Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Almost to Canada

Well, on my last travel post I thought we were ready to cross the border into Canada, but as I sorted through photos I realized there was still plenty to see in Minnesota.

Enjoying Lake Superior on a warm summer afternoon.

Unless this post gets really long there’s no way I can get you through Minnesota and all the way across the northern shore of Lake Superior and back to the border at Michigan.

Everywhere there are ships loading and unloading.

Let’s just see how far we get.

I didn’t want to move on without telling you about Gooseberry Falls, north of Duluth.

I was fascinated by the exposed tree roots as much as by the falling water.

There are a couple of sets of waterfalls, all of them were beautiful when we were there. You could walk on the rocks very near the falls if you wanted, or stay on the trail. The trail took you further down the river where you could get a view of all the falls at once.

Most waterfalls we saw have upper and lower falls.

And even further north is Grand Portage National Monument. We stopped there because we were expecting an historical monument. Maybe a marker.

Pretty impressive.

But there’s a beautiful information center…

One of the interior murals.

…and guided tours of the restored trading post.

Explaining the birch bark Indian shelters.

We explored the interiors of several buildings…

The kitchen and the dining room.

…and then the lake shore itself.

The gate down to the dock where boats full of goods would land.

I could have stayed out on the dock for the rest of the evening.

Such a beautiful evening. The clouds were perfect.

It was getting late and we were almost to the border, so reluctantly we moved on.

But wait! There was another set of waterfalls, on the Pigeon River, in the Grand Portage State Park. The river makes up the border between Minnesota in the United States and Ontario Canada. Should we stop? It was chilly and starting to rain. It was late in the evening and getting dark.

Of course we stopped.

There weren’t many people out there, but the walk was relatively short, maybe only half a mile back to the falls. We hurried as the rain came down harder.

The High Falls on the Pigeon River.

We could hear it before we saw it. The falls were magnificent, and we were glad we made the trek. The walk was on a paved path most of the way, not difficult at all, which made it easier for us to sprint back to the car.

Now we’re ready to head into Canada! But that will have to wait until the next post. I think that blogging while sleepy could be a problem.

And you know I’m all about safety. Stay tuned.

Surprise, there are more waterfalls in Canada!


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Ashland Wisconsin and Duluth Minnesota

Katie has released the blog back to me so that I can get back to the travelogue…we circled Lake Superior in late August and early September. There was lots to see.

Sturgeon at the Duluth aquarium.

I could do a separate blog about each town we visited, but in the interest of saving some time, here are just a few images from a couple towns before we headed into Canada.

The side of the co-op was covered in a beautiful mosaic. This is only about a third of it.

Ashland was a town in Wisconsin that we were just driving through on our way to Duluth. We weren’t planning on stopping there, in fact the road moved north of downtown, following Lake Superior’s shore.

But we saw a sign that referenced ‘public art’ with an arrow pointing toward downtown, a block away, so we turned toward town. And we were astounded by our first glimpse of huge murals painted on the sides of many of the retails buildings.

The flowers complimented the beautiful mural.

At first we were just going to take a couple of pictures and move on. But then we realized how outstanding these pieces of art were and we parked and walked from one end of town to the other.

These women were real people who worked at the local diner back in the day.

I’m only showing you a fraction, they were all worthy of photos and I took pictures of all of them on the main street. I think there were a couple more further away.

Sometimes the murals melted right into the afternoon sky.

If you ever get the chance to visit Ashland I recommend giving yourself an hour or more. Plus there was an absolutely wonderful burger place right downtown. I had a really good bean burger.

Mural reflections.

I recommend visiting there too.

Then we got back on the road, heading to Duluth.

The bridge into Duluth.

Duluth is a working town, lots of ships coming and going. While we were at the aquarium we saw a big ore boat come into port. And no matter where we went ships were loading or unloading.

I liked the grey ship with the grey sand against the blue sky and water.

You saw the post about the mansion in town. There’s also Pattison State Park, named after the family that built the large house.

Upper falls. It’s hard to see just how big these falls are.

Lots of waterfalls there, and I was still figuring out settings to make the water smooth. Sometimes I got it right.

Working on my fluid water technique on the lower falls.

The first night we stayed on the top floor of a hotel with a view of the city.

Lake Superior, a ship, the iconic Duluth lift bridge and a cloud front. Perfect.

At night it was so pretty. I could show you that…but you can imagine it. I sort of liked this shot from our window.

Lots of color at night.

Just because it’s fun.

OK, OK…here’s the real night shot.

Took this one with my phone. Phones cameras are amazing.

The second night we stayed at a hotel down near the marina with a lovely view of the bridge and boats.

Early morning light on the marina.

Plus we got to drive across the famous lift bridge!

Crossing the bridge.

After two days of sightseeing in Duluth, visiting mansions, lighthouses, waterfalls, the aquarium and Lake Superior we moved on, heading north into Canada.

Pretty and peaceful at the Duluth aquarium.

I guess I’ll have to post at least one more travel related blog or I’ll have abandoned you at the border.

Roses in full bloom at the Leif Erikson Park at the edge of Duluth as we left town.

And there’s plenty to see in Canada.

Stay tuned.

Building on a building in Ashland.


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Houses of different kinds

During the past couple of days we’ve visited a few houses over here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, each one different, but each housing families in the early 1900s.

Our first house tour was in Superior Wisconsin, where we visited Fairlawn, a mansion built in 1891…

Fairlawn mansion.

…the family only lived in the house a few years when Mr.Pattison died unexpectedly. His wife moved the family to California and the house became a children’s home for several decades.

Lots of drapery and carved wood.

Inside the first floor has been restored to look as it did when the family lived there, while the top floors describe what life was like when it housed dozens of children.

We also toured Glensheen, a mansion in Duluth Minnesota.

The grand front of Glensheen.

This one was completed in 1908, and was lived in by an original family member until 1977 when the last daughter died.

The dining room.

With 20,000 square feet, fifteen fireplaces, numerous bathrooms and bedrooms, it’s huge and beautiful.

Lots of carved wood in this house too.

Each of the seven children had their own bedrooms, often with their own bathrooms too.

One of the girl’s rooms.

Most of the rooms had lovely views of Lake Superior. Still, the house was a lot darker inside than what we’re used to today.

Drying linens in the laundry room.

The grounds were beautifully landscaped, complete with a huge vegetable garden, tennis courts and lawn bowling.

The back of the house was more stunning than the front.

Next we headed north, tunneling our way through a couple rocky outcroppings.

Tunneling our way north.

We stopped in Two Harbors Minnesota where we walked the breakwater enjoying a beautiful later summer afternoon.

Such a beautiful day to be near the water.

In the same park was a lighthouse that has become a Bed & Breakfast. It looked wonderful, though it’s privately owned and we couldn’t go inside.

Seems like a perfect spot to relax on the shores of Lake Superior.

Guess we’ll have to make a reservation and stay overnight to see what it’s like to sleep in a lighthouse!

Then we moved on to something that’s been on my bucket list for a long time — Split Rock lighthouse.

We took the tour and learned a whole lot about what life was like when this lighthouse employed three keepers. Then we started to explore.

Stairs ascending the tower.

Up in the relatively short tower there is a truly beautiful lens.

The lens rotates and sending out a bright white light every 10 seconds.

This lighthouse sits high on a cliff; I’ve seen pictures that made me want to see it for myself.

I couldn’t keep myself from giggling with joy when I rounded the corner and saw this jewel of a lighthouse shining in the sunlight.

But nothing could have prepared me for just how beautiful it really is, as seen from the stony beach far below it’s base. I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s just stunning, definitely my smile of the week, and a perfect way to end our exploration of the Duluth area.

We’ll be moving even further north, into Canada, tomorrow. I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again…but you can be sure I’ll have more images and adventures to share when I do!

Me and the lighthouse.


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On a mission in St. Paul Minnesota

Some of you know that last week my husband and I were in Minnesota. But maybe you don’t know why, so let me introduce you. This is Katie Burkey.

Katie’s photo courtesy of her mom Karen.

She was 22 when she was driving home from work, stopped in rush hour traffic, and hit from behind be a semi truck that didn’t notice all that traffic. That happened on September 6, 2017.

Her family and friends were and continue to be devastated. Such a beautiful life, so much potential, with a unstoppable future. Gone.

So on the first anniversary Katie’s mom said she could either sit at home and be sad and angry or she could try to do something productive. She chose productivity and Katie’s friends and family rallied on the state capital steps, looking for press coverage to not only bring attention to this kind of truck crash, but to push for more things.

Lots of people stood up for Katie.

One, there’s a bill in the Minnesota legislature to ban the use of cell phones while driving. Though they don’t know exactly what the driver of the truck was doing at the time of the crash, they presume he was distracted. The bill needs to be voted on and it needs to pass.

I did a short interview.

Two, the driver of the truck that killed Katie has never been charged with anything. At all. In over a year.

The Prosecutor has refused to press charges, even though the police who worked the crash presented the information to him and feel he should be charged. The Prosecutor says the crash doesn’t fit the definition of ‘gross’ negligence. He stands firm that gross negligence would have to include the driver being under the influence, or he left the scene. Neither of those were true. So he’s passed the case on to the city attorney who hasn’t moved on it.

Understandably the family wants the driver charged. Katie is dead and so far the driver hasn’t been held accountable for anything. They hope all the television the rally got will get the city attorney’s attention. I hope so.

The family asked if anyone at the Truck Safety Coalition could attend and speak. That’s why we were there and I felt humbled to have been asked. There were several other families that spoke about their lost loved ones, each story heartbreaking.

I was glad to meet Katie’s mom and aunt, grandparents, and friends. But I’m so sad that I met them in this context. I’m sending hugs to them all.

I wish I could do more.

Protesting lack of accountability,