Friday, August 15, 2014

Discovering Duluth

We arrived in Duluth the first Tuesday afternoon of our DART (Disappearing America Road Trip) having met up midday at the Minneapolis airport.  A quick stop in Forest Lake for a concrete mixer at Culver's and we headed to the end of US I-35 in Duluth.

If you read the prior post you know that Duluth is an undiscovered travel destination- and that really should change.  We found it was worthy of a stay of several days - we had one and a half scheduled so we left some things for "next time"... Our plan for the trip is to do the circle tour of Lake Superior and that means we have 1300+ miles to do in exactly a week- we need to be back in MSP for flights home to Denver and Chicago by late Tuesday night one week from our Duluth arrival day...

Attempting to maximize our time,  we stop on the way into town on the Skyline Drive overlooking Duluth, MN and Superior, WI from the bluffs above the harbor for which they are both known.

Our first view didn't "wow" us but we did come to discover that Duluth is much better at a more intimate scale - up close and personal it charms visitors with a lovely downtown area, an amazingly beautiful and accessible lakefront and miles and miles of shoreline trails for bikers, skaters, runners and walkers. The downtown area is nearly complete with renewal activity - new pavers line street surfaces and well kept and mostly restored buildings line the main downtown streets. North of this small city the residential areas are better kept that than the in-town homes and that area is one of broad green lawns sloping towards the calm (on these August days) lake waters.

we found our hotel and checked in- making plans to get back together for dinner - which we had at a lovely spot called Black Woods Grill overlooking the Lake... all I really remember about the place was that we had very nice service and TB ordered a huge side of Mac and Cheese with bacon the bulk of which went back to the hotel with him...LOL

The next morning we met early to begin exploring Duluth and started by taking a drive over the famous bridge to the end of  the point (a spit of land all in MN but north of Superior's downtown and harbor area.)
We familiarized ourselves with the layout of town (both downtown and the new harbor development area) and once we had figured a plan for the day headed on I-35 north to the very end of the expressway and on to MN Highway 61 (Bob Dylan fans out there? - since this was our first foray in the area we could not say this was Highway 61 Revisited - only highway 61...LOL) We stopped at the New London Cafe for breakfast.

some views from our early morning drive- not much going on at 7:30 AM out of on the point...

a coast guard ship "planted" in a flower bed- LOL - right below the iconic aerial lift bridge

a view of downtown from the shipping channel- the long low mural below the city buildings covers the expressway and give access to the waterfront park area that lines the lake for more than seven miles...

after breakfast we headed to the Train Depot and museums located there, to buy tickets for the scenic rail train ride up along the north shore... the Depot has a wonderful collection of "pristine" restored train cars and we enjoyed seeing these before we took our train ride. Many cars brought earlier eras to life - I especially found the dining car of interest because it had many examples of railroad china from back in the day...

a detail from the front of the Depot- now home to multiple museums-

the route our train trip will take - down the track from Duluth so we can switch the engine to the front and head north out of Duluth to the Lester River - then we back up to the siding so the engine can come around again to the front and lead us back to Duluth-

a snow plow (rotary style) attached to an engine front- a nearby video showed it in action and it made quite a stir!

the beauty of these machines is incredible- amazing power and stunning designs-

the dining car from outside-

how many of these did we see in cartoons as kids? LOL

inside the dining car multiple tables exhibit the place settings of various trains of a certain era- from the romance of the rails era...

a small side room with a nice exhibit on the immigrant experience

We finished the museum and decided we had time to pick up tickets for the afternoon boat ride on Lake Superior and around the harbor before the train ride took place-

then we headed back to the station and got on our train!

although there were plenty of people aboard - there were enough cars that people spread out - and we ended up having our car to ourselves (an occasional explorer came through on the way to the back of the train- one car past us)

here are a few photos from the trip- maybe not the best shots as they were taken from the moving train through the window- but you can get an idea of the scenery-

the only other guy in the car with me- TB- my DART traveling companion - LOL

We return to town and go for lunch at "The Original Coney Island" downtown where we learned more about Coney Island history-

I got into a discussion with the guy working there about the history of the coney and he claimed it came from Flint - and their recipe was the Flint one, which was why it was called "Original" - LOL I told him I didn't know the Flint one but I thought MY chili from Cincinnati was the original - LOL however upon further research I found he was correct!

here is a link to my recent former blog post on the subject when it came up in the discussion of the Detroit Coneys at Lafayette and American Coney....

and here is the info from wikipedia - turns out my chili came three years later! in 1922!

Flint style is characterized by a dry hot dog topping made with a base of ground beef heart, which is ground to a consistency of fine-ground beef. Some assert that in order to be an "authentic" Flint coney, the hot dog must be a Koegel coney and the sauce by Angelo's, which opened in 1949. However, the sauce was originally developed by a Macedonian in 1919, Simeon O. (Sam) Brayan, for his Flint's Original Coney Island restaurant. Brayan was the one who contracted with Koegel Meat Company to make the coney they still make today, also contracting with Abbott's Meat to make the sauce. Abbott's still makes Brayan's 1919 sauce available to restaurants through the Koegel Meat Company.

Cincinnati chili seems to have originated with one or more immigrant restaurateurs from Macedonia who were trying to broaden their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine. Tom and John Kiradjieff began serving the chili in 1922 at their hot dog stand, next to a burlesque theater called the Empress, after which their Empress chili parlor took its name. Tom Kiradjieff invented the style by modifying a traditional stew and serving it over hot dogs and spaghetti. The style has since been copied and modified by many other restaurant proprietors.  Empress was the main chili parlor in Cincinnati until 1949, when a former Empress employee and Greek immigrant, Nicholas Lambrinides, started another chili restaurant called Skyline Chili. Gold Star Chili came along in 1965, started by the four Daoud brothers who were originally from Jordan.

and my verdict on the coneys here- they were excellent! maybe even just a touch better than my home town ones- which is a HUGE compliment!

After lunch we headed to the dock for the afternoon sail on the Lake! So stay tuned for that...

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