Day 7: Crossing the UP and into Duluth.

After breaking camp at Little Beaver Lake, I headed back towards Munising.  I stopped off at Miner’s Castle, an overlook at Pictured Lake National Park, where you can view some of the famous striated sandstone.  It was impressive, but I had a long drive ahead, so I did the quick trek down to the “castle” then got back in the car and heading thru Munising and on towards Marquette.

 

The drive wound it’s way along the long, long coast of Lake Superior.  So far, I had been traversing Superior (or “the big lake they call gitche gumee”) for one day and I had an entire day ahead of me that would also skirt this magnificent glacial deposit.  (I read that if you drained Lake Superior, it would fill up a swimming pool the size of the lower 48 states to a depth of 5 feet!  Wow.  That’s a resource we can ill afford to destroy.)

By the time I reached Marquette, a sweet little college town on the banks of the lake, it was lunchtime.  Another couple I had met the day prior on the trail, advised me to stop in at Donker’s for lunch.  And candy.  Mmm.  How could I resist?

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I found my way to Main Street and parked the Rav across the street from the infamous Donker’s.  This is a restaurant/candy store that sits to the left of an old theatre.  (The theater is no longer in use for screenings, but has occasional live performances.)  Donker’s was founded in 1889 and inside the floor boards squeak and twerk with age.  The candy counters are filled to brimming with chocolates and their famous truffles.  Upstairs, there is a restaurant where I met Jennifer, who waited on me at the counter and when I told her of my trip her eyes lit up with fond memories.  She told me that she and her husband and done a similar road trip last year and she said not to miss the Badlands as the sunflower fields would be in bloom and the elk would be migrating.

Everywhere I go, people offer advise on where to go and what to see.  It is my experience that you will almost never go wrong when you listen to them.  I made a note and thanked Jennifer and ordered my BLT and iced tea.

Back on the road, it was a long drive thru woodlands and small towns until I reached the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Across a bridge, I found myself in Duluth, the birthplace of Bob Dylan.

Duluth is a depressed downtown and working port along Superior.  I checked into a smelly, but cheap motel (The Downtown Duluth Motel) where I had a shower and headed out to explore the city.  I passed many homeless people, a head shop, a homeless shelter, and more people just hanging out and drinking from paper bags.  One guy asked for money for the “bus home”.  I walked on to Fitger’s, an old mill now turned into a hotel and “mall” with a brew pub.  The pub was okay, beer fine, and the special smoked fish wrap with Minnesotan wild rice, odd but acceptable.

I sat at the bar, my usual hang when traveling, and spotted another lone woman traveler.  I would have chatted with her, but she didn’t get off her phone once, so….

After dinner, I called a Lyft since I was uncertain of my safe passage back to the motel.  I lovely young man/CPA/Lyft driver named Noe picked me up and I was back in the smokey room in 5 minutes flat.  Not bad for $6 plus tip.

Now, I am off again.  This time, back to the woods.  Ely, Minnesota for the night and later a stop at the Wolf refuge.  I hope it won’t make me sad.

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