Friday, August 1, 2008

July 7 – 12; Grand Rapids & Hinckley, MN

The one night stay at the Prairie Breeze RV Park in Menoken, ND leaves plenty of travel time to reach Grand Rapids MN.

You would think North Dakota lies in a tropical paradise when you leave the state & reach the highways of MN. The interstates in MN are bone jarring, teeth chattering snakes of asphalt that sour the mood & the stomach. Fortunately, I turn off I-94, go north a couple of miles & pick up MN 10, which is pretty terrible until you reach MN 34 at Detroit Lakes, a surprisingly decent highway by MN standards. It gets better when we reach Leech Lake & take Hwy 200, & then Hwy 6 which takes you to MN 2 for a few miles until our destination in Grand Rapids. “Why Grand Rapids”? Because it is the county seat of Itasca County, where Bob’s inherited land is located on Little Bear Lake.

Little Bear Lake cannot be far off

We miss out on the last remaining camping spot at the Army Corp of Engineers campground, & make our home at the Cub Foods Super Market, not far from the local Wal-Mart where we expected to stay. This actually turns out better as the manager is happy to have us & we are the only RV on the lot. For reasons unknown, we fail to get a picture of Popeye parked at Cub Foods.

Now which way do we go?

Our 3 days here gives us time to visit the land & for Bob to speak to the County Assessor who invites him into his office for a three hour discussion, and to speak to a couple of real estate agents. We had hoped to list the land, but the market is totally dead.

Part of the land is on this lakeshore

The really good news is there will be a new steel mill in the town of Nashwauk, where Bob’s grandfather practiced medicine many years ago, and is the birth place of Bob’s father. This is the heart of the Mesabi iron range, where rich deposits of taconite are mined. Actually, Grand Rapids has grown since our last visit, and Nashwauk & Hibbing look pretty much the same.

Where did you say you want the cabin?

The land is located on County Road 52, about 6 miles east of MN 65 & perhaps 25 miles north of Nashwauk. Put another way, the nearest grocery store is in Hibbing MN; home to Bob Dylan & birthplace of the Greyhound Bus Company.

Pit mines eventually become lakes (Downtown Nashwauk)

This land is not for the faint of heart. We are fortunate to speak to one of the owners of a cabin on the lake, who is now living there year around, as are about 8 other families. She explains “you have to like winter.” Ski-mobiles, ice fishing, and snow shoeing rank high on the list of “to-dos” for 7 months of the year, at least. “The high point of the year is the 4th of July. After that, it’s a quick slide into the winter months,” our neighbor explains.

View directly across the street from the former pit mine

Having found out what we need to know, Bob, now driving, takes us southeast on Hwy 2 to I-35 south to Hinckley. The Grand Casino is in Hinckley, a great campground with plenty of room & nice amenities. After 3 days & nights of boon-docking, 3 days & nights of utilities & catching up on laundry, financial statements, and especially long showers sounds great!

Most popular spot in Hibbing & kind of museum to Bob Dylan

Dramatic sky with rainbow, Hinckley, MN

Campground, Hinckley MN

Coming up next: The FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) International summer convention in St. Paul.

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