Day 1 – Sunday, June 28, 2020
Waupaca WI to Duluth, MN
Hello friends! Wow, the world has changed a bit since our last adventure, hasn’t it? We are happy to report all of us in our family are healthy right now. The effects of being trapped together with no social interaction in 3-4 months? Well, physically healthy, at least. We hadn’t left a 25 minute radius of Waupaca since our ill-fated St Louis spring break trip (ended early and abruptly with us driving 80 mph back home while reading stories about coronavirus surging, and pillaging the grocery store the second we arrived home).
This year we were supposed to go out to Glacier National Park and hunting for the treasure out west (as usual). We were dealt a couple blows…
The pandemic. At first we were all, we will travel to our tiny cabin we rented in Montana close to the Canadian border and not interact with anyone. Then the border closed. Sarah held on steadfastly: “We don’t need to go to Canada this year.” Then the National Parks closed. Sarah: “We can just hang out in the cabin and be glad to be somewhere else.” Then the lady who rented us the place contacted us and said it we had to go through a reservation to get there and that wasn’t allowed with pandemic restrictions. Dang. We got a full refund at least.
Stupid treasure was found (SUPPOSEDLY). Nothing like finding out at midnight on Sarah’s birthday. Enjoying a cocktail and doing some light research on treasure hunting, and then it hit the Internet message boards during the first minute of her 41st birthday. It was a sad, sad birthday this year.
So what is the Durst-Kolinski family to do? We have 11 days to work with here, people. And are gun shy about leaving the midwest as we heard out of state license plate discrimination is rampant. Hell, we are guilty of that on a good day. So we are creeping up north to Sarah’s hometown – we will get to see family, then maybe a quick jaunt to the gateway to the West, then back to the Twin Ports? We will see. We are a fickle family with frequently changing plans.
This morning we loaded up the car, along with a bike for Aunt Julia. Off on our Up North adventure we went! Sarah was busy doing the schedule for work the entire drive up so remembers nothing except stopping for Mickey D’s (ugh) in Wausau. We also all drank very little so we wouldn’t have to stop except at our usual Barron rest stop (we were so not stopping at our usual gas station rest room on highway 29 – which is gross on a good day). We were pleased to see that 50% of the people at the rest stop were also wearing masks.
Off we went, hitting Superior around 4 pm. We like to play a game from Sarah’s childhood (which was not as sad as it sounds) where when you are 30 minutes from Superior you guess the temperature at Sarah’s childhood home. It was 89 degrees 30 miles south of Superior. We all guessed too high, in the low 70s. 68 degrees at Sarah’s house. Cooler near the lake, baby.
We enjoyed chatting with Sarah’s mother, sister (who was visiting from Covid headquarters (the cities)) and brother and family – we wore masks which did not feel as weird as we thought it might. We do not want to be a story on the national news where one of us spread it to everyone else at a family gathering. We had to take them off to eat, so if we all get sick, that was it.
Off we traveled to our “beach house” (using the term loosely as this IS Minnesota) on Park Point in Duluth. HOLY CROW. This place is phenomenal! We are already scheming on how to rent it for Grandma’s Marathon (RIP this year’s race) for next year. We are like 3-5 houses down on the lake side from the Lift Bridge, with a beautiful view of the canal and boats coming in. We can sneak out through the fence in the back and we are on the beach. It is AMAZING. Somewhere the gods blessed us with this place. At least through Thursday. We took what was available.
We enjoyed a beer and sitting out on the deck, saw the first boat come through the canal – Sarah’s mom gave Matt a boat book and he enjoyed sharing all the boat facts with everyone (that’s the largest boat on the lakes, this is the most aesthetically pleasing boat on the lakes, if you are a salty you need to have a specific pilot’s license to navigate the Great Lakes, etc. And they’re all boats – ships are in the ocean). We fell asleep listening to the sound of rain on the ceiling and deck, with waves crashing (note: red flagged beaches and riptide present).
Beer drank: Bent Paddle Pordij IPA
Day 2 – Monday, June 29, 2020
We awoke to the sound of rain and upper 50 degree temperatures. We’re home. Good bye scorching low 90s, hello frigidness! Did you pack your rain coat and summer coat? Of course, this is not our first rodeo.
We enjoyed a light breakfast of coffee and bagels and granola bars and then made our way out to the beach. We had to keep yelling at the kids to not go in the water too deep (apparently being dressed in actual clothes and not a swimming suit was not a barrier for B to jumping in). They built a sand castle and frolicked in the water happily. We lazed around the house, playing on iPads and reading books.
We got take out from Grandma’s restaurant in Canal Park for lunch – wild rice burger for Matt and walleye sandwich for Sarah – kids got Kraft mac and cheese from a single serve cup. That is their very favorite trip treat. We don’t judge.
We then made our way over to Grandma Barb’s house in Superior – we hung out with her, Aunt Julia, and Uncle Andy and family for a few hours. The kids whizzed around campus on their scooters, playing Pokemon in the sunlight. Many games of socially distanced corn hole and a meal of delicious (disgusting) Sammy’s Pizza later, we were exhausted.
After a refreshing drive back to the lake house, we settled in. Kids dropped off to sleep early (no inappropriate TV-14 programs for B tonight!), and we enjoyed a cocktail pack we had picked up at the local Vikre distillery. We had picked the Irish Wristwatch cocktail in honor of our kick-ass trivia team this year, the Tap House Girls plus Guy. The Irish Wristwatch team were our closest competitors (note: do not look up what an Irish Wristwatch is in Urban Dictionary). The drink was excellent!
Beers drank: none, duh. Irish Wristwatch cocktails!
Day 3 – Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Technically last night after we went to bed it was after midnight, and we were still awake at 1:30 am when the Paul Tregartha was exiting port. Since we were still up, we went out on the balcony to take pictures of the 1000 footer leaving. The lights were breathtaking! It was all very Titanic. We heard hooting and hollering and automatically assumed that some other ship/boat enthusiasts were also out watching the shipping traffic. Or drunk 20 year olds. Yeah, it was drunk 20 year olds.
We drifted off to sleep at that point.
We awoke to fog and drizzle. Matt: “It might reach 70 today!” Sarah: “the fog holds the heat closer to Earth”. We love this place. The kids: “IPADS!!!!” We lazed around all morning, enjoying ourselves, watching boats come in and out of the canal.
The best incident occurred when we saw the local tour boat, the Vista Star, appear to get stuck out in the harbor directly outside of the canal in the lake. We then watched as a Coast Guard boat appeared to approach it. We lost sight of it in the fog. All of a sudden we saw the Star, lurching to the side, being pulled by a small boat with the coast guard boat at its side, keeping it from schmucking the side of the canal. The smattering of tourists on board were on the highest deck in the their life jackets. We immediately changed out of our jammies and dashed out of the house, past the line of cars waiting to cross the lift bridge, and hit the canal. We are 100% certain we are on a bunch of tourist videos of all of us watching them from shore, based on the lifejacket clad people holding iphones. And they are on our videos/photos. 🙂 Hope they get their money back.
We then fed kids PBJs and for ourselves got take out box lunches from the Northern Smokehaus deli. Delicious! Matt had Phoebe Sandwich and Sarah had smoked salmon, capers, onions, greens, scallion cream cheese on a bagel. Complete with Mexican Coke and hot pepper vinegar chips. It was amazing.
Mom Durst then popped over and we all headed out to the beach. All the kids went in the water (brr) while we adults lounged and watched the waves come in and watched all the other folks walking the beach. We saw a barge pushed by a tug boat come in (the Maumee pushed by the Victory) which was fun. The sun came out and it felt like summer! We are currently hatching a plan to buy this house because it literally is perfect.
For supper, we ordered out Fitger’s Brewhaus food – Matt got their version of a wild rice burger and Sarah and Noah got Brewhaus burgers. Their cheese curds were excellent, even if this is Minnesota.
After supper, we went on a walk to Canal Park. We checked out all the construction on the Lakewalk (was torn apart in massive storms this winter (for what feels like the third winter in a row)) and walked down to the lighthouses on either end of the canal. No big boats coming through. The kids happily played Pokemon Go and climbed on the rocks on the breakwater where the waves smack. We then settled in for the night.
No beer tonight. Cocktail tonight? A new pack from Vikre Distillery – the Swedish Sno Cone. It was delicious.
Day 4 – Wednesday July 1, 2020
Well, it happened again. We had finished our delicious cocktails and were done binge watching more TV, and went to lay down. Sarah was like, check the harbor map! Sure enough, the Maumee and the Victory tug were leaving. We are close to the canal, and now that we have been here a couple days, you can “feel” a ship leaving. There’s no noise, it is like a vibration almost – but not like a train, and it is so subtle you can really only notice it at night. So out we went to look at it leaving, located with taconite pellets.
We awoke after a luxurious night of sleep. Note: there is sliding door to a little deck in the 2nd floor master bedroom, which is also on the lake. There is no lock and no dowel in the sliding door, which immediately means we could be burglarized. At first Sarah was paranoid and put stuff in the door so it couldn’t be opened. Well, now we have gotten to the point where we just leave the door open because there are no bugs despite the lack of screen, and it is so awesome to hear the waves all night. No burglar wants to deal with our family, trust us.
This morning was blustery, despite the fact it was supposedly going to get up to 71 degrees. We lounged around watching a crafting show (note: no one was watching it, just playing on iPads) until lunch. Kids get PBJs and leftovers. Matt and Sarah get Northern Smokehaus again. 🙂 Just before Matt walked over the pick it up, the Mesabi Miner came in. We enjoyed our Cedar Crest sandwich (Sarah) and Big Dipper (Matt). Another winner lunch!
We ended up laying around for a bit then taking off for a walk down the beach. We walked down south on the Point to the public beach access then back. We picked through rocks on the shoreline and the kids played in the surf. Upon getting back to the patch of beach in front of our house, the kids ran gleefully into the water. Have you ever swam in Lake Superior? It is freaking cold. Like as in, the air temperature was 69 degrees, the water temperature was 59 degrees, and the dew point was 58 degrees. There was fog hanging over everything. It felt like we were on some barren Russian communist beach. And we all went in – both of us adults even dunked our heads under the water. The trick is to go in 1 inch every couple of minutes. Eventually you don’t feel your legs. It was so cold we all rewarded ourselves with candy after.
We got take out pizza from Vitto’s – kids got kid sized pizzas and we got fancy versions of pepperoni and sausage pizzas with a salad. It was pretty good. Not great. Maybe the woodfire part was a bit overdone. We went for a walk down to the lighthouse, and then decided to get some ice cream. Instead of walking over to get it, in the laziest decision ever we got in the car and drove to the DQ drive thru. Where we waited for 30 minutes. It was worth it.
Another relaxing evening of cocktails and TV later, and we tucked into bed. Yes, a boat came through as we laid down, but we were too lazy to even get up to watch it.
Cocktails drank: the same ones, man. They gave us so many mixers and so much booze. We have to use up the mixers before we leave tomorrow!
And tomorrow? Time to journey a little bit out West. Not so far that we would be judged for having a WI license plate, though, during a pandemic… Stay tuned!