- Frank DeArmas
Our combined two stop stay in the golden gopher state
We heard a saying here in Minnesota, which after spending a week between two stops, we have come to know is true. And that saying is Minnesota nice. Frankly I was not sure what to expect on our way west to Montana. I knew Minnesota was north, right on the border, they had cold winters, and I heard they have many, and I mean many, lakes. But once you get here and start to meet the people and see the beautiful forest lands that make up this northern state, you start to realize that it's not just a saying, it's a way of life.
We stayed at two different KOA's on our way across the state. The picture above is the KOA in Bimidji, which was very nice and a great place to stop. The Duluth location was fine, but not at the same level. We will stay at the Bimidji KOA once again, however we will do a different campground should we find ourselves in Duluth.
All that being said, Duluth was and is a very cool city. Sitting right on Lake Superior, it has both a seaside feel, and an industrial feel to her. You can see Iron ore trains rolling to the dock where they are loaded onto freighters for the journey through the Great Lakes to the factories and mills down in Detroit and Ohio.
Northshore Scenic Railroad and Museum
Our first day in Duluth was spent going to the Northshore Railroad Museum and riding on the Two Harbors train up the shore of Lake Superior. The ride itself was so much fun (I'm a train geek ok?) and the little town of Two Harbors was very pretty. For our friends from New England, it had that Cape Cod feel to her.
We had a really good lunch which you'll learn more about in Jan's Taste of America section below.
Two Harbors Minnesota
Putt Putt, and Jay Cooke State Park
Jay Cooke State Park
You may have seen on our FaceBook group that the Grand Alaskan Putt Putt Challenge is now tied? Since I already mentioned it on FB I won't go into detail here, or dwell on it (Oh yeah baby, 2 in a row come back yeah!!!).
One of the nice things about staying where we did in Duluth was it was 5 minutes from Jay Cooke state park. One of our favorite things to do when we are out on the road is explore nature and take our hikes. This State Park is really a treasure and the University of Minnesota keeps an ecological outpost here. Really cool.
Ok, I have never heard of this place, Then I'm having dinner with a good friend (Hey David O!) and I tell him we are stopping here. He's like cool, that's where we went as kids every year. Small world.
Well, I can now see why. Not only is this a cool town, but the headwaters of the Mississippi River are near here and of course we needed to go see that. As we headed into Town we first decided to go check out the giant Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox statues that are a major tourist attraction.
I know, right? The story is one we all read as kids and turns out there is a little truth to the legend. Of course when the local lumber company in the 1930's wanted to get more attention, they used Paul and Babe as mascots, and the legend grew, lol. As with many legends, Paul was bigger than life and we find that many states claim him. But only Bimidji has an 18 foot statue of him and Babe the OX.
Downtown art walk
These were two of the many art installations throughout downtown Bimidji, all in all there were 37 of these and they ranged from cute, to what in the world were they smoking?!?!
4th of July
And I would be remised if I did not mention the wonderful Fireworks display the town put on for the calibration of our nations Independence. Great Job Bimidji!!
Added bonus was the 18,000 little kids screaming at the top of their lungs every time one would go off, lol.
Headwaters of the Mississippi river, Itasca State Park
Having lived in New Orleans, the mighty Mississippi was a constant presence. The river is center to life in the Crescent city.
So seeing the humble beginnings of this mighty river here in the headwaters, was just really powerful for me. Here kids played in the crystal clear stream that would in turn join with others downstream to become one of the great rivers in the world. Just wow.
The river starts here, flows north 30 miles to Bemidji, where it then turns south on the way to the gulf. The water flowing past us today will reach the gulf 90 days from now.
I really enjoyed visiting here. And as a bonus the kids were able to see us on the live webcam. You can click here mndnr.gov/headwaters to see what's going on there right now.
Now we will turn to the local foods we find along the way.
When we come across something unique, and we can find it, Jan will highlight it in our blog.
A Taste of America
For the foodie’s in us, we decided to highlight the most popular foods in the states we visit.
Minnesota is known for the following:
Juicy Lucy Burgers (the cheese is in the middle of the burger not on top)
Everything Wild Rice (even burgers)
Hot dish ( one word, kind a like a casserole, but not)
Jello - salad’s
Booya (a soup)
Lefse (tortilla made from potatoes)
Just to name a few……
Check this cute article out for more details: https://mspmag.com/eat-and-drink/how-to-eat-like-a-minnesotan/
While in Two Harbors we found a restaurant called Blackwoods, we were able to get their tots and wild rice soup. I would highly recommend both, especially the soup, it was to die for. The tots were huge and stuffed with cheese!
In Duluth we found a cute little pub called Crooked Pint. They had both the Juicy Lucy and Walleye. Frank had the Lucy and I had the walleye. The Lucy was dripping in cheese!
It looked amazing, but I’m glad I had the walleye. I never had it before but I’ll definitely have it again. I would recommend either one of these restaurants if you’re ever up in this area.
Last but not least, we went to Fitger’s Brewhouse in downtown Duluth. One of the oldest Brewhouses in Minnesota, it started in 1857 and even managed to stay open during prohibition by selling candy and non-alcoholic beverages. Today it’s a hotel, shops, restaurants and of course the brewhouse. If interested, here’s a link to it’s history.
We were able to sit outside, had some beer, enjoyed the beautiful weather and people watched (one of my favorite things to do).
I forgot to mention, Bob Dylan was born here. As we travel and find interesting foods, I'll be sharing it with all of you.
That will do it from Minnesota. We hope you enjoyed the blog and we will see you all, on the road.
Frank and Jan
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