Ever since our last trip to Arizona, Carter had been asking when we could go on vacation again. Given that was over a year ago, and with summer fading fast, we heeded to his requests and planned a long weekend in Duluth, Minnesota.

We had never been to Duluth before, but had heard a lot of great things about the area. With Carter and Henry in tow, we wanted to make sure to keep them entertained, so we got a room in a hotel that was attached to a water park. As expected, Carter couldn’t stop talking about it all week, and Friday couldn’t come quick enough.

Friday

To maximize the weekend, we got the kids up bright and early Friday morning, and Carter jumped right out of bed. Breakfast, some last minute packing, and we were on the road. It didn’t take long for Carter’s excitement to turn to impatience, as he started asking why we had to drive so far for vacation, thirty minutes into the drive. We assured him it would all be worth it once we got there, hoping that would be the case.

After a few hours of backseat moaning and some Big Hero 6 soundtrack, we were finally in Duluth. At this point, Carter was so wound up to be on vacation, we could have played in the parking lot for a few hours and he would have been satisfied. Alas, that was not in the itinerary, so we made our way over to Canal Park and the Lakewalk.

The weather this day was perfect, and it was beautiful walking along Lake Superior. It almost didn’t feel like we were in Minnesota anymore, which was nice, considering we weren’t really too far from home. We spent the rest of the morning walking down to the lighthouse, walking by, over and under the famous Superior Lift Bridge — we actually got to see it go up and down a few times — climbing all over the rocks by the shore, and throwing some in for good measure.

After a tasty lunch at an interesting burger joint, it was time for the main attraction — finding the hotel and checking out the water park. Once we got our stuff hauled in, and caught a view of the water park, Carter was ready in record time. We spent the next few hours trying most everything the water park had to offer — slides, pools, fountains, buckets, hoops, and the lazy river. Carter couldn’t contain his excitement while Henry, on the other hand, was a bit indifferent. Even after we got him his own life jacket, which allowed him to float on his back, his demeanor didn’t change too much — he looked funny wearing it though.

To top it all off, we ran into a Minion hanging out by the pool and then, on the way to dinner, we ran into Gru right outside the elevator. I don’t think Carter could have been any happier with his first day of vacation.

Saturday

Saturday morning’s plan was a visit to Gooseberry Falls, with a stop at Betty’s Pies along the way. After a quick breakfast in the room, we were on our way.

We arrived at Gooseberry Falls around mid-morning, and it wasn’t nearly as busy as we had expected. Our first stop was the Lower Falls, with Carter leading the way, and Henry strapped safely to my chest.

The water wasn’t as high as we thought it might be, but that ultimately made the experience more enjoyable, as we were able to get pretty close to most of the falls. Showing no fear, Carter was climbing all over the rocks and getting closer to the edge of the falls than Allison and I would have liked.

With Carter as our guide, we made our way around the entire Lower Falls, up a very steep set of stairs — I had to pass off Henry at that point; conveniently, Allison offered once we got to the top of the stairs — and around some more trails to the Upper Falls. Of course, stopping along the way to feel the water and do a little more rock tossing.

With our hiking adventure complete, we made our way back into town, stopping at the ‘World Famous’ Betty’s Pies — the highlight of Allison’s day. Six slices of pie to-go, and an appetizing lunch in Two Harbors, and it was back to the hotel.

The afternoon consisted of more time in the pool, and more guest appearances. This time it was two of Carter’s favorite superheros — Captain America and Spiderman. Carter gave Captain America such a big hug, I don’t think he was expecting it. If The Incredible Hulk had shown up, Carter’s other favorite superhero, I’m not sure what he would have done.

After swimming and dinner, we spent some time in the arcade, where I spent half our life savings trying to win Carter a Minion from the claw machine. It took me far too many tries before realizing I had been defeated, but it likely won’t be the last time that happens. To get my spirits up, we played some air hockey, at which Carter soundly beat me, even though he could barely reach the table. A little Big Hero 6 before bed, and we were all out from exhaustion in no time.

Sunday

Sunday was bittersweet, as our vacation was coming to and end, but we took advantage of our time, and made one last visit to the water park. I finally convinced Carter to go under the huge bucket of water with me, which he avoided most of the trip, and he admittedly enjoyed it.

One last jump on the top bunk before check-out, and we were on our way back to the cities — a successful weekend getaway for everyone, even Henry.

Carter is already asking when we can go back, and it probably won’t take much convincing for this to become an annual trip.