Thursday, June 13, 2013

The North First Love

I have been blessed to see many of the fascinating corners of this country. Between my leisure travel and my travel nursing career, I've been coast to coast. California was beautiful with its golden coastline and sweeping vistas. New York had its towering skyline and attitude in spades. Las Vegas had its own special appeal, nestling lots of entertainment and amazing architecture on the famous "strip." Pretty sure I don't need to profess my love of the New England states, as I've gushed about the area in this blog many, many times. But, one place has always had a special place in my heart, my favorite of all.

Duluth, Minnesota and the Lake Superior North Shore.

What?! Minnesota????

Yes, you read correctly. My favorite place is tucked away in the Midwest; a beautiful gem on the tip of the sparkling expanse of the worlds largest freshwater lake. Visiting Duluth was an annual tradition, up until last year when I was working in New Hampshire. This year, I got back on track and made the five hour drive directly North from La Crosse. Before I get into the details of the trip, I should give those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing this beautiful area for yourself a few reasons why I love it as well as a few fun facts!

1. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world by area covering 31,700 miles (about the size of South Carolina) and the third largest by volume. The average depth is 483 feet with a maximum depth of 1,333 feet. The lake contains about 2,900 cubic miles of water. To put that in more visual terms: enough water to cover North and South America in about a foot of water. Yikes! The shoreline is comprised of 2,726 miles of rugged rocks, vista views, waterfalls, and sleepy fishing villages. The water in the glimmers in the sun, taking on a cobalt blue hue that is breathtaking. Although it is a popular lake for fishing, boating, and sailing, the water seldom rises about 40 degrees, so it makes for a cold swim year round.
2. There are over 200 rivers that feed the lake. With the high cliffs surrounding the lake, this makes for amazing hiking along the entire shoreline. This geography also produces some stunning waterfalls, many times hiding just a few yards off the highway.
3. The entire North shore is steeped in rich history which continues to permeate the modern culture today. The shipping industry is still a primary staple and many trading post sites where fur traders came to make a deal are still standing today.
4. The Superior Hiking trail, which spans 39 miles, boasts elevation changes, babbling stream beds, thundering waterfalls, and vista views. A hiker's dream.
5. The city of Duluth, while largely centered around the shipping and tourist industries, has a laid-back, college-like feel. An eco-conscious city, Duluth has many restaurants and local businesses that invest in preserving the natural beauty of the area. While you can get overwhelmed in the tourist areas with people visiting, getting off the beaten path has proved rewarding on each trip I've taken. I've stumbled upon an antique book store housed in a historic church, restaurants that grow their produce in the parking lot to help prevent run-off from entering the watershed, and farmers markets filled with local wares.

These are just a few of the reasons I love the North Shore and the city of Duluth. It is one thing to describe the beauty of this area, it is another to see it for yourself. Here are just a few photos from my latest trip, with more to come.

Vista overlooking the boundary waters leading into Canada.

See that little blue figure in the upper left corner? Yeah, that's a person. Gives you some perspective on how big these falls were!

I will post more photos and video from my trip in another post!

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