Up North. The final part

Final days of our trip! What a beautiful journey it was.

We left Eagle River and drove straight through to Duluth, Minnesota. Well, we stopped for pasties along the way, but otherwise, we hit our audiobook (Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer) and a Talking Heads albums hard.


Of course, the whole ride, Charlie was simultaneously reading a second book, and Henry was drawing.


Duluth has had to redo its riverfront area because of rising water and heavier storms. The parts that are finished are so lovely! It’s also charmingly right along railroad tracks, which made the boys positively giddy.

Here’s Joe’s beautiful view from above. He was holding our patio seat up at the Fitger’s Brewery building while our lunch was made.


Lunch! This captures what Henry called his “first time using a goblet.”

Happy boy by the sea

None of us had ever toured the Glensheen Mansion grounds before, so we corrected that.

There’s me on my favorite feature of the house…its patio.


I mean, who wouldn’t want a brick patio with this view?

Just a short hop down to the water. Glorious.


Stone arch bridge! This one’s less filled with pedestrians and bikers than the one in Minneapolis.


Always fun touring houses from different time periods. Our family always seems to find the bathrooms especially interesting!

Me, I think the laundry setups are fascinating. Makes me feel extremely lucky.

The next morning, I wanted to hop in the hot tub in the hotel while the boys explored the docks. When I called to meet up with them, they’d popped over the lift bridge. Just as I arrived on foot at the bridge, this big ol’ ship came by, so I watched the whole process up close and personal.

We didn’t make it to Maine this summer, but we still got to see multiple lighthouses!

Here’s what a lot of the riverfront looked like while it’s being rebuilt. Not as picturesque, but still pretty interesting to these dudes.

And here’s Henry loving up some more big marine artifacts. It’s a good life.


And with that, we grabbed some pastries and bopped on back to Minneapolis. It was a lovely trip, but that first step into the house again always makes me heave a big sigh of relief.

It’s always hard to readjust to regular life after being on break, of course, but being back in the Cities where we can have backyard joy with friends definitely helps ease the sadness.

Plus, after a week without toys, the boys were pretty happy to dive back into playtime.


Up North part 3

After a great experience in Ontonagon and the Porcupine Mountains, we picked up some doughnuts for the road and headed further on up the peninsula. We stopped at Twin Lakes State park along the way to get out of the car for awhile and enjoy our doughnuts.


Houghton was another charming spot along the way.


We took a nice long walk around town and made our way to the canal that cuts through the peninsula for shipping purposes.


We even got to see the lift bridge lift for a passing sailboat


Just up the hill was the old Quincy copper mine that had some impressive grounds to explore


Of course Joe had no qualms about just waltzing into the ruins, but it turns out that’s allowed, encouraged, even!


Imagine sitting on one of these “benches” with 29 other people and then being moved down the track to the level you were working at.


No, thanks!


Love a good scale model.


It was SO hot that day, but you can’t keep Henry away from an old locomotive, no matter how much he’s sweating.


Especially when it’s sitting on terrifying old rails like this.


It felt so good to get to Eagle River. It was nice and cool, and the chilly waters of Superior were wonderfully refreshing. We just walked right in, clothes and all, straight from the car.


The next morning, we drove up to Eagle Harbor to see the lighthouse.


Charlie was loving wandering around the old buildings and learning about the history of the harbor. Henry especially liked the big anchors, buoys and other artifacts lying around.


We took a roundabout route to Copper Harbor where we got this impressive view of the area.


We found an old copper mine that actually allowed you to take a self-guided tour below ground at the first level. The Delaware Mine.


It was pretty intense for Henry, but I thought it was really cool.


We also happened upon an old fort for some above-ground exploration.


We ended that packed day by taking in this waterfall back in Eagle River. This same water is what flows into Lake Superior where we spent the rest of our evening playing.


Oh, and eating, too. We had delicious food right out on the beach.


There’s the water from the falls! Joe started that snaking rock path.


Henry and I couldn’t help but continue the work. As I built, it felt like the rocks just needed to turn into a spiral, so that’s what happened.


Joe and Henry waded to the other side of the river to do some stone skipping.


The sun going down over the lapping waves while I read my book on the boulders.


Then I took a walk around town, arriving back just as the sun was hitting the horizon. I think our spiral looks beautiful in this light.


One more day of our Up North travels to come!

Up North part 2

We began our time in the U.P. at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. Joe brought us first to a series of falls on their way to Lake Superior.


It was a fun trail, because we were on everything from regular dirt trails to boardwalks…


stairs made of roots…


and stairs made of boards.


There were multiple points to go out and wander around the flowing water


Joe always takes it as far as he can


Learning about potholes


The cherry on top of this area was following the water all the way to where it joined the big lake.


First the boys and I dove right into the waves, but Joe then redirected us to the actual area where river meets lake, which turned out to be a delightful little secluded and calm spot.


They practiced skipping stones. That’s a skill I gave up on long ago, and I’m fine with that.


But those three really enjoy it.


There’s Joe on the opposite shore. He’s an intrepid swimmer.


We stayed in Ontonagon, MI. Our motel was just across the parking lot from the main drag, including the restaurant we ate several of our meals at on their street-side patio. Charlie was feeling a little sun-toasted, so this was his solution!


The next day we hit Lake of the Clouds.


It was quite a view right up front, and then you could walk as much on the trails along it as you wanted.


We chose to just go a little ways and then head to some other trailheads. Next up was Summit Peak, which had a tall structure you could climb to get a good view of the area. Here’s Henry contemplating the stairs.


Charlie loves being up high like this, so he was so content taking in the view.


Henry was ready to get down low again.


Finally in the day, we hit a trail designed to show historic points and share information about a specific mine in the area. The U.P. has a huge history of copper mining. This was my favorite trail, because it had the informational placards that Charlie loves, but was also just a beautiful walk through woods and along a creek.

I told them to show me their “mining face.”


After we got back to the motel and ate some grub, we headed for an evening at the beach. We’d gotten an abbreviated time there the night before, but we were all anxious to get back to it again. It was a glorious beach, with soft sand good-temperatured water and a shallow depth for out as far as you could possibly want to go from shore. For Charlie, that was very, very far, while Henry preferred to mostly do excavating and building in the sand.


I love the beach!


That evening, I went for a long walk around town, and ended by walking  the full length of the beach while the sun set. It was amazing how drastically the sky changed as the moments ticked by.


I mean, look at this!


So gorgeous. Thanks, Ontonagon!

Up North. part I

TEN years ago today, we all had a big party together. Look at us gettin’ down!


It was a magically fun day the whole way through, from a solo self-manicure at 6am to bocce ball that night at Half-Time Rec


So much has changed since that day, but one thing hasn’t. Joe is the best partner ever and I’m lucky and grateful to have him.


Also for our two little schnookum-bookums. Henry made me this congratulatory necklace this morning to celebrate our anniversary. It jingles.


Three years ago, when we envisioned our 10-year anniversary, Joe and I decided to take a trip to Germany. Of course, we certainly didn’t picture 2020 at all the way it turned out.

Still, Joe planned a lovely road trip for us up the Keweenaw Peninsula in the U.P.

We stopped in Wausau, just to check things out, and we all found it very charming. We found we kept referencing it throughout the week.

There was even a great cupcake shop, Sweet Lola’s, that supplied us with sweets for that night.

Charlie liked all of their retro stuff.

That night we stayed at a cabin near Boulder Junction, Wisconsin with a couple from the Cities. The boys were excited about their bunk bed setup.

Heading down for a canoe ride!


There were oodles of eagles flying around the lake

That night we watched a glorious and unanticipated moonrise over the lake, prior to which we got to enjoy a vast, star-speckled night sky that we never get to enjoy in the city.

It was a lovely start to the trip. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is just way too beautiful for me to condense into one blog post, so we’re going to do this in the style of spring break where I do a post-per-day kind of thing. Buckle up!


Thank you all for going on this journey with me, whether I’ve known you way beyond the last ten years or only just recently. Here’s to much more!