Monday, June 4, 2018

Waterfalls, Taconite pebbles and morning pies

The North Shore drive in Minnesota is supposed to be one of the best drives to take soooo....we decided to try it out.

The line in blue is the North Shore route we took...about 140 miles.

We got up early in order to get to the Rustic Inn at 8am when they opened as it was a Saturday during Memorial Day weekend. Boy are we glad we did! We were first in the restaurant, followed by about 30 people !

Selfie in the entrance !

We went there for the pies they're famous for. Pie for breakfast !!?? You bet.

Here's the pie menu on the wall. Where to start?
We started out by each ordering one.

..which led to another one by Kim....

...then, after finishing my first one, I ordered another ! (We ended up taking some home for later.)

Next, we went up to Gooseberry Falls State Park where there are five waterfalls. When we pulled in, the parking lot had only 6 cars. When we left a couple of hours later, the parking lot was full of 100 cars and the road leading up to the main road was lined with more parked cars ! Glad we got there early.

Upper Falls 
Lower Falls

This is about half of the people that eventually showed up.

5th Falls

View from behind the 5th Falls. Kim is way in the distance on the bench.

Next, we went up the road and screeched to a halt at this amazing "flea market/garage sale" place.

Check out the glassware in this place! Kim spent over 45 minutes looking through the tables. the Taconite plant....This is where Iron ore is surface mined from the ground, taken by railcars to the plant and, after distilling the iron ore out of it, it becomes pellets of Taconite, which is then shipped to steel plants in Detroit or Cleveland to make make cars, etc.

This is what comes out of the ground before processing
before processing and after....
This is what gets shipped to the steel mills.
We drove up above the factory to view the operation.

View from above showing part of the plant.
The process illustrated...

...and the numbers that correspond at the plant.

Here's a large, large pile of the pellets waiting to be shipped.

We were fortunate to be at this location when an ore ship showed up.

At first, it looked like a ghost ship with the mist coming off Lake Superior

But little by little, it became clearer

Until it finally docked at the plant. These large ships no longer need tugboats because they're equipped with bow and stern thrusters so that they can maneuver right into the dock sideways with no assistance.
We both find this kind of observing very educational. One of the great things about travelling is that we're not just seeing Mount Rushmore or Statue of Liberty, etc. There are so many less-visited places that help educate us to more of what goes on in life. All of this helps to fill in the gaps to make our world larger and more full. We see iron ore being processed, then we visit an steel mill and then take a tour on a great lakes boat and it all comes full circle.

Also, we got see some cool tunnels, lighthouses and wonderful views.

Early morning....

an oblong tunnel !

Katie chased this little guy up the tree

Gooseberry River emptying into Lake Superior

Reading the geology of the area

Gorgeous Split Rock lighthouse

My new Galaxy 9 phone takes fantastic closeups!

Now...for the obligatory cute photos of Katie....

Nice road to travel...glad we got to go. Next up....Wisconsin.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

At the very start of the Mississippi River

Years ago, we went through Minnesota from the west on our way to Duluth/Superior but never got up north to see the Headwaters of the Mississippi so this time, we planned better.

The river starts out as a stream leaving Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota then travels all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The yellow circles show where the Headwaters are and where we're standing and where it exits into the Gulf of Mexico

This historic marker dates back to the 1930s, and indicates the Mississippi River's total mileage at 2,552 miles. Since then the river's course has been shortened and altered by flooding and channeling.

Here is the historic marker with some goofy tourists blocking your view.
Ah....better....Now we can read the sign.

We've been here too...way at the southern end of the river.

Here is where the river exits the lake and  begins its long journey south.

Good timing...we had it all to ourselves.

Then, this guy had to get out onto the rocks...carefully....
We left our previous RV park at 6 am in order to get here early as we were 235 miles away. We had really good timing to see the river begins its beginning trip south. A busload of school children had just left the area and, as you can see, a new bunch came in right after we got done....

So much for our peaceful time communing with the river.
Even Katie got in the act. She smelled the water, then jumped in and proceeded to be, what we call, "Our Wild Thing"

...and off she goes!
This is what the river looks like a half mile away from the Headwaters.
Someone looks very happy to finally be here.

Right at the start.

...had to get in the water.
Some up close flowers for you flower lovers.

You guys coming or what?
...and off it goes....down towards New Orleans....
The headwaters are about 800 feet from the parking lot.
Nice peaceful walk through the forest to get there.

One last event for the day:

When we closed the door to the coach it locked both locks. Well, we only lock the deadbolt only and do not carry a key for the other lock. So, we got locked out of our coach!

After a few futile attempts to get in, we decided to enjoy the Headwaters and then try to get in.

We lock all the windows so there was no way to try to slide a window open. (Once before, I crawled through a very small bedroom window but our slide was in so that was not a choice this time.) I tried many times to pry the door open enough to get a screwdriver in to push the lock away but....not to be. Frustrating to say the least.

I called our road side service number and was put on hold, this being Friday before a major holiday weekend. While on hold, I grabbed some very small screwdrivers from my car and tried to pick the lock.....doggone if I didn't get it open ! I hollered over to Kim, "WE'RE IN !!!"

Nothing like a little excitement to make our trip memorable. (which we both could do without).

Here's our trip so far....

Anyway, all is well, we're heading to Duluth, Minnesota next. See you then.