Tall ships sail into the Duluth, MN harbor. That calls for a Maritime Festival! We didn't waste a moment, we packed our bags and hit the road. Duluth is about 2 1/2 hours north of the Twin Cities. My brother Mark and sister-in-law Lori joined us. They live near St. Cloud so we met at the halfway point - Tobie's.
Tobie's has been in business forever and they are noted for their World's Famous Caramel Pecan Rolls! They are as big as your head, warm, gooey, delicious. You have to have one on the way up north, as well as the way back down.
The View into the city is dizzying. You drive up over the hill and look off onto the lake and into the horizon. But with both hands on the wheel and Jacob telling me I'm doing a great job we made it to our final destination. (I'm a big baby.....that's for another post.)
We checked into our rooms - and head out for lunch! Our first stop was the Lake Superior Agate Store and Antiques. Raggedy Ann is one of my favs (since I was a newborn a million years ago) and by gosh! there she was - and with Andy, no less! Since we can't leave a shop without a purchase we scooped up on a stone schnauzer charm and a few dozen stone magnets. How cool!
Finally, lunch! Pizza Luce' - Yum! Okay, Yum-O. It would be a great stop for Rachael Ray. We ordered appetizers - loaves of warm garlic bread with assorted dips - warm artichoke, sundried tomato pesto, marinara, and bruschetta. And the wing assortment, buffalo, honey, and peking. Mmmmmm. Jacob ordered the mostaccioli with ricotta and marinara sauce and meatballs, we had the Classic fire roasted pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, olives, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. I know it's so typical but oh-so-good! Needless to say, doggy bags were a given. (Guess what we had for breakfast....)
We popped into a few more shops, dropped off our leftovers to our hotel room fridge then took off for the canal. It was spectacular. The parade of ships, I guess you call it a flotilla, went through the canal - cannons firing. Sailors in the crows nests. It was fun! Duluth has the historic lift bridge and it was a nail-biter to see if the masts would clear that bridge. Amazingly so, they did! Hmmm. The bridge was taller than I thought. It was crowded - wall to wall people (almost like being at our beloved State Fair).
Back to the hotel for a swim and soak in the whirlpool and it was already time to go out for dinner. You really should eat at Gramma's, however they were closed for a private maritime party. Bummer! So Angie's Cantina filled the bill. Mark & Jacob are both fuss-budgets and Mexican cuisine is not one of their usual choices, but they did find one or two things to pick from. Jacob had a very large cheeseburger that looked delicious and a big helping of fries, topped off with a (virgin) margarita. Mark had the chili. Lori and the fajita salad and I had chicken and cheese enchiladas. Service was good, food good. I would definitely return.
The next day after our pizza and pasta breakfast we tooled up highway 61 (revisited - ha ha) to search for agates. What a gorgeous day! We dipped our feet into the icy waters of Lake Superior. Kids were swimming in it - I don't know how. It felt like the water right out of the fridge dispenser. Lori said it gave her a whole new appreciation for the survivors of the Titanic. The beach in Duluth was scoured free of agates and we moved in a more northerly direction to Two Harbors. Lighthouses were toured. Paths were followed. Beaches were searched. Jacob was satisfied - the little town had a hardware store - A True Value - as well as an antique store (that was also having a 20-50% off sale)!
You know, he always finds a treasure wherever he goes, the antique store had a Coca-Cola pencil sharpener he couldn't live without and I actually bought a tablecloth. The hardware store had freshly canned habanero pepper pickles and a some type of light fixture component that he really really needed.
The final day brought us through Canal Park and all of the remaining shops we missed on day one. Father Time Antiques, The Antique Boutique, Duluth Pack, The Harley Store, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (for our Cashew Caramel Bear Claws), and several other artsy-fartsy shops.
Well, I couldn't prolong it any longer I had to drive home. I'm such a weenie I had to time it perfectly. Not rush hour. Not at dusk when the deer start to come out. Not when it gets dark. I hate driving against headlights. I don't like driving on long spans of bridges (especially since the 35W bridge collapse - 1 year ago this weekend - yikes! A moment of silence, please). It was a pleasant drive. I was perfectly spaced with the traffic flow and a pecan caramel roll was devoured from Tobie's in Hinckley, MN. Also, a box was brought home for Gramma & Grampa to scarf down, too. All was well. Miles was thrilled that we were home!