My spouse and I were sitting on the back porch of our big house on a small lot in south Minneapolis dreaming of buying a getaway out of the city. We are not, however, cabin people we decided. The thought of doing nothing for an entire weekend, while appealing to our parents, is depressing to us. It was then that we came up with the idea, what about an urban cabin? We have always loved Duluth, and what better lake to get a weekend place at than the largest fresh water lake in the world? So, a year ago we bought a place in Central Hillside and became part-time Duluth residents. Our companies agreed to let us work remotely on Fridays so we are able to spend half of each week in Duluth.
We thought we knew Duluth but after “living” here now a year, we now know what we didn’t know. First, Winters in Duluth are harsh but stunningly beautiful. The lake takes on a crispness and the play of light over the ice is magical, even more so as the sting of the cold air smacks you into alertness. We also learned that letting a little air out of your tires and knowing which streets have gentler slopes, helps to avoid the panic of needing to check whether you remembered to pay last month’s car insurance bill.
We learned that something is happening here. There is an entrepreneurial spirit taking hold, both out of opportunity and necessity that is creating a new place layered over the old. There are people making a business out of showing off the land, the water, and the history. We learned we can go to a bar that feels like an amazing house party filled with fun people and a DJ in the middle of the room. (Yes, we mean you, Blush.) We learned we can dine on well-prepared meals by amazing chefs at Sara’s Table, Va Bene, Duluth Grill, Northern Waters and many others. We learned of products made from the land and the water, companies created to sell them, and met the enthusiastic people who run them.
We learned we can go for walks, hikes, and rides on some of the most beautiful trails in the state. We learned of the efforts to maintain and join them. We learned that the best spot in Enger Park is not on top the tower where the tourists are but through the hidden opening where there is a lone park bench waiting just for you, or better yet up Observation Hill from Twin Ponds where you are all but assured to have the view to yourself.
We learned Duluth residents are tough, optimistic, and energetic people who enjoy the outdoors and enjoy their town but for some reason worry that you might not. I am not sure where this insecurity comes from but I am told it is from a tough past in a town that for many years was declining. We just want you to know that you were right to feel like something is now happening here. We see it too and others who come here to visit do as well. Be proud and show off your city. We are proud to now be a part of it.
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