We are a family that travels a lot, but we have always stuck around for Hanukkah and Christmas. I invite my family, my in laws, my step family, my friends (everyone basically) over to my house for an afternoon meal on Christmas and we gorge ourselves, then rest for a few days. My brother and sister live far away and can’t usually make it. After the times we spent together this year being so sad, we decided we should take a vacation together. Also, my mom made a super big deal about us being a family when she was gone. I haven’t been to Minnesota to see my brother in over five years, and he had been out to California so much, so it was time for my brood to make the trip.
I am slightly ashamed to admit this, but other than a few drives to sad sledding hills in Southern California, my daughter had never really seen snow. So we booked a trip to Minneapolis where we met up with brother and sister-in-law, and from there we drove up to the North Shore of Lake Superior. I’d never been up to the North Shore and honestly, I don’t even own gloves. I was not prepared for the cold, but we got lucky as it was in the high 20’s most of our visit, which seemed miserable at first but we adjusted rather quickly. All the locals kept telling us it was downright balmy for Minnesota in January. I don’t know about that, but it was rather lovely and a great change of pace from the season-less-ness of Los Angeles. Gap Kids sent Scarlet a jacket and my sister-in-law let me borrow some gloves. You may remember my brother from years past. I’ve mentioned that he is a nature photographer (as well as a biology teacher). He wrote an amazing post for us: 25 Tips for Taking Great Photographs, and he took the pictures seen above of the Minnesota wilderness. Definitely read through his photography post, it’s so helpful and I refer to it all the time. He is dedicated to his craft. I mean, he spent a good 30 minutes at Goosebury Falls just taking a picture of this one icicle. I thought he was nuts. But… that’s a pretty awesome picture.
More on our itinerary and the truly beautiful stuff we saw in this Minnesota winter…
We started our journey by piling into my brother and sister-in-law’s cars. Scarlet demanded a girl car and boy car and we were happy to agree to that arrangement so I could spent some quality time with Tamy, my sister in law since i was THIRTEEN YEARS OLD. Gah, I am old. Anyway, we drove for a bit and then stopped at Betty’s Pies. This is a Minnesota institution, right? Do we have any Minnesota natives in the comments? I didn’t eat any pie but Carleton ate three flavors. He was a fan.
We arrived at our hotel on the North Shore, the Best Western Superior Inn and Suites in Grand Marais. I woke up for the sunrise… it was cloudy so not as spectacular as I had hoped but I was still so happy to see it.
Tamy took this picture of Carleton, Scarlet, and I from their balcony. Scarlet was so amazed by the frozen water coming off the lake.
We spent our second day on the North Shore driving up to the High Falls trail. This is on the Canadian border and is really cold. So cold. Scarlet loved it! She whined even less than the Minnesota natives.
The falls were worth the hike.
Scarlet and I even took a mommy-daughter selfie :)))))
The next day we drove the Gunflint trail to the Gunflint lodge. Totally magical! Scarlet saw her first real-live snowman.
She was clearly loving it.
We moved from there over to Two Harbors for a couple of nights. We went to Split Rock Lighthouse, and even though it was closed, we had fun in the visitor center.
Carleton and Scarlet practiced skipping rocks on Lake Superior.
We drove to Goosebury Falls and took the short hike to the bottom and top. It was beautiful!
The dogs love it there!
And Carleton and Scarlet claimed this land as their own.
We ate some amazing Minnesota Wild Rice porridge for New Years breakfast.
We stopped in Duluth to visit the Great Lakes Aquarium.
And at Russ Kendall’s Smoke House for the most amazing smoked fish.
And a few stops along the highway for snowy adventures…
Then headed back to Bruce and Tamy’s place in Stillwater for some sledding.
And of course, breakfast at the local institution (my brother’s favorite spot) Chilkoot Café and Cylclery.
Scarlet capped off her week of snowy adventure by building her first snowman. She named it Fred. Next to it is barely visible, Fred’s dog which she named Flüd.
My brother made many stops along the way to take beautiful photos. I will share some here but to really understand them you have to click over to his site, btleventhal.com. He brings the beauty of Minnesota to light in the most amazing way.
Oh, we had the best time in Minnesota, you betcha. You will too, dontcha know. 😉