Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Summer Vaca 2022 - Final Stops: Gooseberry Falls, MN + The Field of Dreams, IO

It's the final installment of our 2022 Summer Vacation.  If you've been patiently waiting for the finale, you've made it!  If you missed any of it, you can click the links below and check out our travels through the beautiful state of Minnesota (and even a couple of stops in Iowa).

During our run, we hit: 

  1. The Bridges of Madison County
  2. Minneapolis 
  3. Lake Itasca 
  4. Itasca State Park
  5. Lake Superior
  6. Gooseberry Falls + The Field of Dreams (this one!)
When we took the North Shore Scenic Drive along the coastline of Lake Superior, Gooseberry Falls was a must-do on the list!  One "minor" detail I haven't really mentioned on all of our adventures is my type 1 diabetes.  Since I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 6, I am fairly good at managing my disease to be in the background, BUT it's always lurking.  On our adventures, basic activities like hiking and canoeing meant lots and LOTS of granola bars and glucose tablets, on top of cutting my medicine (insulin pump) down to nothing while we walked.  For our first stop at Gooseberry Falls, my T1D also meant that I couldn't manage all the walking with the few granola bars that were left.  Of course, like all good lessons, we didn't know it until we had already taken the walk down to the falls.  We stayed for a short while, snagging these first shots, but ultimately decided to leave and get some lunch and more granola bars, with the promise of returning the next day.  

When we came back the next day, we decided to start our exploring at the top.  Gooseberry Falls are actually a set of three different falls that flow downstream.   The falls we saw on our first stop (above) are considered the Middle Falls, while the place we started on our second stop (below) is named the Upper Falls.

Just beyond that bridge is where the second falls, or Middle Falls, can be found.  While they are equally beautiful, the Middle Falls are definitely safer to explore up close.  The Lower Falls (below) were certainly the safest space for families to get in, swim, play, and explore.  While each of the falls was beautiful, my favorite part was actually the creek bed that flowed away from it all.

It reminded me so much of the movie, "A River Runs Through It".  It was so beautiful and calm.  We spent several hours here, walking, exploring, taking pictures, and simply taking it all in.  It was a lovely last stop before we started our journey home the next day.

To help break up our drive, we decided that The Field of Dreams movie site was a perfect last stop.  With my baseball-loving husband and film-production major son - it was a sweet match.  Although, my husband was definitely more on board than my son, who may not have even known the movie existed before that stop.

To say that it was surreal being on the field would be an understatement.  At the same time, I'll admit - it really was just a baseball field.  You know, surrounded by a cornfield, but a baseball field nonetheless.  My crew enjoyed running the bases and slipping into the cornfield, while I walked aimlessly wondering what it would have been like to be in person while the movie was being filmed.

We even got to see the new field in the background that was played on by the Reds and Cubs just a short while later!  The helicopter hanging overhead was there in preparation for the game.

So, here's to the closing of our 2022 Minnesota + Iowa adventures.  If you've never had the chance to visit, my crew and I would highly recommend you put it on your list!

Until next time,

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Summer Vaca 2022: Stop 3 - Lake Superior, MN

After our last stop in Itasca State Park, my crew took off for the shores of Lake Superior.  If you've missed our summer '22 adventures through Minnesota, including walking the Mississippi headwaters in Lake Itasca, a few days in Minneapolis, and even a pitstop to see the Bridges of Madison County in Iowa, you can check them all out at those links.

Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world - hence the name, SUPERior.  We had heard that the North Shore Scenic Drive along the banks of Lake Superior was a must-do, so that was our big goal.  (Side note: in doing some cross referencing for this post, I found out that the North Shore Scenic Drive has just been closed for the next five weeks due to an eroding hillside!  Eeek!  So glad we got this one in!)  We landed in Duluth our first night, which we quickly began to see is known for being a port for cargo on Lake Superior.  We had no clue how much comes in and out of this area!!  While here, we had the chance to stand under the famous Aerial Lift Bridge (a bridge that lifts the road to allow boats to go under), and then take a walk down the Lakewalk and Canal Park to take in the sights of the area.  It was a really lovely spot and we even found an ice-cream shop that has dairy-free options (such a win for our dairy intolerant kiddo)!

The next day, we took off for the North Shore Scenic Drive.  Jeeps are made for drives like this!  The sun on your face and the wind in your hair - it's fantastic!  At least for some of us.

The stops along the drive gave both the novice and experts plenty of rock skipping opportunities, as well as a chance to seek out special rock formations, and just relax as the summer closed down.

The pup came along on many of our adventures, and even gave us a good scare when she decided to jump out of the parked car window!  No worries - everything ended up fine, but definitely a lesson learned (hopefully for everyone).  We continued on our travels stopping at multiple pull off spots and waterfalls.  For those familiar with the area, Gooseberry Falls needed a second trip and its own post.

I love all the picturesque opportunities travels like these give me.  While I know my husband enjoys trips like this too, I know he also makes sure that I get to indulge in these kinds of chances when we can.  We always talk about how we want to make sure we do these types of things while we still have the energy and ability to go down a steep stair case or hike for miles on a trail.  One day those things won't be as easy.

We ended the day in a sweet little town called Grand Marias where we got to see a fun new open concept art space built out of tiny homes as galleries.  Each one had a side wall that opened to reveal an artist's work for sale.  The town is known as an art spot, but unfortunately our timing didn't work out and most spaces were closed for the evening.

We could have easily spent days hiking and exploring, but we were grateful for the time we got.  Only a few more pieces to our summer '22 travels are left; I can't wait to share!

Until next time,