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Take time to stop and smell the pasties/Woods, water & worse

Woods, water & worse

August 5, 2011
By Jim Junttila , The Daily Mining Gazette

"Don't dilly-dally," they said. "Stop lolly-gagging," they added. "Stop daydreaming!" they scolded.

Had I listened to those words of discouragement from my parents, teachers and ministers when I was a kid, I probably wouldn't have turned out to be a writer.

Along the way, I've become a credentialed professional lolly-gagger, and have long-since opted for words of encouragement when it comes to lolly-gagging, which works best when you get off the beaten track, take the scenic route and the road less traveled, and I don't mean merely metaphorically.

You know how you can yump in your car and drive straight to Duluth in four hours flat, no foolin' around? "Take two to Duloot," is all the directions you need; US 2 west from Wakefield is the fastest, most direct route.

But not with me. Why settle for a road trip to Duluth, when you can satisfy your wanderlust with a backroads trip to Duluth? If you'll scratch my back roads, I'll scratch yours.

At 64, I can lolly-gag with the best of 'em. Traveling isn't just about "making time" and seeing how fast you can get there. It's about enjoying the scenery, snagging saleable photo ops, and taking time to smell the roses, coffee, pasties and smoked fish along the way. Treat yourself to a pignic, comb a beach, ride a bike, take a hike, or give in to your favorite diversion or dalliance du jour.

"I'm not just an accomplished lolly-gagger, I can drive myself and others to distraction," said WW&W wildlife correspondent and fishionista Paris Hiltunen, who's always up for a backroads ramble to Duloot, especially if she can ride shotgun.

Take these tried and true lolly-gagging tips from a well-seasoned trout bum and your 3-state tour will be everything you want it to be. If you're susceptible to spontaneous side trips, impromptu adventures, and willing to speak freely with strangers, getting there is half the fun.

Stopping in backroads bars to wet your whistle is the best way to find out where to wet a line is something I learned a long time ago from wettin' a line with Ed Wetelainen.

I don't wanna beat WW&W Yooper correspondent Bruce Crossing outa any traffic counts, but insteada going his way, you can do that on the way back, try taking the scenic route through Ontonagon, Silver City and Porcupine Mountains State Park via South Boundary Road.

Hang a left at the park entrance, there's nothing but Lake Superior on your right, and you're riding a gorgeous ribbon of blacktop through an arboreal tunnel, with remote walk-in lakes, brookie cricks and beaver dams galore, and stretches of the wilderness North Country Trail, en route to the Big Presque Isle River. Take a right to Presque Isle State Park, where tall timber and a mixed species fish smorgasbord await you at the scenic moutha the river on Lake Superior, or fight off that temptation and turn left through Thomaston, then right on M-28 one mile to Wakefield.

At the junction of US 2 on Sunday Lake, take a right and head west through Bessemer on a brief expressway stretch of US 2 to Ironwood, where it mercifully pinches back down to two lanes as you enter Wisconsin.

"I recommend a stop for ice and refreshments at the giant corkscrew on your left," WW&W border reporter Hurley Davidson said invitingly. "The Wisconsin northwoods is no place to run low."

Just westa Ashland, turn north on Hwy 13 and stop at the awesome Great Lakes Visitors Center, then up through Washburn, Big Tent Chautauqua, Bayfield, the Apostle Islands, Red Cliff, Cornucopia, Siskiwit Bay, Herbster, Port Wing and Amnicon Falls.

Or you can go straight on US 2 and take the short cut through Iron River, Oulu, Brule and Poplar, but as a gay friend in New Orleans once told me, "Go forward or ahead, never go straight."

Either way, you're driving through the lovely Chequamegon National Forest the whole time, and you'll feel right at home with plenty of rural Finnish influence, or, creatively coined and copyrighted right here, Finnfluence.

Back on US 2, it's yust a hop, skip and a yump west to Superior and Duluth. If you're in a hurry, stick to two like glue and you can blow all this off and be there in four hours flat.

Following my own tour guide advice, it doesn't take me a good two days and a sleep-over to get to Duloot, it takes me two great days and a sleep-over.

For more fun attractions to lolly-gag yourself silly, go to visitduluth.com.

Jim can be reached at jjunttila@chartermi.net.

 
 

 

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