I am privileged to travel a lot for my main job; Voler….and yes, I do work a lot while out on the road! Some days are 13-15 hours of work, standing up, lifting heavy boxes, selling cycling products, talking about custom options and talking face to face with 100’s of people a day! Oh yes, than driving to and from the events – just getting in and out can be a saga itself. I try to soak it in as much as possible and not to have too many unreasonable expectations anymore. Just go with the flow as best as I can; enjoy every second – and learning to “respond don’t react.” Besides Minnesota is so much fun and beautiful.
So, I get anxiety when I fly…I know, I know. But not the normal anxiety people get with turbulence and crashing (cause I would get one last skydive in). But from being too hot, too many people and being trapped inside a plane 35,000 feet in the air with power tripping flight attendants! Most people don’t know, but at times, traveling can be taxing…between the people who push your space bubble, the drastic temperatures, the weather or Mother Nature, the early/late/delayed flights, Lyft/Uber rides (I try to not use Uber), the shuttles, TSA, different laws & speed limits, finding a good brewery with an IPA, rental car game, finding food, directions, parking, no signal, low battery, data charges, hotel beds, sleeping…
Up at 3:15 am Wednesday, I never sleep well and always worry I will be late, dang it. I drove up to SLO and hopped on a flight at 5am to Denver, such a beautiful flight, over the mountains. I had 30 minutes in between flights, then straight over to Minneapolis by 1pm. Nice clean airport but huge, it was an obstacle course just to find the Lyft area…. My Lyft driver took 40 minutes to get me to my rental car downtown when it should have only taken 13. I had chosen a satellite location, since the airport likes to charge so much more money to rent, especially one way.
I got my rental, it was a pretty awesome Ford Escape SUV and it only had 14 miles on it, there was still plastic around a lot of the moldings…I then proceeded to find a parking spot in downtown Minneapolis, which was a pain in the ass and expensive, so much construction going on. I cannot believe I did not take any pictures of the car…After parking, I found Hopcat, a restaurant chain in the Midwest, which offered yummy food and beer choices galore, says Google. https://hopcat.com/minneapolis
Walking in; the windows were covered in red, purple, yellow, and orange stained glass; the wallpaper was all Cohen brothers’ style and even had a back room that had fabric on the walls. It is in the middle of the Minneapolis by the Twins, Timberwolves and the Vikings stadium, right off the light-rail. They have a ton of beers on draft and many more bottles, a phenomenal selection of food, and these amazing fries called crack fries; with this black pepper on it, that is addicting to say the least, you dip them into this creamy nacho cheese sauce, so good. I chose Fair State Brewing Collective’s Mirror Universe Hazy IPA to drink, which was deelishiss. https://fairstate.coop/
On my three hour drive up to Duluth, there was so much road construction, I stopped at Banning State Park to hike and check out the awesome Rock Quarry that used to exist there. Few walls of buildings are still standing or at least remnants of them are all around.
Lots of historical informational kiosks around, got me thinking about how they blasted the rock apart with gunpowder after hours of back breaking work. They would drive a long metal chisel in it, (See if you can see the lines in the rock below) then black powder would be ignited, and all this Sandstone rock would come down and they would haul it away and then start over for almost twenty years.
I found the waterfall – Wolf Creek falls – I had been told about the previous day.
I so wanted to jump off this one as usual, it was so warm outside. But, I was hesitant since I did not know what I was getting into depth wise and I had no gear on me; there was no one else out there for miles – except mosquitoes…Damn those mosquitoes…So, I continued on hiking the trail system that was in place out there. With names like Quarry Loop Trail, Deadman Trail, High Bluff Trail, Wolf Creek Trail and the Hells Gate Trail, Banning did not disappoint with five miles hiked.
Unfortunately, it was time to head off to where I had a booked a room at the Edgewater hotel and Water park along Lake Superior. https://www.duluthwaterpark.com/ I checked in, got my water park tickets, dropped off stuff in room and went down to play for a bit on the water slides. Two big fun ones to go on, lasting 20 seconds.
I got a Lyft ride downtown Duluth since they had freeways and roads closed, cops were everywhere blocking it all off, just standing around. Turns out, it was for the orange Oompa Loompa twitter dood, an anti demonstration, who was actually in town, and it was packed. People with signs for miles, cars and buses parked along the way, all painted/tagged up and the buildings were all active with people out the windows and on rooftops – very refreshing to see!
I opted for 7 West Tap House for dinner, it took a few minutes for the girl to tend on me at the bar. I got my first beer thinking it was a hazy IPA because it’s called Hazy McHazeface from Lift Bridge Brewing. Well, it was not a hazy at all and it wasn’t even good; I knew then I would not be trying any of their other beer offerings this trip!
Another bartender girl came out from the back and I was like, damn. She was just getting off her shift and wanted a beer. She sat 2 seats away from me and was counting money there. I cannot remember how we started talking, I am sure I said something to her? But either way we started talking for the next few hours; she was a super cool outdoors girl, loved beer, bikes, getting people outside, she didn’t say if she had a boy/girlfriend but, I’m sure she did, she’s getting ready to move to Oregon though… I got a ride back to my hotel around 11:30pm – That was definitely a long 21 hour fun filled day and day one is a wrap.
I woke up in Duluth; (lakewalk is a cool spot – pictured above) I got my supplies I needed for work and started to head up the old Highway 61 to adventure. The old Highway is slower speed limit, but closer to Lake Superior with multiple spots to stop and take in the shoreline.
I stopped and explored around Two Harbors Lighthouse area, checking out the massive ships in the harbor being loaded with Coal. https://lighthousebb.org/
The area still has one of the biggest operations in the state, it is crazy to see as you drive by it in Schroeder, I have seen it many times and it is such a massive wasteful use of land in such a pristine area.
Walked over to Castle Danger Brewing for a beer; very cool location, unfortunately the beers I tried all were not up to my level = so short visit!
Last year, I flew by Palisades Head on a mission to check out all the waterfalls, so this year I decided to stop in and check it out.
I grabbed a beer and set off to adventure, turns out it is a crazy cool climbing area (as seen above) and the ledge goes straight down to a rocky coastline. (pictured below)
Multiple people were climbing out there; even a 4 year old girl went over the ledge; with both parents watching. I hiked around the cliff line, and under the enormous antenna tower, looking for a spot to sit and look out at Lake Superior with my thoughts and a good Minnesota beer. (Pictured below – can you see the coal plant out there)
Then off to Illgen Falls which I had talked to locals about the previous night. I always like to talk to locals about the area and where they like to go. I ventured up Highway 1 off the 61 and I found a side trail,
I parked, grabbed a beer, piece of jerky and hiked down, wasn’t far down, to the top of the waterfall…Always trying to get closest to the edge, or as far as I can…
Looking down dreaming about jumping off, two 20 yr old somethings came out of the woods with backpacks and towels; I watched them for a minute till they disappeared down river. I started to head down to base of falls to see how close I could get; turns out I could get really close.
The kids were down there getting ready to jump off the side of the falls and the few tree rope swings out there. I was like damn it, twice now, I started a hike without even a backpack/jacket/water/bug spray – I watched the kids do their thing, took pictures of them with my beer in hand (priorities) I waited to get their phone number to text them the pictures and I was onto the next place!
Cross River Falls – (above) Massive amounts of water cascading down quickly, the mountain into the lake, all within eye site off the side of a bridge. There are parking lots on both sides as it is a super cool attraction, safe and fun quick spot to stretch the legs.
Temperance State Park – (pictured above) is such a neat area to hike in, there is so much more for me to do there, each time I explore along the edges of the cliffs looking down on the awesome water which has carved its way through this rock for miles. (below)
The water flows directly into Lake Superior (above) and you can hike down to the lake side and look back up at the water cascading down through the bridges.
Cascade River State Park – wow, such cool trails, trees, waterfalls, and bowls; the gorge and ravine with the backdrop of the green trees and some crazy wildflowers – is definitely what I needed to recharge.
I hiked each one of these spots with fantastic results; hardly any people out there whatsoever and phenomenal weather this year made for enjoyable times other than mosquitoes.
The water is so cool out there, however it all looks dirty like Root Beer – well this awesome sign tells us why it is that color. I love nature and what she offers us!
Off to Grand Marais which is further (above) North from Lutsen, where I rented a cabin for myself in the woods at Nelson’s Travelers Rest Cabins. https://www.travelersrest.com/
I highly recommend this place, so friendly and attentive, very clean, a hiking trail, fire pit, basketball area, walking distance into town. I had been exploring the whole day that I was supposed to check in and I was nervous my spot might be taken. I had secured a spot a few months before but they did not take down email or credit card number, so if you know me I was kinda like Seth…
Regardless, Tom left me a voicemail that made me feel so good, he was so nice and helpful, he told me to explore and come in by 10pm. Could not have been happier with my choice to stay there. I checked in at 8pm (still light outside till 10:15pm), I parked the car and walked into town and the Harbor as pictured above, exploring around the lighthouse. It is such a cool walkway to get there and the water is so damn clear it is insane.
Bunch of intricate holes in the surrounding rock to check out, fishing is abundant around the harbor, the water is quite chilly.
Side note: I also did not take a picture of my little cabin, like my awesome Ford Escape.
I visited Grand Marais last year but I did not get to stay the night, but I liked GunFlint tavern and Voyageur brewing, there was no fog this year like last year.
I was able to walk out to the lighthouse and be the only person there, then I continued around hiking until about 9:00 p.m. and then headed over to the brewery http://www.voyageurbrewing.com/ were you know me, I like to talk a lot.. I met a guy named Dillon who lived in town there and was riding in the event tomorrow, who had never owned bib shorts, I told him I would hook him up in the morning and also one of the partners was sitting there and of course I was mixing beers. They kind of looked at me like, hmmm…Great conversations, they stayed open late for summer solstice, creating a nice lil buzz. I made my way back to my little cabin and called that a 19 hour day!
The trail system behind my cabin went all the way to the Lake Superior, nice easy walk with green surrounding you. It was so safe and secure that I didn’t even lock my door anywhere I went or stayed. I woke up early – It is hard not to, it is light at 445am, with only having to drive 20 minutes to work, I knew I could go for a few hikes in Lutsen beforehand.
On the way to work I saw two bald eagles, I actually had to flip a U-turn to catch the shot above, but I did get a few pictures. I went back to Cascade State Park just checking out a few waterfalls.
I hiked a little bit around the waterfall at the top of Lutsen – off the Superior Hiking Trail…
Got to work around noon and found my contact person put unfortunately they couldn’t find my product so I went on a mad goose Chase then walked almost 2 miles back-and-forth up this road to try and find a maintenance shed that supposedly had my product there, then I walked all the way back up the hill, got to the local bar and ordered a few beers…while I figured out what I was going to do next, I got the address again walked back down the hill and as soon as I got there, they had nothing..so I walked back to the bar again and one of the cooks came out and said that he went down to the maintenance yard and picked up all my stuff for me, but it was up in the back of his truck in upper parking lot so I immediately contacted my contact rep and told him what was going on he said he’d be right up there to help me. he was unable to locate me at 1st so I got everything out of the truck myself and then started walking at all down into the venue they did finally find me when I had four boxes left to move needless to say that took three and a 1/2 hours….So, I lost at least a $1000 worth of sales super bummed everything works out for a reason I’m not sure what that reason was. (setting up below)
Worked till 7:30 pm while leaving the event, I decided for dinner at Cascade Lodge https://cascadelodgemn.com/ it was on the way back home and I ate there last year it was good food and decent selection if beers for being kinda in the middle of nowhere.
I got to sit next to some cool people at the bar there, last seat left. The older gentleman to my right started to talk to me after I asked for an IPA and bacon cheeseburger. Asking if I was an athlete and where I was from, I started talking and telling him and his wife about my time so far in the state. Within minutes I had five other people in my conversation which I always love I got a new tip of a cool waterfall and they paid for to my beers then I went back to the cabin prepping for the next day. – On the way back to the hotel I saw a Wolf run across the highway from the lake with something big in its mouth it was tall def not a Coyote or a Fox… And the older guy that was sitting next to me at the bar had the same style of wallet from a company called flow fold – small world.
I drove back to the cabin, then decided to walk over to the Wunderbar, which was super close to my place. https://wunderbarmn.com/
I had a great oler bartender lady, who knew what she was talking about, she gave me a taste of IPA that was actually good for a dive bar kind of place. Tom Petty cover band was playing which was super cool to listen to, they offer campground there as well.
Woke up in Grand Marais in the cabin, had to be in Lutsen super early to get into the parking lot..However when I got there at 6:11am, they wouldn’t let me in the top parking lot…So I had to walk a ways to get into the venue, and for having over 2000 riders it was very quiet, granted I was early.
That allowed me to get my product set up on display quickly. Most of the vendors were there and we usually talk amongst each other, which we did for a while. As the race was getting ready to start I made my way down to the bridge and climbed up at to get a good video or 2 and some pictures of all the colors of people. It took almost 3 minutes for all the riders to get through the last group, which consisted of the 69 and 39 mileage groups.
I then went out for a hike and found a very cool waterfall and hiked three miles of the Superior Hiking trail, which actually goes for about 310 miles. https://superiorhiking.org/
Came back and worked my shift, which was quiet at 1st then packed for hours, lots of talking, not as much selling this year…worked until 800pm, then tore down the booth and was able to head back to my area and get some good food/beers at the Voyageur brewing for a beer and food. http://www.voyageurbrewing.com/
Good conversations with a few of the patrons, two of the bartenders and one of the new employees. I always love talking to the bartender and surrounding people, best way to learn about the area; much better than sitting alone at a table. When I go to a Pub, I want to sit at the bar, talk about the beer, the day, what hike are around the area – locals know best.
I went back to the cabin with a nice buzz and started packing things up that I knew I was shipping back; I sold three boxes worth of product, not as much as I wished, but not bad at all. We ship all of our product both ways and normally I have to wait until Monday to ship the product back, but I was headed to Canada on Sunday and I thought they might have issues with me having $12,000 worth of product so I was kind of nervous about that.
Went to bed late, again…
I woke up pretty early and packed the rest of the stuff, put it in to the car and started driving, stopped at a gas station, which you actually pump your gas 1st and then you go in and pay how crazy is that. As I was walking out I noticed a UPS sign, I quickly asked if I could leave my nine boxes with them – they said sure! Woohoo!! Stress gone; for the minute at least, ha!
Off to Canada, this time I did not forget my passport (last year I got nine miles away before I realized I forgot it at hotel)
My goal was to get to Thunder Bay, get a beer at Sleeping Giant brewing and check out a cool waterfall I had heard about from a guy at the bar.
First off I had to get across the Canadian border, There was not much of A-line when I got there they asked for my passport to roll down on my windows and to open the trunk. I only had one Box left of stuff and then I had taken my vitamin Box out apparently and it was just rolling around back there so the big woman asked me what is in your pillbox and I said I don’t have any pills I does have vitamins and then of course I went completely blank and just pointed at my knee and then they all came to me but it was just like oh no oh no. They let me across it was my 1st time I had used my password and they didn’t even stamp it…
Kakabeka Falls area was super cool, lots of people above at the main view point and bridge across the top of falls which is taller than Niagara Falls. I was looking for the lower fall trails, get away from the people and enjoy the water, wind, birds and quiet…damn mosquitoes were horrible and of course I didn’t bring the bug spray again…so I fought them for three hours.
The lower falls trail was very beautiful though I got to see a white tailed deer that ran across the trail and then paused long enough for me to get a decent picture… When I got to the lower falls I was able to climb almost all the way up to the top, I am sure there was a way but I was not going to do it that day.
I then headed up to Thunder Bay to Find a sleeping giant brewery were they had a few decent beers, but damn their bartenders were all smoking hot. One of them told me to download this app called save the dishes well Google let me download it but then of course charge me for International data that cost $123 (in the end) then they would not even let me open up the app, since I had United States Google (different codes) so I had to find a place to eat in town..
I found a cool spot that had really good pizza and decent beers on draft it was very dead in there and there were only 2 girls working and one of them stood talking with me almost the whole time and the World Cup was on as well.
I then tried finding a way in to the Bay to get a good picture but there is so much construction and I ended up getting frustrated and saying screw it, started heading back to Duluth, but 1st I had to do two things… I had to find High Falls which is technically Minnesota is highest waterfall but the girls had told me that you fit only access it from the Canadian side right before the border on the left so I had to keep my eye open for that and then secondly I had to get across the border back in to the United States which had a million cameras different sensors and multiple border patrol officers asking questions from both sides of the car.
I found the waterfall at the very last second, parked and then hiked around the area for a few miles which was super beautiful; I hopped in the car, now time for the border back to the States…
It went much easier than I expected they asked what I was doing over there I told them that I got to check out a cool brewery, have lunch and hike in a few spots, they asked if I bought anything and I said no and they let me come back in..woohoo
Stopped at State park, found a cool local hotel, and went down to 7 West Tap House since it was late, good food and beer choices, Emily wasn’t there though, boo.
Stargazing song stuck in my head tonight!
I slept in till 8am in Duluth, guess I needed it. I then went up to Bed Bath & Beyond to return the stuff that I had bought for the event and to send back my last UPS Box, it went very smooth. I then went to Jay Cooke state park and hiked around for hours.
The area had received a lot of rain the week before so unfortunately a lot of the trails I wanted to go on were closed but I could see how gorgeous it was I ended up finding a really cool trail that was part of the superior hiking trail again and found a really cool cabin that had some birds in a nest and as I was taking pictures of then they all decided to fly out and scare me…
Then an older gentleman I had seen earlier came up and he was actually backpacking the whole trail and we stopped and talked for 15 minutes super cool ended up exchanging information and I just sent him a whole bunch of cycling clothing.
Hidden Falls Park in Minneapolis is a cool spot, small trickle at the falls which is below a dramatic staircase, it was super flooded
Waking up on my last day in Minnesota at the Graduate – had me like I have so much more to see, but alas I knew I had to go back to Cali…But, today I get to check out Minnehaha falls, head over to Hopcat restaurant again, drop off supplies and rental car, then off to the airport. Minnehaha Falls is a fantastic waterfall, right in the heart of the city, with a huge green park surrounding it. I parked in three spots before actually finding out where to go, they have a huge doggie play area as well, I saw at least five homeless tents and there is a bunch of police patrolling the area.
There is a big open area with covered roof, to eat food or have gatherings, a seafood restaurant; you can even rent bikes there. I opted to check out the falls and hike along the river, checking out the limestone; where unfortunately people have carved their names/hearts/designs into the rock in a huge area, there is also an open cave – but it was being used by homeless people sleeping on a recliner… I chose the path to the right = less people, I hiked till the trail stopped at the riverbank two miles down from the Falls passing four bridges along the way.
On the way back I opted to go on the other side, where there were even less people, just birds and squirrels chirping away at me. I noticed there where trail closed signs when I had come in earlier, but they were all moved on this side (yay) that was until I got a mile in and saw a barrier up ahead with a ranger there! I kept walking his way, taking pictures; when I got close to him he said “Can’t you read – trail is closed for your safety!” I replied back, “There are no sign along this side of the bank indicating that it was closed”, I told him all signs had been moved off trail. He called his co-worker to verify my story, who drove his truck on the wet trail to check if I was telling the truth.
Radio call comes back through and says “Earl, the kid is right; all signs are gone or moved!” Earl says sorry about that kid, have a good day out here” I continued on my way up the trail, back to the Falls, many more people had come out to explore the area as I was finishing; four tour buses pulled in the parking lot and unloaded – whewie good timing Souza – I thought to myself!
UPS was my next stop, send the rest of the product back home; well parking in downtown Minneapolis is crazy expensive and hard to locate. I find a spot, few blocks away, I had just packed my rain jacket and it started to rain pretty good in that five minutes, I got soaked…Time to drop off my rental car now, so much construction going on that my 2.1 miles I had to go; turned into 4.9 miles and 25 minutes – damn…Headed over to Hopcat restaurant in the heart of the city, I was so stoked my favorite beer was still there – Mirror Universe from Fair State Brewing Collective – a deelishiss Hazy IPA.