We had to cut our trip a little short, but it was still a great excursion. We often plan our trips out too late as was the case this time. We had intended to stay in Grand Marais, but most places were booked (we later learned it was because they had a music festival in town that weekend). Jesse decided to go ahead and book the Split Rock Room at J Gregors Inn and emailed me that he stayed there before and it was nice. Yeah, you stayed there with me about 8 or 9 years ago and complained about how rock hard the bed was and that we would never go back. I tried to trigger his memory, but nothing. He didn't remember anything except how we watched Hustle and Flow on the portable DVD player, and how we went snow shoeing on that trip. I'm seriously blown away that he can't remember the hard bed since he joked/complained about it forever. I will say that besides the horribly stiff bed we actually liked the place. We stayed in their cabin that time and besides it being awkward to only have a curtain over the bathroom door it was charming. We even woke to about 15 deer right outside the cabin one morning.
Anyway, let's talk about this trip, why don't we... the plan was to stay in Two Harbors, drive up to Grand Marais on Saturday, and then spend some time at Split Rock and Gooseberry on Sunday before returning home. We headed out at 4:30 on Friday and got stuck in traffic which made our drive longer. We made the mistake of waiting until we got to Two Harbors to eat. We were quite hungry and just beat by that point. We ate at Black Woods Bar and Grill and somehow they were able to make the inside of the restaurant colder than the outside. Even Jesse noted this and he's not one to get cold easily. As in the past the food was ok. Not sure why we tried this place again as we've eaten at both the Duluth and Two Harbors locations and know that there are better places nearby. It's not horrible, but with so many other places to try - why don't we?
We didn't get to our hotel until about 9 or 9:30 so we sent Riley right to bed. Well, that is after she came down from the excitement of having her own room. I wasn't sure how she was take this, but she loooooooved it. And so did I. I will totally stay here again because of this, hard beds or not. Oh, and the bed wasn't as bad as the previous visit (even if Jesse still doesn't remember) - they were just normal hard hotel beds. The set up in this room was that you walked into the first bedroom which had a TV and a couch along with a bed. Then you walked through bi-fold doors to the kitchen which the bathroom was off of and through the kitchen to the second bedroom which also had a loveseat. Loved it. Wish we had stayed here when she was younger so I wouldn't have been forced to watch a show on my iPad while drinking wine in the bathroom that one trip just so we could get her to sleep at a reasonable hour.
Jesse went outside that night to look at the stars and was out there so long I started to worry that a bear might have carried him off into the woods, but he was just in star heaven and later told me about all the stars he is now able to identify (side note: a few days after our trip I checked the hotel's Facebook page and they showed pictures of the BEAR that's been hanging out in their backyard. Glad I did not see this before going). While he was outside I watched a show on PBS about the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln. I wasn't distracted by the internet (no wifi there) so I either had to watch TV or a movie (they provide DVDs and many were ones I hadn't seen - and lots of kid's movies too). I forgot how much I like PBS.
I forgot my sleep mask, but it wasn't such a big deal after all as our room didn't have any windows (unlike Riley's room which was pretty bright). I slept so so that first night, but I think it was more about having a lot of weird dreams.
Saturday morning we headed out to Tofte where I wanted to eat at Coho Cafe and Bakery. We'd eaten there a couple times in the past and loved it (they have great pancakes), but we hadn't been there in years since passing it never timed up with when we were hungry. Coho was also remarkably cold and while the food was good it seemed overpriced for the amount you received. Riley was just happy to discover that she could get cereal there.
|The good part of this road - it got narrower and rougher.|
Grand Marais is a bit of a trek, but we really love this area. We decided to walk around a bit before lunch and according to Riley this was her favorite part of the trip.
|I love how his hand looks like hers in this picture.|
|I want that houseboat.|
After some exploring we stopped to eat at the Gun Flint Tavern which for some reason I can never remember the name of. We love the Asian Big Bowl and both ordered it (it wasn't quite as good this time, but still tasty). We have a hard time ordering other items, but since we'd eaten a late lunch and we still had a couple items on our list to do we decided to order items for dinner later. We left with the veggie chili and the hummus veggie plate and hoped that it would be fine in the car for the next few hours.
Jesse and I used to camp at a spot past Grand Marais. Actually, he's been there many times and I've only been there twice. It was an unofficial spot, but you could find like minded campers up along this coast of Lake Superior. It's not necessarily the ideal spot since there wasn't a 'real' bathroom, but it was an amazing spot to camp. There's nothing like falling asleep and waking up to the sound of the Quaking Aspens and Lake Superior lapping against the pebble beach. It's been some time since we've camped here so we wanted to at least see it. We had a feeling that it couldn't stay this wonderful secret camping spot forever and we were right as there were all sorts of signs stating "No Camping".
We lingered here for some time. I think Jesse needed to just hang out here, but we also enjoyed seeing Riley enjoying herself throwing rocks in the water.
I had to throw in these 2006 pictures (above and below) from the same site. I think this was our first camping trip here. I brought a 300 page book about Mao which Jesse is "reading" upside down here (for posing purposes, of course). Lol, he totally got me giggling here. Can't beat waking to that view.
Anyhoo, I just wasted a good half hour traveling down memory lane looking at old pictures. I do that sometimes... but again, lets focus on this vacation. As I was saying, we just hung out on this beach for awhile. Riley and I selected a couple rocks for our collection and threw a whole lot of rocks into the Lake. And Jesse drove his truck on the beach so I could take a picture of it. Man, he loves that truck and this beach.
We planned a hike so we knew we had to get going as sad as it was to say goodbye to this beach. We might not do anymore camping here, but we'll come visit again. I promise.
We bought Riley hiking boots for this trip and wanted to introduce her to one of our favorite past times. We were going to go on a 2 or 3 mile hike, but found a 1.3 mile trail that was supposed to be the best views along Lake Superior. We headed to Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park and headed out for our brief, late afternoon hike. The trail book said this was an easy hike, but it was all stairs. Luckily the hardest part was heading up to the point which meant that the way back was mostly downhill, except the very last part, of course. I worried that Riley would complain about all the stairs, but she had no problem whatsoever and loved this hike, while I slogged behind feeling every one of my 43 years. In my defense I was carrying a bag and my camera and that sucker is heavy.
After our hike we headed back to our hotel, warmed up our chili and ate dinner. We'd brought along a few other items since we new we'd have a fridge, microwave and stovetop so we put together something for Riley from that stash of food. Riley got to watch a movie (Happy Feet) and once she was done I decided to take her outside to look at the stars. I wanted to take pictures, but have to admit I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. Jesse came out to look at the stars, but I had to keep turning on the flashlight so he just headed inside and put Riley to bed. I moved to the front yard which wasn't as ideal for pictures, but it also wasn't as smelly. There were several fire pits at this place and a couple of our neighbors were out burning wood. (My other star pictures are here).
I topped off the night with watching a fascinating show on PBS about Zeppelin's and how they were made. Did you know that the bags that held the hydrogen were made out of cow's intestines? During the war sausage production was down in Germany since they were using so many of these cow intestines for the Zeppelin's instead. I'm such a geek.
Sunday morning we had to check out by 10:00, but we wanted to get up and at 'em earlier than that. Split Rock didn't open until 10:00 so we decided to head into Two Harbors and eat at The Vanilla Bean. We came across this place a couple years ago and, while I don't remember much, I do remember wanting to come back. Jesse and I both had omelettes which were fantastic (although they were a little rich - maybe good to split). Riley had the kid's pancake which was shaped like Mickey. Apparently, we've turned our kid into a syrup snob as she wouldn't eat it since the 'syrup tastes different'. I guess that's what happens when you normally use 100% maple syrup. So Riley ate our fruit and toast instead of her pancakes (as much as we pleaded with her to do so). Oh, I also want to note that they provided excellent service her. I'm a bit picky about customer service (not to brag, but I am good at it and I know that it doesn't take much to be good - which is why it baffles me that so many places aren't meeting my standards. Geez, listen to me - I sound like a snot). Jesse sometimes rolls his eyes at me when I note how a place could have improved a bit, but he even called out how impressed he was with this place. Jesse and I were both servers at one time in our lives and I commented that this was the service I would have provided and he joked that he would have forgotten about the table. Lol, serving tables isn't for everyone.
Originally, we were going to do Split Rock and Goosberry, but decided against doing both. Last time we were up here we visited Gooseberry so we settled on Split Rock this time. Plus we talked up the light house to Riley so we had to have her check it out. It turned out to be a gusty morning, but once we walked down to the beach it was more than toasty warm.
Since it was getting close to lunch time and I had a specific spot I wanted to eat in Duluth we decided we better get going, but honestly I think we could have sat in that warm sun for longer. Riley loved crawling all over the rocks and kept telling me to get a good picture of her to send to grandma. No worries about taking too many pictures of this girl.
Once In Duluth, we headed right to Northern Waters Smokehaus. It was probably 1 or 1:30 by this time and there was still a line out the door. Seriously, fantastic sandwiches here. After food we walked around Canal Park for a bit and let Riley and the seagulls chase after each other. The sun was starting to get to be too much for my bald husband's head so we decided it was time to head back home.