For the past four summers, we’ve escaped the punishing August Kansas heat by driving up the breezy, blissful North Shore of Minnesota’s scenic Highway 61. If you too parcel out vacation time around work, school and kids, you know that it’s rare to deliberately return to the same place over and over again.
We used to look for a different experience every summer, but the day we began ambling along Lake Superior’s rocky shores, we stopped looking.
We love the ritual drive that whisks us away from blistering heat. We zoom up through Iowa, past Minneapolis, an overnight stop in Duluth and then, a leisurely drive up Highway 61 – immortalized in song by Minnesota’s own Bob Dylan (who’s my distant cousin, but that’s another story).
The road winds you through one wonderful town after another – Castle Danger, Beaver Bay, Two Harbors – all crammed full of smoked fish, jam, coffee and fudge. We pass lighthouses and waterfalls, rock shops and syrup stands; the feeling of moving toward something special gets nearer and clearer with each mile.
Our routine always includes a stop at the world-famous Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors…
…where you can get homemade raisin rye toast for breakfast, Cornish pasties for lunch, and the biggest, juiciest slice of bumbleberry pie you will ever have set before you.
Betty’s is not optional. It’s a must-eat.
We stay in the tiny resort town of Lutsen – the resort really is the town – at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountain Range, just a few swift steps down the sand to a waiting adirondack chair.
You’ll be shocked to know we squeeze in amazing meals. Lutsen Resort is a rambling, hand-built Swedish family-owned lodge, and has been mellowing vacationing families under its red timbers since 1885.
And by the way, the point of this dreamy little travelogue, other than to proclaim the North Shore’s relaxation superiority to the world, is to note something curious about our family, our choices, and our new house.
I suspect our favorite vacation has followed us home. I believe we’ve built little Lutsen corners into our new old house. Seriously – bear with the million photos, and take a look:
Clearly, views that include Lake Superior, and not the garage, are better. But still.
There’s not enough room on one blog for my Lutsen love. Further inspirations (and possible imitations) include old wood stairs and as much natural stone as possible, both outside and inside the house.
We can’t recreate the feeling we get, walking into Lutsen’s lodge on a late-August afternoon, dropping our luggage and tearing down to the beach. The sublime deep breath of knowing you have nowhere to be, only the promise of a good swim, good food, good wine, happy kids and a deeply exhausted sleep.
Of course, we can’t build the world’s largest body of fresh water here in Lawrence, Kansas. But we’ve done our part to keep it around.