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Camping Blake's Magical Forest

Blake gets free passes to all the Duluth attractions during the month of June.

He works for the DECC.

 I took advantage of this a few years ago before Meadow was born. For whatever reason we had been too busy the last few years so this year I said we have to go. 

When we left Minneapolis there was heat advisory and the temperature would get up to the mid 90's. When we arrived in Duluth it was 55...

We put on our rain boots, hooked everything to our backpacks and trudged through Blake's mucky deer trail. Blake and his friends have put down some boards and pallets.

Brooke and Blake went back to get something we forgot in the car after setting up our backpacking tent. Meadow and I explored Blake's magical forest while we waited.

Once it got real dark we hung out in Blake's tent.

Our tiny tent isn't great for socializing. 

Kind of funny that the three of us slept in a 2 person tent and Blake sleeps in a 4 person tent.

He does have all of his stuff plus parts of a yurt in it. Look, Meadow is covering your eyes so you can sleep.

Blake has really turned his piece of land into an awesome little retreat. 

I prepared breakfast in his outdoor kitchen.

We just ate some plain old oatmeal the first morning.

I was pretty impressed with the outhouse he built. Complete with solar lights so you don't have to pee in the dark.

We hadn't brought this guy out since before Meadow was born.

Blake had to go to work. It also happened to be the weekend for the Park Point Rummage Sale.

So, we went.

We picked up some new clothes for Meadow (.10 each!) at our first stop.

These wouldn't be the last inappropriate items for sale.

It started to rain so we hid in our car.

A little later it rained again.

Back to the car for another break.

Blake was going to be done with work soon so we decided to drive down the rest of Park Point to see if there was anything good. There were many more sales down the way.

This old kayak was so cool. If only.

I called Blake and told him to meet us here.

When he arrived we got some ice cream.

From the one ice cream place in Duluth.

Well, at least Meadow, Blake and I.

We didn't buy much the rest of the day, but we did see an old Rhiny can.

We were hungry from all the rummaging.

Duluth doesn't have any decent Mexican restaurants. We escaped the Zenith City and traveled over to friendly Superior to Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant.

Scott always picks on me for ordering tacos every time. This time I went with a combo platter which included a chili relleno. Not only did it come covered in a ground meat and cheese sauce, the chili was just a tiny strip, not even a whole one. So disappointing.

Everyone else's meal was pretty dang good. Brooke's just not very good at ordering at Americanized Mexican restaurants.

The restaurant is in a failed mall with a closed cinema. We decided to explore it after eating. 

We tried putting money in this speed boat, but it didn't work. It wasn't even plugged in. We tried another quarter after plugging it in. It still didn't work. Blake shook the boat instead. Meadow thought it was awesome.

Oh empty malls.

They didn't even have pay phones.

Before leaving we found one ride that actually worked.

Then we followed Blake to Wisconsin Point.

Hello, beautiful beach.

Meadow thought the beach was so much fun.

Our original intention was to walk down to the lighthouse, but I don't think we were going to make it.

We found a driftwood abode along the way.

Blake found a capsule washed up on shore. We couldn't make anything out except S.O.S.

Brooke also found a really cool lure in pristine condition. I'll have to use it soon.

Queen Meadow.

The sun was setting soon so we headed back to Blake's Swamplandia.

We doused ourselves in bug spray when we got back.

The mosquitos are insane this year.

I joined Blake to gather water.

We all jumped in. It turns out our thrift store boots are water tight. 

Except for Meadow's that have a tear.

On the way back to the camp, Meadow pooped and got it all over me. Yuck.

After cleaning our clothes in the creek we had a campfire.

It seems I was the first one up each morning. We all slept in.

Good morning.

We had some egg, cheese and avocado breakfast sandwiches before going on some adventures.

These were delicious.

We stopped back by the rummage sales again after breakfast. These girls were giving tattoos for .25.

Meadow picked out a giant princess tattoo. The first one wasn't sticking to her skin so we tried another one. That's when we realized it was because she had sunscreen on. Sorry Meadow.

We made up for it by getting her a child's guitar.

I told you that there was more raunchy items for sale. At this stop I did find a copy of Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide. I had just picked it up from the library after reading it once already. What a find!

There are some really strange houses on Park Point.

I would totally live here. Not this house, but this neighborhood.

Meadow wanted to go sledding despite the warm, for Duluth, day.

The second day didn't seem as good. Except for Scott. He got a fishing book and new headphones.

We stopped by these kids stand to get some root beer floats. Meadow just wanted ice cream. She ended up getting more ice cream than the rest of us combined for the half the cost. The root beer was very good, so I can't complain.

Then we finally took advantage of Blake's passes and went to the Great Lakes Aquarium.

Besides the fish there was a great overlook of Canal Park.

This place was great since I got to learn all about the fish in and near Lake Superior.

The staff did a show where they told us about albino brook trout. Meadow listened intently the whole time.

Afterwards the kids got a chance to feed the fish too.

Meadow stuck around the longest and got to feed the brook trout multiple times.

"You go over there, I go on the sidewalk."

We took a short break at the playground for our pb sandwiches.

That's pb and now jam. Such a Brooke move.

We had jam?

Meadow and I went to Duluth's tiny Children's Museum while the guys decided to go to a few breweries.

First we went to Bent Paddle for some hoppy goodness. We played a few rounds of some LL Bean board game. Blake and I were both not all that good.

After a beer at Bent Paddle, we went over to Lake Superior Brewing for a second round. I preferred the utilitarian approach at the later. Way less pretentious and the beer was damn good.

After the guys picked us up we finally got a chance to see our fellow northsider's new place in Superior.

Well, they won't be northsiders for long. We haven't seen much of Brian these past few years. For some reason I feel like we'll see them more since he moving there with his husband Robert.

Brian and Robert bought a row house near downtown Superior. The first thing we did was walk up three flights of stairs to their rooftop. You could see the whole Twin Ports.

I've always wanted to live in a row house.

A lot of the original features were still intact including that button on the wall that summons the maid.

I can't wait to see the restorations these guys do.

I so would live in one of the neighboring units.

After taking us on the interior tour, they showed us all of the details on the outside. This place is so cool.

Then we headed back to Blake's for dinner before it got dark/the bugs got crazy.

Blake whipped up some crazy good Israeli couscous veggie pot. He needs to cook for us more.

Apparently he would, but we always bring food.

Then Justin showed up with his trusty bagpipes.

And some food.

Did he bring his bagpipes? I'm pretty sure that was his hatchet box. He's going to make a canoe from Blake's trees.

Remember he played them around the fire and then we heard someone yelling?

Later we had s'mores and told campfire tales around the fire.

The next morning we all slept in super late, like 10:30 late.

I made some open face zucchini and egg sandwiches. These were even better than the avocado ones.

Meadow wanted a lupine for the road.

Blake informed us that they're invasives. But they're so beautiful.

We weren't planning on coming back so we had Blake take his truck into Duluth. We had already left when Blake called to say his truck wouldn't start.

I helped the guy out. Apparently he has a faulty radio clock.

We then decided our last attraction would be the Lake Superior Zoo. Scott debated on going fishing instead. After deciding last minute to join us he quickly regretted that decision.

This place was so sad. A good half of the zoo hasn't reopened since the flood a few years back.

The zoo had a spider exhibit throughout the buildings. This display told the history of where the name Tarantula came from. It was a dance that was used to ward off the spiders. If you pushed the button it would play the music. Meadow thought pushing the button meant a movie was going to play. She kept pushing the button and would sit down waiting.

I think she just liked the song.

The rest of the zoo turned out to be not so bad.

There was a really cool waterfall with craggy rocks just beyond the Australian exhibit.

Before heading out we stopped at the playground for Meadow. Blake was captured by a snake.

But luckily he escaped.

I guess we had a decent time at the zoo even if it was a bit creepy. Though, I'm not sure I'd pay for it.

After some swinging we decided on having dinner at, you guessed it, the Black Bear Casino Buffet.

There's no other way to say goodbye to Duluth these days. Man, do I love the Twin Ports.


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