Sunday, September 28, 2014

Everybody Needs A Little Time Away

Photo Dump Ahead

Did you miss me? You probably didn't even know I was away with me being the sporadic blogger I have been as of late. That's okay. Let me catch you up on our few days away last week.

First, I must say that it was a most beautiful time to be away. Even with our little trip happening only due to the fact that poor Reed had a conference out of town, it was a good time indeed. The bonus for us is that we can take the time as a family to go away and be with him when his schedule allows. Thank you, homeschooling.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we headed out of town on Lily's 12th birthday.

A quick snapshot before everyone was dressed and ready to go.

We were all packed up and ready to head out on the road to Duluth, MN by 8:30 am. If you have ever been to Duluth, you'd know why it's one of our favorite spots. EVER. I've spent many a vacation there throughout my life and Reed and I spent our honeymoon there too. While it's simple, in-state and not exotic by any means, it's just a few hours from home and has always been intriguing for our family visits. 

Conveniently, my grandma lives in a city that we pass through on the way to Duluth. A quick visit was in order as it only seems right, but also because she and Lily share birthdays. We had to let the birthday gals spend a little time together and take a photo or two.

After arriving in Duluth and getting settled in, we dropped Reed off at his afternoon meeting. The kids and I then hit the waterpark for a bit before drying off and finding out all the other cool attractions at our hotel.

We then headed down to where Reed's meeting was being held and met up with him for supper. 

It was the birthday girl's choice where she wanted to eat. 

She chose an exciting place, which is a revolving (slowly) restaurant atop one of Duluth's tallest buildings. It was a meal that was out of our ordinary "plain" Midwestern tastes, but it wasn't too bad. We mainly went for the experience and the memories. The outer ring part of the restaurant revolves slowly while you enjoy the exquisite views. In our time there, roughly 1 1/4 hours, we were able to make one full rotation, to the delight of the birthday girl. 

To add to the adventure of our trip, my parents ended up joining us for one overnight and day. It was planned so that they could enjoy the one full day with the kids and I (ahem, and help relieve mom a bit), while Reed was in classes/meetings that day.

We awoke Monday morning to weather. In Duluth, at the end of September, it is almost unheard of. To plan a trip at that time of year, you seriously could be freezing your little hinders off. No lie. We've been up there in September and worn winter coats! We were blessed with this glorious, 70 degree weather every day we were there. Some of the best weather we've ever experienced in Duluth, especially since a lot of times you get caught in a lot of wind coming off Lake Superior. 

We enjoyed time down in Canal Park walking along the boardwalk, enjoying the views, watching ships far off, searching for agates and throwing rocks in Lake Superior.

Relaxing and Peaceful.

This was created by Jonah, the artistic and creative one. He asked specifically that it be showcased on my blog. I (heart) Jesus.

Sweet boy.

Precious moments and time just enjoying. *bliss*

We spent the rest of the morning walking, playing at the playground, and a having a picnic lunch.

Then we headed to a place I had never been in all our visits, Enger Tower Park.  I cannot believe we've never found this spot. My parents found it earlier in the summer when they were up in Duluth visiting and wanted to share it with us. 

The little girls fell asleep on our drive to the park, so my mom stayed back and hung out with them in the van. The big kids took the adventure up the trail to the tower with my dad and I. 

We climbed up the nearly 100 stairs to the very top of the tower and beheld scenes like this:

With the autumn leaves turning and the blue sky, it was the best time to see the beauty.

Looking at the famous aerial lift bridge in Canal Park.

The park also has some nice gardens and walking trails high up on the hill as well.

And many more breathtaking scenes to behold.

The following day we were just the kids and I again in the morning. We had planned our "splurge" destination while in Duluth for the Great Lakes Aquarium.  (We ended up not spending as much on admission, thanks to our hotel having discounted tickets for us. Score!) We also used it as our "school"/field trip as well. Before the aquarium opened, we headed back to enjoy Canal Park and hang out for a bit in the morning. 

Every trip we are in Duluth, we make a point to consult the ship schedule so that we catch at least one ship coming in or going out. It's kind of a tradition and one of our favorite parts of the trip.

The ship schedule usually has a window of anywhere from 1-3 hours of when a ship may be departing or coming in. If you hit it right, you could catch one. If not, you may have to hang out a while until you do. Ships do not come and go every day. It just depends on what's being loaded and unloaded, if they are on time, etc. 

That morning, we happened to be at the right place and heard the lift bridge announcement before it begins to lift. We were going to see a ship!

This one was coming out and was nearly 1,000 feet. 

Afterward, we drove just a little ways to hit the aquarium when it opened. We were some of the only patrons in there that morning and it was ideal. As we looked at the many exhibits, one corner faced the harbor where the ships dock and load/unload.  It also had an observation deck outside that we stepped out on to see the view. 

To our delight, another ship was beginning to make it's journey out of the harbor toward the lift bridge. 

It was a great vantage point to see the 1,004 foot ship head out. We also had a few other people on the deck with us as we watched. One of the guys who volunteers at the aquarium is from Duluth and very knowledgeable about the ships. The longest ship that comes in to Duluth is 1.013 and this specific one we saw is the second largest. Pretty cool, huh?

Inside the aquarium, they even have a ship simulation. Here the kids can pretend to steer the ship while also seeing and hearing all that a ship captain would when he is in command of a ship. 

That afternoon, we had a picnic lunch with Reed before doing more walking and sightseeing. 

We made an effort to find another place we'd never been, Lester Park. With more trails to adventure on, a playground and more rocks and water to splash in, it was another hit. Again, with warm weather, it made the fun even more enjoyable.

It was a great few days away. We had many things to fill our days, down time in the waterpark, and oodles of free things to explore within a short driving distance. We didn't even hit some of the bigger things like Gooseberry Falls or Split Rock Lighthouse. Those will be for another time, perhaps when the kids are just a bit bigger and daddy can be with us the whole time. 

It was a good time, a very good time, to be away. To reconnect, enjoy, cherish and have fun.

As always, it was good to get back to home and routine.


  1. Hello there!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful trip with us!
    It looks amazing!
    I'm so glad the weather was perfect for you all..
    Your birthday gal made a wonderful choice of restaurants...
    That looked fun!
    It is indeed great to get away, especially as a family.
    But I like you, am always happy to get home sweet home. : )
    Have a blessed Sunday!

  2. What a lovely lovely trip. I love Duluth too. But I've never been with my husband or C. I think we'll have to plan a trip sometime soonish.

  3. Those are FANTASTIC pics, Sarah! And what a trip! Very unique, especially the ships, and what a range of activities! Tell lily she did great on picking out her bday restaurant dinner :)

  4. I love that tower! Thanks for showing the pics ...brings me down my own memory lane when we took our kids there...when they were little like yours! You were blessed to have good is usually crazy windy and cold!


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