On my final full day of my trip, I truly learned why Minnesota is referred to as the Land of 10,000 Lakes! I don't think we ever drove (and we drove a lot that day!) more than 15 minutes without seeing a lake! We awoke early on a mission and our first stop was to see Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox in his "birthplace", Bainerd. Ignoring warnings by April's mother that the statue of the famous Minnesotans had moved (because, well, we DID look it up on the internet the night before!), we arrived to find that they didn't quite move, but the property had been purchased by a bowling alley and were now shamelessly using Paul & Babe to advertise the alley. Gone was Paul's axe and in it's place a bowling ball. Babe at first glance looked rabid, but upon closer inspection, found him to be holding bowling pins in his mouth. Dejected and wanting proof of this austrocity, we snapped a few pics and aimlessly drove around hoping to find a more accurate Paul & Babe (as I don't ever remember reading "Paul Bunyon & Babe the Blue Ox Go Bowling"). Alas, we found nothing, so we headed southeast for our next stop: Mille Lacs Lake.
Probably one of the biggest lakes in MN (at least the 2nd biggest lake that I saw), Mille Lacs is the spring/summer/autumn home of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (or as we call them Chippewa). We visited the Indian Museum and Trading Post and learned how wild rice is gathered--in canoes guided by the men, while women used knockers (drumstick looking tools) to tap the mature rice into the canoe. After a few purchases at the Trading Post, we headed northeast for the final destination of the day: Duluth and Lake Superior.
It took awhile to drive around Mille Lacs, but soon we were headed for Duluth. As we headed down into Duluth, we immediately noticed two things: the great view of the harbor and the sudden drop in temperature (about 15 degrees!). We wandered up and down the shores of Lake Superior (holy fishing boat batman! it's huge!) for awhile and headed to Red Lobster for lunch (well...it came highly recommended by 4 different Duluthians!) and had a HUGE feast that included some good ol' Minnesotan beer. We checked out a few more places and then drove across a really cool drawbridge and into....Minnesota. Urgh! I just knew Wisconsin was across the lake somewhere! Drove back across the bridge, down a few streets, over another bridge and....welcome to Wisconsin! It was great! It was fabulous! It took like three minutes and then we turned around and came back....sigh....(of course April found it highly amusing!) Anyway, we finished looking around Duluth via car and then headed back to St. Paul to meet Jena for ice cream. I had birthday cake with raspberries and when I tipped them, the ice cream men started singing and looked sad when I asked them to stop....so I asked them to resume--right about the time April slipped out the door, as eveyone was now staring (ahhh....leave it to me to cause a scene!).
Alas, my trip was over (boo-hoo) and April dropped me off at the airport at some ungodly hour the next morning. It was a fabulous trip and visiting Minnesota comes highly recommended :)
cheers! :) shez