We were awoken to a thunderstorm at around 4 am on our first morning in Minnesota. We had already decided that because our camper has so much metal that we would retreat to our suv during any storm. So, we all stumbled out of bed into the wet darkness and took a seat in the car to wait out the storm. It only lasted about 30 minutes, and we felt it was safe to go inside. We curled back up for a few more hours.
Because we had driven most of the day before, we had not had time to put our stuff away into the storage of the camper. Everything was still packed in bags strewn across the camper floor. I am never the most graceful person. But, as I stepped out of bed, just hours into our journey, I stepped on one of the bags and felt instant pain shoot through my little toe of my right foot. I lifted my foot and there was blood. Everywhere. It looked like a scene from a horror movie. I yelled to Louie to grab the first aid kit and meet me outside. As I limped to the picnic table, I left a trail of blood the entire way. Apparently, I had stepped on the Furminator. The Furminator is a cat brush, but it’s metal and the edge is almost like a razor blade. The edge had gone into my toe and left a deep cut. I held my leg up on the picnic table to stop the bleeding as Louie gathered the first aid kit. The cut was in such an awkward place and we knew a band aid wouldn’t hold it together. So, Louie cleaned it up and we wrapped my foot in gauze, then in duck tape. And guess what? It worked! I changed it every day for a few days. Duck tape really can fix everything.
Then it was time to go on our first drive. It was a cold and windy day. The temperature back at home was nearing 100 degrees, and here we were not even hitting 60 degrees. We drove to the Two Harbors Lighthouse. We had decided not to tour the lighthouse, but to go down to the navigational area and the breakwater wall to go for a walk. Because of the storms from that morning and the high winds, Lake Superior was an angry lake! The waves were crashing against the shoreline, the rocks, and splashing over the area that we could walk. It was so amazing. It’s hard to believe that it is only a lake because it really looks like an ocean. Any description that I give will not do the scenery justice, so I will leave a lot of pictures for you.
That evening we cooked hot dogs over our campfire. We were bundled in pants, hoodies, and yes. . .flamingo socks with my flip flops!
The next day we drove to Iona’s Beach. Iona’s Beach is a little known beach in between two state parks on the North Shore. It is a scientific and nature area, so no swimming is allowed. Rumor has it that because of the type of rocks on the beach, as the waves roll out it makes an almost musical sound. We couldn’t hear it, but I think that is because the sound of the waves crashing was so loud. It was another cool, windy, and cloudy day, and another angry lake.
Right before turning into Iona’s Beach there is a public boat ramp. We walked down to it and there was another breakwall of rocks. A fog had set over the lake and the whole scene had an eerie peacefulness to it.
We spent the rest of the rest of the morning at Iona’s Beach. We sat and watched the waves crash in. High tide started to come in, and the waves grew until they were splashing our feet. Louie even decided to pull up the legs of his jeans and stand to wait for the waves. The water was cold, but it was still a great time.
We then took a small trail that led up to the top of some rocks at the shore. Below, the waves crashing through the cracks of the rocks sounded like thunder. It was such an amazing spot and we had the entire beach to ourselves for most of the morning.
The next day we left the North Shore and made the three hour drive to International Falls. You may have heard of International Falls in the weather before because it is known to be the coldest place in the winter of the 48 lower states. I wanted to go because of it’s proximity to Canada. Even after all of the traveling that I have done, I had never been to Canada.
Our drive took us through Superior National Forest and the edges of Voyageurs National Park. We didn’t get to stop into Voyageurs National Park because most of it can only be seen by kayak or canoe. If you are driving this route, be sure that you fill up on gas when you get to about a half tank because the gas stations are very sparse for much of the drive.
Again, not having reservations, we pulled into Arnold’s Campground and went inside to see if there was any availability. We were in luck! There was one space left and it was all ours!
Arnold’s Campground is right off of the main road inside the actual town. It is another campground that is owned by a husband and wife, and the “office” once again doubles as their house. It is on a few acres of land. The sites are quite close together, but there are trees to still make it seem a little more private. The bathroom was decent. Our site only had electrical hookup, so we had to use the water station next to the bathroom if we needed water. It was hooked up to the city water. None of us used the showers here, so I can’t comment on that.
One thing that I can comment on is the insane amount of mosquitoes there was! At one time we counted 20 mosquitoes hanging on the outside of just one of our windows! By the time we left, my entire legs were covered in bites. Other than the mosquitoes though, we really enjoyed the campground.
After we had arrived, I decided to search Google for any shops near us to pick up a few groceries. That’s when I saw it. Safeway. Across the border in Canada. And because there are Safeways in the UK, maybe, just maybe, the Canadian Safeway would have British goodies for sale! We grabbed our passports and hopped in the car.
As we approached the border, there was a bridge with a toll. It was a $7.00 toll round trip for cars. Uh oh. I didn’t know about this toll and by the time we could see the sign, there was no place to turn around. I rolled up to the tollbooth and told the young girl working there that I didn’t realize there was a toll and I only had $6.00 in cash. I asked her if there was a place that I could turn around. She told me that the only way to turn around was to back up. At this point, there were about five other cars behind me. She would also have to back up all of those cars. Ugh. So awkward. Then she reached into her purse and pulled out a dollar in change. She told me that she would cover the dollar I was short. How amazing is that?! What a sweet girl.
So, we were through the toll. Now we just had to make it through the border patrol. We reached the border agent and I rolled down my window and handed over our passports. Keep in mind that Lil Louie and I both have American passports, while Louie has a UK passport and Permanent Resident card. The border agent looked at our passports, then told me to turn off the car. What?! He then began to ask a ton of questions. Where did we live? Where were we staying? Why were we coming into Canada (yes- we told him it was just to go to Safeway!)? Where did we work? Finally, satisfied with our answers, we were through. Whew. What a load of stress just to find British candy!
Safeway was pretty great. We stocked up on British candy and a few other goodies before heading back over the border. I once again handed over our passports to head back into the USA. Again, more questions. Then, what did we buy at Safeway? I told him candy bars and he questioned was that all? I began going through the list of everything before another agent asked me to roll down my back window. He began looking into the bags to see if what I was saying was true. Finally, he waved us through. Ahh! Do I have the face of a dishonest person? I swear that even flying internationally I have never been asked so many questions as I was to take a small shopping trip! But we made it. And we had our goodies (Cadbury chocolate!!).
The other thing that I was excited to try in the area was Tim Hortons. Tim Hortons is a Canadian chain that specializes in coffee and donuts. They also have a full menu of wraps, sandwiches, soups, and other items. Each meal comes with a bag of their own chips.
I ordered the chicken wrap meal and also a box of 20 assorted Timbits. Timbits are donut holes. The wrap was good, but the Timbits were delicious! I also had an Iced Capp Supreme- a blended frozen coffee with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. Mmmmm. So good.
So. that about sums up our adventures in Minnesota. Remember to check out our Youtube channel here for a video of our Minnesota stops! Stay tuned for our next state of North Dakota, which includes a tour of an old ghost town miles away from anything.