Warmest Coldest Place Ive Ever Been – Day 115

Warmest Coldest Place Ive Ever Been

Day 115 – July 24, 2003 – Thursday

In 1953, our family moved to Duluth, Minnesota. We stayed for just a few months and then moved to Texarkana, Arkansas/Texas. My Dad says there was snow on the ground when we moved to Duluth, and the snowman we built in our front yard in November was still there when he went back in April for the closing on the sale of our home. It’s a really cold place during the winter, but Duluth is a surprisingly nice place with great people.

One of my earliest childhood memories (age 5) was finding a sled in a shed behind our home in Duluth. Brother Tony provided the address of the house by checking old family movies, and Boz and I found the house today. The house is still white, and the shed is right where I remembered it. The house wasn’t as big as I remembered it, but I think places we once lived tend to seem bigger in our memories.

As we checked out of our hotel, we were handed a nice note from the ladies at the front desk at the Comfort Inn thanking us for the pie we got for them. They hand made a card. We met Teresa, the general manager. She told us where to go for tourist info.

From 1992 to 1996, I was President of divisions of Advanstar Communications, a magazine publishing and trade show company. One of the largest offices of Advanstar was in Duluth, so I made several trips there. I really, REALLY liked the folks in the Duluth office. So, Bozzie Jane and I dropped by for a visit. We had a wonderful time talking with Adele and Mary — two very special ladies who have worked at Advanstar through a variety of management regimes. We were sorry to miss CFO Dave Montgomery, as he was out of town.  We saw Tammy Lillo as were leaving.

Francis Heid of Advanstar knows rock music history, and he was kind enough to provide us with the addresses for Bob Dylan’s home (he was born in Duluth) as well as the Armory where Bob Dylan saw Buddy Holly perform — a performance that Bob Dylan says encouraged him to decide to become a performer.

Duluth is a much larger city than most of the towns we have visited on our trip Round America. It’s much nicer than I remembered from visits in the 90’s, though Adele and Mary say little has changed. I think the difference is that I was relaxed and looking at the city with a different set of eyes and a different agenda. I never saw much when I was there on business — even if I saw something, I didn’t really “see” it.

I was in Duluth on business for two days one especially cold winter. I collect 45 rpm records, and someone told me about a shop with a great selection of old records. I thought it was just two or three blocks from my hotel. I put on my overcoat, and headed out the door and down the street. The wind was blowing really hard, and I have never been as cold in my life. I was freezing as I tried to keep from blowing away as I walked as fast as I could. I walked five blocks, and I never saw a record store — never even saw a person. I figured I must have walked in the wrong direction, so I walked five blocks back to the hotel and then I walked another five blocks in the other direction. Still no record store. At this point, I can no longer feel my skin; I was numb all over. I found a store that was open, and I walked in. The people inside looked like a ghost had walked in. They looked at me with wide eyes, and said “where did you come from?” I replied: “Holiday Inn.” They were absolutely shocked that I had walked, and they asked me where my hat and gloves and muffler were. I told them I didn’t have any. They told me no one in their right mind would be walking outside on one of the coldest days ever with a windchill of about a zillion below zero. I nodded and asked if they could direct me to the record store. It was “just” two blocks away. I made it. The people inside looked like a ghost had walked in. My fingers were so numb that I couldn’t even flip through the records, so I walked back to the hotel. Duluth is definitely the coldest place I have ever been.

Duluth has some beautiful homes. At one time, there were more millionaires per capita in Duluth than in any other city in the country.

We visited the Leif Erikson Park, the Aerial Lift Bridge, Lake Superior, and the canal waterfront area. We had an excellent Italian lunch at Grandma’s. After nine pieces of pie yesterday, we didn’t have any pie today. Lake Superior is the World’s Largest Lake. There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover the entire United States with three feet of water. It’s big!

Just across a bridge from Duluth, Minnesota is Superior, Wisconsin. State #33. It took some work to get a photo of the “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign, but I made the effort and got it.

When I asked what we would see driving Highway 2 across the top of Wisconsin, I was disappointed when the Wisconsin Visitor Information Center lady didn’t offer much. Then we drove across the state and found there wasn’t much of anything to see. Shades of Tomacita. We did see a number of Green Bay Packer signs and tributes, but that was about it. Then we saw the Northern Great Lakes Information Center, and we couldn’t believe our eyes; it was a huge new building and inside was really high quality museum that told you everything you might ever want to know about the Great Lakes. Last but not least, on the state line between Wisconsin and Michigan, we saw the World’s Largest Corkscrew. All in all, the decision to take Highway 2 across the northern United States was not a very good one — just not enough to see and do compared to the other routes on the trip.

We met Dave at a gas station in Iron River. He asked whether we were at the beginning or the end of our trip. I was pleased to report that we were getting near the end.

Michigan became our 34th state. In Ironwood, we saw the World’s Largest Indian — 52-foot tall Hiawatha. We met Lee Ann and her dog, Tarzan, there. A little further down the road, we saw a giant skier. There are a number of ski resorts in this area, though we could not see any mountains or hills from the highway. Perhaps folks here are into cross country skiing.

In Bessemer, we stopped for a photo of the giant skier. The skier statue promoted Big Powderhorn Mountain in Michigan. We also took photos of the most scenic little league baseball field I had ever seen.

The main thing we saw today was trees — lots and lots of trees. Late in the afternoon, we began seeing deer on the road right in front of our car. I believe we had seven such encounters today alone! Fortunately, the deer managed to avoid us, and vice-versa.

We had two encounters with the police today. We had only one quarter for the parking meter when we went to Advanstar in Duluth, and we got to talking with Adele and Mary, and we knew we could have a problem when we came out to the car. Sure enough, there was a slip under the windshield wiper. It was a nice note from the police — welcoming us to Duluth and excusing us for overparking. Was that ever nice!

Then along the highway in the woods of Michigan, we met Officer Richard Burke. He pulled me over, and I was driving at a speed faster than he said the speed limit was at that point. We talked about the trip. He let me go with a warning. He will definitely be nominated for Best Policeman in our “Best and Worst” competition. I am pleased to report that it has been 112 days on the road without a ticket of any type. Our only ticket has been from Officer Vincent Passarelli of Kingsland, Georgia (Day 3 — April 3). We are fighting that ticket; Bozzie Jane and I will return to “beautiful” Kingsland in September to argue our case.

We passed by an “air mail” mailbox tonight, so I stopped for a photo. This 10-foot tall Michigan roadside mailbox reads “Air Mail.” In the town of Crystal Falls, I took a photo of a big chicken holding a hamburger and a mug of root beer. In our continuing quest to capture signs from towns with interesting names, we couldn’t resist getting Spread Eagle, Michigan.

Once the sun set, we began worrying about finding a decent motel for the night. There weren’t any big towns along Highway 2 across Wisconsin and Michigan. We were mighty thankful when there was one room left at the Comfort Inn in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Andrea took excellent care of us.

Day 115 wasn’t action-packed, and we didn’t meet nearly as many people as we normally meet, but Boz and I had a great time. We especially enjoyed spending time with Adele and Mary. They are high on the list of people I most enjoyed working with in my career!

Minnesota is the warmest coldest place I have ever been. Everyone should be as nice as the people we have been fortunate to know in Minnesota.

Random Comments:

Tomorrow will bring a relatively short drive to Mackinac Island, Michigan. Mackinac Island is a huge resort area, and we have no hotel reservation, so we hope we will be able to get a nice room so we can relax and enjoy the area. I realized today that it won’t be long before I touch the final corner of America when I visit the northeasternmost point in the continental US in Maine. Then down the East Coast and back to Atlanta. After close to five months of Round America, I imagine being at home will be quite a shock.

We passed a car today. #30.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Duluth Minnesota — Bob Dylan’s Home — Leif Erikson Park — Aerial Lift Bridge — Lake Superior — Superior Wisconsin — Northern Great Lakes Information Center