Nearly every year that my family has lived in Minnesota, we have visited the North Shore of Lake Superior. Each time we drive Minnesota Highway 61 up the North Shore, stop at our favorite spots, go somewhere new, and see how powerful the waterfalls are this time. Our most recent vacation to the North Shore was a three-day trip this July.
One of my highlights from the first day was hiking at Temperance River. I found daisies, goldenrod, and white yarrow along the trail, after climbing more than 30 stone steps. The first waterfall we reached was in a narrow, dark canyon that contrasted sharply with the sunlit bridge and rocks surrounding it.
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The next fall was so close to the side of the path that I could see the shape of the water droplets rushing over it. Then we came to a third cascade, wider than it was tall, flowing gently downriver. Just upriver from this was a peaceful pool of water that flowed over a rock shelf, forming eddies and whitewater.
After we reached our base at Grand Marais at the Best Western Plus–Superior Inn & Suites, we walked to Artist’s Point, one of our favorite spots to listen to Lake Superior. We climbed all the way out to the lighthouse in the harbor. On our way back to the hotel, I saw three juvenile seagulls swimming in a line out onto the lake. They had brown coats, unlike the gray and white pattern of the adult seagull they were following.
On the second day, we drove up to Canada to visit the Thunder Oak Cheese Farm near Thunder Bay. I looked at the Gouda cheese wheels stacked in the storage rooms and tried the samples. The cheese curds we ate on our way to nearby Kakabeka Falls were squeaky and salty. Kakabeka Falls roared like a half-size Niagara over its horseshoe-shaped ledge. When we returned to Grand Marais, we ate supper at our favorite restaurant, Angry Trout. We ordered Trout Chowder and the house salad with beets, strawberries, and blue cheese dressing, served on artistic pottery made by Dick Cooter, who digs his own clay nearby.
On the last day of our trip, we hiked to Caribou Falls. The hike was only half a mile, but the 194 steps straight up the side of the hill left me gasping for air. Later, I enjoyed skipping rocks at Split Rock Lighthouse Beach. The waves were so turbulent that I had to carefully time my throws for the smooth space between the waves. I watched three seagulls floating on the rough water, somehow riding over the crest of each wave just before it broke, and pecking in the lake for food.
On our way down to Duluth, we called the Boat Watchers’ Hotline to check the shipping schedule. We reached Duluth in perfect time to see the Canadian Cedarglen depart from the harbor. We heard the aerial lift bridge clanging as it rose and had a close-up view of the ship from the lighthouse at the entrance to the canal. After picking up a Spanish Chicken pizza at Pizza Lucé, we hurried back to the bridge to watch the departure of the American Joseph L. Block.
As we left for home, a rainstorm swept through. Across the road, I saw a rainbow brighter than any I’d ever seen before. We watched it grow brighter until a double rainbow appeared outside the first arc. It lasted for nearly 15 minutes before finally fading away—the perfect conclusion to a fun three days.