Another Duluth Discovery

Duluth, Minnesota, is one of our family’s favorite Midwestern cities. Just over the crest of a tall hill, as north as Interstate 35 goes, the blue water views of Lake Superior introduce the surprise of this port city in a state that otherwise appears land-locked and flat.

We discover Duluth aesthetics, nature-made and man-made, on every visit. We search the narrow, hilly city streets for the restaurants where the locals eat, watch for shipping traffic to come in and out of the harbor, wait while the Aerial Lift Bridge raises and lowers for them, and pass through “Tunnel Land” (as our children call it) to the scenic North Shore destinations of Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse.

We travel as a family to Duluth at least two weekends a year for church conferences and more frequently by ourselves for other meetings. Since I love to explore new places, I research the web and ask friends about the unknown places we have missed.

I found Skyline Parkway in a guidebook. While my husband was in a meeting with a potential client, my children and I drove this narrow roadway that overlooks the city and Lake Superior. And, we happened upon Enger Park and its lookout tower from behind the fire of fall’s changing leaves.

Memories of these simple adventures prompt us to plan our next ones—UNTIL THIS WEEKEND.

We reserved a suite at a hotel with a water slide. A friend invited us to drive up and see Gooseberry Falls. When that didn’t fit our schedule, she invited us to join them at the Lake Superior Zoo.

“What do you think about the zoo?” I said to my children.

They said, “We would be looking at a big empty place with a lot of colorful toys, waiting for a big animal to come out from hiding to play with them.”

“So what should we do in Duluth?”

From my oldest, a teenager, “We have been going there twice a year for the whole time we lived here—for like eight years. That’s at least 14 times. Nothing’s new anymore. What do we do now? Start over from the beginning and do the same things all over again?”

I can see how they might have outgrown stopping at every Lake Superior beach. Or maybe they have just lost interest in doing it in the unpredictable 40 degree rain and wind.

And I think I understand. This may be a signal that it is time for a change of routine.

But I hesitate. It may be a symptom of our tendency to cast off what is old to discover what’s new, again.

It is important to endure and preserve meaningful traditions. We can redevelop our interest and enjoy new pursuits in the same situation. But should we always?

When it has lost its appeal, it may have also lost its purpose. Perhaps, we might reconsider our purpose.

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