Tuesday, July 24, 2007


We made fantastic time despite having to stop to pee. Eric was very obliging and tried hard to stretch his bladder to a new, astounding capacity.

We got to our Super 8 in West Duluth shortly before dinner time. We opted for the cheap motel away from the lovely downtown area to save money. It was about half what hotels on the lakeshore walk or downtown cost. It was a mere five-minute drive, and parking in Duluth is 25 cents an hour. Hard to beat.

We put our stuff in our room and headed into town for dinner. Eric had only been to Duluth once before, for about 20 minutes, for ice cream, so he was rubber-necking big time. We walked past Hell's Kitchen, and I wished I'd brought my shirt. It has a 1950s-looking couple smiling and looking heavenward. It says, "We're all going to Hell!" They look so happy and wholesome. The kids are terribly embarrassed by it. Anyway, we ate at the Green Mill. I know it's a stupid chain, but it's good, and we don't have them here. Even the kids liked it. Kayleigh and Eric each had the world's biggest calzones, I had spinach tortelloni in a delicious tomato cream sauce, and Kelsey went with pizza and Mello Yellow. It's pricey, and you get no extras like soup or salad, but with the portions as tremendous as they are, you really don't need soup or salad to fill up on.

After dinner, we wandered over to the candy shop where it became apparent that Eric was going to lose his battle to maintain his weight on this trip. The kids were--well, they were like kids in a candy shop. I snatched a few samples of fudge and just got a walking stick--a chocolate-covered pretzel rolled in pecans.

Calories in tow, we crossed the slip bridge and looked at the tour boat. Kelsey wanted a ride in a big way. You have to buy tickets in a gift shop. Very keen. Eric remembered he forgot to bring a sweatshirt--again. We have a collection of sweatshirts from trips because he forgot his own. Kelsey also had forgotten one, which is surely my fault. I don't expect a seven-year-old to properly pack on her own. Kayleigh brought a sweatshirt but found one she absolutely loved. I told her if it were a size larger I could steal it, so she kindly got the next size up so she could wear it longer. What a sweetie. I haven't stolen it yet.

We grabbed a schedule for the boat and decided tonight was not our night. Instead, we walked around on the lakeshore path and down to the aerial bridge. People were riding these four-wheeled bikes, which Kelsey also wanted to ride. Kayleigh said there was no way we would get her on one of those. She was mortified. Along the path, people were tossing popcorn up to the gulls. Kelsey picked up some pieces from the ground that others had dropped and started feeding the birds. She was so happy.

Kayleigh, meanwhile, skulked around, asking when we were going to leave.

And here I have to backtrack. Silly me--how could I forget? The day before we left (this is champion) Eric got hurt in the shop. I had taken the kids with me to the newspaper office, then we were going to go to the grocery store to stock up for our trip. About five minutes down the road, I realized I'd forgotten my phone. Eric would surely call because he always calls when I forget my phone and gets pretty edgy about it, too.

I had a story to cover that evening, so I kept us moving. At the store, I was paged. I thought, "Oh, christ. My mother is dead," or "What does Eric want me to get?" I wheeled our cart full of cookies, crackers and fruit to the desk. I was to call home.

"I got hurt in the shop, and you forgot your fucking phone again!" Yes.

In the past, Eric never would have used such language. I'm a terrible influence. Also, he was in pain and in withdrawal.

I told the grocer to put our food away. Eric had been working on the table saw and the wood kicked back and nailed him in the gut at about 500 miles an hour. Ouch. He has Crohn's Disease, which can be aggravated by an injury. An abdominal injury gets attention at urgent care.

Turned out he was OK, but tender. It added a (another) degree of tension to the trip. He was sore and tired. As Kelsey and I delightedly explored the shore of Lake Superior, Eric clutched himself, and Kayleigh moaned for both of them.


laurie said...

oooh, i know that candy shop! my friend sporty used to work there.

it's called hepzibah's, but i always called it hezbollah party of god.

laurie said...

ps excellent job on the serial narrative, by the way.