Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moose, Agates and Pie

If it's a Friday afternoon, I often can be found traveling up I-77 to the Charlotte Douglas International airport- I am really starting to feel like the multiple US Air terminals are my second homes! This past Friday was no exception, but instead of heading to DC, I was on my way to see my dear friend Kim in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Kim was my freshman year roommate at Clemson, is way smarter than I could ever dream of being and is beginning her third year as a urology resident at the hallowed Mayo Clinic. I had been to visit her in her new town of Rochester back in October, but since Kim had a beautiful baby boy, Jackson, in January, I was way overdue for another visit!

Though terrible traffic in Charlotte caused me to miss my originally scheduled flight, I finally landed in Minneapolis/St. Paul sometime after midnight central time on Friday (a trip to South Park and new on-sale Lilly dress later). Kim's in-laws live right near the Twin Cities, and we were able to spend Friday night with them. Kim's father-in-law is a huge Michigan fan, and this once-live Wolverine was located right outside our lovely guest room. I understand being passionate about your team, but I was impressed by the level that Mr. Burgess took it to! Brian, Kim's husband, is also an ardent UM fan, so you can imagine what their house must have been like for the Clemson-Michigan NCAA tourney game! Kim promises Jackson was wearing Clemson orange...how I wish my Tigers could have won that one! The wolverine was especially hard for this granddaughter of an Ohio State fan to take, but the Burgesses were very kind to let us stay for the night!

On Saturday, Kim and Jackson and I took off for the Minnesota town of Duluth, which is on the shores of Lake Superior and is the hometown of Bob Dylan. We enjoyed yummy Chicago-style pizza and watched the aerial bridge be lifted to let a ship through. We also explored the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor center and coveted the s'mores being served at the Inn on Lake Superior.

Poor baby- wearing my sunglasses

Duluth Waterfront- who knew the shore was made up of rocks?
(Lake Superior is known for its agates)

Kim and J and the Aerial Lift Bridge

After we had fully taken in Duluth, we headed 20 miles north to the town of Two Harbors, where we stayed Saturday and Sunday nights. On Sunday, we had a fabulous breakfast at the Vanilla Bean cafe, then hiked part of the Superior Trail. We took in several beautiful waterfalls on the trail and worked off our indulgent breakfast. it's amazing how much more of a workout you can get while carrying a nearly 20 lb baby! We also visited the Split Rock Lighthouse and had dinner at the famous Betty's Pies. I had the best pie I've ever tasted- a bumbleberry that was strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and perhaps a couple of other berries. The cold winters on the North Shore must inspire quality kitchen time, because we had more incredible pie at the Rustic Inn Cafe Monday before heading out out of town.

Upper Falls on Superior Trail

Selection at Betty's Pies

Northern Minnesota is an interesting place. It didn't get above 75 degrees by the Lake, and it was in the 50s once the sun went down at night. There are moose everywhere (yes, moose is the plural of moose)- on the shower curtain at our hotel, on t-shirts and on light fixtures, but sadly we did not spot any real ones. According to a local, the best time to see a moose is in the fall or the spring. The whole state of South Carolina could fit into Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, and hardly anyone swims in Lake Superior because the water temperature rarely climbs above 50. Minnesota is the birthplace of not only Bob Dylan, but also Judy Garland and Prince, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Warren E. Burger, and is the 12th largest of the United States.

The most important fact about Minnesota though, is that I have a best friend there, and she and her little family have allowed me to experience a fascinating place that few southern girls choose to explore. Kim, I am so proud of you for making the most of your time there (she's been dog-sledding y'all!), and I know that Mayo is a better place for having you as a part of it. I loved the trip, not just for the fun sights we saw, but for Jackson's laughs and smiles, our cathartic venting sessions, and for the comfort that comes by just being in the presence of a friend who knows you better than most. And I love your child more than I ever thought was possible. Can't wait to see you and Jackson (and Brian too!) hopefully very soon!


  1. Wow! Great trip! And Kim's baby is beautiful!!

  2. You made me want to visit Minnesota! Next time you have to bring me back a piece of pie! :)

  3. Great post! Minnesota doesn't sound so cold and scary after reading this!