Saturday, May 02, 2009


The James Barker, a thousand foot lake boat, was due in Duluth early this afternoon. Patrick and I went up to watch it come in through the shipping canal.

The day began sunny and then became partly cloudy as we got close to Duluth. The trees around the Twin Cities are leafing out. When we got about seventy miles north, there were buds but no leaves.

It's a drive I always like, even when we take the Interstate, as we did today. The highway comes over a hill, and all at once you can see Lake Superior, the harbor and the long sandbar that separates it from the lake. It's the longest freshwater sandbar in the world.

The shipping canal cuts through the western end of the bar, and a hundred year old lift bridge stands over the canal.

I like the sight a lot: the Aerial Bridge and all the docks, almost all for bulk cargoes -- iron ore pellets, coal, coke, limestone, grain -- though wind turbines are also coming in from Europe for the windmills going up in western Minnesota and North Dakota. Beyond the sandbar is the huge, wide, beautiful lake, blue and calm today.

As it turned out, the Barker anchored outside the harbor. We could see her clearly, but she was too far out for decent photographs. So we wandered around Canal Park, which is an old industrial area which has been toured into a tourist attraction with a number of quite nifty shops.

Since I am out of work, I was not inclined to buy anything. But window shopping was fun.

I did buy a book at the Northern Lights bookstore: Native American Fiction by David Treuer, who teaches at the University of Minnesota.

Not much in the way of bird watching: an egret just north of the Twin Cities, vultures over the highway coming into Duluth, Canadian geese as we came back into the metro area, a lot of crows and a lot of small and medium sized birds I was not able to identify. It's not easy to bird watch from a car going 70 miles an hour.


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