11 years ago today, Day 18

“Who the he!! would have thought Duluth, Minnesota, was a tourist destination!”

But that was the end of my day, and I will start with the beginning.

I started the day with a visit to Fort Snelling, the first settlement of what later became Minneapolis.  I am a sucker for living history exhibits of almost any kind, and this was a good one.  I spoke with a soldier, a laundress, the wife of Colonel Snelling, and a nurse in the hospital in my wanderings around the fort.  The hospital in particular made me glad I live in the age of modern medicine, as such exhibits usually do.  It was pretty gruesome, and the nurse, who obviously enjoyed her role, only made my stomach churn worse.

So I escaped to the top of the lookout post built into the stockade, where the views were lovely:

The Mississippi River from Fort Snelling
Fort Snelling, mostly reproduction, some original
Another view of the Mississippi

As you can see from those photos, the foliage was just starting to turn.  After Fort Snelling I got out of Dodge, heading east the few miles to the border of Wisconsin on I-94 and turning north just before crossing the St. Croix River.  I suspect I could have spent days in Minneapolis seeing the sights, but I was ready to move on again.

The area along the banks of the St. Croix River appears to be weekend getaway country for residents of the Twin Cities.  The road wound along the river and through tiny town after tiny town, most of which seemed to make their living from the tourists.  It was all very bucolic and lovely.  I stopped in one of them, Taylors Falls, at a small bakery/restaurant for lunch, where I had the best soup I think I’ve ever had.  Wild rice with ham.  I’ve been trying off and on to duplicate it ever since. 

After I left the river on my way to Duluth, I saw a sign for a reconstructed Northwest Company fur-trading post, so naturally I stopped.  They were preparing for a re-enactment of a rendezvous, which was fascinating, so I hung around for a bit.

Then I found myself a nice, or so I thought, straight-as-an-arrow backroad to Duluth. 

I’m not sure if it was just me or negative serendipity or what, but I was tailgated more in Minnesota than I’ve ever been anywhere else.  I think I met five cars on that straight-as-an-arrow road to Duluth, and every single one of them tailgated me.  I slowed down and slowed down to try to get them to pass, and they just sat there.  Finally, at about 30 mph, they did go around me, but it was absolutely ridiculous.

Then when I got to Duluth, there wasn’t a room or a hostel bed to be had, and I finally managed to snag a campsite in a municipal campground, after driving 12 miles round trip out to a state park on an extremely bumpy road to find out that they were full up, too.

I found out the next day that there was an inline skating competition in town, which is why everything was booked up, but, really.  Duluth, Minnesota, as a tourist destination?  Who woulda thunk it?