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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten


Everyone told us to go to Duluth. It was a little out of the way, but after a while you start to think maybe you should listen when everyone you come across gives the same suggestion. So we went to Duluth.

We stopped at the beach on the way. Lake Superior is amazing. When you're there, you'd swear you were looking at the ocean. You stand on the shore and stare ahead and to the sides, and as far as you can see there is nothing but water. I wonder how long it took the first settlers to discover that it wasn't salty after they saw it.

Abe and I treated ourselves to an anniversary splurge, staying a night in a fully booked RV park/boat marina, thanks to a cancellation. They said they'd let us know if there were any more cancellations so we could stay longer. The next morning as we were putting the bike cover on (the last step before driving away), the owner ran out to us to let us know that there was another cancellation and we could stay two more nights in a different spot. It worked out perfectly because I would have been annoyed at having to pack everything up just to move a few hundred yards, but since we'd packed up to leave I just felt relieved that it was already done. Perspective sure can change the way things feel.

We loved waking up to all the boats floating in the water, and listening to horns from ships sounding. We spent hours walking along the docks, looking at the boats, and talking about possibly owning one someday, maybe chartering it to make some money. Who knows what the future holds, but I'm not ready for that yet.

The RV park was a short walk or bike ride from town, and to get there we had to cross the Aerial Lift Bridge (if you want to read about it, it's pretty interesting. Several times, we had to wait as it raised up to let sailboats or small ships through. The real treat was when we got to see an ore ship pass under. The bridge raised to its full 180 feet while a 1014 foot long ship floated slowly between the two piers that make the Duluth Ship Canal. The ship was something that you have to see in person to appreciate how massive it is.

I wish we could have gotten on the bridge and stayed while it went up, but that's not allowed. If you want to fully understand why, here's some more good reading about the accidents that have occurred on the bridge:

There was another lift bridge in town, but this one was much smaller, leading to a small marina. Inside the marina was another ore ship. This one wasn't nearly as long as the one we'd seen earlier, but it still looked way too big to have gone through the smaller bridge. We stopped at the booth where the man operating the bridge was working to ask him if the ship went through the bridge, or if it was already moored there when the bridge was built. He told is that it was moved there, pushed by a tugboat, with a whopping eighteen inches of clearance. One side of the bridge had only been able to go straight up, but they'd managed to pull the other side back FOUR FEET with a crane to make room. He had been there to watch the process, and had some pictures he was kind enough to send us. I can't imagine the engineering, precision, and stress involved in completing the feat.

Our bike rides through town were fun. The side of one of the bridges was covered with what looked like old newspaper photos, blown up huge with poor resolution. When we rode by later, I realized that it wasn't photos, but mosaics made from one inch tiles. If you zoom in on the picture, you can see the individual tiles.

We also passed an old, tilted concrete building, sitting in Lake Superior, not too far from the shore. Kids were swimming to it, going inside to climb up onto the walls, and jumping off. I asked some people standing around if they knew what it was, but after a couple different people didn't know, I decided to look it up myself. It is called Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum, but Uncle Harvey's remains aren't inside. Instead, it was a failed business venture. A hopper for ships to put their cargo of sand and gravel in that would have made it easier for them to unload. There used to be a tunnel with a steam powered conveyor belt to deliver the cargo directly to the main shore. It was a wonderful idea, but it depended on them selling the goods to Duluth for the new outer-harbor breakwater the town had promised to build, but the town never did build it. The hopper was abandoned three years after it was built.

Yesterday we had to leave the marina, but the Walmart parking lot we stayed in was interesting. Some other RVs pulled in and we got to visit with some really nice people. Before we went to bed, a pickup drove through right next to the row of RVs, honking its horn. On its second trip, Abe returned the honk with our loud air horns. After we went to bed, we got to listen to the soothing sounds of engines revving and tires squealing in the parking lot. Maybe I should have been annoyed, and maybe on another day I would have, but last night was a good night for it and I enjoyed the free entertainment.

Now we're parked in a ski resort in Michigan. I'm looking forward to some mountain biking and whatever else the stay brings.

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