Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary. We went out for pie, but we had some stragglers with us: our kids and three of their friends. Afterwards, our kids went off with the friends, and we had the night to ourselves. We hadn't planned things this way, but it turned out nicely.
Recounting our trip:
After our "deluxe continental breakfast" at the Super 8, we went back into town. Fabulous Laurie told us about a spot along Skyline Drive where there were gardens and a tower to climb, so we headed there first. It was a fantastic drive, higher and higher on a twisty road that overlooked the harbor. We didn't actually know where we were going because I forgot what Laurie had said, so we ended up driving a bit more than we needed to, but no one seemed to mind. Kayleigh was enjoying seeing the residential neighborhood up on the hill. She decided it would be a great place to live.
Finally, though, we stopped and asked a local how to get there. And we got there.
The gardens were very nice. There was a caretaker there, and the sprinklers were sprinkling. I don't think we have anything like it here. If we have a park, it's grass, and that's that. The only tended public gardens in our area seem to be the occasional boulevard and Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which is huge and dull.
Here, there was a path that led past flowers up a little rise to a shelter. Just past the shelter, the path split to take you to the tower or around the park. We went to the tower first. It looked sort of medieval, made of stone with a metal gate. The kids set off at once, but Eric and I lingered to take pictures.
At the top of each set of winding stairs, there is a place to look out the tower over the hillside. Laurie warned that it smelled of pee, and Eric agreed that it did. I have a peculiar sense of smell, so it smelled like a wood fire to me. There was quite a lot of bird poop in there, which hopefully accounted for the pee smell.
We made our way up and snapped some pics. Eric set the camera timer, and put the camera on his hat to get our picture. Then we gals wandered down while Eric stayed to take more pictures.
Along the other path, there are more gardens and big rocks and other, more primitive paths that spider web out. In one area, there was a peace bell, which I rang. The kids thought I'd be arrested or something. I told them it was there to ring. We wandered further down and around the path, where a woman was studying and scrawling notes and likely wishing we'd leave, which we did.
Just as we were about to set off down another path into seeming wilderness, Eric meandered past the shelter. He couldn't hear me shout, so I called him on the phone. Those cell phones are handy occasionally. He met us at the start of a tributary, if you will, to the Superior Hiking Trail, and we went exploring.
The rocks were huge and flat, the plants were tall. There was a fair amount of scat around, too. It was a fun little area that wound itself back to the parking lot. It was a cool spot to visit.
Next we headed out over the aerial bridge to see what there was to see. There is a long strip of land called Minnesota Point with harbor on one side and lake on the other. It was surprisingly residential. Farther out, there was quite a large park. We played on the beach in the hot sand, looking over the water and wondering why there were so few people around.
It was on this beach in Duluth that Kayleigh learned how to skip a rock. I'd tried to teach her, Eric had tried, too. Today was the day. She was convinced she was no good at things like that, but after a few tosses, one of the rocks skipped. She was shocked and happy and tried again, and it worked again. Too fun.
We put Kelsey's sandal in the water to see where the water would take it. She was interested until it started getting too far away. Heh.
Had a tailgate lunch, then a trip to the aquarium. It was interesting. It was all about fresh water and the Great Lakes. We got to feed trout, pet freshwater stingrays (they felt nothing like the salt water variety), and pet sturgeon, which were very bony. After a while, SCUBA divers went down the 26-foot tank to feed the bottom-feeders. They go in once a week to clean things and feed the big fish. It was pretty fun to watch.
Next it was time for a boat tour. It was nice to sit for a while. I think the kids were bored. We toured the harbor and saw some huge ships and tons of cargo. It was interesting, but not so interesting that I'd ever do it again.
We also saw a replica of the Nina, one of the ships that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World. Here it is. It's so little it's amazing it made it.
We went back to our hotel for some rest and dinner, then wandered around downtown again, playing on the rocks and watching Eric take pictures. As the sun set, we definitely needed some rest.