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Friday, September 8, 2017

Discovering the Majestic Grand Portage State Park in Minnesota

Grand Portage State Park is a 291 acre state park at the northeastern tip of Minnesota, USA, on the Canada–United States border.

The hike to the waterfall is only a half of a mile and is on a part paved trail and boardwalk. Stairs at the waterfall will take you to three different viewing areas.

Visitors may see osprey, great-blue heron, eagles, otter, beavers, white-tail deer, black bear , or even moose while hiking in the park.

There are many different spices of plants and trees growing in the park. We found the red berries, know as Thimbleberries, to be very interesting. They can be eaten, but are very tart.

Sitting on the United States - Canada border,  roaring water plunges 120 feet over High Falls into the Pigeon River in the Grand Portage State Park.


Hours vary by season. Check here for times.


From the town of Grand Marais, Minnesota, travel north on State Highway 61 for about 36 miles to the Canadian Border. The park entrance is on the west side of the highway, just before you come to the U.S. Customs Station on the US/Canada border.


The park is for day use only. There are no campsites at this park. However, camping is available six miles south of the park at Grand Portage Marina and RV Park.


Permits  are required for most state parks in Minnesota.  We paid $7 for a day pass (good for all state parks) and it is well worth the money.  You can pick up a pass at any state park.

Happy Travels! 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Exploring the Charming Coastal Town of Grand Marais, Minnesota

Located on the shores of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota, Grand Marais is a picturesque town that has become a beloved destination for artists, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Grand Marais is also home to a thriving arts community, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists and artisans. Visitors can explore the town's vibrant arts scene by visiting the Grand Marais Art Colony, which offers classes, workshops, and exhibitions, as well as the North House Folk School, which teaches traditional crafts such as woodworking, blacksmithing, and weaving.

Artist's Point is a narrow strip of land that extends out into Lake Superior and is surrounded by crystal clear water on all sides. The point is named for the many artists who have been inspired by its natural beauty, including the famous American painter and illustrator, Rockwell Kent, who lived in Grand Marais in the early 1900s.

One of the best ways to experience Artist's Point is by taking a leisurely stroll along the Grand Marais Harbor Trail, which winds its way through the town and along the shoreline, offering stunning views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness. Along the way, visitors can stop at numerous overlooks and picnic areas, and take in the beauty of the town's historic harbor, which is home to a fleet of fishing boats and pleasure craft.

In addition to its natural beauty, Grand Marais is also home to a thriving arts community, with numerous galleries and studios showcasing the work of local artists and artisans. Visitors can explore the town's vibrant arts scene by visiting the Grand Marais Art Colony, which offers classes, workshops, and exhibitions, as well as the North House Folk School, which teaches traditional crafts such as woodworking, blacksmithing, and weaving.

Finally, Grand Marais is a great destination for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors. The town is surrounded by the Superior National Forest, which offers miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for fishing, camping, and canoeing. Visitors can also explore the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a vast wilderness area that offers some of the best canoeing and camping experiences in the country.

Enjoy Your Visit!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Exploring the Beauty and History of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Minnesota

Located about 20 miles northeast of Two Harbors on Highway 61, this park gets it's name from the  beautiful historic lighthouse perched atop a rock cliff on the north shore of Lake Superior.

The Split Rock lighthouse is one of the most visited lighthouses in the nation and serves as backdrop for many popular photos. The lighthouse was completed in 1910 and was in service until 1969. Tours of the lighthouse and surrounding buildings are available daily throughout the summer season. Find more info here.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park has around 4 miles of rocky shoreline and beaches. 

A beautiful black sand beach (Pebble Beach) is located just a short walk from the parking area. Several picnic areas are nestled in the trees along the beach.

A little further down the main trail will lead you to a beach area that is made of of beautiful colored  stones. This is a fun place to explore the coastline.

The vegetation in this area is mainly birch, spruce, fir, and ash trees.

The park contains 14.5 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing.


Cart-in Sites

Twenty secluded sites approximately 2000 feet from the parking area.. Campers leave their vehicles in the lot and use two-wheeled carts provided by the park to carry their equipment  to their site. There are two wheelchair accessible sites in this area. Modern toilets and showers are available from early May until early October.

Backpack Sites

Four sites ranging from 1/2 to 2 miles from the campground parking lot. Two of the sites are accessible from Lake Superior for use by kayaks.

Reservations for campsites are required. Make them here.

Water recreation includes boating, sea kayaking, fishing, and scuba diving. Access to the Madeira wreck, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is available through the park. 


3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Road
Two Harbors, MN 55616


218-595-ROCK (7625)



Happy Travels! 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Exploring a Backyard Tropical Garden in Arkansas


What started as a love for palm trees has turned into a garden filled with lush foliage and colorful flowers. I was not sure how to pull off a tropical feel with plants that were cold hardy, but I had a vision in mind and set out to accomplish it. I have experimented with different plants and trees over the last few years and have finally found some that work. I wanted to share some of the plants that have been growing for me in zone 7b - 8a (Arkansas in the United States)  Hope you enjoy a photo tour of my garden! 😊

The Windmill Palm is the only palm tree that I found to actually be cold hardy. They stay green year around, even covered in snow. I have tried the Mexican Fan, Pindo, and others that clam on the label to live in my zone, but they don't! The Needle Palm is a bush type tree that thrives here. The only bad thing is that it has very long needles around the bottom!

There are three varieties of cold hardy banana tress that I grow are: Musa basjoo, Musella lasiocarpa or dwarf banana, and Musa velutina. All will die completely back to the ground in the winter, but will sprout back up in the spring.

Musa basjoo is the largest and least hardy of the three. The roots need to be mulched through a hard winter. I usually do not do anything to them if the winter is mild. The tree will grow 5 -10' tall in one season. Sometimes, small bananas develop right before the frost gets them. This particular tree is used in pots around the house as well as in the ground.

Musella lasiocarpa typically grows to 3-5' in one  growing season and has yellow blooms. I have yet to see a bloom on mine!😞

Musa velutina has white flowers that are quickly followed by very small,hairy, pink bananas. I have heard that they are edible and sweet, though full of seeds. They are so small that I have never thought of trying one! They will reach 4 - 6' tall in one growing season. They are very hardy and multiply quickly.

This is my first year with the red banana. I'm not sure if it will survive outside all year, but I am going to give it a try. I have it in a protected area near the house where I hope to leave it all winter. I will mulch it and maybe ever add some kind of extra protection. It is a very fast growing with very large leaves.

Crape Myrtles add a brilliant pop of color in the summer!

 I love my two sun tolerant hostas! The largest one is Afterglow. It dies back in the winter, but is early to pop back up in the spring. It typically grows 24 inches tall by 48 inches wide

 The hosta "Sun Power" has a standout lime green color.

Cannas are one of my favorite plants! I love the large leaves and beautiful large flowers. I have about ten different varieties in the garden. All of them will die back in the winter.

Tropicanna Black foliage is a combination of purple and black and has a red flower. It grows about six feet tall. It is definitely a show stopper!

Hardy hibiscus are a great way to add tropical flair. White, pink, and red varieties are my favorites.

Pink Oleander bush

Hardy ginger plants are easy to grow, cold hardy, and the blooms smell amazing! The variegated and solid with white blooms both are thriving.

Elephant Ears

Aucuba japonica, commonly called spotted laurel is an evergreen bush. It grows to about six foot tall and prefers the shade.

There were several Lily Turf plants growing around the yard when we bought the house about 12 years ago. I was not too crazy about them at the time, but saved them over the years. I am so glad that I did. I absolutely love them mixed in with the tropical plants!

I discovered by accident that Dusty Miller 'Silverdust' will live outside.. This plant is three years old and is huge!

The Cyperus Alternifolius Plant  (Umbrella Palm) reaches a height of around 4 foot.  It is claimed to be hardy here and able to reach heights of 13- 16 feet, but I have not seen this. It dies back in the winter and the growing season is not long enough to obtain much height.

Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orange’ is one of my favorite plants. I fell in love with this plant on my first trip to the Florida Keys. I searched forever to find one to purchase. The only places they could be found  were wholesale sites and landscape businesses. I was finally able to locate a lady living in Florida that was selling them on eBay. It is very low maintenance and needs full sun for best coloring. It turns completely green when brought inside for the winter, but will quickly return to a beautiful orange when put back outside in the spring.

Bougainvillea and sun coleuses are in large cobalt blue pots throughout the garden and around the house for an extra pop of color.

Sun Tolerant Coleus come in so many beautiful rich colors and are able to tolerate full sun.

The black elephant ear is new for me this year. It is in a large pot that will be wintered indoors. I think they are supposed to be cold hardy in this zone, but my mother has not had any luck leaving them out through the winter.

 I hope you have enjoyed the quick walk through of my garden! 😊 It has been a battle with storms and insects lately, but I think I am beginning to get ahead!

The banana trees, gingers, and cannas are just starting to grow and fill in the area. August - October is usually when the garden is at it's peak!

*Updated Garden Tours

2019 Garden Tour here

2020 Garden Tour here

2021 Garden tour here

Thanks for taking my garden tour!