the most wonderful time of the year.

I know Andy Williams would have us believe that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but I beg to differ.  I say it’s Autumn.

fall title

First of all the scenery is simple stunning, especially if you have been lucky enough to plan a trip to Duluth at the peak of fall color.

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Second of all, the weather is frequently absolutely perfect in fall.  Not too hot, not too cold, not at all humid, and often bright and sunny.

vintage Duluth postcard

My sister, niece, Mr. Q and I drove up to Duluth last Friday morning to take in some of this amazing fall bounty.  Duluth is about a 2 1/2 hour drive north from the Twin Cities.

Duluth clock tower

  We visited Canal Park to see the lighthouse, the maritime museum and to watch the lift bridge go up and down a couple of times (snore).

canal park lighthouse

If you aren’t from around here, Duluth is situated on the shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world.  That’s right people, the whole world!  It has 2,980 miles of shoreline.  We tried to figure out how long it would take to drive all the way around the lake and ended up concluding that it would take longer than we would want to be in a car.

And gosh darn it, I should have known there would be love locks in Duluth!

Duluth love locks

Why didn’t Mr. Q and I bring a spare padlock along?  Oh that’s right, I decided these were a bad idea and have given them up, remember?

We popped into a few shops and found Mr. Q’s namesake beverage.

Mr. Q's beverage

None of us were particularly excited about trying a sparking cucumber beverage though, so we didn’t actually buy any.

We stayed in a gorgeous two bedroom condo right on the lake.  My sister was kind enough to knock on my door at some god awful hour on Saturday morning to make sure I got up to see the sunrise.


It was pretty amazing, so I tried not to hold it against her for the rest of the day.

After the bright and early wake up call and some free breakfast at our resort, we hopped in the car to head even further north.  After a brief stop in Two Harbors, we continued on to Split Rock Lighthouse.  After briefly joining a guided tour and deciding there were way too many people on it, we left the group and headed down the trail to the shore.

split rock hiking

It involved this staircase …

split rock staircase

That’s Mr. Q down there near the bottom!

Down there is where I was able to get the most beautiful shots of the lighthouse.

Split Rock Lighthouse

We did eventually make it back up to the top and waited in line to see inside the lighthouse.  Personally, I didn’t think it was worth it, but Mr. Q was pretty fascinated by the mechanical workings of the light itself.

After leaving Split Rock, we headed back south again to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  Somehow we managed to be fairly oblivious to the fact that it was the most crowded weekend of the year to visit this park.  I just assumed most people visited State Parks in the summer.  I was very wrong.  Gooseberry was absolutely jam (pardon the pun, gooseberry, jam, get it?) packed with people.

 Gooseberry falls

Despite the crowds, it was still gorgeous scenery.

Gooseberry falls 2

It almost had a ‘Disney fake’ vibe to it.  Everything was so clean and well kept.  The trails were all immaculately maintained.

Gooseberry falls steps

These trails were all originally laid out in the 1930’s by the CCC.  Are you familiar with that bit of history?  The CCC, or Civilian Conservation Corps were developed to provide jobs for young, unmarried, unemployed men as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression.  In the case of Gooseberry Falls, as many as 200 young men lived in barracks in the park and developed all of the infrastructure for the park.  You can read more about it, and see some great photos here.  I bet those guys had some great times living and working in this beautiful setting.

After we’d hiked around Gooseberry Falls for a couple of hours, we were all pretty much wiped out.  We drove back to Duluth, had a lovely dinner at the Black Woods Grill and then returned to our condo to put our feet up.

You’ll have to stay tuned next week to read about the conclusion of our Duluth trip and our visit to Glensheen Mansion.


Meanwhile, check back on Friday to see the drop leaf table transformed!

14 thoughts on “the most wonderful time of the year.

  1. That sunrise is breathtakingly beautiful. I, for one, am glad she woke you up. The fall color up there is pretty amazing as well. Just looking at those steps makes me gasp for air so I am truly impressed that you descended to snap that photo of the lighthouse. Honestly what really impresses me is that you managed to ascend said steps after the photo session. Holy cow you must be in great shape.


    1. Ha! You caught me! We didn’t go back up the steps. There was a path through the woods. Still up hill all the way, but maybe not quite as grueling as the staircase would have been 😉


    1. We hadn’t been up there for probably at least 15 years or so! I’m not sure how much had really changed, and how much I just didn’t remember, but I was very impressed with everything we saw and did. You definitely should plan another visit!


  2. The photos are stunning, what a beautiful weekend to go! Gooseberry is gorgeous, but yes, busy. I remember taking two little boys there and having roughly 8000 heart attacks. Now we hike Willow River in WI. Another picturesque waterfall without all of the near death experiences 😉 I heard they expanded the Glensheen tour, can’t wait to hear about it!


    1. Oh my gosh Meggan! There were a bazillion young families in Gooseberry and I was astounded by how many parents were just letting their small children run free. I nearly had 8000 heart attacks watching other people’s children! I can’t imagine if they were my own. As for Glensheen, yep, expanded tour. Stay tuned next week!


  3. Oh my goodness, it all looks so beautiful, especially that stairway picture! Have to confess a little envy, it was 95 degrees here today! I planted some pansies the other day and they are so droopy. Glad you had a trip!


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