There’s nothing more exciting than other people’s travel photos

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life86 Comments

Welcome to What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part One.

This year, we opted for an economical getaway and decided to vacation in our own backyard: to tour around the great state of Minnesota in search of history, kitschy photo opps, and general family bonding time.

Using the book Weird Minnesota as one of our travel guides, we planned a trip that would take us up Highway 61, through Duluth and beyond, then to head west through the Iron Range and back down to the Brainerd Lakes area where our family cabin is.

Along the way, we sought out stuff like this:


The Lindstrom Tea Kettle Water Tower, Lindstrom, Minn.

Our rule was if it was large, kitschy, made of fiberglass, or had holes where you had to put your head through, we stopped. Or, if they served booze.


In Rush City, we found a big fish:


In Pine City, we found a huge voyageur:


And in Mora we found a Dala Horse, which led to the catch phrase of the trip: "Where's your Dala Horse, babe?" spoken ala the guy from the Two A-Holes sketch from Saturday Night Live.


One of the other trip rules? No fast food. Sorry Mickey D's, but the Zielskes took a vow to eat in local cafes and off the path eateries, such as the lovely Sportsmen's Cafe in Mora:


Following lunch, we posed by more statues:

6-posed by statues 

And filled up our tank at the Frank Lloyd Wright designed gas station in Cloquet:


Along the way, there was plenty of time for Cole-created sight gags:



Until we finally arrived in our first official stayover stop: the beautiful fresh water port city of Duluth, Minn.



We did a clever re-enactment of the famous lift bridge:


We walked around on the rocky shores:


We saw and toured a big boat (There's your big boat, babe.):


We took lots of pictures:


And we broke a few laws:


Duluth is a place I could SO live from June through August.




Throughout our first day we kept track of memorable quotes from assorted family members, and captured such gems as:

Aidan: "Why is Cole changing again?" Mom: "He doesn't like who he's become?"

Dan: "Do cowboys just call their hats 'hats'?"

Cole, informing us whether or not he would get out of the car at our stops throughout Day 1: "If there's a gift shop, I'm so there."

And so ends Day 1. Stay tuned for more Zielske Vacation Shenanigans, coming soon to this blog near you.

Cathy ZielskeThere’s nothing more exciting than other people’s travel photos

86 Comments on “There’s nothing more exciting than other people’s travel photos”

  1. #1

    I love how your family poses for photos!
    I had the best compliment the other day, a woman in my photography class said I had the same sense of humour as this famous scrapbooker in her area. She thought I might have heard of her, her name is Cathy Zielske.

  2. #3

    Love Duluth. Whenever I used to visit my friend in Thunder Bay we’d take a road trip to Duluth. As ever your posting has put a smile on my morning face. Thanks

  3. #5

    All I can say is thanks! This Minnesotan did not get a vacation this year so now I sort of feel like I did!

  4. #6
    Dixie Lee

    My dad lived in Duluth/Cloquet area for several years. I never went to visit. Your pictures make me wish I had.

  5. #7

    As a native Minnesotan, I should think this post would make people around the world want to come (at least visit!) Minnesota. Isn’t it beautiful here? That shot of the rainbow over the bridge in Duluth is stellar.

  6. #9
    Nisa Fiin

    I hear you on the Duluth livin’ in the summer months… I might even add September. But I do not recommend camping there in late October…especially when pregnant. not a wise choice…

  7. #10

    I’m neither a big blog commenter nor a big laugh-out-louder, but Cole’s sight gag totally cracked me up. Thanks for sharing and tell Cole thanks especially.

  8. #11

    Thanks for the morning LOL…I love the breaking the laws sign picture. Made my day! (yeah, I am easy like that!)

  9. #13

    Sounds like you had great fun! πŸ™‚

    RE:Andrea, I would so love to visit Minnesota after seeing these pics. I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t even show you where it was on a map of the USA. I can be forgiven though, Our country isn’t even as big as your smallest state!! πŸ™‚

  10. #14

    Love your family – can I join? Fun idea for your vacation and great pics. Can’t wait to see more!

  11. #15
    Karen F.

    OK . . . I know better than to force my husband to read any blog entry I love . . . but I forced him . . . and he laughed out loud . . . and wondered if there is a “Weird California” guidebook . . . and mused that maybe one day we could take such an “unusual” vacation!
    Score for me!!!

  12. #17

    I am right there with you on the living in duluth from june though aug We try to take a couple trips uo there every summer.

    your family seems so fun.
    I laughed hard at the no standing picture so fun.
    Have a great day

  13. #18

    Great photos- absolutely fun and/or beautiful & you all are hilarious – wish i was there… and how many people say that and really mean it? ;D

    BTW, saw Green Day last night finally- OMG! 3 hours of fast & furious mania and I have a screaming injury.

  14. #19

    Sounds like a fun trip…I love those type of backroads adventures. But no Mickey D’s? Not even for a tea? Now that is roughin’ it!

  15. #20
    Susannah Stapp

    I love that your family enjoys the quirkyness of it all. They relish these picture opts rather than dread them. Good Family!

  16. #25
    Shelby Austin

    That sounds like a great holiday, lots of fun. I’m going to have to remember it for when our kids are older. Thanks for the great ideas.

  17. #27
    ady abreu

    Great photos… I’m sure you had a blast. My family has that no McD’s or fast food on vacations. We support the locals when on vacation. Besides McD’s does not sit well in my tummy!!!LOL

  18. #31

    three cheers for the lindstrom teapot and the muni! hip hip hooray! i can’t believe that you were 3 blocks away and didn’t stop for premiums and homemade cherry cokes…

  19. #32
    Mary Jo

    Awwww, I think they’re fun :0)
    Although I’ve been boring people with photos of our trip to Ireland and the U2 concert we saw there for weeks now, so I can’t say anything ;0)

  20. #35

    new income strategy for the zielske household:
    sell tickets to the rest of the world to accompany you on family roadtrips.
    i mean, i would pay good money for that.
    who wouldn’t?

  21. #36

    Had to laugh when I got to the no stopping or standing photo – I think I have a shockingly similar one taken in Duluth from a family vacation about 2 years ago….ahhhh…little things!!

  22. #40

    What a fun trip! Come to the Ozarks some time — the strange things you see aren’t quite as big … but probably a bit “weird-er”!!

  23. #41

    As a Minnesotan recently relocated to Alaska, I loved seeing Duluth through your camera’s lens and with your family’s sense of humor. The breaking laws part made me laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen often enough!

  24. #42

    ahh, Minnesota- the land of 10,000 lakes and huge statues of everything– love the Dala horse statue! when I was growing up we went up every year to go fishing; I miss it a lot- seeing your vacation brings back some wonderful memories- thanks! can’t wait for the next installation!

  25. #43
    Missus Wookie

    Oh I’m so glad we’re not the only family to plan our trips around weirdly titled books. Or plan/photo sight gags…

    Thought of you and your orange sweatshirt as we ate in a restaurant called “The Breakfast Club” this week. Although our exploration was without kids.

  26. #46
    Jeanne Ann

    I know that this is only day one, but can I say what an awesome trip? What a great way to spend time as a family and see your own back yard. Off the beaten path and onto the weird things to see path is the way to go. Wish my family had more of a sense of humor, maybe we could plan a trip like this one.

  27. #47

    well your vacation photos are way better than mine, so I am happy to check them out! looks like you had a great time so far!!! πŸ™‚

  28. #48

    Home sick in bed, surfing on my iPod, and LAUGHING out loud at your wonderful family photos and the hilarious antics! Tell Cole he’s the funniest. Thanks for the gafaw.

  29. #50

    Your summer vacation was way better than mine. Thanks for making me feel like I went along for the ride!

  30. #53

    This reminds me of a couple of trips I’ve been on. There was the one time we drove from MA to MN to go to Darwin- home of the biggest ball of twine made by one person.

    More recently, we went from MA to ID stopping at the biggest ball of twin in Kansas, Wall Drug, visiting Happy the Hodag (Rhinelander, WI), the Corn Palace, riding a Jackalope (Dubois, WY), Carhenge, the geographic center of the lower 48 states, plus visiting the highest point of 9 different states.

  31. #57

    Love to see other families having fun – but where are you Cathy??
    No photos – unabridged or otherwise! Maybe they’ll be in the next chapter!

  32. #58

    you never, NEVER, fail to completely crack me up! love the cole gag pic AND the criminal pic, beautifully done!
    such a great sense of humor!

  33. #60

    Oh my love this CAthy. my mom and i went to the north shore this summer:) ah the memories. Makes ya proud to live in the great state of minnesota:) so, gonna get that book the next time. And that breakin the law pic:) made me break a rib laughing:)

  34. #63
    Korey Lindberg

    You were so close to my hometown…sheesh! It looks like you guys had the bestest of times and I can’t wait until I have kids old enough to do a fun trip like this. πŸ˜€

  35. #66

    what an awesome idea – sounds like a perfect goof off vacation. Bet it was one of the best you ever had.

  36. #67

    Love the no stopping or standing shot! My unfunny husband had to explain the sign to me when I showed him…..I was like all…Yeah whatever mister…you just don’t get it!

  37. #69

    you guys are simply hilarious. the photos really cracked me up πŸ˜€ so well taken with a craziness. such a joy to see a whole family having fun together πŸ˜€ looking forward to MORE πŸ˜€ enjoy yrselves!

  38. #72
    Heather H.

    Awesome trip! Sounds very much like the ones I took in my childhood growing up here in MN. But we didn’t use the book back then. Those were just places we knew of our found. Which is what happens when this is where your people have always been and rarely left!!! Can’t wait to see more. And I love the no fast food rule. Did you go to Betty’s Pies?? How about the Worlds Best Donuts???

  39. #74

    That looks like my kind of holiday. Of course, it’s a long way from Australia so that add to the vacation appeal. Does look like fun though, you have a lot of interesting things in your state. We have a show on Sunday nights at the moment “Stephen Fry travels America”, or something like that. Last episode he travelled into your state. Damn, I do not know how you live there. It was winter time and colder than I can imagine.

  40. #75

    Cole cracks me up. Even his sandcastles are a engineering work of art. Hope you have some serious tuition saved for his engineering degree.
    : )

  41. #77
    Susan Tethal

    Oh you made me laugh! And I so needed that. You have an amazing family Cathy, enjoy every minute with them! Can’t wait for Day 2.

  42. #78

    LOL, we went to Mora, Sweden this summer! (as part of a trainjourney to the north of Sweden. We didn’t get too far up north though, because our train derailed and wrecked the track after Arvidsjaur, no wounded fortunately! Since it would take them days to repair it we went a bit back south and then west instead, to Trondheim, Norway).
    My Dala horse is tiny and dangles as a little keychain from this years traveljournal πŸ˜‰

  43. #79
    Jennifer Larson

    Nice to see the Lindstrom water tower–my grandparents used to live near there in Center City. And I love your fast food rule–we had that rule this year on vacation near Seattle, and I think it will be a permanent thing.

  44. #81

    Cathy, you and your blog are always good for a laugh, giggle and a smile! Love it and thank you for that! Love your account of northern Minnesota. My fav so far is the street sign and pose with it! Hilarious! Makes me want to visit that. We are traveling to Brainard area in September but we weren’t planning on going further north. Now I wish we were! Thanks for the fun post! Can’t wait to see more!

  45. #82

    Ok first you were in Duluth like my last year’s vacation and now you saw the Dala horse just like we did too. I thought my husband was the only one who found that weird vacation site on the internet!! Very fun pics!! I have one of a giant Dala horse in Sweden too!!

  46. #83

    We’re headed on a driving vacation next week and I think I just might have to borrow some of your photo ideas. The two with Cole and the giant tire made me laugh out loud. I also love the ones over the water, especially the rainbow. Would like to know a bit about your editing process, if any, for the photos posted on your blog – they are stunning. Thank you for sharing a bit of your staycation.

  47. #84
    April Z

    You guys take the best photos! We actually just got back from a family vacation in Duluth and up the north shore and now I’m realizing that we missed so many photo opportunities. I did force my son to have his photo taken with the giant rooster in Two Harbors, but he didn’t enjoy it. What really cracks me up is that I drive through Lindstrom several times a week and I’ve never thought to take a picture of the water tower (even though I do think it’s cool) or the bar sign. I think you’ve just given me inspiration for my vacation next year!!

  48. #85
    Gina Ausmus

    Dear Cathy,
    This was my favorite section of your family vacation. I hail from Pine City, have lived in Duluth, and now reside in Cloquet(minus a few pesky years in Iowa somewhere inbetween.) I love all your shots and goofiness. Thanks, Gina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *