Written and Shared by: Chaplain Chris Belfield
When growing up on the east coast, trips to visit relatives in Virginia were always looked forward to. This was referred to as going to the country. After so many times of taking the same trip, familiar landmarks were anticipated to determine how far we had come and how much longer the trip would last. One of those significant landmarks was the bridge from Maryland into Virginia. It seemed to a 10- year-old like the demarcation line between two different worlds. Things in that part of Virginia seemed quieter and less hurried. There was so much more to see with the small farms and historical locations. There was Washington’s actual birthplace, James Monroe’s birthplace, the Lee family mansion where Robert E. Lee was born, and of course the state park where so many memorable family reunions occurred.
Through the succeeding decades, to the present time, there have been hundreds of different trips for many reasons. Some were actual vacations and others were military assignment related. There was always a choice to be made – how to get from point A to point B. When I was younger, expediency was the overriding concern. How to get there the quickest with the least number of interruptions or distractions. After all – getting there was the point of the travel, right? If only I had known then what I realize now. As I got older and seemingly wiser, I realized there was so much more to be seen and experienced by taking the less-traveled roads.
So it was that when I retired to Minnesota in 1997, I was determined to see as much of the back roads as possible. Being a volunteer chaplain with a county sheriff's department was a great way to do this during ride-along with the deputies. A side benefit was discovering the best fishing and hunting areas. This desire to see the best of the state has only been enhanced since our final retirement to the North Shore. There are so many unique features to this beautiful Arrowhead Region, that I will only state those recently observed in our local area. Feel free to add those you think I should get out and see.
Let’s see, there’s the always picturesque drive from Duluth either up the scenic highway along the shore, or Highway 61 itself. Both speak volumes to a wealth of culture and history to be enjoyed. You know things are a little different as you come into Two Harbors and there is a statue of Pierre, the Voyageur. It was a long time until someone pointed out that Pierre is wearing a long shirt and no pants. Watch out or someone will try to cancel Pierre for his lack of clothing decorum. Pierre has been seen with a mask during the pandemic. There is also a car wash that features a pet was as well. First time I have ever seen one of those. Just a little further east there is Lou’s, whose sign advertises world-famous smoked fish cheese ice cream. Yep, a North Shore delight. However, I am a little particular about how many different flavors are combined in my ice cream. Cathy wisely pointed out it's how you read the sign. You read it your way and I'll read it mine. Next up the shore is a well-known resort, right on the lake. Unique is that it is only flying the Canadian flag. Now, I call that real diplomacy to let our northern neighbors know they can feel right at home here. Then there are two tunnels on your way up the shore. The first is the Silver Creek Cliff Tunnel. The other is unnamed. Well, it is named, just not on the tunnel itself. It is the Lafayette Tunnel. Now you know. Finally, the lady using a leaf blower on her lawn when there are no leaves. OK, that was Cathy. Why rake when you have an industrial-strength leaf blower? Not only did the blower take care of dirt and small rocks, but every branch and twig that dared to fall since last Fall. It should be noted that the blower requires a seasoned, trained person to handle it properly. Alas, I am still in training and hope to stretch that situation out for several more seasons.
These are some personal observations from the North Shore. No matter where you live there are roadways and people just waiting for you to discover. I use the same thought when referring to our relationship with God. Every day is a new opportunity for discoveries and memories. Don't hesitate to read the Bible, pray, and see where God will take you.
Our encouragement verse for this week is:
Psalm 118:24 (ESV)
“This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
May you be blessed by God's word.