Whether its the bluffs of Southeastern Minnesota, the grassy prairies of Western Minnesota or the wild north woods of Northeastern Minnesota, my home state is a diverse landscape. Even though I have lived all over Minnesota almost my entire life, my eyes weren’t opened to her expansive beauty until this past year. I suppose you could say after 30 years, I fell in love with Minnesota.
As you’ve seen in previous postings, our love affair began last summer when I was reunited with the summer prairies on numerous camping trips. My newly purchased camera in tow every place I visited, I treasured her offerings and captured memories that I won’t soon forget. However as most Minnesotans know our short humid summers bow out hurriedly for what dominates most of our year: cool temps and a snowy climate. The winter months are no excuse to hide from what her landscape has to offer, so a journey to the North Shore was planned.
It was my first trip up to the North Shore since 15 or so years ago and only my second trip ever. Upon arrival I had no idea why I’d stayed away so long. The clear waters of Lake Superior, the iron range, the north woods surrounding the “Old Gunflint Trail”…glorious. Freeze-your-bits-and-pieces-off-cold, but glorious. The palette of reds, rusts, golds, browns and greens are a feast for the eyes. If you look closely you can see so much beauty in the middle of such a barren cold landscape – it’s absolutely striking. With over 1,000 photos taken it was hard to choose which ones to share!
Little local spots were visited like Sugarloaf Cove and Crystal Bay Marina. We literally drove all the way up the arrowhead of Minnesota to the very end of the road – and yes – there’s a “dead end” sign. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock State Park, Cascade River State Park, Superior National Forest…you named it, I hiked it. My friend tried to convince me to climb up what appeared to me to be the highest point in Minnesota – Palisade Head, but I had to put my foot down – and not on that snowy forest-covered mass! Instead I acquiesced to a hike up Oberg Mountain, which in hindsight was probably just as high, but I did it. After a pouty frustrating hike, I was able to capture some rewarding photos. Sometimes the most difficult things are the most rewarding.
The best part about these hungry drives is all of the little ma & pa diners and restaurants along the way. Picking one out and sitting down to a greasy plate of food after a hike in 30 degree temps is the best 🙂 I think my favorite spot – a spot so tasty we stopped there twice – was probably the Lockport in Lutsen. It’s a typical small town gas station. You walk inside and there’s all kinds of necessities and food to purchase, but then in the back is this colorful, memory-filled room that looks and feels a bit like a log cabin. You just walk in, grab a seat and start your day right! They had the most impressive bacon I’ve ever seen and it was tasty!