A Joy RideThe morning began with my desire to take my daughter and two granddaughters to Duluth’s Lakewalk…
By: Shirley Dyer Wuchter, Living North Magazine
The morning began with my desire to take my daughter and two granddaughters to Duluth’s Lakewalk, a boardwalk and in some places an accompanying macadam surface constructed along the shoreline of Lake Superior near the city’s port area. Walkers, bicyclists, and even skateboarders enjoy the view as well as the exercise. I surmised this would be a good outing for us since Kirsten rarely visits in the summer and the weather was perfect – 70 degrees, multi-shaped clouds dotting the sky, and a gentle breeze maintaining our comfort.
Since Kirsten’s husband Bob was running the Rocky Creek Ranch Horsemanship Camp in Montana this week, I enticed her to come spend the time with me. Their oldest, Elly, now two and a half years old, was content riding an umbrella stroller while Hannah, now ten months, liked the backpack for transportation. Kirsten warned me, however, that carrying thirty pounds can be hard on the shoulders and back, depending on the distance. What would be an alternative, I thought to myself.
I called a city government number thinking there was a Division of Tourism. Voila! “Visit Duluth.” From there I received the number of Wheel Fun Rental located in Canal Park next to Comfort Suites. I called (218) 260-7140 and discovered that for $17.20 per hour we could rent a single bicycle surrey – a four-wheel bike with a bench. There was a wide basket on the front with a seatbelt in which children sixty pounds or under can ride.
Into the car we piled the kids, strapped them into their individual car seats, brought the diaper bag, purses, sunglasses for us, suntan lotion, hats and off we ventured. Where to park? I drove down Canal Park Drive once and then circled again, but with no one pulling out of a space, I settled for a lot just beyond the Comfort Suites Inn that advertised two hours for $1.25. That turned out to be the closest spot to our destination.
We surveyed what they offered and Kirsten received help from a cheery, young employee while I paid the bill. Knowing the children were sun-sensitive, Kirsten had hats for each child but safety required a helmet also. Even double-hatted, the kids looked adorable.
As the seatbelt was secured around the two of them in the basket on the handlebars, their faces revealed a mixture of wonder and slight apprehension of the unknown. Kirsten and I crawled onto the double bench with a steering wheel in front of each of us but only Kirsten could brake. I was along for the ride.
Neither one of us quite understood the attendant’s instructions on where to go, but she assured us that we could follow a loop in both directions, find a ramp, thus avoiding stairs, and return in the required hour. We barely had time to adjust to the operation of this vehicle before we had to cross a parking lot to get onto the boardwalk. This was a tad more adventure than I had expected, but once on the Lakewalk, I began to relax. Kirsten confidently steered, we both peddled, and the kids looked wide-eyed from side to side, occasionally waving to passers-by. Seeing the expressions on people around us was entertainment in itself. Soon Hannah released one of her screams of joy, trying out her range of sound, and Elly talked in her clipped language. “Where go? I riding. Hannah riding. Boats there.”
We peddled to Fitger’s where Kirsten was able to turn the surrey around on the macadam walkway and not have to go on the more narrow, wooden boardwalk. Turning for me was an odd sensation; Grandma had no control.
We stopped at one point to make sure the kids’ shoes had not fallen off and to take a picture. Luckily for us, the Lift Bridge was our backdrop. As fate would have it, the warning bell sounded as we neared the bridge.
“Why horn, Mommy? I see the bridge. Bridge going up? Where boat? ” And so the free running commentary went as we witnessed a tour boat leaving the harbor for the open seas. We ventured past the bridge and around the corner to the end of the pathway where one sees the William Irving ore boat docked. We then had to return to the rental place as our hour was dwindling.
For one who likes the outdoors and to walk the Lakewalk, I found this to be my favorite day of their visit. The weather was so pleasant, the surrey permitted us to be together and enjoy the shoreline, and this mode of transportation allowed me to observe my grandgirls and enjoy their reactions. Cemented in my mind is their smiling faces, their waving hands, their squeals and banter, bringing me a joy I will long savor – bringing me a ride I will long remember.