Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hanging In The Backyard

It is time for Tony and me to do our annual get-away. Neither of us had much time or inclination to travel far distances, so we thought we might head up to Duluth. I've never spent much time there even though it is only a few hours away from where I live. I guess it is time to maybe start exploring my own back yard rather than always be looking to the horizon for the next best place.

Of course I am such a commitment phobe that I waited until the last minute to try to find a camping place. Bad idea – Minnesota has such a limited camping season that everybody tries to take advantage of the few days we have by going camping. My preferred campgrounds are the state parks – more rustic, more scenic, generally speaking and you aren't on top of your neighbors. No luck there, even in the middle of the week. So, I guess I am stuck going to a private RV park. Yuck. But wait, faithful readers – I lucked out. We ended up in Indian Point Campground, just a few miles west of Duluth on a point jutting into the St. Louis River. Yes, we were very close to our neighbors, but we had greenery and if you peeked through some of the greenery, you actually could see the river. There was also a great walking trail that went along the edge of the river so Miko could be happy also. It was an expensive campground at $41 for water and electricity but non-planners cannot be choosy.

Indian Point Campground - the river is right behind the trees in back of our site

First on our list of touristy things to do was to tour the Glensheen(also known as the Congdon) mansion which I had never been to. It is right on Lake Superior and has 39 rooms. This house was built in 1908 and is built in the Jacobean architectural tradition, inspired by the Beaux-Arts styles of the era. It is a nice example of how the other half lived around the turn of the last century.

The back of the house overlooking the Formal Gardens
Tony tempting the waves at Glensheen's boat dock

Every time I go to Duluth, I have to drive by the Crosby mansion. It is the house that my great-grandfather built in 1904. It is sort of like passing by my family's old homestead although I have never ever lived in a house this grand. It is not as big and ostentatious as Glensheen but it is a mansion complete with a buzzer under the dining room table that would call the butler in the butler's pantry if you needed anything. As it happens, there had been a big wind storm that came through Duluth several weeks earlier and Duluth lost many many trees. This was true on the Crosby property and as we drove by, there was a woman in the front yard trying to get some of the branches off the lawn and flower beds. I stopped the car and introduced myself as a Crosby great-grandaughter. Jean was so gracious and asked me if I would like to come inside and see the house. Would I ever!!!! I have not been in this house since I was little in the sixties. This was absolutely thrilling.

Front of the House - you can see all the trees down on the front lawn

The Library

The Music Room

The ceiling on the third floor stairway going to the ballroom

Leaded glass in the dining room

More leaded glass

Went to visit my people in the cemetery - this is the Crosby stone - trees down everyplace

We also went waterfall hunting but it was sort of a gloomy day and since I now drive a stick shift car, let's just say the hills of Duluth pretty much did me in. So even though we only got to one creek to check out waterfalls, well, let's just say I am now pretty much an expert on manual shifting on very steep hills. I wonder how these Duluthians survive winter in this city with such steep hills.

Miko really does not like her picture taken

One of the waterfalls on Miller Creek

One of the highlights for me on this trip was going out to Park Point. It is a little spit of sand that you have to cross the Duluth Lift Bridge to get to. Most of it is only wide enough for one of two houses on each side of the road. It sort of has the feel of a beach community. When you get out to the end of the point, it is just like being on the ocean with giant waves but there is no salt.

Mighty Lake Superior