Friday, September 26, 2014

The Norwegian Riviera

We're budget travelers so we usually don't stay at fancy resorts. We usually use points to stay at a couple different hotel chains. And hopefully our stay includes breakfast and/or the hotel has a fridge and microwave. For our Midwest trip this summer (which you can read about here), we decided to splurge and  stay at a resort on the Norwegian Riviera, otherwise known as Lutsen, Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Superior.

Bluefin Bay Resort is located off State Route 61 in Northern Minnesota. We stayed in a studio which included a full kitchen and bath, fireplace  (including firewood) and patio about 10 steps from the lake.

 The condos are all individually owned and include studios, and 1,2,and 3 bedroom units. There is a restaurant located on the property and also a coffee shop. For about $175, we also could use the indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, bicycles and fully guided kayak tours.  

Not only can you use their bicycles and kayaks, they also give you a s'mores packet to use at the nightly bonfire on the beach.

We didn't do much sightseeing in the area as we wanted to take advantage of all the resort had to offer. But Lutsen Ski Resort is located close by with hiking and tram rides in the summer and downhill skiing in the winter. Bluefin will also shuttle you to  a trail nearby and you can hike back to the resort.

We used the indoor and outdoor hot tubs (Bluefin Bay has the only outdoor year-round hot tub on the northern shore of Lake Superior) and decided to eat dinner on the patio at our studio and take advantage of the beautiful view.

For an extra $50 per person you can take a ride on the sailboat Avanti which was moored right off the resort. We had fun going on a guided kayak tour on the surprisingly calm Lake Superior. In my mind, Lake Superior is always rough like in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitgerald"

I really enjoyed my stay at Bluefin Bay Resort. Customer Service was great. It was quiet, relaxing and in a beautiful setting. There was plenty to do for all ages. And this sunrise view was well worth the splurge.

You can find out more about Bluefin Bay and it's sister resorts, Surfside and Temperance Landing,  here.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Beartooth Highway

The Beartooth Highway is a 68 mile road which starts in southeast Montana, winding through northwestern Wyoming and ending at Yellowstone National Park. Charles Kuralt called it "the most beautiful road in America" and I might have to agree. If it's not the most beautiful, then it ranks up there in the top 10.

We started our drive in Red Lodge, Montana - a cute little town that I wish we had time to visit - and ended at the NE Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Be aware that most of the road goes through National Forest lands and National Wilderness areas and there is only one restroom break at the Top of the World store - which is not at the top of the world at all but on the downhill portion if you started in Red Lodge (or almost at the top if you start at Yellowstone). And if you use those restrooms, they are located outside and when we were there the bugs were swarming. So take your bug spray and bring a jacket as it gets cold at the top. And there's snow - even in July.

The pictures don't do it justice. And I apologize for any guardrails or posts in the view. I was going a little snaphappy with the camera. And I believe that a few of my kids were taking pictures with my camera as well. 

We stopped at the top of the road - at the Montana/Wyoming border and took a walk through the meadow there. And played in the snow a little. Flip-flops in the snow. And we ate our packed lunch there at the top of the world on the Montana/Wyoming border.

Yep, that's snow in July

It's a little late this year to start planning a trip on the Beartooth Highway - it's typically open from the end of May through the first or second weekend in October.  But it's not too early to start planning for next summer. Take a ride to the top of the world on the Beartooth Highway, the most beautiful road in America.

Can you spot the mountain goat? The only animal we saw

I'm looking for more followers on Facebook, so if you are on Facebook and haven't followed The Unpaved Road,  give it a try. I try to post some travel ideas and photos that I think are interesting. Maybe you will too.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden

Just east of Columbia, South Carolina, off of I-20, in the small town of Bishopville, South Carolina is a very unique place. A whimsical, beautiful place.  In the 1980's, Pearl Fryar  watched a 3 minute video on creating topiaries, and the rest, as they say, is history.

From, as Mr. Pearl puts it, "just cutting up bushes", he has become an international celebrity. He has been featured in newspapers, magazines, tv shows and has even been the subject of  a documentary called " A Man Called Pearl". 

I had wanted to visit his garden for a long time. My sister-in-law and I set off to finally see it and we had no idea of the adventure to come. I might have, or might not have, gotten us a little lost by misreading the directions. When we finally arrived on an extremely humid day, Mr. Pearl was in his garden along with a journalist  from National Geographic Television interviewing him. We were thrilled to be able to talk to Mr. Pearl and then the journalist asked to interview one of us. So my sister-in-law was interviewed for TV!!

The garden is internationally known. In  fact, when we were visiting the other visitors were a couple from Poland. The garden is FREE and open from Tuesday through Saturday. Mr. Pearl is usually in his garden greeting visitors. 

All the statues and fountains in the garden were created from recycled material ,or as Mr. Pearl says, "Junk". 

My favorite part of the garden were  definitely these "Dr. Seuss" trees. Aren't they cool?

A very inspirational man, Pearl Fryar started giving scholarships to "C" students - those who think outside the box and are not followers,  who might not be able to go to college otherwise. 

If you are interested in visiting the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden you can get any info you need here  - or you can donate toward his scholarships here also  

I know, I know.... I say this alot. But if you have a chance to visit this garden,  do it.  You'll be glad you did!!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014


School is now back in session after summer break in most spots of the country so I thought I'd highlight a city which houses two of our most famous ones. The "People's Republic of Cambridge" houses two of the most prestigious universities in the United States, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. On our spring trip to Boston, we had a free morning so we decided to go see Cambridge.

I had never been to Cambridge. And I was anxious to see what Harvard was like since it is probably one of the most, if not the most, famous college in America. 

Cambridge is a very pleasant town of brick buildings, bistros, pubs and churches. I think it was one of my favorite stops on our Boston trip. 

Mr. UR easily found street parking and we spent a spring morning walking around Harvard Square .There were lots of people out enjoying the good weather. Then we found John Harvard's Brewery and Ale House on a side street near the square. Good food - stone fired pizza for me and a german dish for him. We crossed the street to visit Harvard Yard which was busy with students, professors and visitors on the beautiful day. And then we were off to Boston. Easy peasy.

If you're visiting the Boston area and you want a fun and quick visit to a university town with some history thrown in,  give Cambridge a try. 

Linking up with!!!!! for #FridayPostcards