Keeping the tradition going is a responsibility we Minnesotan's take seriously. Today's clear blue sky's, which by the way matched the color of the car perfectly, just made it all that better.
It's been many years since we drove the northern loop from Duluth to Ely MN, down to Lake Superior and back to Duluth. It's a +200 mile ride that including stops will take up most of the day.
Promptly at 9:00 AM we pulled out of the driveway headed for hwy 4, the more scenic and back woods route north. We hadn't made it more than 2 blocks when a loud Whop, Whop, Whop suddenly developed from the left front corner of the car.
I pulled over, thinking our luck had turned sour and that something was seriously wrong under the hood. I raised the lid wondering if a fan belt had started to shred only to realize that even if there was a fan belt on this marvel of engineering I had know idea where it was.
While poking around my mind realized that the noise was in relation to the revolutions of the front wheel, not the engine. As the tire was still fully inflated I ran my hand around the tread. Sure enough, the new tire with it's nice deep tread grooves had snagged a 12" rubber band, possibly of the kind used to tie up newspaper bundles.
What I was hearing was the loose end of the piece of rubber whacking against the inside fender well with each revolution of the tire. I chuckled,"One day old and we broke the rubber band drive that makes it go"!
Off we went with no further problems. First stop was in the small town of Soudan, location of the first Iron Ore Mine in Minnesota and the last operating underground Iron Ore mine. A quick potty break at the roadside memorial and on we went to Ely.
For those who aren't familiar with Northern Minnesota, Ely is home to Arctic Explorer Will Steager.
He has a store on the main drag where he sells Mukluks and other outdoor clothing.
Maybe because of his notoriety, being famous and all, you better have some deep pockets if you plan on doing any serious shopping here.
We looked around for a few minutes then had lunch at the DQ and headed on down the highway towards Lake Superior and Two Harbors.
Going north on Hwy 4 and returning on Hwy 2 one thing strikes you as pretty obvious. The scenery in much of Northern Minnesota is the same. Pine trees and aspen trees everywhere.
If you'd like to see what the view was like out the windshield, this short video will give you a peek. Multiply this couple minuted by about 5 hours and you've lived the whole trip. Beyond a few small towns along the route, you're surround by very dense wilderness, punctuated by supposedly 10,000 lakes. Of course only 2 or 3 of those lakes are visible from the highway.
As for how the Prius did today, excellent! One very quiet, nice riding car. Corners like a sports car, probably because of the low center of gravity what with the battery bank under you. The last leg of the trip, about 100 miles, we managed an average 67.2 mpg. The car tells you second by second what mpg you're getting while you drive. Then when you shut down, it recaps the trip from whence you last turned the key on.
Our whole day cost us +$11 for gas, and $10 plus tax for two $5 lunches at DQ. That's a full days entertainment for 2 for just over $20. We traveled 230 miles in the process.
This takes me back to my early twenties when I would fill the tank, drive until it was half full and head for home. It's been many years since this was financially prudent.