Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lake Superior

Less than ten minutes after getting on the road this morning we passed from North Dakota into Minnesota, and less than ten minutes after being in Minnesota, I was frustrated with the speed limit situation. 

I’m not a speed demon by any means, and I’m not impatient, but I felt like all of the posted speed limits as soon as we got into Minnesota were at least ten miles per hour too slow. It felt very, very conservative; especially after driving all the way from Seattle at 70 MPH.

What is the big difference between 45 and 50 miles per hour?  Is it really different enough to warrant posting a sign saying 50, and then 100 yards later, one that says 45, and then in another 100 yards, back to 50 again?  really??? But no matter what road I was on and what the posted speed limit was, I felt like I was crawling. At one point I was on a straight road with nothing but grassy marsh on either side as far as I could see. And I couldn't go faster than 50!  I was on a similar road, only with more turns, in Montana and I was able to go 70!. So it didn’t take long before I was saying to myself, “This place should be called MinneSLOWta”.

And I think the locals have dealt with the ridiculously low speed limits by ignoring them. As I said, I am not a speeder. I set my cruise control to 2 MPH over the speed limit, (which is probably why it is so vexing to me when the speed limit is changing all the time) But I found the locals were passing me left and right. At one point, someone was glued to my tailgate, so I just slowed down to about 15 miles per hour to force them to pass me. Honestly, there’s no reason to be driving so close to someone that they can’t see your front license plate. It’s impolite and dangerous. 

On the other hand, maybe some locals have really taken to the whole s-l-o-w d-r-i-v-i-n-g thing because when I got on I-35, I noticed something I had never seen before. I was so relieved to finally see that 70 MPH Speed Limit sign, but I laughed out loud when, right below it, was a sign warning that the MINIMUM speed was 40 MPH. FORTY!  I've never seen a minimum speed limit sign.

Which reminds me of something I didn’t mention about North Dakota, that I found delightful.  There were billboards that said simply, “Be Nice.”  That’s in. White background, black text. And some of them said “Be Polite.” I thought that was so cool.  On the other hand, the most notable billboards in Minnesota said “Life begins at conception” What a difference a state border can make, huh?

About halfway to Duluth, we stopped at Crosby City and played for a while in a park.
we saw this dragon at the Crosby City Park

And when we got to Duluth, the first thing we saw was a scenic overview Rest Area, so, even though we were only four minutes away from the motel, we stopped. Who can resist a scenic overview rest area? This one had a sculpture called The Gate. Which was supposed to work with the environment. Specifically it was reminiscent of the straight lines of the land and the lake, which, when viewed from a specific point, is dissected by The Gate. The photo I took was probably not from the right place, but here’s The Gate.
The gate

Playing in the Crosby City park was the highlight of my day until we got to the hotel and I looked at my messages and I saw that someone had responded to my ad asking for help. Last night I had run out of food, so I placed an ad on Craigs List asking for someone who could help me with the dog situation while I went shopping (or alert me to a dog friendly market) and most importantly, to let me come and use their kitchen to cook my stuff up.
The guy who responded told me he had just gotten back from the farmers market on Saturday and was juicing and making some celery coconut soup and some free range chicken and wanted to invite me to join him. 

His name is Jason and he turned out to be really cool and totally into healthy food, like me. We commiserated on the lack of choices in Minnesota, but he told me that there is a food co-op in Duluth. It was closed, he said, but we could go in the morning.
Tonight he took River and I on a tour of the town, showing us the courthouse and the jail and the old town and the harbor. He explained how Duluth is the oldest town in Minnesota. And he took us to a beach on Lake Superior, where River and I both got our feet wet. I tried to take a picture, but even though it was a bright, full moon, the camera couldn’t gather enough light to make it come out. But it was beautiful.
Almost full moon over Lake Superior at night
We stood on the Canadian Shield, which is an outcropping of granite. He explained all about it, but I didn’t really understand it. But we stood on it! :)

So, he fed me some soup and some homemade pesto on shredded kolrabi, and the chicken which he made based on a traditional african recipe with lots of vegetables and spices, and we sampled his homemade wares including kim chi, almond milk, nongranola (granola made without grains) and date bars.

Tomorrow morning we’ll meet again so he can take me to the co-op before I head to the twin cities. I won’t have time to cook but I can buy some blueberries and other foods to take on the road and eat raw.




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