Day 216 – North Shore Drive – Part 2

Day 216 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

Last night’s storm was so incredible that when the lightning and thunder hit at once, VANilla shook!  It has been so hot, that I forgot I left the small roof hatch tilted up to release the stagnant air overnight. Consequently, I awoke to a soaked dog bed this morning.  Oh well, it could be worse. The bed could have been wet and dirty instead of wet and clean.  I should have known it would rain.  That’s what happens after laundry day. Upon cleaning up the mess, we set out for another day on Minnesota’s North Shore.

storm clouds over north shore of lake superior

Cascade River State Park

I wasn’t sold on walking around in the rain today, so despite the nice description, I reluctantly skipped Judge C.R. Magney State Park to the north of Grand Marais where I camped last night. Instead, with so many state parks to choose from on the North Shore, I headed south to Cascade River State Park. The park is known for five separate waterfalls as the Cascade River stairsteps down to Lake Superior. 

Minnesota's north shore

The root beer colored water that foams as it tumbles through the Cascade River Gorge is the result of the water that drains from swamps and bogs.  Organic matter in the swamps decays and creates humic acid which colors the water brown.  As a cascade lover, the chance to see five separate waterfalls lured me into the forest with Petey.  We followed the lovely dirt path along the river through thick vegetation weighed down from the recent rain and were rewarded with roaring water tumbling over the slick rocks. What a thrill!

Superior National Forest

From Cascade River State Park, we continued south to Tofte. With the weather was still gloomy, we veered from the North Shore and took an inland scenic drive through Superior National Forest. We followed the dirt road almost 25 miles past a variety of wildflowers, birch and evergreens to areas that appeared to be a haven for canoers.  Every car except VANilla had a canoe strapped to it.  Lucky for them, the skies finally cleared, resulting in a sunny and HUMID day.

Tettegouche State Park

With the sun out, we returned to the North Shore and continued south to yet another state park, Tettegouche.  While I was in North Dakota, I met a couple from Minnesota who mentioned Tettegouche State Park was one of their favorites. As a result, I certainly couldn’t pass it up.  The park encompasses four lakes, groves of northern hardwoods, and a 70-foot falls of the Baptism River. 

The 3 mile roundtrip hike to the falls was through thick vegetation which blocked any breeze. Soaked in sweat, we slogged along as I coaxed Petey with encouraging words to keep going. About a mile into the hike, at Twin Falls, he was not interested in going in further. Consequently, Twin Falls became our final destination.

twin falls in tettegouche state park on the north shore

The sweltering afternoon advocated for a trip to Foreign Affairs to get an oil change and to take advantage of the air conditioning. VANilla’s isn’t the best.  Petey rejoiced in our car maintenance stop as he cooled down in the lounge.  On the other hand, VANilla had a rough go. While parked on the side street as we prepared to go to Wisconsin, a giant tree limb landed on its roof.  Poor VANilla, it got backed into with a trailer hitch a few days ago as well.

tree limb on VANilla

Superior Entry

Fortunately, VANilla’s dings didn’t interfere with our journey. Thus I continued to the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, where I followed a mile-long sandspit along Wisconsin Point Road to Superior Entry marked by a lighthouse at the end.  Superior Entry is the only natural opening through the longest fresh water sand bar in the world. 

The Entry, first charted in 1861, was 1,500 feet wide and 4-16 feet deep.  The US Corp of Engineers completed the 1,500 foot, concrete piers in 1909 and now maintains a channel 500 feet wide and 32 feet deep. Today the Entry serves as one of the busiest ports in the United States. I arrived just in time to complete an earth cache and watch a giant freighter entering the harbor.

superior entry

In the meantime Petey looked like he’d been injected with mad cow disease as he spun in circles snapping at the relentless flies.  I’m not sure why they were bothering him and not me, but I could related, so we turned back toward VANilla and went in search of a campground. We spent the night at Amnicon Falls State Park.  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

4 thoughts on “Day 216 – North Shore Drive – Part 2

  1. Poor VANilla — sounds like she is all banged up!

    Welcome to summer — hot and sticky!

    Your pics are great.

    xo’s M

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