Staycation.

2012
10.09

Fabulous view of one fabulous city. Come and see us!

I love Duluth. Not just because it’s where I was born and have lived most of my life, but because it is a beautiful city. Nestled on the shores of Lake Superior, surrounded by hills that are currently glowing with autumn leaves, it’s simply a beautiful place to live. (Except in winter, when I hate it. But that’s another story for another day.)

I didn’t take a vacation this year, but spent most weekends at auctions (are you yawning?) and then my dear friend Cathy from Pennsylvania visited in early September, at which time Duluth’s weather cooperated by not being too cold or too hot or too windy or too rainy. It was perfect. PERFECT. I couldn’t have been happier if I’d orchestrated it myself, which I will be doing when World Domination kicks in, though the handbook isn’t quite ready yet.

Not to digress too far off point, but is our airport EVER going to be finished? Didn’t they start reconstruction a few years ago? How long could this take? The whole thing isn’t much larger than my house, so it seems like you should be able to leave on a flight without having to wander through quonset huts or the basement parking lot just to get to the main desk. Is it just me? Hurry up, airport people! The escalator doesn’t even work anymore. Yeesh.

On Friday, Cathy and I headed to Delta Diner, one of my favorite places on earth. Stuck in the middle of the woods on Highway H outside of Iron River, it’s a happy destination for sightseers and those with not much to do but get in the car and drive out in the country. You can stop at the Garlic Man’s place, too, if you aren’t going 85 MPH as some of us might tend to do. We didn’t actually stop there, but here is a free plug:

The folks at Delta Diner are wonderful. They look like they’re having a lot of fun while they’re working. The menu is simple (though the menu explanations are extensive) and the coffee is good. And so’s the Dutch Baby, which is also about the size of my house, and good for about three ┬ábreakfasts beyond the first!

The Dutch Baby... As big as the plate! You'll never finish it.

Here’s Cathy, looking pretty happy with her French toast or whatever it was.

While we were there, the baker who supplies Delta Diner with their bread showed up with some loaves that apparently were not up to par, and the chef gave free loaves to everyone in the diner. (Try to get there on Free Bread day!) That was very cool. As we were leaving, the hostess gave us two “I Heart Delta Diner” bumper stickers, and later came out to take a photo of us in front of the place. What great service! No wonder people love the place.

Does that Dutch Baby make me look fat?

Later we went shopping at a few thrift stores in Iron River, and a very nice gift shop with unusual items where the uncaring proprietor refused to bother with my purchase as she was more interested in selling scarves and jewelry to another customer. So feh on her! She’s not the only store in town with crow decals on dishtowels, I would like to add.

Stopped at an antique store in Allouez; it seemed to go on for miles. I was actually tired of looking at old stuff by the time we made our way back out. I probably didn’t see half of it, but I do know that if you’re in the market for postcards, you should go there. In Superior, we shopped at Goodwill, Salvation Army and Earth Exchange. Fun stores, all.

On Saturday we visited one of the Little Free Library locations just around the corner from my house (how I want one of those in my yard!) and walked to Serendipity, a great little gift/antique shop just around the corner. Didn’t realize until then that the neighborhood was celebrating Lakeside Days, so we visited the shops and bought some treats at Johnson’s Bakery. Ran in to my sisters, so had coffee and tea with them, took photos of the steam engine, and went to the park to watch a dog show, which was a lot of fun. (Probably not for the dogs, though, what with all the noise.) Later we headed up to the mall, stopping at Bixby’s for soup and a warm up.

Dinner was at Duluth Grill, where you simply must take all out of town visitors, and whose food is delicious. And whose vegetables are home-grown right in the parking lot! What’s not to love?


In the evening, we pored over photos of our lost youth. Amazing to see your friends in their formative years. What surprises! What fun! And what great conversations ensued.

On Sunday Cathy went to church on Fourth Street to hear a speaker whose book she was reading (Randy Alcorn, I think, but she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) and later we ventured out onto the Vista King for a spectacular view of the city. The weather was absolutely perfect: warm and sunny, not blazingly hot, but not cool enough to warrant a jacket. Perfect!

We began at the DeWitt Seitz Marketplace, and since we had some time to kill, a drink at the courtyard of Amazing Grace Cafe:

Does this moose make me look fat?

A beautiful day for tourist-watching.

Cathy and friend at Rocky Mountain Candy, Canal Park

Some views from the Vista King:

Former Coast Guard Cutter Sundew, now a private "party boat." Would love to go to THAT party!

Blatnik Bridge, under construction. Just like our airport.

Above: Duluth skyline from the Vista King, and the very reason I am not a professional photographer.

Later that night we came home and made dinner for friends Jean and Dave, and watched “So Long and Good Luck” before dessert. A great day!

On Monday morning, considering the sunlight and perfect temps, we enjoyed an impromptu breakfast at Brighton Beach. We had the place to ourselves, and it was lovely.

Well, almost to ourselves, until we began feeding the lone gull on the rocks, who called his five million friends to join him. We were lucky to make it out of there unscathed. (If you know what I mean.)

(Again: NOT a professional photographer. Or even a very good photo editor.)

We drove to Two Harbors and visited the shops, drove through the Silver Cliffs tunnels, and enjoyed the scenery.

Dinner was at Gordy’s Hi Hat in Cloquet, where it was still warm enough to eat outside on the patio. Good food, good company, good weather. Can’t ask for too much more than that, although I do wish I’d ordered a malt!

Only in America.

So a good time was had by all (I hope) and if you didn’t plan a vacation this summer, I highly recommend getting out in Duluth and seeing the sights through fresh eyes. Pretend you’re a tourist. See Canal Park, Two Harbors, the drive up the shore, Skyline Drive, the many great restaurants, Enger Tower … all of it. See it again for the first time.

But it’s early October … wear warm clothes!

7 Responses to “Staycation.”

  1. Rick says:

    Good to have you back and writing!

  2. Cathy says:

    I LOVED reading about my vacation, which was your staycation! Either way, so much fun was had by all, especially us! You are a wonderful, gracious hostess and I would come back in a minute if I could afford another plane ticket. That’s what piggy banks are for, ha.

    You crack me up with your, “Does this bear make me look fat” comments. For some reason I look thin in the orange sweater photo by the picnic table, but fat in the same sweater by the “have a rice day” guy. Get that anomaly on your camera fixed to “thin photos only” mode, will ya?

    Duluth truly is a wonderful city….you should begin a new career as a travel writer. You’ll have more people there than you can shake a Dutch Baby at!

  3. Patt says:

    Rick,
    Sorry I was gone so long. Life’s been busy!

  4. Patt says:

    Cathy, fill up that piggy bank and come back immediately. Or next spring or early summer, when the weather is tolerable. I should have posted a picture of the chubby cat who thought your head would make an excellent pillow. Sorry I didn’t have a camera for THAT occasion!
    :)
    Miss you.

  5. Cathy says:

    I refrained from mentioning the unmentionable chubby cat who thought my head was a pillow, and decided to cozy down on my head in the middle of the night, smashing my nose and mouth into my pillow. But honestly, it was probably the funniest thing that happened on my visit!

    Point that snazzy new vehicle of yours in my direction. I’ll leave the light on for you!

  6. Marilyn says:

    I do miss my hometown. Still hard to believe a flood kept me from visiting this summer. Really enjoyed reading about your staycation and your friend Cathy. She’s my new favorite person because she drew my name for the auction stuff :-)

  7. Patt says:

    Marilyn,
    She didn’t draw your name (the drawing happened after she left, for various reasons) but she’d be your favorite person anyway, because a few years ago she sent rosemary shortbread cookies and warm fuzzy socks to Nona, and we had a little coffee party with them. The first time Cathy visited, I took her to meet Nona, too, which was a lot of fun. So she’s kinda like family, you know?
    Patt

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