Taking time to escape—together. Sounds idyllic, but perhaps not realistic most days. A break from routine takes effort and commitment. Here’s what happens when you mindfully set aside a weekend with that special someone whom you adore and purposefully unwind with no kiddos, spotty cell service and a whole lot of North Shore options to explore. Thank you Heidi & Danny Geller for sharing your Lutsen adventure!
When you’ve been married for 22 years with two teen boys, you get really good at rushing: rushing to the grocery, to Target, to do the wash, to run the boys to practices and lessons. Taking a leisurely approach is a rare luxury. This summer, however, while our boys were away at sleep away camp, my husband Danny and I had the great pleasure to do just that…be leisurely. This was made possible when we journeyed to 142C at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, Minnesota.
Our typical mode of operation is to set a destination, pack furiously and drive like mad to get there. This time, we took the drive as it came. Our first stop on our 250 mile drive was Tobies Restaurant & Bakery in Hinckley. Right when we opened the door, we were greeted with the aromatic sweet smell of freshly made cinnamon and caramel rolls. We could have picked up a few and hopped back on the road, but why rush? The hostess directed us to a table inside, coffee was served and the rolls were brought to our table where we were lulled into a comfortable silence as we nibbled away at those sugary delights.
We hopped back in the car and continued north. Danny drove and I played Words with Friends on my iPhone. Our next stop was Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Yes, we’d had sugar for breakfast, but pie – specifically apple pie – contains fruit. And, ice cream checks the box in the dairy category, so that’s a well-rounded lunch, right?
Figuring it was time for some exercise, our next stop was the gateway to the north shore – Gooseberry Falls. It is known for its waterfalls, river gorge, Lake Superior shoreline, Civilian Conservation Corps log and stone structures, and north woods wildlife.
Our timing was a little off, and we arrived to a down pour of rain. Just as quickly as the storm showed up it left and we set out on our trek towards the falls. We took our obligatory selfie, which I made Danny retake at least 10 times. There is a method to the perfect selfie – hold the camera high above your head, but try not to look at the finger that is taking the photo. I think we may still need practice. With that photo logged, we continued to walk and marvel at the surroundings before heading to Lutsen.
We arrived at 142C a little after 7:00. The condo was terrific and the view from the balcony was exceptional. There was no hustle or bustle, just people sitting by the pool and enjoying the surroundings. That’s what we loved most, the idea that there were so many options to explore, yet we could be perfectly satisfied staying put. We ate dinner, enjoyed a few beverages and soaked in the hot tub.On day two, we set out for Grand Marais where the annual Fisherman’s Picnic was taking place. There were activities like log sawing and log rolling. Our sawing and rolling skills are rusty…so we only watched. We had a donut at the World’s Best Donuts, located on the harbor. We ordered their signature Skizzle, which is sweet dough that has been stretched out, fried and doused in sugar. It literally melts in your mouth as you take a bite. We then walked the main streets and popped into various shops. The day was topped off with a slice of pizza from Sven and Ole’s.
On day three, we made our way up the steepest side of Lutsen Mountains in a gondola. I should note that heights are not our thing. We once road an open sided gondola at the Minnesota State Fair and laughed nervously at our impulse to jump off mid ride. The gondola taking us up the mountain was more like a glass elevator, which gratefully alleviated any crazy jumping urges. At the top we walked to the chalet that overlooked an expansive view of Lake Superior. We could have stared out at that view for hours.
While we didn’t want to rush away, we did have one more stop – the Split Rock Lighthouse. It was built after a two-day storm in 1905, which sadly sunk ships and killed 30 sailors when raging waves rose as high as 30 feet. The Lighthouse was retired in 1969, but is a historic landmark and open for tours. We climbed up the turret to peek out the windows and marvel at the glass used to create beams of light for sailors.
Back in the car, we began our way back to Minneapolis. Refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated, we reflected on the beauty this little corner of Minnesota offers. The boys get back from camp in a few days. No doubt our pace will return to full speed, but we are so grateful to have enjoyed a few days where time mapped its own course.