Freighter Drama [Slice of Life Tuesday]

slice-of-life_individualFor 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

Photo: Laura P. Salas

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.

Photo: Laura P. Salas

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.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for links to more Slice of Life posts!










6 Responses

  1. Oh, Laura! I love the idea of you winning the raffle and the boat ride!

    1. So do I–since we don’t live up there, though, we never even hear about the raffles, so chances are slim I’ll ever win one. But, ya never know!

  2. I remember seeing a few of your FB pics. This sounds awesome to see, Laura. What a fabulous birthday weekend! I was sailing with students years ago in the open ocean and we saw quite a few of the big container ships. That was a big deal to me!

  3. I love that you leapt out of bed and raced to your lake view windows (in the middle of the night). And your enthusiasm continues with this before dawn race: “We threw on clothes and raced outside, across the parking lot, across Canal Park, over to the canal.” I hope you win the chance someday to be on one of the big ships!

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