We had Friday off work, so we headed north around noon, stopping at an awesome little restaurant in Pine City called Nicoll’s Cafe. We got to Jay Cooke State Park around 3pm, and the rangers there let us check in early.
It was pretty cold and extremely windy, but our campsite was sheltered enough that the wind wasn’t really a problem. We set up the tent, unpacked, and then headed back to the visitor center to do some hiking.
Jay Cooke is gorgeous. I want to spend a lot more time there.
We brought firewood back to the campsite and set about getting the fire going. It was really difficult in the wind and with wood that seemed to have been recently damp, but after four attempts, it happened. I think we managed to make the hottest campfire on earth.
Bally’s first camping trip!
It was really awesome camping by ourselves; we’ve only ever gone with big groups. I was worried I’d forget something (since we assume that amongst our friends, we’ll always have four of everything), but we were very prepared. We made tacos over the fire, then played cards and dominoes while drinking manhattans. We’re the classiest campers ever!
Between the hot fire and our pile of blankets, it wasn’t cold at all that night. I think that’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been while sleeping in a tent!
Saturday morning, we packed up and drove the hour or so to Eveleth to see the world’s largest hockey stick and the US Hockey Hall of Fame. It was absolutely worth the drive.
Items that belonged to Herb Brooks
After we were done with the museum and USA-USSR bubble hockey, we headed back toward Duluth, stopping for an amazingly good lunch at the Duluth Grill. We then checked in at the Sheraton and set to wanderin’ around town. We wanted to find somewhere showing the Twins game, so we finally ended up at a dive called RJ Quinlan’s. There were a bunch of old guys drunk at the bar, and a lot of people who clearly had interesting stories to tell. Right before we left, I was eavesdropping on a conversation at the next table while Matt was in the bathroom. One of the old guys was telling the others about the day his mother died. I started crying my head off right there.
Thank god for sunglasses.
We crossed the street to the Dubh Linn and ended up sitting at the bar drinking Scotch and talking to the bartenders. They had a huge Scotch collection, for easily half the price of Minneapolis, so of course we had to take advantage. We left to walk up towards Fitgers to meet Jumi and Josh for dinner, and found them parked across the street from the bar. Clearly, we have awesome timing, at least when it comes to getting a ride.
We had a cocktail at Red Star (Duluth’s most famous ultralounge!), then went over to dinner in the brewhouse. God, Fitgers is awesome. After that, Matt and I headed over to the Fon du Luth Casino, where he wanted to play blackjack. I didn’t feel like playing (I didn’t think I was in a good-decision-making position at that point), so I wandered around, signed up for the players club, blew my free $5 in the slot machines, and then went to see how he was doing. He wasn’t thrilled with the table he was sitting at, so he asked me to go check on one across the way. Instead of just checking, I sat down to play, and he joined me shortly thereafter. Within an hour or so, I was up $45, and he was up close to $400. AWESOME. We went to celebrate at Blackwater before returning to the hotel.
Sunday morning, we had brunch at Takk for Maten and then did touristy things in Duluth. With Bally, of course.
We had a beer at Green Mill so we could watch some of the Twins game, then went back to the hotel to change for the wedding. The ceremony was held in the rose garden at Leif Erickson park, which was perfect for it.
The ceremony was quick, though it was very effective at making everyone cry. We all then piled into cars and headed to the Greysolon Ballroom, conveniently located across the street from the hotel.
The reception was fantastic. Everybody had a great time, there was dancing and ridiculousness, Bally ended up in a chandelier, the cake had ninjas on it, and Jumi got caught trying to
stealborrow someone’s scooter.
Dan (the groom!) and Bally, the first basketball to be invited to a wedding
We stayed til the end, which was good since the last song was “Don’t Stop Believin'”. We said goodbye to Dan and Kate and headed to Pizza Luce. It seems to be one of the few places that serves food after 11pm, and for that we were very grateful.
Monday morning, we ran into Jumi and Josh again in Canal Park, so we shopped with them at the Northern Waters Smokehaus, then had brunch at Hellburgers. Matt and I did a little shopping before heading back to Minneapolis. Right on time, too, because it had suddenly become winter in Duluth!
Dan and Kate were smart… they headed right to Jamaica. SIGH.