The stern notch of the 740’ long ATB barge “Lakes Contender”. This is where the tug that pushes the barge fits in to. Duluth, MN

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Seattle to Providence. My best friend went to school in Providence, so every Fall her family would pay for a one way airline ticket for me back from PVD-SEA if I would drive along and make sure the car had oil and whatnot. We had done I-90 and I-94 and wanted to try something new so we took US-2, the “Hi-Line.”

It was awesome. We stumbled into Duluth because she was a vegetarian and heard there were some decent vegetarian options in Duluth.

This was in the pre-smartphone, pre-wifi hotspot days where you pretty much had a computer at home or the office and other than that you carried around a guidebook.

So, we roll into Duluth with a tip that there’s a bookstore that will have this guidebook of good vegetarian joints in the midwest. All we know is this bookstore address. We find the place, and go into their guidebook section, and this nice lady who is also shopping there asks us what we’re up to.

We tell her, and she says “oh, this is the book you want, and in Duluth you definitely HAVE to go to THIS cafe.” Awesome, thanks lady! We buy the book, and beeline to that cafe for lunch. We chat up the waiter and he asks what we’re doing in town. We explain, and I ask him where’s a good place to have a beer? He says “tell you what, I’m off in an hour, meet me at this place downtown.”

So we meet him there, and he introduces us to a bunch of his friends. We have beers, beers turn into dinner, dinner turns into more beers. We’re making new friends, meeting new people. Turns out a bunch of this waiter’s friends are writers for the local newspaper. Both my parents are newspaper writers. We start having some fascinating conversations over a few more beers, and finally this gal from the newspaper asks us where we are staying that night.

We actually hadn’t figured that out yet, we tell her. Maybe try to find a motel downtown or pitch a tent in a park. Who knows. No no, she says, you guys can stay with me. We’d just met this lady, it was so generous of her, and SO Minnesota…

So we go home with this gal and her boyfriend, and they get us set up on couches with blankets, and we sleep like babies. Next morning, we wake up and try to give her some money or ask if we can buy breakfast to say thanks. No, she tells us, just do the same someday for someone who comes to your town.

Still haven’t done that yet, but someday I will.

tl;dr Duluth is awesome. My grandpa was actually born there. Can’t wait to go back.

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