Right, I’ll try not to waffle on too much, but no guarantees. We did do a lot on Friday, so trying to keep this post concise is going to be a challenge. But I’ll do my best, and hopefully none of you will fall into a coma or something. There’ll be plenty of pictures included though, so that might help alleviate ‘wall of text syndrome’ and do enough to keep you entertained.
So, with those positive words…let’s begin, shall we?
Before the trip:
We woke up early (before 7, can you believe it?), had breakfast and packed the car (well, I packed the car while Vanna put her face on and faffed around). Once we’d done that, we were ready to go.
So, not long after 8, we were on the road!
Well…sort of. We had to go to the gas station first, and the woman took forever to sort out Vanna’s phone… *sigh* ten minutes later…then we were on the road! Woo!
Nothing much to report at this point, to be honest. It was fairly uneventful. We listened to music, ate cookies…nothing much. Eventually I got bored and started taking pictures of everything.
…I think I took 30 close up pictures of Vanna alone. Ahem.
Eventually, though, we were in Duluth. The original plan was to be at the Glensheen Mansion for the 11am tour. Considering our delays, I was doubtful we’d make it…but, despite the gas lady’s attempts to slow us down, we actually made it in time!
I know, I was surprised too. We’re never punctual. Today though, we were. Somehow.
And it was quite nice outside too. Not hot, or indeed, sunny…but it wasn’t overly cold, and it wasn’t raining. I consider that a success!
This is the lovely carpark that welcomed us.
We also visited the, uh, facilities before we started the tour. Vanna was less than impressed.
So, Glensheen. We paid a little extra at the gate to do the expanded tour, but overall it was a worthy investment. Especially as we were fortunate enough to have our own personal tour guide. That’s right; there was just the three of us. Pretty cool, right?
Anyway, the lady (who was very friendly and enthusiastic) took us on a tour throughout the mansion, telling us facts about the rooms, the family who built and lived in Glensheen, what the building was made of, the special features/significant pieces in each room…you know, what you’d expect to hear in a $26 tour. We did go in most of the rooms (a few were closed off for storage), as well as the attic (which was huge), and the basement.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word for how beautiful the house was. Alternatively, you could check out the website and get a better idea from that. Either way, the only way to truly experience it is to go yourself.
All in all, it was a very good tour. I really enjoyed it, and though I’ve been in stately homes before (Britain…we invented them didn’t we?), I’ve never had a guide so it was a new experience for me. Knowing what each room was used for was interesting, as was seeing all the innovative technology that went into the construction of the house (some of which would be fairly impressive even today; I’m looking at you, thirteen head shower). I particularly enjoyed learning about the various special items that the owners collected before they died (name a country, and there will probably something in that house that originated there). Nothing about it was ordinary either; even the less unusual paintings and fireplaces had something unique about them (I’d love to list it all off to you, but I just couldn’t keep up…everything was made with one of a kind materials, or took years to complete). You’d get a headache trying to work out how much it was all worth (I very much doubt 6 figures would cover it).
Personal highlight? For me, it was probably the dining room. Not only did the very fancy table have two buttons at either end that, when pressed, activated a light in the kitchen that alerted the butler that he was needed, the door had a fancy glass piece which allowed the butler to peer in and see what was happening without being spotted. Oh, and there was a load of Sterling Silver from England. That was pretty cool too.
Vanna’s favourite? The breakfast room. Lots of beautiful wooden panelling, oak leaves stained glass (which changed colour in different lights) and a water fountain for the plants.
So, a very informative tour, but not so much information that we felt overwhelmed. The only bad point was that there was no mention of the murders. But the lady answered all of our questions as best as she could (damn, we should have asked about the murders!), and it felt extra special being the only two there.
No tour for this part; that’s right, we were allowed to roam by ourselves now. So, that’s what we did (after lunch in the car, obviously).
I’ll upload the full album later, but you can see a couple of the pictures below.
Around 3 (give or take), we headed out. Good timing really, as not only was it getting busy, a wedding was about to start. We’d seen the bride and groom during their rehearsals (we had to wait for them to move out the way of the shot; how dare they spoil our photography on their special day!) earlier, and now the rest of the party were arriving. I’m sure they appreciated the car park as much as we did…
Foooooood. Greasy, but delicious. I had General Tso’s chicken with chicken fried rice. Vanna had Orange chicken with chicken fried rice.
Time to check into our hotel. After a few issues heading over the bridge (Vanna ignored my instructions), we made it over to our hotel in Wisconsin (my second visited state! Hey, it counts).
I took some pictures of the room before we left on Saturday, but it works better if I upload them now…so just pretend this was on Friday when we checked in. Got it?
Isn’t it lovely? Shame we couldn’t stay there for longer than the one night.
Anyway, we sat down for a while, freshened up, and then went off to the Planetarium.
So, much better than last time. No silly videos of them pretending to be astronauts this time. Instead we got a proper simulation about Earth, and after that, a guide to the summer constellations.
The guy explained things very well, and told us about the various signs we can see in the sky at this time; the big dipper, Ursa Major, Dolphinus, the Swan (Cygnus?), the Eagle, some woman in a spread-eagled position…in my defence, there was a lot going on, and I couldn’t remember it all. It was interesting though. As we picked out several things in the sky last night, including the Milky Way, we must have learned something from it, anyway.
And that was that. Oh wait, we bought t-shirts too! I wore mine on Saturday, so you’ll see it then. It glows in the dark!
An Evening in Duluth
Before we went back to the hotel, we took a short walk along Superior Street. Vanna showed me some of the sights, I had an expensive martini (turns out that Absinthe isn’t my thing), and we did our best to avoid the sketchy people loitering around.
I also took some pictures!
Hotel time again!
We were pretty beat at this point, but we tried out the Jacuzzi before bed. It was amazing (I can actually fit inside it…legs stretched out and everything!), and if it wasn’t for the heat becoming unbearable, I could have stayed in there for hours. Instead we got out, ate snacks from the vending machine, and watched Bar Rescue until we fell asleep.
And that was Friday over…
What a great day. We were busy, but never rushed. Got a lot done, and more importantly, spent some special time together. I can’t say I’d change a thing.
And the best part? It was only going to get better tomorrow!