Sunday, July 22, 2018
I got going a little bit later than I had planned to, but it’s not the end of the world. I got to Duluth a little before one o’clock in the afternoon. My first stop was the Great Lakes Aquarium, which I hadn’t been to since I was just a kid. A lot had changed since the last time I was there; not that I remember a whole lot for the last time I was there. I got there just in time for the feeding in one of their saltwater tanks. They have a few cownose rays, a zebra shark, and a black blotched porcupinefish in one of the tanks and the other saltwater tank is all reef fish like blue tang. The majority of the aquarium is fresh water tanks with fish that are native to the Great Lakes, like lake trout, walleye, eelpout, and lake sturgeon.
Having spent an hour or so at the aquarium, I then walked down to the shore of Lake Superior and found a bench to sit on while I ate my sandwich. From where I was sitting I had a fantastic view of the lift bridge, which is iconic for Duluth. I just sat for a bit enjoying the sunny day and cool breeze. After the last month or two of horribly hot and humid weather, it was a really wonderful thing to be outside and not melt instantly.
I eventually made my way down to Canal Park where there’s a bunch of little shops, art galleries, and restaurants. I was on a bit of a mission to find a little cafe that I had been to with my mom a few years back. I couldn’t remember the name of it, but I knew it was in Canal Park and that it was in the basement of a building. Turns out it really wasn’t hard to find at all. For those of you who are wondering it’s called Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe, and it’s in the basement of the DeWitt-Seitz building.
I walked down the steps into the eclectic little cafe and placed my order. Instead of sitting inside I decided to sit on the patio while I did a bit of writing and enjoy my honey lavender latte and my harvest cookie. The latte was very good, but really the harvest cookie is what stole the show. It’s really just an oatmeal raisin cookie, but with pumpkin as well. I’m constantly wishing it was fall, and with the temperature being in the upper 60s it felt like it was fall for a little bit.
I walked down toward the lift bridge and walked along the north pier. I went to the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, which is right along the pier. I’ve been to it a million times in my life, but as a kid, I didn’t really appreciate the amount of information there is on the shipping industry of the area. I mean, as a Minnesotan I knew that the major industry of northeastern Minnesota was iron ore, but I didn’t realize that there was also a lot of grain being shipped through Duluth, or that there were a lot of passenger ships coming through around the turn of the century as well. It’s a really great little museum, and it’s free.
I walked along the boardwalk trying to avoid the sky piranhas, I mean seagulls, toward the beach in Canal Park. I found a big rock to sit on and spent a couple of hours reading with the cool breeze off the lake on my face and the sun on my back. I walked through a few of the shops in Canal Park before heading back to my car.
I had a tour booked at Glensheen Mansion, but I needed to get some dinner first. I went to Black Woods, which is a North Shore staple. I had salmon with mashed potatoes and brussles sprouts along with a Loon Juice hard cider. Dinner was great, and I got some writing done before I had to leave to catch my tour.
Glensheen is one of my favorite places in the world! The home was built at the turn of the 20th century by the Congdon family along the shore of Lake Superior. the tour started just outside the carriage house and took us through the informal gardens past where the greenhouses used to be before taking us to the front of the house. From the front, you truly get an idea of just how massive the 39 room mansion is. It’s made of a concrete and steel frame, but has a beautiful red brick exterior. The home feels very cozy when you walk in with all the dark hand carved wood, and immediately to the right is the bright reception room which has 24k gold leaf on the entire ceiling. The tour takes you through the entire home some of my favorite things in the house are the fireplace in the living room, the dining room, the green-tiled breakfast room, and all of the artwork on the walls of the home.
Once the tour of the inside of the house was finished we got to spend some time in the formal gardens on the lake side of the home. The formal gardens are my favorite part of the estate. The red brick walking paths match the home perfectly, and all of the flowers with the view of the lake along with the hundred-year-old marble fountain are stunning. Our guide took us along a path to the stone arch bridge over Tischer Creek. The bridge leads to walking trails which, to my knowledge, aren’t open to the public. The last thing on the tour was the rarely opened boathouse at the start of the pier. The inside of the boathouse isn’t perfect, but it was really cool to see something on the estate that I’d never seen before.
After the tour ended, I spent some time walking around the grounds enjoying the beauty of the lake before heading to my Airbnb. My room at the Airbnb was fantastic and had a pretty good view of Lake Superior.
Keep an eye out for the rest of my North Shore adventure over the next couple of weeks. Until next time, safe travels.