For my birthday, my husband and I spent several days in Duluth, a harbor city at the southern edge of Lake Superior. We love Duluth, and one of our favorite things is watching ships come and go from the harbor–especially the 1,000-footers. There are 14 or so of them that travel the Great Lakes, hauling iron ore or grain, among other things, from port to port. It doesn’t sound that dramatic, I know, but it really is cool.
When these huge ships blow their horn (and the Duluth Lift Bridge answers), your chest rattles if you’re close enough. And as a ship plows by you through the canal, as long as the Chrysler Building is tall, its relentless power is apparent.
On our first night in Duluth, it stormed (which I love), and we were staying in a hotel right next to the bridge. When a horn woke me in the middle of the night, I leapt out of bed and
raced to our lakeview windows. I waited for the bridge’s answering call. Nothing. Just the same horn, over and over and over, every minute or so. Where was the ship? Finally, Randy, in a daze from my waking him up yelling, “There’s a ship leaving!” said, “That’s a foghorn.”
But that’s ok. Later that morning, before dawn, a horn woke me again, and this time it was for real. We threw on clothes and raced outside, across the parking lot, across Canal Park, over to the canal. And sure enough, a 1,000-footer (the Walter J. McCarthy Jr.) was leaving. The water level in the canal was already high from the storms, and as it passed by, a wall of wave poured over the concrete. Wow.
And then it disappeared below the twinkling bridge and into the harbor. For the next several days, we lucked out, seeing ship after ship without having to sit around waiting for them to meet their very general schedule (departing sometime this afternoon, for example). It was a gorgeous trip.
Someday, I swear I’m going to travel on one of these big ships (they don’t sell tickets, but sometimes raffle off a trip). Someday.
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