11 Skipped Attractions

The 2018 Hikers’ Dozen Challenge went in a totally different direction: south. This year’s theme: 11 Attractions the Hikers Skip on Scenic 61 Because They’re in a Big Damn Hurry to Get to a Trailhead. For ease of conversation, we’ll refer to this as the year of Skipped Attractions.

Also different this year: we didn’t have a weekend to complete this challenge, we only had a day. May the odds be ever in our favor.

My Hikers’ Dozen Challenge buddy this year was my life partner Elliott. Besides being a tremendous singer, he’s church people.


Our day started brightly at skipped attraction #1, Brighton Beach. We found old graffiti from a hundred years ago, which isn’t cool, but is really cool all at the same time. Elliott found a comfortable bench.

Despite driving past this place each time I go to Duluth, I had only stopped here once since I moved to the North Shore. It was good to get some time by the lake.



Skipped attraction #2 was McQuade Harbor, and good timing — within a couple weeks of us going there, a storm ripped through and damaged it. Not the first time, nor the last. We walked out to the end of the rock pile.

I had never been here before.




The second-most disappointing place we visited was skipped attraction #3, the Amish furniture place. It’s probably awesome, but is closed on Sundays. We probably could have seen that one coming.



2019 update: I am heartbroken to report that this magical shop has ceased to be.

The find of the day was a small store that felt big inside, skipped attraction #4, Practicals, Collectables and Antiques. We may have spent over an hour sorting through old books and maps. The place is like your grandfather’s attic, only cooler.

The funny thing is, despite the fact that both Elliott and I must have driven by the place a dozen times, we had no recollection of ever seeing it before. It was very much like the shop from Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.


How do you beat that? Not with skipped attraction #5, Tom’s Logging Camp. When we looked at the price of admission, we decided to live up the mantra of the weekend…

…and skip it.

We did use the porta-potty, however. 8/10, would use again.




There once was a town named Buchanan
The Land Office here re-examined
What they were doing up north
Population of four, henceforth:
Buchanan was quickly abandoned.

(Skipped attraction #6, Buchanan historical marker)



2019 update: I think this place bit the dust too. Poor Emily’s.


Emily’s Eatery was skipped attraction #7, although I think this is less skipped than many other attractions.

Still, I’d only been here once and Elliott had never been here.





Skipped attraction #8 was the Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen where we spent far too much money. And img_5425then we kept going back during the next month. And I think we spent a hundred dollars on candy that year. It was a mistake: a perfect, wonderful mistake.

We have no self control.





Skipped attraction #9 was the little red Larsmont Schoolhouse. You can tell there was still sugar coursing through our blood.




Skipped attraction #10, the Scandinavian Gifts funky shop, was an interesting building to check out.


Our grand finale, skipped attraction #11, Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur, was a perfect way to end the day. Pierre has been through a lot: a storm knocked off his hand, he was cut into pieces and moved across town, and people have even suggested that he IS wearing pants, they just happen to be the same color as his skin. Hard to decide which of these traumatic events hurt Pierre the most.

I am heartbroken that Pierre no longer talks. No matter how many times Elliott pushed the button, Pierre didn’t say a word. Come back, Pierre! We miss your inexplicably midwestern accent!

The regularly-programmed weekend-long hiking-based Hikers’ Dozen Challenge will return to a North Shore near you in 2019.