Lake Superior Splendor -- Duluth

The Congdon Mansion in Duluth, MN
The Congdon Mansion in Duluth, MN(Holiday Vacations)
Published: Aug. 13, 2022 at 11:26 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:11 PM EDT
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DULUTH, MN (WTAP) -The first full day of the Holiday Vacations trip to Lake Superior is completed, with several attractions visited. This is Kirk Greenfield’s personal blog of his impressions and memories, and does not represent the opinion of either the TV station nor Holiday Vacations.

The first day was all about travel, getting in position to enjoy the attractions that the first stop has to offer. Now that we’re in Duluth, settled in the Hampton Inn, our trip begins in earnest.

Our first destination was the Glensheen mansion and grounds, home for the turn of the century Congdon family, and now controlled by the University of Minnesota. The estate is similar to the Henry Ford estate in priority and stature in this region. The three-story mansion is but a short way down the Lake Superior shoreline, and features a boat house, carriage house, gardens, back porch, nature trails, stone bridge and many more attractions. It’s like stepping back in time to see how people lived, and how a mining millionaire built his mansion.

Second stop is the Leif Erickson rose garden about halfway back to the hotel and tourist center, the Canal Park District. The rose garden was begun in 1967 and developed for almost two decades before falling into neglect. However, when an extension to I-35 was proposed through the area, it was decided to create an overpass, that we would call a wildlife overpass in the MOV. Ten feet of sand on top of the I-35 tunnel is topped by good topsoil and the rose garden has been recreated, complete with an open top gazebo, a bronze statue of Leif Erickson and an antique water fountain. Many varieties of roses are grown here and are still in bloom, late in the season. The bronze statue of Leif Erickson, founder of America in 1000, was cast in 1956, and gives one insight into the Scandinavian heritage of this region.

After lunch on our own, we gather again for the trip to the adjacent Great Lakes Aquarium. We walk through the children’s Exploratorium-style hands-on educational center filled with two stories of water tanks, environment displays, fish tanks, waterfowl and ecosystem displays of the great lakes and the water cycle. It’s a fun stop and those of all ages can learn a bit. We also get a great view of another laker ore ship as it passes by and then under the aerial Lift Bridge and out of port.

After a couple hours of free time to shop and explore, we again assemble for an evening dinner cruise on the Vista Queen excursion boat. A catered meal from the local Italian restaurant thrills us as we cruise the harbor at sunset. A crew member points out several historic “lakers” now birthed and retired along the way, as well as the active coast guard cutter, area iron ore loading docks and more.

At the end of the meal, we all rise and introduce ourselves. The majority of us are return Holiday Vacation guests, and most are from the MOV. When asked what attraction we are most looking forward to on the trip, most reply “Mackinaw Island” but there are several others who point out the shipwreck museum, Henry Ford Museum or Greenfield Village. It’s the end to a busy and productive day in Duluth as we prepare to travel to the Apostille Islands tomorrow. We will pack to put our bags out at 7 am, after I finish writing up today’s highlights.

And extra highlight today was the arrival of the two missing bags at the Duluth airport. Our tour director has pulled strings and arranged the to be express flown by Delta to catch up with us, and our two guests are very pleased to see them once again. So all is well and our trip across the upper peninsula will begin again tomorrow, bright and early.

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