BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY (1999)
As the birthplace of Bob Dylan, Duluth is destined to go down in literary history like Joyce's Dublin. The Twin Cities, residents of which rarely deign to even notice their neighbor 150 miles to the north, will meantime be remembered as some hick burg from a 1960s sitcom. Plan on spending several hours sifting though the Babel of vinyl at Young at Heart Records (22 W. First St.; (218) 722-2365), where owner Richard Wozniak will sell you an original Stax/Volt recording of Otis Redding for a buck just because you care enough to sing for him both Otis and Carla Thomas's parts on "Tramp." And by all means take a tour of stately Glensheen, one of the grandest of the Duluth mansions, built long ago by the port city's version of St. Paul's pig-dog robber barons. Besides being a nifty crib, Glensheen is where 83-year-old Elisabeth Congdon was murdered by her son-in-law in 1978. Roger Caldwell, who smothered the invalid heiress with a pillow, conked the maid on the head with a candlestick, killing her, too. (Authorities suspected, but weren't able to prove, that Roger's wife Marjorie was a party to the deed.) Understandably, the other Congdon heirs saw fit to turn over the house to the city. Reservations are strongly recommended for the tour; call (888) 454-4536. At night head over to Wade Stadium, a beautiful all-brick baseball edifice constructed during the Depression by the WPA. Not one brick seems to have been moved since--or one pothole filled in in the outfield--though the stadium underwent a renovation in 1992 when the Dukes joined the Northern League. By calling the team in advance, at (218) 727-4525, one can also find out when Ila Borders--the only woman to hurl (and win) in a men's professional league--will be pitching. Here you'll also see the new riot grrrls: eight- and nine-year-olds with baseball gloves, wearing their ponytails Ila-style and begging their hero to come say hi. She always does. (Warning: Do not say hi to Ila on game day. She won't see you. Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes did it last year and barely lived to tell about it. "She looked at me," Wallace later recalled, "like I was a hair in her soup.") Romance, in summertime Duluth, demands reservations made well in advance. It's especially worth the hassle to get in at the Canal Park Inn (250 Canal Park Drive; (218) 727-8821 or (800) 777-8560). The Inn sits right on the Duluth Harbor leading into Lake Superior, and is within crawling distance of the heart of Canal Park, two sights that will make you believe in God again. Finally, to jump-start with beautiful vistas the discombobulated feeling of new love, begin the evening with champagne at the spinning restaurant atop Duluth's downtown Radisson.