Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Road Trip - Duluth (updated)

The Str. American Victory (then, the Middletown) passing beneath Duluth's aerial lift bridge
We went to a wedding in Duluth, Minnesota, of a good friend of Hannah's, who is also very dear to us. It was moving to witness this moment of promise and joy in her life and, as is often the case, to reflect upon how we have seen her grow during the eight or so years we've known her. It was really wonderful.

It was also the occasion for us to plan a road trip. The idea of spending two days of solid driving to get somewhere can be daunting but ever since we took our youngest daughter to California for her first job (U-Haul and Boxer in tow), I've felt differently. 

There is something about seeing the land change as you drive by. About meeting the different people on the way, hearing new accents, seeing food specialties change. You understand the country a little differently.

That slow evolution also is reflected on the people traveling, as Tom and I have found. Listening to music or audiobooks, letting silence fill the car, watching miles slip away - these are all conducive to reflections that we just don't have time for in regular life. We may never have the time to develop the thoughts, much less carry them through into conversation. Long hours in the car lend themselves to such things. 

So we embrace any chance for a road trip. I get my knitting, we pick out audiobooks and podcasts, pack up the cocktail kit, and hit the road. Plus, you have the chance for side trips which indulge at least one person's special interests. 

Mike Breitbach and me!
He's hardworking - see the glove? When we met him,
he was refilling croutons at the salad bar.
Cindy Breitbach and me!
She took time away from the kitchen just for a second —
pies wait for no man (or pictures!)
That meant we took to the back roads so we could sample fried chicken and pie at Breitbach's Country Dining, which was one of the three restaurants featured in the Spinning Plates documentary (a great favorite of mine).

It was truly worth the trip. We met both Mike and Cindy Breitbach, who were gracious and charming. Community is key for them, as we could see, and the food was definitely worth the trip. (We should've taken pictures of the place, but check here.)

And you really do have to want to take the trip. We saw lots of little roads and communities as we made our way from Balltown to Duluth. Thank goodness for Google Maps!

William A. Irvin tour
On Saturday we had all day to be tourists and it was Tom's chance for special interests. We walked around Canal Park looking at the lighthouses and, most of all, the aerial lift bridge which excited no little interest when a ferry came through so we could see it working. Afterward, we met up with our son-in-law who was also at loose ends. Naturally that meant we needed to take a tour of an ore hauler which the guys found fascinating. I especially was interested in the living quarters and galley. Thinking about living and working on that ship, often in extreme winter conditions, was fascinating to me.

Gin can be more flavors than juniper - who knew?
But this Juniper Gin has underlying flavors that never
made it into my favorite brand
We were intrigued to find the Vikre distillery not too far from where we were staying which had cedar and spruce gins in addition to the usual juniper flavoring. I liked the cedar but the spruce was too much like chewing a Christmas tree for me. Most interesting was that when I added the tonic water, the flavors really bloomed in my mouth, as opposed to the straight sip I'd taken initially. I've heard about the effect water can have on a liquor but it was the most vivid example I could've asked for.

Overlaying the entire trip was our repeating our Beyond Cana marriage retreat along the way. Once you've done the marriage retreat, you refresh the basics on your own once a year. We first did the retreat in 2005 so we've had plenty of practice and could talk over the various steps at different points on the trip. We'd put it off for longer than we should have so it was a really wonderful renewal of our marriage.

A great trip, all in all!

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