Monday, August 18, 2014

We Come Full Circle

Yes- we did actually do all 1300 miles in a week- we pulled into Duluth almost to the hour seven days after we arrived the first time- we celebrated with a last lunch in the same location as the first one (symmetry!) and shortly thereafter headed south to MPLS for our flights home to Denver and Chicago on the following morning...

here's how the last part went- lots of driving and scenery but not so many sights- we did Hwy 58 from the Michigan Grand Marais into Munising and then headed to Marquette in gale force winds which held all night and into our final morning of driving.  When we passed into Wisconsin the cloud cover went away and we had blue skies and puffy clouds all the way into Superior and across the river/border into MN!

here is TB's summary of the last arc of the circle-

we took M-28 westbound and stopped for lunch at Pickleman’s Pantry in Newberry.  Tried a pasty – our first & last of the trip – but it was not to our liking.  We then headed north to Grand Marais, MI where the Old Post Office Museum offered interesting local history and the requisite great photos from back in the day. We also enjoyed the exterior views of the Pickle Barrel House Museum, the summer home of William Donahey, ‘creator of the famous “Teenie Weenie” characters.  Which neither TB nor VJS are familiar with.

Next we headed west through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, a beautiful drive.  We’ll take the National Park Service’s word for it that we were along the lake shore, though the thick tree cover prevented much in the way of lake views.  Emerged at Munising, where we made a DQ stop and did some local people watching : )  The drive from Munising to Marquette (about an hour) provided some of the best lake views of the trip, under a moody sky which made us wonder what it must be like when the skies of November turn gloomy over Lake Superior… 

The Birchmont motel is on the inland side of the highway, but still close enough to the lake that we could enjoy water and big sky views from our rooms.  Cruised downtown Marquette on the way to dinner, it’s by far the most vibrant and attractive settlement we’ve seen since we left Duluth.  Finished dinner & located the now-closed prison gift shop in time to be settled in our rooms for waning twilight over the lake, listening to the stiff breeze with the windows wide open.  Oh yeah …

so here are the last photos-

our lunch stop in Newberry MI- at Pickelman's - he certainly owned the intersection if not the town - with a casino/restaurant/gas station/convenience store/ all with his name...LOL

then in Grand Marais and old post office doubling as tiny museum-

and very tall and well marked fire hydrants-

as we took Hwy 58 out of Grand Marais - on August 11th we started seeing this-

not a lot but here and there the leaves were already changing colors! and we wondered when these Sandhill cranes would be heading south for warmer climes..... (taken through the windshield so as to not startle them as they passed in front of us)

our rooms for the night in Marquette MI and the dinner venue we chose-

TB's final summary notes-

Headed toward MSP via the Forward Way, known to some as Wisconsin.  Overcast & rainy as we headed out of Marquette westbound on M-28.  The rain ended by the time we reached Ishpeming, which is not particularly relevant to this narrative but for the fact that TB has always wanted to use Ishpeming in a sentence.  The sky slowly cleared in that way that makes you appreciate the overcast, then the puffy partly cloudy sky that follows, and then a cloudless brilliant blue sky for the rest of the drive.  

Our route was intended to angle down from the west end of the UP toward MSP, yet it occurred to us that if we were really doing the Lake Superior Circle Tour we needed to, well, close the loop.  It also occurred to us that by doing so we'd have a perfect excuse to revisit the Original Coney Island in Duluth.  Motion carried.  We entered Wisconsin on US 2; at the west end of the engaging town of Ashland, we joined Wisconsin hwy 13 for the scenic drive through Bayfield to Superior.  Pretty drive on a beautiful day.  Almost exactly one week to the hour, and ~1900 miles later, we rolled into Duluth.  The Coney dogs did not disappoint.  Picking up I-35 at its very beginning, we drove to MSP; arrived at the hotel by 6 pm.  

Small world story:  The Sweet Water Café in Marquette was uncrowded, with nary a kid in the place, during breakfast this morning.  It was so serene that TB forgot his rain jacket on the way out.  Didn't realize it until several hours later; figured it was one of those things.  But wait – there’s more!  The restaurant manager emailed that she indeed had the jacket and would leave it on a coat hook in the entryway so that I could “swing by and pick it up any time you want.”  As fortune would have it, my pal Ann Marie would be headed into the café just a few days later, where she made the rescue.  And provided a good excuse for TB to visit Traverse City for the handoff.  A small-world story under any circumstances – but in the UP?  Wow.

one final shot of the signage we have followed for the last week - this one in WI-

So another DART (Disappearing America Road Trip) put to bed - my favorite things- mentioned in the first post... the physics lab, delightful Duluth, the Soo Locks boat tour and crossing, Fort William in T Bay and Finnish pancakes at the Hoito Ravintola!  Thanks for coming along! Tonight we head to El Ideas for the guest chef dinner so tomorrow photos of that... next day photos of the Senza dinner and then one last post this week for Rick Bayless' Cascobel at the Lookingglass Theater!  So always lots of fun and games to report on.  And at the end of the week we head to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - so early September I will be back with lots to say and show from that trip!

and just to prove you can't do it all in one trip - here's one we had to miss due to schedule conflicts- LOL

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