The Crumbling Hovland Dock near Grand Portage, MN

DSC_0755There are a lot of hidden gems along Minnesota’s most scenic drive, the famed Highway 61 from Duluth to Grand Portage.  This is the North Shore of Lake Superior, and it’s filled with many extremes:  Beautiful scenery and lavish resorts to ghost towns and countless abandoned places.  The only real industries left are tourism and taconite/iron mining, plenty of which is still going on.  But as you reach the last stretch of highway into the Grand Portage area, cell phone service is long gone, the traffic dies off, and many signs of abandonment are found. Continue reading

The Amazing, Bavarian-styled Leavenworth, WA

IMG_0982The touristy town of Leavenworth, Washington, is not the only German/Bavarian-themed town in the United States.  There are a couple in Minnesota, and other notable ones such as Frankenmuth, MI; Mt. Angel, OR; and Helen, GA. But I would be willing to bet Leavenworth is the most beautiful.   Set high in the Cascade Mountains maybe 3 hours east of Seattle, the town is possibly the closest thing you’ll get to being in Bavaria without leaving the US. Continue reading

Mr. Jimmy’s Bench, Excelsior, MN

IMG_0211On any given summer weekend, droves of people wander the streets of Excelsior, a fun, touristy little town on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities. It’s an awesome place; Excelsior feels like small town in the heart of lakes country with antique shops, fun restaurants, lakeside bars, and frequent live music. But of all these people who descend on Excelsior by land or water, very few realize the significance of a certain city bench, referred to as “Mr. Jimmy’s Bench,” which has a place in rock and roll history. Continue reading

The Big Bog Boardwalk, Waskish, MN

IMG_0510The Big Bog has been called “Minnesota’s Last True Wilderness,” (so have the Boundary Waters and the Northwest Angle, but that’s neither here nor there),  but this 500-square-mile peat bog north of Red Lake is truly uninhabitable and impenetrable, but for a mile-long boardwalk installed in 2005.   It’s found in a State Park near Waskish, in a truly remote stretch of highway surrounded by swampland and forest. The Bog is the largest peat-bog in the lower 48, and you can take a leisurely stroll through the heart of it at your own pace. Continue reading