had been through Mitchell some years ago with her parents I had never been here to see the Corn Palace. The first Corn Palace was built in 1892. As the people became aware that a larger building was needed the original building was replaced in 1905. That second building was replaced in 1919 with the current structure. The building houses a theater stage, a basketball court and arena seating. Each year the Corn Palace is redecorated sporting a new theme. The decorative materials for the Corn Palace are all native corn, grasses and grains of South Dakota. The new theme is selected each year by the Corn Palace Committee. The exterior of the building is not the only part that is decorated. There are numerous murals inside. This building is used for live shows and the local schools play their home basketball games there.

In addition to touring the Corn Palace we also hit the many gift shops that have located in the area. Here Joanne stops to visit with Zeke outside Zack & Zeke's shop.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 57

Since the city of Grand Forks did not offer much in the way of sightseeing we decided to take a drive down Interstate 29 to Fargo, a distance of about 70 miles. We were headed to Bonanzaville USA, a park operated by the county historical society. They have acquired many historic buildings from around the area and moved them to a site adjacent to the county fair grounds. Although we have been to other similar parks this one was one of the best. They have done a great job of restoring these buildings and furnishing them with period pieces. To the right is St. John's Lutheran Church which was chartered in 1898. Another building they have is the original Cass County Courthouse. The interior has been completely restored. A good example of how they have acquired period equipment and furnishings is the interior of a dry goods store.

In addition to the old buildings there are very large collections of restored vehicles and farm equipment. One large building held well over 100 restored tractors and another held other restored farm equipment. One building held a large collection of restored, vintage cars and trucks. The picture is of a 1935, left hand drive Rolls Royce that came from the Lord Mayor of Manchester, England.

Following our tour of Bananzaville we stopped off to see the Fargo Walk of Fame. This was started by a local music store owner who started getting celebrities to put their hand and foot prints in concrete squares, similar to Graman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. He originally had these in the sidewalk outside of his music store but as the collection grew it was moved to a plaza outside the Fargo Visitor's Center. Pictured here are panels by two Oklahoma boys, Toby Keith and Conway Twitty.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 55

Our time in Duluth has come to an end and it is time to move on. The plan was to leave out around 9:00 AM and head west toward North Dakota but that did not happen. As has previously been mentioned, we were parked in a working boat yard, which was very fascinating to me. Yesterday, the owner mentioned that first thing Saturday morning they would be pulling one of the Vista boats out of the water for repairs. The Vista Fleet are the boats that are used for the harbor tours. The Vista Queen can hold about 40 passengers for a tour. Well, we just had to hang around long enough to watch them take her out of the water. Once they got her up and ashore they were able to work on one of her screws that had a bearing going bad.

Eventually, we did get on the road and headed west. Since we had been across most of the western part of the state on previous trips to Minnesota we did not plan to stop to see any of the sites, except for one. On our list from the RoadsideAmerica.com website we looked for "The Big Fish" in Bena. This is adjacent to a supper club of the same name. The fish is actually a building that originally housed a hot dog stand. While we were stopped we visited with a couple of girls that were part of a group who were crossing the country, via bicycle, on US Highway 2, going from New Hampshire to Vancouver, Washington. These two were stopped at their "chase vehicle". In all there were twelve of them plus a guy driving a van with a trailer with all their personal gear.

Our last stop before leaving Minnesota was in East Grand Forks, right on the state line with North Dakota. In a tourist guide we saw that the Cabela's store had a large statue of two moose fighting was in front of the store. (Cabela's is a chain of huge sporting goods stores throughout the northern part of the country.) Since I had never been in a Cabela's we decided to check it out. On the back wall was the greatest display of trophy animals. We also saw a bar and grill, named The Blue Moose, nearby. We had to stop to take pictures of the blue moose on the lawn.

We finally crossed the Red River of the North and drove into North Dakota. We drove through Grand Forks and out west of town to the Grand Forks Air Force Base where we set up camp in the base campground. This is an old Cold War base that was mainly used as the support base for the many missile silos that were scattered over the Dakota's, Wyoming and Montana. This base now is home to an Air Force refueling squadron. We did attempt to do some sightseeing around Grand Forks but there was not really anything to see in this small, military town.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 53

As has been been typical of the weather in Duluth we woke up to another change this morning. It was overcast and chilly. We experienced rain all morning long so it was a good day to stay in and take care of things here. Around noon we decided it was time to get out of here so we started out for lunch. Even though it was noon I decided that breakfast food sounded good so we went looking for the local Perkins Restaurant. As it turns out the one in the northeast part of town was no longer there. We were not sure where it had moved so we backtracked and headed to the what is called the west end. This is actually a few miles south down Interstate 35. On our way back to the coach after eating I turned off Interstate 35 a mile too early and wound up on Interstate 535 and crossing the bridge over the St. Louis River, which separates Minnesota and Wisconsin. We wound up in Superior, Wisconsin. We took the occasion to drive to Barker's Island and look around and stop at one of the gift shops to pick up some more stuff for the grand kids.

We finally made it back to the coach to find a sick dog. Buddy, for some reason had thrown up his breakfast on the rug and in my recliner. He was also very anxious to go out to potty and did not even wait until I could get his leash on him. After doing his business and taking a little walk out in the cool weather he seemed to be okay. We have no idea what caused him to be sick. After relaxing for a while we headed up "over the hill" to the west of town to meet Joanne's brother, Roger, and his wife Marilyn for dinner at Applebee's. We had a good dinner and visit with them and it even turned out better when Roger insisted on paying the bill.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 52

Today we decided to explore some areas where we had never been. Got on Interstate 35 and headed south to the town of Moose Lake. Joanne had read that they had an Agate Museum there and since she likes agates we decided to go have a look. Although the museum was disappointing, a small room in the welcome center to a state park, the town of Moose Lake was kind of interesting. It is always refreshing to see these towns that have maintained their downtown areas. We did stop at the Chamber of Commerce office to get directions to the museum and Buddy took a rest on their bench. Also, they had a big moose statue in front of their building.

This evening Joanne's aunt and uncle, Pat & Dennis, came over. We took them into Canal Park to Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que for dinner. We have seen Famous Dave's all over the south but have never been to one. Had to get up north where Bar-B-Que is not a staple of the diet to try them out. After dinner we all came back to the coach and played cards.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 51

More wandering around and seeing the sights up here in the north country. Today on the beach, just a little farther down on Park Point, was an activity they call building sand models. Groups from the different parts of town competed in building designs in the sand. We spent a little time walking the beach checking out the different designs. There appeared to be about 20 teams doing their designs.

Later in the day we took a drive back over to Joanne's old neighborhood. The people who now own her maternal grand parents house are doing a makeover and she wanted to take some pictures of the changes to show to her mother when we get back home. We then drove a little farther out to visit with Vivian Hansen. This is a old friend of Joanne's mother. We have been receiving a Christmas card from Vivian each year but this is the first time I have met her.

After returning to the coach we decided to walk over to Canal Park again and take some daytime pictures of the Lift Bridge. We spent a couple of hours looking around this area and walked a ways down the Lake Walk that runs from Canal Park around the lake and up the north shore aways. Below are some of the pictures we took while out. Buddy really enjoys these walks and getting out among all the people.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 49

Continuing in our quest to see all the lighthouses in the world we took a trip up the north shore of Lake Superior. The first stop was the city of Two Harbors. They have a neat old lighthouse that has been converted to a Bed & Breakfast. Most of the buildings are open to the public and have been fully restored. Although the main building, that originally housed the Light Keeper's residence, is now the Bed & Breakfast the light tower is still open to the public. Two Harbors is a very nice little town that at one time was a larger shipping port than the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior. The second light at Two Harbors is at the end of the breakwater that was built to assist the shipping lanes. This one is more of a tower and a true lighthouse.

While in Two Harbors we sought out one of the sites listed on the RoadsideAmerica.com website. There is a big statue of the "Voyager" in a parking lot on the main drag. Since it's construction a motel name The Voyager has been added next door. He originally was holding a canoe paddle in his hand but it appears to be long gone. Also, no one seems to know why he is wearing leggings but no pants. Anyway, we have been able to mark off another of the odd and unusual tourist sites on our list.

From Two Harbors we headed on north to the Split Rock Lighthouse. This is listed as one of the most popular in the country. Split Rock was built in the early 1900's on a 147 foot cliff overlooking the lake. Since there were not roads into the area all the materials had to be brought in by boat and carried up to the building site. In addition to the lighthouse itself there are several other buildings. These include the fog signal building and three Light Keeper residences. One of the residences has been restored to the condition of when the light first opened. Another is currently used as the residence of the curator of the site, which is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. There are some spectacular view from up where the lighthouse is located.

When we left Duluth this morning it was overcast and there was a heavy fog covering the harbor. Fortunately, as we drove north the weather cleared and we had a beautiful day. When we returned to the coach we experienced a heavy rain which did clear the air. Later I walked over to the Lift Bridge to take some pictures with it all lit up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 48

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday the sun was shining and it was 80 degrees while we took our walk down the Point to the old lighthouse ruins. Today it is overcast and rainy and it is in the low 60's. That is what I have come to expect way up north here in Duluth. Lake Superior is very choppy with the wind coming in out of the north.

We decided to walk over to Canal Park for lunch. Canal Park is just east of old downtown Duluth and was a warehouse area originally. This area has now been turned into the local entertainment district and is next to the shipping channel between Lake Superior and the bay and harbor. While over there we took some time to give in to our passion for lighthouses. The channel has three lights and a huge lift bridge to allow the ships and boats through. On the south side of the channel are two lights, the South Outer Harbor Light and the South Inner Harbor Light. The inner light is more a tower with the light at the top than a traditional looking lighthouse. The north side only has one light, the North Outer Harbor Light.

We also had to cross the Duluth Lift Bridge to get to Canal Park. By this time the fog was starting to set in and obscured part of the top of the bridge. Each time we go anywhere in the car we must cross this bridge and in many cases it is up to allow a boat or ship to enter or leave the harbor and we wind up sitting and waiting. The lift bridge was built early in the century and originally carried traffic across the channel in a basket like contraption. It has been in the current configuration since about 1926 where the roadway goes up and down as needed.

On our walk back we moved off the main road, Lake Avenue, and came down to the street along the bay. There are some really nice houses there that face the bay. We met a lady checking out her flower garden that she and a neighbor had put in between the street and the bay. This is just across the street from their houses and they got tired of looking out at the weeds that grew on this small strip of land. They have done a wonderful job of turning their view into something nice. She was very proud of her gardens and invited us over to see her gardens she has put in all around her house, including her vegetable garden in her back yard. Soon after returning to the coach the skies really opened up and it rained the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 47

Yesterday was a day of running errands in a heavy downpour of rain. Down here at the harbor it was overcast but dry. We headed up over the hill, which in my opinion should be called a mountain, and hit the rain as soon as we topped it. We needed to go to Roger's, Jo's brother, to drop off a birthday gift for his grandson, Zack. When we arrived Zack was there with his family. They had just returned from up north where they had been canoeing on the Boundary Waters near the Canadian border. Zack was able to enjoy his gift from us while we were there. We also needed to locate a post office to get a birthday present for our granddaughter Emma in the mail. She will be three this next week. Later we drove over to the nursing home and picked up Jo's Aunt Rose. We then proceeded to the home of Jo's Aunt Pat and Uncle Dennis for dinner. These two aunts were sisters to Jo's dad. Rose is the oldest of the kids and Pat is the youngest.

Today we gave in to our passion for exploring lighthouses. I've done some research on the Internet for lighthouses on Lake Superior. One is only the remains of an old lighthouse here on Park Point where we are parked. Park Point, as I mentioned in previous post, is a strip of land that goes south from Downtown Duluth. This strip separates Superior Bay and Lake Superior. The main street, Lake Avenue, goes down about three/fourths of the length of the point. At the end of the road is a municipal airport that services small planes and seaplanes. No cars are allowed past this airport. From there it is a 1 1/2 to 2 mile walk to the old lighthouse. When we parked the car it was not real obvious where the walk gate was to allow us to find the path down through the trees. We walked out to the shore of Lake Superior and started walking east along the beach. Buddy was with us and we would stop every so often to let him drink from the lake. He would not get close enough to the water for fear of getting his feet wet so Jo would scoop up water and let him drink from her hand. (Remember, he just went to the groomers this week and he is still strutting.) About three quarters of a mile down the beach, walking in deep sand we saw a break in the trees and ventured inland. We found the path we needed and proceeded on it. After walking a total of about two miles we found our destination. The old lighthouse is really in bad shape. There is a chain link fence around it but someone has cut the wire on one corner and opened it up so you can actually go in the lighthouse. A little farther past the lighthouse ruins is a large, concrete building that apparently served as a warehouse and housed a rescue boat in years past. It was obvious that when this place was in service it was only accessed via the water since it is so far from the developed area and there is no road available. After walking all the way down and getting our pictures we had to trek the two miles back to the car. Walking long distances is not something we do on a regular basis. This is even more true for Buddy. On the way back he kept seeking out shady areas and stopping. If the shade was off the path and in high grass that is where he would head. He was a good trooper because we knew he was really getting tired. When we returned to the coach he drank a lot of water and crashed on Jo's lap for a good afternoon nap. Actually, we all took an afternoon nap.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Northern Exposure--Day 45

We went up to see Joanne's oldest aunt this morning. Aunt Rose has been the matriarch of the Priolo family for many years. Although she is now living in a nursing home she is still in good health and her mind is just as sharp as a whip. Aunt Rose will turn 96 next month. Each morning around 10:00 Aunt Rose has coffee with whoever shows up to visit. Usually one or two of her sons will be there as will one of her former neighbors. This morning, while she was visiting with her son Tommy and her youngest sister, Pat, we surprised her with our visit. We also took Buddy with us and he had a good time. Visitors often bring their small dogs with them to visit. Several of the nursing home residents keep "doggie treats" in their pockets to share with the little four legged visitors. Today was no different and Buddy "ate it up", so to speak.

We were able to get Buddy in to be groomed today. He normally gets a trip to the "day spa" once a month when we are home in Oklahoma. His last grooming was the last week of May. We've tried several places where we've been to get him a grooming appointment but have not been successful in the time frame we were staying in each place. Today he went to Petco and got a bath and a good trim. He looks much better and he acts like he feels better to get the excess hair off. (I felt the same way when I got my hair cut last week while we were in Willmar.)

Earlier in the week we had seen a listing of activities here in Duluth. For today they listed sailboat races on Lake Superior. As it turned out the races were moved to Superior Bay, directly in front of the marina where we are parked. We were able to stand on the edge of the Bay and watch the boats as they came by on their race course. Here are some of the pictures I took of the boats.