Friday, February 17, 2012

mid week break

Having been married nearly 25 years, my husband and I have fallen into a married life routine. In the morning, we get the kid off to school, read our favorite blogs or visit our preferred internet sites,  peruse the paper, bring each other coffee, manage our email.

Owning a business together means we spend far more time with each other than most couples do, and we tend to spend most of that time making business decisions or talking about the future.  It's all very serious and important and life altering.  Not really, but necessary to keep ACES going.

Winter weekends Mike and Charlie do a lot of skiing, while I make things for my Etsy shop or spend time with friends.  Summer weekends find them off on their dirt bikes, and me in my garden.  A cozy, easy routine that I have really grown to love.

But now and then you need to shake things up and get out of the routine, and that is just what Mike and I did this week.  We had been asked to speak to the Entrepreneur's Club at the University of Minnesota Duluth, so we headed up bright and early on Weds. morning to do just that.  As we walked the campus, I tried to remember my college student days, oh so long ago, and wondered what the students thought of that old couple walking through their midst.  Actually, they paid no attention to us.

The students who showed up to listen to us asked great questions and seemed interested in what we had to say, which is really all you can ask for.  And after an hour, we were free, to enjoy Duluth, a treasured place.

First stop was a restaurant we adore, Va Bene, ( ) for a little lunch.  We sat in the porch dining area, which is located right on the shores of Lake Superior, sun streaming through the windows, the view of Duluth's shoreline spread out before us.  Wonderful music in the background (think Ella-I love when restaurant's play good music!), and amazing food in front of us.  I had the BLT, which was really a PLT, as being an Italian restaurant it was made with pancetta instead of bacon.  Oh my.  It was panini style, with perfectly toasted crusty salty bread, just the right amount of mayo, thick slices of tasty fresh say I was in food heaven is NOT an exaggeration.  I was literally swooning and thanked the chef on the way out for ruining blt's for me forever.  Sometimes the simplest food is the best.

It was sunny and nearly warm in Duluth, they have hardly any snow.  It certainly did not feel like February 15th.  We walked down to Fitgers and browsed the shops, I picked up a new book at a little independent bookstore "West from Here" that I am dying to dive into.  Because I just may be running out of books....ha.

Then we headed down to Canal Park and checked in to our hotel.  This trip brought us to the Inn on Lake Superior, we have stayed here many times before and have always been impressed.  I found an on-line deal on a King Whirlpool suite, which included a $40 gift card to a restaurant, along with a bottle of champagne, and chocolates.  How can that be bad?

I tucked in for a delicious nap on the giant bed, Mike went to explore Duluth Pack and the Ship Museum, and just soak in the views of the Lake.  Kind of a perfect late afternoon.

The evening found us at Black Woods Grill, ( ) a cozy restaurant of dark woods, subdued lights, roomy leather booths, wonderful music, superb food, and excellent service.  A bottle of shiraz to accompany the meal, and we proclaimed the whole experience very nearly perfect.

Upon arriving at our hotel, we found they had fires going outside by the lake, and s'more fixings just ready to be used.  So of course we had to make one, outside with the brisk air coming off the lake.  Seriously?  Had we fallen into a movie?

The morning found us drinking coffee in bed and not worrying about anything, not our kid, or our store, or our to-do lists.  A much needed break from the routine of every day life.  Fortified with a yummy breakfast, we headed to the Dewitt Sietz Marketplace ( ) and went to a shop I ADORE, Two and Co.  ( We met the owner, he is the one responsible for all of the ultra creative fixturing found throughout the space.  And the best part?  Mike picked up a little Valentine gift for me there.  I am glad he waited!

The North Shore beckoned, so we headed up to Two Harbors, enjoying the views along the way.  A mandatory stop is Russ Kendall's Smoked Fish, where we picked up smoked trout and cheese and crackers.  Finding a perfect little stop along the shore, we devoured the sweet, smooth, smoky fish and then crawled among the rocks, taking in the absolutely pure air off the lake and filling our lungs with it.

(Really, we WERE having fun-even though Mike looks a little serious (taking a good picture is hard work...)

There is just something about that area of Minnesota that has always drawn us, and we return from our time  there renewed and refreshed.  While it was just an overnight trip, we made the most of it and are now ready to go back to our routines.

We finished our trip with quite a finale, at the Anchor Bar in Superior.  It's one of those places that you wonder if the health inspector ever visits,  full of true character that was not designed in a corporate office.  Salty waitresses, regular customers at the bar, the smell of fried onions in the air.  Pieces of mementos and parts of old salties hang from the ceiling and are permanently adhered to the walls by years of smoke and grease. There was a bartender and a cook, and it took AN HOUR from the time we ordered our burger until they were thrown in front of us.  You do not go to this place for express service, you go to soak up the atmosphere.  And the burgers and hand cut fries are incredible, our spot at the bar gave us a view into the tiny kitchen, where the potatoes are literally cut right before they are thrown in the fryer.  It was the exclamation point at the end of our short trip.

Our 14 year old (going on 18) was happy to stay home alone, and take care of Claude.  He did just fine managing himself, and was able to get up and off to school, and even made his own lunch.  Which means now that he has shown he is capable of doing so, he should be able to do that every day, right?  He loves having a little independence, and I think it is healthy for him to be away from the parents for a night now and then.

A good couple of days, all around.


  1. I loved reading about your trip and checking out the links! And now... I feel like I've just enjoyed a getaway.

    Thinking I need a trip to Duluth soon. :o)

  2. I can't believe you were in Duluth again and I missed you!


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