Northern Minnesota in Summer

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Stopping in the northern town of Duluth Minnesota to my itinerary on a summer weekend was not well planned. With rooms booked for weeks and the weather too cold to camp for the night, I decided to venture inland. When you enter Duluth from the East, you can’t help but wonder – why on earth do people come here for a getaway? Sprawling chain stores, drunk people in the streets, no name motels and lodges in need of major upgrading.

Duluth does have a quainter side of town which has been expanded for summer tourists. Hotels, restaurants and trendy coffee shops surround a harbor and there are nearby water sports and activities all within a thirty minute drive. One of the motel owners sent me to a lodge some 15 minutes on the outskirts along the water. I stopped here “briefly” before I headed out of town.

Four Minnesotan males greeted me with whistles and drunken obscenities as I made my way into the “all-in-one” bar/lodge reception/restaurant/pool hall/pizza joint. Two followed me to the room, which was easy to leave behind when I realized there wasn’t any heat, the carpets were stained and a window was broken.

Note to those traveling to northern Minnesota during the summer – call ahead, make sure reservations are not needed if arriving on a weekend and bring a warm sleeping bag and pad as a back-up. Oh yeah, and bring along a bottle of Raid for drunk Minnesotan males. Gotta love that accent though. “Have ya heard enough about Wali fishing have ya now?”

Exploring this area by boat is the best way to go and its easy to rent a canoe or kayack, even with what feels like thousands of tourists in Duluth and its neighboring towns. As a summer get away spot goes, it doesn’t “feel” as crowded as some of the New England towns except for the booked hotels. Having said that, after a long, tiring drive through Canada and Michigan, with not much to look at except cows and mom and pop motels, anywhere felt crowded.

Hinsley was my last stop before Minneapolis/St. Paul. Not much here but a casino which drew enough people to fill all the rooms in the town, except for the very last one which I managed to grab before a party of four showed up immediately behind me.

Note to those who love to gamble and are thinking of checking out the casino at Hinsley Minnesota – the only thing that makes Hinsley remotely resemble a Vegas or Reno experience is the availability of $1.00 burgers.

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