Has it really been a week since we were hiking in Jay Cooke State Park, on the St. Louis River, in Carlton, MN? Not for nothing is this park reportedly one of the Top 10 most visited in Minnesota. It was a logical spot to stop on our return from the North Shore to Minneapolis because it’s about 10 miles southwest of Duluth. I was reminded of my beloved Ithaca when we crossed a suspension bridge over raging falls (although the water was an odd yellow-brown, reminiscent of root beer, which I later learned is caused by tannic acid, a natural plant compound used to tan hides – and make wine). We hiked on a muddy but scenic trail along the falls and into the birch and pine forest on a drier trail until a rainstorm suddenly blew in. Fortunately we didn’t get totally soaked. We found a shelter on the trail and the rain soon stopped but we ended up eating our picnic of smoked fish and cheese inside a rustic park lodge, completely with roaring fire! Nice touch!
Back in Minneapolis, we took “the kids” out for a quick Vietnamese meal at Quang, on “Eat Street,” aka Nicollet Avenue, which was packed with customers but the servers did their best to get the food to us quickly.
The rain blew away, the clouds drifted off, the sun shone and my God, north Cornwall! Glorious. After a superb breakfast prepared by our engaging hostess ( homemade muesli, eggs from the next door farm, bacon, sausage, homemade jam, fried tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and, of course, baked beans). We walked through the gently rolling green pasture, seen out our window, toward the bright blue ocean and picked up the coastal path, walking a few strenuous often steep but spectacular miles into Port Isaac. We passed cows grazing in pastures above jagged cliffs with waves crashing onto the stones and slate, following a path lined with ancient stone walls covered with bramble and patches of shoulder-high grasses and purple flowered thistle. The path was muddy and treacherous at times, especially wending our way downhill but the scenery was well worth it!
FRom the Port Isaac car park (where we left our car with help from our kind host Michael), we drove to the amusingly named village of Pityme to pick up some tshirts for the kids at the brewery that makes the popular local beer, Doom Bar (another great name…named after a treacherous sandbank in the local Camel estuary.) Then onto the town of Rock (where we were told the young royals vacation) to take a sweet little ferry across the river, winding through several sandbars to the tourist town of Padstow. Quite a change — pretty place but far more touristy. We had excellent Fish and Chips from the town’s major food entrepreneur Rick Stein, plus ice cream at his deli.
Our one misstep was trying to drive to the Lizard, way down in the south, which we realized was too far so we turned back and drove to tiny Port Quinn where we bumped into our host Michael drinking wine with two friends while sitting on a little rocky landing in front of the tiny undeveloped harbor where a few kayakers were finishing for the night. We ended up joining them for some wine and kibitzing. A perfect end to a perfect day.
NYTimes readers recently weighed in on where to go in Vermont – and since we hope to go there in September, I duly note them here:
– For hiking ideas, check out “The Walker’s Guide to Vermont” and “The Long Trail Gide”. In Burlington, hike around Camel’s Hump and Mount Mansfield. In the south, (where we’ll be, hike sections of the Long Trail with Stratton Pond as a destination) or near Killington. Also good hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest – Mount Moosalamoo near Lake Dunmore.
– for food in Burlington, try Bove’s on Pearl Street (Italian)
– in Waterbury – Alchemist for beer/pub grub and Hen of the Wood for fine dining.
– Drive south to north on Route 7.