From Fargo, North Dakota, we moved east across Minnesota, enjoying the rich greens of forest and farmland and all the lakes, rivers, ponds, Akeley Garden Club streams, brooks, marshes and wells in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Occasionally we spotted a boat with one or two fishermen, and in some areas, like Detroit Lakes, a clutch of campgrounds, cabins and boat launch ramps. Much of the country is inhabited only by wildlife and lumbermen with their equipment. In Akeley, Minnesota, the local Garden Club has declared victory on a tiny plot of ground adjacent to a sawmill; across the street a giant Paul Bunyan waits for a small child to climb over his foot.
Duluth surprised us. Approaching from the west there was nothing to speak of until we found ourselves on top of the steep hill overlooking the city and Lake Superior. A superior city, boasted many of the billboards. Although we only spotted one freighter in the lake near the city, it's clear that the waterfront is still alive. We sampled a short walk on the shoreline path, which includes several attractive parks; judging by the frequent Skyway passages from one downtown building to another, the city is prepared for pedestrian traffic year-round.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was a memorial located on a corner lot downtown. It was put up by contributions from local citizens with a Freighter in Lake Superior $71,000 contribution from the city. There are three bronze friezes along with the following quotations:
"On June 15, 1920, following the alleged rape of a young woman, Duluth police locked up a number of men who worked for a traveling circus. That evening, thousands of Duluthians gathered outside the city jail. The police were under orders not to shoot, and they obeyed. With timbers and rails as battering rams, the mob broke down the doors of the jail and staged a trial of six of the men. They convicted Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson, and Isaac McGhie, who had been held as a witness. The crowd dragged the young men about a block, beat them as viciously as you may imagine, and hanged them from a light pole that stood diagonally across the street from where you are now. Some brave people spoke out in protest, but they were few against thousands. One man took a photograph that was later distributed as postcards. This Beautiful Duluth fountain memorial is dedicated to the memories of the murdered here and everywhere."
"A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: 'Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil, the other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time.' When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, 'The one I feed the most.' George Bernard Shaw"
"We are the mirror as well as the face in it We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity. We are pain and what cures pain. We are the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours. Jelelludin Rumi"
"We are responsible for the world in which we find ourselves, if only because we are the only sentient force that can change it. James Baldwin"
"The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, Chiefly, I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses. Bertrand Russell"
"He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. Martin Luther King, Jr"
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, But there must never be a time when we fail to protest. Elie Wiesel" Memorial to lynching victims
"Hatred can never answer hatred; All violence is injustice. Thich Nhat Hanh"
"Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past. Ann Lamott"
"Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other. Euripides"
"If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too... And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out. Marian Wright Edelman"
"The truth is rarely pure, and never simple. Oscar Wilde"
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. Albert Einstein"
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of thowing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned. ***"
We'd like to return to Duluth, if only to explore the lovely hillside streets and avenues and enjoy the cool Lake Superior air. Fred Smith at work
The next day we were on to Wisconsin. In the north, more forests and almost no towns. As we headed south we noticed the pattern of highways change from a few isolated crooked paths in the north to a tight north-south-east-west grid in the south. And sure enough, the country suddenly changed from north woods to dairy farms. And more dairy farms. OK, so Wisconsin is the Dairy State. There were black and white cows. Land O' Lakes signs. Wisconsin Cheese signs. Calves tethered with little shelters to crawl into, and carefully fed. Presumably the females grow up to make lots of cheese while the males make lots of veal scallopini.
The dairy farms are more compact than beef cattle ranches, which use lots of pasture. The dairy cows are carefully nurtured for maximum production. In fact the latest thing, we learned from a friend, is cloth-covered barns which are lit up at night to increase production.
There were a few truck farms in amongst the dairies -- we saw cabbage fields and signs for strawberries, sweet peas and corn and tomatoes.
We picked non-chain country restaurants for lunch both days, but with only fair success. Roy's Burgers were pretty tasty (nice fried onions) but the waittress-cum-proprietor was a little forgetful. And the Smorgasbord Luncheon the next day turned out to be a pizza and salad bar. Oh, well.
Fred's sculpture garden Our Reader's Digest book, Off the Beaten Track, led us to the Wisconsin Concrete Garden in Phillips, Wisconsin. Mr. Fred Smith created these figures between 1948 and 1964, after he retired. He could not read or write, but he dictated some of his thoughts to a typist; his memories of life in Wisconsin are displayed near some of the objects. He made wire frames, covered them with a thin layer of concrete, and decorated with with fragments of glass and other objects which appealed to him. As the Garden grew, he caught the attention of collectors, but steadfastly refused to sell his collection -- he wanted to save it for the people of Wisconsin to enjoy, so now the Garden is officially a County Park, and maintenance is provided by The Friends of Fred Smith.
Our Wisconsin visit was capped by a lovely visit with Elsa's Oberlin roommate Marilyn and her husband Hugh, who spend their summers in the Door County home built by Marilyn's grandparents and parents.
Door County is one of the few places which surpasses the descriptions in the guidebooks. It sticks out into Lake Michigan like the spout of a teapot. Quite a bit of the land is still wooded, but there are farms to the south and cherry orchards to the north -- mostly Montmorencey cherries for pie.
The little towns, Ephraim, Sister Bay, and the like, are rich in eating places and gift shops and old churches, while small marinas dot the shoreline. We enjoyed lunch at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant, which boasts a grass roof complete with goats. The peninsula was "discovered" very soon after its settlement by rich Chicago families who located country homes and set up steamer service. So a lot of the Roof of Johnson's Restaurant residents have roots that go back several generations. There's a sense of community and peacefulness here. One piece of trivia -- Ephraim is the first American town to our knowledge to have a post office but no mail delivery -- residents are required to take out a post office box, which is free.
Continuing eastward we went southwest to Green Bay and then north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where we found ourselves back in the North Woods, only this time with less logging, it seemed. The rivers empty into lakes Michigan and Superior, and there are lots of waterfalls to see. Fishermen, hunters, and snowmobilers come here, but not too many tourists -- it's too far off the beaten track. We did not see the Picture Rocks National Seashore -- as we say, there's always more to do the next time through.
After a night in Minusing we were off to Sault Ste. Marie. Lots to do -- collect the snail mail in the U.S., go through the border checkpoint and show our passports, change currency (yes, you get the best rates at the Casino, not at the currency exchange booth located at the provincial visitor center), rotate the tires and change oil, buy some Canadian stamps for postcards, and return to the bliss of Canadian Maple doughnuts and tea with cream and sugar at Tim Horton's. And a lovely luncheon of pirogi and homemade sausages, which we found quite unexpectedly at a food court in the Sault Ste. Marie shopping mall. Go figure.