Friday, July 22, 2011

Up North!

We know that many of you are wondering if maybe we’d taken the last NASA shuttle as it’s quite a while since we posted anything. It’s as busy life for us on the road…so much to see, explore and enjoy, add to this the fact that we were driving into, for us, unchartered territory; we went as high up as you can go in the USA just below the Canadian border in Minnesota.

From Red Wing, MN we travelled to Pine City south of Duluth where we stayed for the 4th of July in a big RV park, so big that most people rode around the campsite in golf carts. The 4th was celebrated with a golf cart parade with prizes for the best decorated cart. As the participants passed by they threw candy, balloons and whistles to the spectators which, in turn meant that most of the children wanted to be spectators, definitely not participants. In all we had 2 nights of Fireworks on the 3rd and 4th and, in the woods!  I was a little nervous but everyone else seemed to think it was OK. For the first time since October last year we were in a full campsite, however, early Monday there was a mass exodus with only 2 RVs left where there had been 30 Sunday night - one would think there had been a fire during the night.
Our base for the Duluth area was in Ogston which is 12 miles west of Duluth - this was a beautiful campsite which had 3 lakes and we heard the loons calling each other in the evenings, it was lovely to hear them as they have such a mournful cry. We drove north from Ogston in “bluebug” to Virginia, MN and then to a town called Ely which has a wolf center and a bear center. Even though it was lunch time when we arrived we opted to go see the wolves.  The center which is on several acres is, in essence, a big enclosure where the wolves roam freely.  Shortly after we arrived there was an announcement that the wolves would be fed at 2pm, so we watched a movie, looked at the exhibits and watched 2 male wolves wait for their food.  This feed is purely for the spectators and is really only a snack.  Wolves like to gorge and fill their bellies so they get one big meal a week to simulate the wild and the snacks are for show for the visitors.  It was a wonderful experience to see the wolves just the other side of the glass but very much in their own territory.

We then went back to downtown Ely, a busy town where we had lunch, a delicious sandwich, in Northern Grounds a café recommended by a girl in a souvenir shop.  Then onto the Bear Center which we thought was just an information center (that’s what our book said) to our surprise there were 3 bears – all together now…Mammy Bear, Daddy Bear and Baby Bear…not really; 3 bears, but unrelated one of whom was heaviest bear in the world at one time and at 450lbs still on a diet!! The others were a female and a little bear that had been rescued - none of these animals could survive in the wild. Our luck was in again as they were feeding the bears at 4pm. The big fat bear was fun to watch, he sat in his den most of the time and one could see his rump through the glass, food arrived and out he went then reversed back into his den (not enough room to turn around).  We drove back to Ogston down along Lake Superior and stopped for pasties and pie at Betty’s Café, justifiably famous for her pies. Along the way we stopped at Gooseberry Falls on one of the many river that feeds the lake, the falls has 4 separate falls and was very pretty, the water was so brown that the falls made it look like beer - it should be renamed Beer Falls. 
Next day we spent in Duluth where we visited the Aquarium which is modeled on Monterey Aquarium but a lot smaller – do I sound like a Texan? They had a big tank of the fish indigenous to Lake Superior.  A tank of otters that were fed while we were there (such luck). There were Turtles, it was nice to see them because I could hear them when I went near the lakes but I cannot see them.  I rescued one who was heading across the road in a campsite and put him back in the lake.  Boy! can those little fellows run when they think they are in danger.  I think I had to bend down 4 times before I caught him.

We took a boat trip of the harbor and the lake in the afternoon.  We were floating on beer, the locals tell us it is all the iron in the soil and there are a lot of mines up here. Lake Superior is 360 miles long and 150 miles wide this of course amazed us as that is a little smaller than the Island of Ireland. So if the USA is looking for a cover for Lake Superior they can talk nicely to the Irish Government and Ireland troubles will be over.  Or will they??
Next day we took a stroll down town there was a sidewalk sale.  We browsed  and bought a T-shirt, we had to leave a few bargains behind as we have no room in the RV.  In the afternoon we went on a train ride.  Duluth is 25 miles long and 4 blocks wide on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior.  We sat in an old fashioned carriage the kind you can pull up the windows and stick your head out.  The AC was too cold in the newer carriages. It was a pleasant and relaxing journey and the ticket man looked just like Sir Topham Hatt from Thomas the Tank Engine.

Next stop Wisconsin! Next Blog? Soon…

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