Summer of Covid

#VincentAdventure #Travel #Blog #exploreMN #Bemidji #Duluth #NorthShore

We, like so many others, had to adjust some of our summer plans due to Covid in 2020.  With the virus hitting the world and US hard this year we had to come up with new, safe, things to do this summer to keep ourselves sane.  We had a planned trip to Iceland scheduled for this past May that was cancelled due to the outbreak.  Jason and I had been looking forward to returning and exploring more of the country and sights that we had fell in love with but will have to postpone this for a future trip when things settle down and become less risky. 

Instead of traveling out of the country or state, we decided to take 2 small trips to explore more of Minnesota and see some new places we hadn’t been before.

First up was an overnight trip to Duluth and the North Shore.  Our first stop was to visit Gooseberry Falls State Park.  We spent about an hour exploring and hiking at the falls.  By the time we got there the crowd had dwindled on this hot July day so we had plenty of room to spread out and take our time taking in the sights.  We then quickly drove over to Split Rock Lighthouse before the park closed and sprinted down to check out the amazing view before sunset.  Before heading back into Duluth to check into our hotel, we made a quick detour to the World Famous Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, barely making it there before they closed.  There were too many good options to choose from so we setting on a slice of cherry pie, a slice of coconut cream pie and then a 5 layer chocolate pie shake.  Definitely not a new spot or hidden gem, but all were delicious and we would highly recommend a stop if you happen to be up in Two Harbors. 

Gooseberry Falls
Split Rock Lighthouse
Chocolate pie shake from Betty’s Pie

After spending the night in Duluth we left early the next morning to explore Jay Cooke State Park to do some hiking and check out the swinging suspension bridge over the St. Louis River.  This is an amazing park with lots of trails and easy access to the water to dip your toes in.  We could have spent a whole day here but the weather was really hot and we had to start heading back to pick up our dogs.  On our way home, we decided to make a few pit stops at some local breweries (Bent Paddle Brewing, Three Twenty Brewing Co, and Moose Lake Brewing) to pick up some Growlers to enjoy later.  It was a short, but much needed break away from the norm, to get outside and away from the house after being cooped up for several months.

Jay Cooke State Park – Swinging bridge
Jay Cooke State Park – walking over the St. Louis River

We wanted to get in one additional quick trip this summer while the weather was great, and also wanted to check out another place we hadn’t been before.  After getting input from friends, we landed on heading up north to visit Bemidji.    The night before leaving, I came up with a list of obscure Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox statues that we could stop and see along the way.  We stopped at 6 different sights to check out statues of Elvis Babe Ox, Paul Bunyan’s sweetheart Lucette, among other versions of Babe the Blue Ox and Paul Bunyan for some quick photos.  To make the stops worthwhile, we also managed to find some breweries nearby to pick up a few growlers and crowlers to take home.  A few of the stops included Starry Eyed Brewery, Bemidji Brewery, and Rendezvous Brewery. 

Starry Eyed Brewery – Little Falls, MN

The main draw for heading up to Bemidji was to be able to do some hiking and to visit Itasca State Park.  We got to the park right when it opened with the goal of heading right to the Mississippi Headwater, the start of the rivers 2,552 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. We wanted to get there early to be able to take in the views with minimal people.  Mission accomplished.  We were the only ones there for about 30 minutes so we had just enough time to walk in the water across the rocks and take in the beauty on our own.  There are plenty of sights, recreation, scenic drives and hiking trails to do in the park which is the oldest state park in Minnesota.   The trails we chose to hike were great and right within our level of comfort.  Just don’t forget to bring the bug spray!!!  After leaving Itasca State Park, we decided to head over to Bemidji state park and check out the bog walk through the marsh. Great views of the unique ecosystem and various landscapes. 

Mississippi Headwaters – Itasca State Park

Finally before making our way back home, I managed to talk Jason into taking one last detour to the Sunflower Field.  Started buy a man and his family, they planted 10 fields of sunflowers throughout the north metro and decided to open them up for free to the public to visit during the summer.  The weather and day was too good to let go to waste so we pulled over for a quick pit stop and a few photos.      

Despite not being able to take our annual anniversary trip this summer/fall, we made the best of the situation and were able to enjoy the great Minnesota summer weather.  Until next time.

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