Out And About in Minnesota !!

Being given the use of a friends car I got out and about on some day trips from Minneapolis. The first place i drove to was Red Wing, a town at the side of the Mississippi river. Now known best for the brand of shoes with the same name it was actually named after a 19th century Dakota Sioux chief. It was previously home to a prolific clay industry.

Red Wing

Red wing minnesota

Red wing minnesota

I was amazed at the amount of churches here, i stood on one street corner and could easily see 4 or 5.  It isn’t uncommon to see more than one church in a small town.

I left Red Wing and drove east over the Eisenhower Bridge which takes you into Wisconsin,  heading south on the I35.

Stopping at one of the many historical markers it stated that i was on one of the most scenic drives in the US – some claim !! I was next to Lake Pepin, the largest natural forming lake on the Mississippi river covering a total of 38 sq miles, most of which was frozen.

Lake pepin minnesota

Most of Lake Pepin was frozen –

Lake pepin minnesota

Driving as far as Nelson i turned around and drove back toward Hastings, another picturesque town next to the river.

Hastings minnesota

Hastings minnesota

A few days later i travelled to Duluth which sits at one end of Lake Superior. The edge of the lake was currently frozen encouraging some people to walk across it. 
Duluth lake suoerior

This guy even got on his bike to cycle across it –

Duluth lake superior

The frozen edge of Lake Superior –

I got brave the next day and walked out onto the ice, but stayed very near the edge !!

The most photographed site in Duluth, the aerial lift bridge which is still very much in use today –

Duluth ship canal

Built over 100 years ago it spans the Duluth Ship Canal –

Duluth aetial bridge

Entrance to the Duluth ship canal –

It’s a little known fact that Bob Dylan was originally from Duluth, they remember him so well they named a scenic drive after him –

Duluth seems to be a very popular place on the craft ale brewing scene. It is home to the Hoops brewery, the Canal Park brewery, Bent Paddle brewery and more. There was even a distillery somewhere.

I visited the Hoops brewery which has an impressive bar on site where you can try the beers.

Many, many beers on offer !!

Hoops brewery

Grabbed one of these in the Canal Park brewery bar –

Canal park brewery

Travelling north from Duluth i drove up scenic highway 61 which takes you all the way up to Grand Portage. There are many nice towns along the way and you simply can’t stop at them all !

I saw a sign for Split Rock Lighthouse State Park so pulled in for a look around. I wasn’t expecting to see a lighthouse on a lake but  soon found out that sometimes there are huge storms during the winter. Once such storm in 1905 claimed a total of 30 ships, it was then agreed that a lighthouse should be built.

Split Rock coastine –

Split rock minnesota

Split Rock Lighthouse –

I drove as far as Grand Marais, couldn’t make it as far as Grand Portage as i was heading inland to Ely for a couple of nights.

The frozen shore of Grand Marais –

I stopped for 2 nights in Ely which was a couple of hours drive of twisty roads inland. It was the coldest i had felt so far, with temperatures dropping to over -10 degrees at night. A few restaurants and shops were closed until the spring but it had been a very scenic drive there. Although some dog sledding was continuing until the end of March they were fully booked so didn’t manage to get on a trip.

Nice pick-up in Ely – ripe for restoration !!

It was time to return to south Minneapolis, i had fortunately managed to avoid more snow fall and been for a good drive !

 

Back On The Road !! USA Style.

So this year has started with a good old fashioned road trip starting in the mid westeren state of Minnesota – land of 10,000 lakes ! My plans for this year changed dramatically when a long term position on a newly built catamaran was postponed. I was supposed to be sailing from Miami to the Bahamas, through the Caribbean and onto Panama – some trip !!

I had already bought flights to visit friends in Minnesota where i was going to spend the first couple of weeks of the trip. Now i had to decide what to do for the next few weeks unless another sailing trip turned up !!

Flying in over Greenland –

Minnesota in February is still very much winter with temperatures constantly below freezing. Snow was already piled up by the side of the roads although the skies were normally clear and blue. Within the first week there was two snow showers  both of which dropped 6 inches plus of snow. Roads are cleared quickly by the snow ploughs and people clear their drives and pathways with snow blowers and shovels. All very efficient !!

First snow storm i witnessed – a steady six inches was dropped.

Prior Lake Minnesota

First thing to do is clear your drive before you can go to work !!

Decided to have breakfast on the balcony that morning –

On the first saturday we visited the nearby ski slope where you can do tubing, snowboarding, skiing. Also a good coffee and cookie for the adults around an open fire !!

Next stop was to witness the Polar Plunge which happens at various locations throughout winter. This is a charity event which raises money by sponsoring people to jump into the icy waters of local lakes. Crazy – but a fun worthwhile event !!

Polar Plunge Minneapolis 2018

Polar Plunge Minneapolis 2018

People were very relieved to get to the other end and get out !!The two and a half feet thick ice slabs removed from the lake –

Next stop was something to make me feel right at home during winter in Minnesota – ice fishing !! Fortunately my friends knew somebody that lived locally that had their own ice fishing hut that was already out on one of the lakes.

Home made ice fishing hut complete with gas central heating and most of the things you need (apart from a toilet!).

Ice fishing minbesora 2018

Dropping a line through a pre-drilled hole in the ice

Just have to have a beer and wait for the fish to bite !

After a hectic day of activities we hit the town. A pub crawl takes on a very different meaning here in Minnesota !!

After my first weekend i took a drive out to get use to the roads and see a bit of the surrounding area. I drove over to the Carver Park Reserve west of the twin cities, a small reserve compared to other ones in the Minnesota state. The snow was on the ground and the lakes were frozen but I had a nice drive through the area. Whilst driving back i saw a sign to ‘Carver Historic District‘ so swung by and parked up in town.

Carver historic districtOld gas station converted to a sweet shop –

Carver historic district

Original Post Office –

I like driving around and finding these small little old towns dotted around the place. The locals instantly know you’re from out of town and are always pleased to give you a nod and say hello !!

So a busy first few days in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  with still lots more to do !!

Travelling the world by sea……..(and a bit of land)