Ahh… a much better day today. Brad slept well and woke weakened and sore, but feeling much better. We looked out the window and knew for the first time since Montana that it really was fall: the trees were shedding their brightly colored leaves. We took a short drive around Grand Forks before hitting the road. Almost immediately, we were in Minnesota, the Great Plains nearly behind us.
Near Bemidji - about half way across Minnesota - we crossed the Mississippi River for the first time. The Mississippi starts its journey to the Gulf of Mexico at Lake Itasca, just a few miles from where the river crosses Route 2, so we weren’t exactly surprised at how small it appeared. Nonetheless, it’s hard to make the connection to the vast flow further to the south. Just before reaching Grand Rapids, we took a brief detour along the Great River Route and crossed the Mississippi a few more times.
Mid-state also marked the transition from the Great Plains to the Great North Woods. Over the course of just ten or fifteen miles, the scene changed from fields with a few patches of trees to mostly forest. Unlike the Northwest forests we left behind, these forests are primarily deciduous. Although we’re a little late for peak foliage color, it’s still beautiful.
Today was a short day and, unlike yesterday, we both did our share of driving, so before long we rolled into Duluth. We checked into the downtown Holiday Inn, where Brad stayed a few years ago when he was here interviewing for a job at Potlatch (a job he turned down for the job at the University of Washington). Perhaps our stop here is an attempt to glimpse what would have been…
After checking in to the hotel, we walked down to the Lake Superior waterfront and strolled along the Lake Walk before looking for a place to eat dinner. Although we didn’t find a restaurant without an impossibly long wait, the walk at sunset was worth it. And room service was decent, and quick.
Tomorrow, we’re going to relax a bit by spending a whole day in one place. We’re going to see the sights here in Duluth and spend another night before continuting on toward Chicago on Sunday.