Go North or Something Like That

It’s been awhile since I was on the road. Today my spouse and I left for Duluth. Why? To take a north shore train trip from the historical Duluth Train Depot to the Lester River and back. It was gorgeous day–sunny, temp in the 70’s with Lake Superior as a backdrop.

While waiting to board a WCCO TV news team was filming the train, the staff, passengers and the scenery for a later broadcast. Being from the “Cities” we played it very cool–only waved and jumped up and down a few times.

The Lester River Train traveled with a variety of rail cars so we rode in an observation car up the shore and in a mail car — standing at spaces open for viewing.

The actual ride was very low key–if you ever take the Lake Harriet trolley ride you will note the similarity. For me it was wonderful: hearing the sound of the horn, rocking back and forth on the rails and traveling at a pace that slows down the world (if for only a minute) was worth the price of admission.

The train and station are staffed by volunteers–geezers like me. We regaled each other with tales of train travel in the states and overseas.

Later we drove through Duluth in search of a Starbucks. Surprisingly the city’s downtown seems to be holding its own. It had just the right amount of seediness and grit to comfort this short-term exile from the “big city”.

Our original plan was to drive through “da range” on the way to Canada. But somehow I just cannot get enough of COSTCO. Let me explain. I had to purchase four new tires just before this trip. Timing is everything — mine sucked. If you ever buy tires you know the vendor wants to tighten the lug nuts after 25-50 miles of travel. Something about a lawsuit I guess. My Catholic upbringing will not allow me to ignore any such threats.

Well, I looked at the locations for COSTCO in Minnesota and there was only one in an outstate location: specifically Baxter, MN. In my haste I misinterpreted the directions. I thought Baxter was near Duluth.

Nope, it’s near Brainerd, yup, Brainerd. Perplexed and grumpy once I realized that “husband blindness” affects more than a search for salt and pepper in the kitchen. But I digress.

My travel partner was quite generous with her silence preferring to let me stew on my own–I was certain she gloated with unusual glee. After a few minutes I sucked it up and we headed over to central MN. Being a Tuesday there was a general dearth of traffic. Taking MN-210 brought back many teenage memories.

While in high school some of my friends and I drove this route from Long Lake near Brainerd to McGregor several times. My family owned a cabin on Long Lake and a golf course near Big Sandy Lake. I took advantage of both over two different summers.

I was surprised to see so much real estate development: malls, banks, medical facilities along our route. I was even more astonished to learn that Baxter (pop. 9 thousand maybe) had a COSTCO. Near Brainerd? No way! Sure enough we found it. Not as busy as those located in larger locales, but a COSTCO just the same. Long story short — got the tires tightened and then chowed on a Polish sausage. What can I say I (we) are a cheap date! Yum!

As I wiped the last dab of mustard off my well worn chin we decided to head north toward Bemidji. It was getting rather late in the afternoon so we halted today’s excursion in beautiful downtown Peqout Lakes. We found a lovely motel with a warm pool, sauna, whirlpool and breakfast–heaven.

In the end everything worked out — sometimes patience and time ameliorate the dumbest actions one can execute. To this my lovely travel partner voices a jubilant “AMEN”.

Pictures of our train adventure:

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On to Winnipeg!

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About tourdetom

I'm retired. Travel a lot.
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