Sunday, June 04, 2006

What Should We Name This Place? Well, let's see. C, eh, N, eh, D, eh Part Three

For parts one and two, click away or scroll down.

Once we left Canada, we were still faced with a long drive home (approximately 7 hours without stops) and a few sights that we really wanted to see. The weather was even better at this point in the trip and we were driving with Lake Superior to our left in the daylight. Would we be able to visit all the places we skipped on the way up while it was still light out? Would I make it home before crashing completely from lack of sleep? Would DM stay awake in the car? These were all questions we had.

We stopped almost immediately after crossing the border (which was quick and painless - I guess Canada didn't want to keep us). There was a gas station and it was a good idea to fill up the tank at this point. Inside the station, there was a giant stuffed wild turkey. It was absolutely hideous and DM took a picture or two of it while I used the facilities. I did upload it to DM's photostream on Flickr, but I won't be posting it here. Maybe you can get her to post the ugly turkey on her site sometime soon. We hit the road, planning on driving for at least two hours. [*Insert laughter here.*]

No sooner had we been back on the road than we found an overlook. I suppose, looking back, that it was not an actual reststop, but we decided to pull over. A truck drove by and honked at us yet again (why did people keep honking at us?!?) as we took pictures of the lake from this vantage point. It trul was a sight to be seen.

Overlook near Border (31)
Overlook near Border (19)

We got back in the car after about ten minutes at this stop. I thought we'd push through until we reached Split Rock Lighthouse, but again, we needed to stop. There was talk about finding another wayside stop and the next one we found happened to be Cutface Creek. While not as spooky during the light hours, I still found it rather humorous that we stopped at a place called Cutface Creek twice during a two day trip. At this stop, the facility was used again (this time by DM) and I unpacked the laptop one last time until we got home. We uploaded the pictures we had both taken since leaving Kakabeka Falls and since we kept snaping while we drove down the road, there were quite a few pictures to upload. I also got out the tripod and got a couple of pictures of the two of us at Cutface Creek.

Beth and Dana at Cutface Creek
Beth and Dana at Cutface Creek (1)

"Moving right along," we found yet another stop. We didn't linger here, but we did appreciate the rapid of Cross River and each enjoyed getting the most out of our cameras during the trip. A trip for bowling quicky turned into a trip all about water. Cross River leads into Lake Superior (like most of the river and rapids and falls we saw south of the border) and there was a story about a preacher who ended up in this area years ago. I don't know about the story, but I liked the views of the rapids. The churning water was a great sight and sometime I think a longer trip to Canada will allow DM and I to explore some of these little spots in more detail.

Cross River (6)
Clouds at Cross River The weather was beautiful.

Our next stop was Split Rock Lighthouse. DM paid the fee to park in the state park and we wandered up to the lighthouse. For some reason, Split Rock Lighthouse is a place that most Minnesotans will instantly associate with the North Shore and even without knowing the history of the place (I did go on a guided tour of it years ago as a kid but really cannot remember all the details. I just remember that the inside of the lighthouse was really, really boring) people will have fond memories of being at the lighthouse and looking out onto the Great Lake.

We took pictures of the lighthouse, the view of Lake Superior, and the surroundings. Before a highway was built, the lighthouse sat on top of the rocks, commanding and directing ships into the shore. It was shut off from society and supplies were transported up the rocks by a tram (basically a pulley system). There have been some amazing pictures of the view over the years and I remember postcards from my childhood that I was just fascinated at how the lake would freeze in violent patterns of waves hitting the shore, or how the lighthouse stood solid against the elements in storms raging over the water. The weather was much nicer for DM and I and we really just got to have a great view of the lake.

After standing by the lighthouse, we wandered down a trail. I got a bit ahead of DM and instead of waiting, I thought I'd check out the tram (now a series of stairs going down the rock). I was halfway down the tram, taking pictures of the lighthouse when I finally heard DM yell, "Beth?" I shouted back and she decided to stay up top. The hike back up the stairs is quite a workout, but worth the view. Once back up, we wandered to the car and headed away from the park.

We were not even back to the main road when DM exclaimed, "Oh!" There were three deer eating leaves just to our left. I stopped the car and we took a few pictures of the deer before they wandered into the brush and were gone. It was a nice sight.

Split Rock Lighthouse up close (4)
Split Rock Lighthouse up close (16)
Split Rock Lighthouse from Tram landing (9)
Split Rock Lighthouse from Tram landing (10)
View from Lighthouse (7)
View from Lighthouse (39) Doesn't the shore look like a lazy alligator?
The Tram (1)
The Tram
Deer at Split Rock (2)

Our last planned stop was Gooseberry Falls. The light was starting to fade and when it was going to be gone, it was going to be gone quick. We were worried about making it to the falls in time. Split Rock had already been closed for tours and guides, and we figured that we might not have enough time at the falls. We were in the car, talking about skipping the falls and heading home when I said, "Unless we approach the park within the next thirty seconds, I think we'll need to go home," and sure enough, we see the sign for the park.

Gooseberry Falls is another state park and a brilliant sight. There are actually three sets of falls (I think there are three) and one can walk across the falls at one point. The light was going fast and we only visited the lower falls. I would really love to go again during the fall and see the leaves changing colors and explore all of the falls.

I had brought the tripod to this location and was glad that I did. It gave me a chance to leave a longer exposure on the camera without the hand jitters and with the fading light, it really helped capture some images that I'm quite proud of. We were close enough to the falls at some points to feel the mist and it was getting quite cool. Pictures were taken, moments of silence while we were lost in thought were had, and we decided it was time to hit the road again.

Beth at Gooseberry Falls path
Dana at Gooseberry Falls, sitting (3)
Gooseberry Falls (5)
Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls (51)
Gooseberry Falls (35)

It was getting late and it was time to push on through to home. Without any stops, we were looking at being home around 1 AM. We did end up driving through Duluth, opting to eat at Hinckley, a city along I-35 with a large casino that I've visited a few times before. I refused to stop for gambling, telling DM, "We've had such a great trip, I think we used up all of our luck." She commented about how we had seen 7 deer and this was lucky. I mentioned how I managed to look at the odometer for the trip when the milage read a triple six point six. She agreed that we didn't need to gamble, and my main concern was really the time. I was getting tired and could use a lot of caffeine or pay for yet another hotel room.

We ate at Tobie's, a little restaurant that has always been a favorite of casino goers. I remember stopping for pastries after any trip during college. The big winner each time would treat the others to a bear claw or turtle or some other sweet tooth goodie. Tobie's is not what it used to be. The food, while edible, was nothing to write home about. We each had 1/2 lbs cheese burgers with cajun seasoning. The burgers were in no way close to the porkchops for flavor or heat. I had ordered mine with coleslaw, foregoing the french fries (which I don't really enjoy). Instead, I was brought a burger and fries by our server. I asked again about the coleslaw and she said she had forgotten it, but would be right out. Ten minutes later, I asked again. I don't know why I bothered to ask the third time, but at that point, I just wanted her to do her job correctly.

The most bothersome part of the meal came when she brought the bill and charged me for the fries and coleslaw and I had never ordered or touched the fries. So we ended up disputing the order at the register and the servers complained that they needed the manager to come out to waive off the minute price of the fries. I guess he doesn't trust his employees to get it right and I just said, "I don't care. I'll pay the money to get out of here." We were back on the road and no longer looking forward to ever visiting Tobie's again.

We made it home finally (I think it was after 2:30 or 3 - I can't remember) and we both crashed. The next day, we got up and went to my mom's for waffles (Yum!) and then it was karaoke time. We had a great time telling our adventures and it was good to be back home, rested up and ready to tell our stories on our blogs.

Still to come, a bit about our adventures in Wisconsin and whatever it was that we did on Friday. What the heck did we do on Friday? Oh yeah, we went to see the lake by my house and out to dinner. Thursday was karaoke, Friday was the lake, Saturday and Sunday was Wisconsin, Sunday night was karaoke, and Monday was dinner at another new restaurant. I will be posting about the lake, Wisconsin, and our Monday night dinner. One of these days.