Highway 61 Revisited

The view of Lake Superior off of Highway 61

So today I drove up Highway 61 in Minnesota to a ski resort in Lutsen, Minnesota. One of the things I love about this job is seeing places I would never had seen without a gig to get me there. Lake Superior has the least population surrounding it of all the Great Lakes and it also happens to be the most beautiful. I took a few photos of the sights I witnessed on my drive.

I grew up in Central Iowa where a Holidome is considered a major body of water, so the Great Lakes are really fascinating to me. I like the history of them and how the towns and cities on them used to be a vital element to our nation’s economy.  Now the Detroit’s, the Cleveland’s, and Buffalo’s are struggling, but I still see the charm of these cities. So I’m driving up the west coast of Lake Superior when I see an awesome light house.  A decade ago I would have enjoyed looking at it from the road, but that would have been it.  Now, I try to take in stuff like that, especially when I’m in area I might never be again in my life. So I stop to look at the Split Rock Lighthouse.

The museum was closing, but I had a chance to check out a little about the history of the Iron Range of Minnesota and how it was transported on the Great Lakes to reach the steel plants during the peak of the industrial age.  You remember when we had a true working class in this country. Let’s be honest, the American Dream was outsourced sometime in the 90’s and all the jobs now are basically service industry jobs, computer jobs or office jobs.  You know, the kind of jobs that make you feel like a man when you get home and ice your carpal tunnel.

So I continued north up Highway 61. For those of you that unfamiliar, this is the title of one of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated records. Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) grew up not far from here in Hibbing, Minnesota. It’s a town of about 17,000 people and is the hometown of both Dylan and former Celtic great, Kevin McHale. Pretty amazing that a town this size could produce 2 such famous people. The only place that can compete with that is Newton, Iowa, where both the founder of Maytag, Fred Maytag built the company and Scott Long, one of America’s most beloved standup comedians hail from.

Hey, who am I trying to impress?

So I get to my room and it’s your typical Best Western type room, except the view out the back.  Now I will admit I would have enjoyed the patio a little more if it had been August instead of the 25 degrees of upper Minnesota in March, but it still is better than the typical parking lot I usually have.  Plus, nothing helps you sleep more than the waves crashing right outside the window.

Outside my window at the Cliff Dweller Hotel.

So I drive up to my show at the Lutsen, Minnesota ski resort.  It’s a beautiful place and when I walk into where I’m performing I’m pleasantly surprised to see a great stage and sound.  The gig itself was kind of hit or miss.  This was not aided by a family sitting up front which included an 18 year-old kid, his parents, and his 70 year-old grandparents.  Now when I was running a department store portrait studio, I would have loved to have 3 generations come in, but this is not optimal for my standup.  I danced around a few words and the people who work there said it was the one of best shows they had seen there, but I felt kind of h0-hum about it.  Now it was a one-man show, so considering I was going up to a cold audience, it was probably better than I give it credit for, but I’m kind of a perfectionist, so I give myself a B grade.

One thing that aided me writing this after the show is the TV options that I have at the Cliff Dweller. It is like I stepped back to 1995, as the list of the photo I have posted above demonstrates. To not have any sports channels or high-level movie channels is pretty amazing, but I will trade the view I have out my balcony.

Another view outside my window.

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