Minnesota, USA

Chasing Waterfalls from Minneapolis to Grand Marais

9/13/18: full day
Today was quite the day. I woke up early, like 07:30-ish and thought- ‘Perfect! I’ll be able to do Minnehaha Falls and the Sculpture Garden and still have time to get to the Hungry Hippie [hostel] by dark.’ So I get everything ready, I have breakfast and organize my bag. I roll down to the desk and request a receipt and the friendliest front desk agent, Jean Luc, politely says he cannot print a receipt because I used points..  then he looks at me and says I am booked another night. Well, I’ll be damned.

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN.

whimsical flowing Minnehaha falls at the tops center of the frame, flowing down to center left of the frame. Greenery balances the empty space.
Minnehaha Falls

I did have another night here, and I’m so happy I booked it. So I trudged everything back to the room and made my way out. I first went to Minnehaha falls. I mastered the whimsical waterfall picture look by slowing my shutter speed. Although I still havent ordered a tripod for my Sony I was able to get some pretty magical looking photos. I had plenty of time to spare because I paid the meter for 1.5 hours thinking I’d have to walk far to see the falls.
I used this time to have an early lunch. There is a restaurant at the top of the falls, Sea Salt Eatery, where I had a crabcakes basket. It was actually really good but mostly filler. I was hesitant on ordering the crabcake becuase I’m from Maryland. I sat outside waiting for my food, there was a celebration here today. While waiting I researched more to do in Minneapolis. I stumbled across a pretty epic picture on InstaGram; I had to find the spot and get my own version. Well this took me another 1.5 hours to find, and even still I didn’t get the shot.

I ran into Tom Hanks, the Cast Away version, dreads sticking out from all sides like an early 90’s punk guy with a ton of hair wax- a mess. This man was carving something into the cement bridge when I passed him at first then I circled back to find another way to the bottom of the bridge and finally realized my only hope was where he was. I began to slowly approach that spot as he was starting to walk away but he kept looking at me. So I asked, with the friendliest tone, ‘is that was the only way to get under the bridge?’ and he asked why I’d ever want to go there. I explained that I just wanted to take a picture and he then questioned if I was a devil worshiper and told me I’d get scabies. I obviously realized at this point that I would have to sacrifice the pretty skyline under the arched bridge to ensure my safety…. and I’m not referring to the scabies.

An artistic rendered map of the city wraps a cement wall corner.

I returned to my car and decided to go back to the hotel to figure out my next move, as well as grab my phone charger. Welp, me running in for a quick minute became a 20 minute nap. Much needed of course. I then went back out, this time I went downtown. I knew I wanted to save the Sculpture Garden for golden hour, so that gave me about 4 hours to kill. I meandered back and forth around the same 2 miles for over 3 hours. Everytime I’d find something to do is was another 20 minute walk in the direction I had just came from… convenient. Definitely got my exercise in.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Minneapolis skyline during the day
The famous blue rooster statue in Minneapolis with the skyline behind, the sky is beginning to show signs of the sunset.
A basket of Wisconsin cheese curds from Red Cow in Minneapolis.
cheese curds

I like Minneapolis though. I’d nickname it either City on Wheels or Park City. City on Wheels because everyone is on a bike, skateboard, segway…  etc and there are so many lanes for them. Mainly everyone was on bikes. I also saw a guy on a hover board pushing a stroller, innovative. I would’ve liked to grab a rental bike, but I’m not sure I’d bode well riding through the city. The paths I could’ve handled, I’d be nervous riding with cars on the streets. And Park City because I went to at least 4 today accidently. They have a park for everything, including the Mill Ruins park.
Overall I had a good experience in Minneapolis and finally had some Wisconsin cheese curds at Red Cow (which I highly, HIGHLY, recommend). A day and a state late, but it happened. I finished exactly as I wanted to- at the sculpture gardens for golden hour. I also got to have a seat for a little and watch the sunset. After I left the park I filled up on gas. I’m kinda nervous (but more so excited) for the Hungry Hippie hostel. It will be my first stay in a hostel EVER. I’ve got a big drive tomorrow. Time for bed. 

The iconic spoon sculpture with the cherry in the scoop sits on the center to right side of the frame. The blue rooster is at the edge of the left side frame. It is the 'blue hour' and the skyline is lighting up in the background.

Grand Marais, Minnesota, USA.

full frame portrait of the Hungry Hippie Hostel barn. It is red, with green shutters and 2 sun bleached yellow chairs on the wooden platform porch
Grand Marais

I arrived to the Hungry Hippie Hostel today!! You know… the place I thought I was suppose to be yesterday? hah. I left Minneapolis this morning and drove straight here (well I stopped at Aldi for snacks and made my own trailmix). I arrived at about 15:30. I was greeted by Charlie and Piper- the dogs here. When I arrived, Jeremy was outside with his dad getting the barn ready. He greeted me and showed me the bunk house, where I dropped my things, as well as the main house where I would shower and make tea.
When the tour was over, I asked for local trail info- after showing me a few trails for tomorrow I was on my own. Wait, no. I wasn’t on my own. Allyson was here. I met Allyson, it was a bit awkward at first, but now we are cool. I wasn’t sure if she wanted to chat- she was in all black and a flannel. She has short blonde hair, like pixie style. She said she had shaved it all off not too long ago, it’s actually growing back. She actually chats a bit! It’s her birthday weekend, she comes here as tradition by herself to celebrate, she will be 23 on Sunday. I think she is introverted but starts to open up- she even offers to share her Yogi tea.
I finally get tea time! Allyson is very vegan and very gay- she makes many jokes about how stereotypical she comes off. She asked if I’d like to go to town with her for dinner to have someone to eat with, so of course I said yes.
I don’t think it was a date, she didn’t make any moves at least. I assume she has a ‘gaydar’ but come to think of it, I didn’t tell her I wasn’t… oh well, we enjoyed eachothers company and it was nice to have someone to talk to. We went to Gun Flint Tavern and I had mushroom ravioli; so yum, it tasted kind of Greek, like a tempanade sauce with feta. My meal came with a side salad… and get this, SHITAKE MUSHROOM DRESSING; It was so good- I need a bottle.
I cringe reading this in hindsight… because it comes off as naiive- I obviously know lesbians can have platonic female friends but upon further thought I believed it was worth mentioning. Even knowing logically the before-mentioned, it is something I question regularly as a straight woman about platonic friendships with opposite genders. There is always an underlying questioning, thought, or feeling as to unspoken motives… so I think it it a fair thought to express.

Grand Marais harbor at sunset (cloudy), two sailboats (mass down) to the left quarter of the frame. The horizon dissapears into Lake Superior

Afterward, the two of us went to the lakeside. We saw quite a few otters swim by and I skipped a few rocks. The most skips I had was 3- pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever had. When we arrive back to the hostel there are quite a few more people- Jeremy said we would have a full house. Allyson made me Yogi ‘stress relief’ tea with cava (a new found favorite). Then we went to the bonfire and met a couple who are camping in a tent. I meet John, my bunk mate at the fire, too. He is here by chance- rode his bike from Minneapolis to Canada and he hurt his knee so he is here for about 2-3 nights to hitchhike back.
The conversations are pretty good, not just small talk, very involved. I enjoy their company. Beth is also here for the day to escape her everyday life. Then there is Pat, he hasn’t spoken to any if us yet. There are signs on each bunk- another guy Nick hasn’t arrived yet. Beth and John are both married (individually) but solo travelling for the night.
All of the people here who I have spoken to are from Minneapolis, Allyson is from St. Paul, which to the Minnesotians is actually a vast difference but it’s the same area, nonetheless. I had a short nap earlier. The bed is comfortable and the temperature isn’t bad considering there is no AC. I think I’ll read tonight. I brought Tinkers, a Pulitzer Prize winner. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, so I’ll go downtown for a bit. Hopefully it will clear up before noon so I can do some hiking!!

Devil’s Kettle Falls, Judge Magney State Park

Written on 9/15 about 9/14:
I almost left the country today. I went on a hike a 1/2 mile away from Canada. I could see border patrol as I made my left hand turn into the parking lot at Grand Portage state park. But let’s rewind because this was one of my last stops of the day.
Everyone staying in the bunkhouse woke up around the same time and we all went to the kitchen for breakfast. I made apple cinnamon oatmeal that I previously snagged from Holiday Inn Express. Then Beth shared her Trader Joe’s chai tea. After breakfast I got ready and followed Allyson into town. She had been talking up this maple latte the day before when we were sitting at the lakefront, so I was hoping to try it, they use real maple syrup. Off to the Java Moose.
The latte did not disappoint. Next we stopped in Ben Franklin and the Trading Post. I picked up another pair of Darn Tough socks at BF, and grabbed a shirt and trail maps for my hike from the post. The Trading Post had so many cute things,  I had to keep reminding myself that I just got rid of a million things. What a cute store though. 
This is where I left Allyson, she planned to stay there for the day, we drove in separately. I on the other hand was ready to chase some waterfalls and to practice more with my camera. Oh! I also joined a photo challenge with ‘Be My Travel Muse’. I haven’t submitted for the first 2 of 5 days, though I am taking the pictures in the challenge for practice just not on the exact day.

Me crouched down in the woods on a trail to Devil's Kettle - fern like plants flood the forest bed, leaves beginning to change to yellow.

Devil’s Kettle was my first stop. This waterfall is one of a kind, it has two major falls, one cascaded as normal to the bottom and continues to a river and the other goes down a big hole with no nearby exit. There are fun ‘speculatory’ stories about this fall, but I think it has been found that there is an underground river that eventually let’s into the other. It’s pretty unique! And my crazy ass needed to get as close as possible to the second fall that goes to the hole- I actually sat at the edge of this hole! That trail was at Judge Magney state park and it was not easy. It was reminiscent of climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower. I was beat! Also, while it was overcast the I still felt the sun’s intense exposure. Next stop Grand Portage for the largest waterfall in Minnesota.

A picture of Lake Superior in the distance, above the treeline in the foreground.
Lake Superior
The tallest waterfall in Minnesota is centered in the frame- surrounded by trees

This was the easier of the 2 hikes for the day, except getting there proved to be an adventure in its own. I stopped at a few overlooks, because Lake Superior is never not going to call for my attention. It’s so blue and stunning on all coastlines. Then I got turned around at the Grand Portage landmark because I was looking for a place to stop for lunch. Instead I roamed to an isolated road right on the waters edge to get my roadtrip car picture.
Back on route, I got to Grand Potage State Park close to 15:00. This was an easy hike and I ran into a couple from Devil’s Kettle immediately.  The 3 of us chatted and walked together the whole way.  I then went on my own to a few better vantage points. I noticed this forest smelled of a pine/cedar mix and wished I could bottle the scent.

I stand in the center of the frame atop LARGE river rocks. This is Pigeon River, separating Canada from the US.
me taking pictures of Canada.

On the way back I stopped at the river’s edge, Pigeon River, right over the river is Canada, I saw some Canadians (I assume) on the opposite bank. Then back to the Hungry Hippie. I felt filthy when I got back and immediately went for a shower. Allyson was here so we planned to go the Angry Trout for dinner, I hadn’t had food all day! I was famished and was about to eat everything… once I was clean.
When I came out of the shower, 2 new guests had arrived to the bunkhouse and before we left the other 3 arrived. The 2 additional girls in our room are very sweet- Kari and Stacy. Stacy is full of tips for Utah and apps for my journey, I really like her. Kari is a traveling nurse about to move to L.A. and I’ve been giving her some destination stops for her route. She wished she had more time especially after joining in on me and Stacy’s excitement of Utah. I didn’t talk to them until after dinner though, or else I think we would’ve asked them to join.

Grilled white fish plated with a salad and golden beets.

At dinner Allyson, although vegan pointed me in the direction of white fish- this would be the freshest option- caught the same day. It did not disappoint. I had a great meal, although one of the more expensive meals of my trip so far. I stopped for gas on the way back to prepare for my 10.5 drive to ND. Allyson suggests I stop in Gooseberry for one more waterfall. I think I will, it will put me near to Split Rock Lighthouse, too. It’s morning now. I got great sleep lastnight around 22:00, after standing around the bonfire with more Yogi ‘stress relief tea.’ I’m going to grab some breakfast and try and get out of here.

Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota

Gooseberry waterfalls

9/16/18 in hindsight
It feels like I’ve been driving for about 2 days. Allyson woke up early so I was able to wish her a happy birthday and we ate oatmeal together. Then I left Grand Marais, stopping in Gooseberry to snap another waterfall. I intended to checkout the overlook of Split Rock Lighthouse, I noticed it on my way in- it was pretty from the road. Due to the fog- you couldn’t see about 10 feet ahead, I skipped the stop on my way out. Once I got through the tunnel the fog lifted, the lighting was ideal for the waterfall hike. And by hike I mean a small walk.
After leaving the waterfall I prepared for a 10+ hour drive. There wasn’t much of anything to see but I DID had service. Time flew by as I listened to The Basement Yard. I love Joe and Danny…  I’ve been wayching Joe Santagato on YouTube forever, and now I can take him on the road! I wish he put out a podcast like every other day. Anyway, I gained an hour, arriving to my hotel a little after 20:00. I had lunch on the road- McDonalds. There weren’t many other options ON the road, I drove through very rural towns so I considered myself lucky when I saw the golden arches.
When I arrived to my hotel I sorted laundry, and went to the laundry room, prepared to run to my car for cash. SURPRISE! New machines, and they were free- Score! I did a load of wash while I worked out. Then I stayed up late looking more into Germany [going Dec 2018], drinking tea, and editing photos… etc. 

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