Thought For Today

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Fall Visit to the Bluff Country


Mississippi Bluff in October

This morning I awoke to the sounds of our cats running around the house playing with each other.  Toby now is smell free from her encounter with the skunk, and has the aroma of Anne’s hair soap.  Kelly, our other cat is starting to gain needed weight since we found her starving to death two weeks ago.  Kelly is adjusting well to the house and is learning about staying off tables and counters. 

Collection of autumn vines near a creek in Winona.
After church today we took a short trip up to the town of Nelson, Wisconsin.  It is located just across the river from Wabasha, Minnesota (Home of Grumpy Old Men.)  The interesting thing about Wabasha is the movie, “Grumpy Old Men.”  If you remember the names of the two gentlemen in the movie, one was called John Gustafson.  He was a retired teacher from Wabasha.  It happens that my father in law is named John Gustafson, and he is a retired professor from Winona State University.  John Gustafson in the movie dated a lady who taught English at Winona State University (Anne Margaret.)  My wife Anne has recently taught English at Winona State University. 

Old barn near Nelson Cheese Factory
If any of you get a chance to visit Wabasha, plan on going across the river to Nelson.  We visit this community every couple of months to eat at the Nelson Cheese Factory.  They make their own cheeses and sell cheese from all over the world at their store.  They also sell wine, ice cream, pizza and usually have a line of people, many from the Twin Cities visiting this little business tucked away among the bluffs.  You will enjoy the drive either down hi way 61 from the north or from the south also along hi way 61.   The store offers several different homemade sandwiches were are very tasty. 

Abby and Will love to eat here as well.  There is outdoor seating for those that like to eat in a more reclusive setting.  There is an old barn nearby that now houses several different cats that visit the tables for scraps that might fall to the ground.  Abby and Will especially like to play with them, but they keep their distance since the kitties are still wild and shy of petting.  John and Marji, Anne’s folks also enjoy eating here with us.  It seems we all have our favorite foods that we come to enjoy when traveling to this quiet scenic restaurant tucked away among the towering bluffs.  You will find an eclectic group of people gathering here from all over the area.  It is not uncommon to motor homes, motorcycles and family cars all gathered together in the parking lot.   

Outside seating at Nelson Cheese Factory
For those that are coming from the south or the west, watch for signs that lead to the little tourist towns of Rushford and Lanesboro.  Those traveling from the west on I-90, you will find the exit just west of the Winona exit that leads to Rushford, Minnesota.  This will take you into the bluff country area that is breath taking to say the least.  There are bed and breakfasts to stay at, a winery (Lanesboro), bike trails along the Root River, a German restaurant (Lanesboro), quant old stores and more.  The scenery is very beautiful as you drive through the area, especially in October.  Don’t forget to take your camera when visiting this area.  It is like going back to a time long forgotten.


Pickwick Mill
The trees are just now starting to show some colors.  I expect them to peak around the first and second weeks of October.  The scenery for those coming from the north, starting at Red Wing is very memorable along hi way 61.  For those coming from the south, starting at La Crescent, Minnesota, (Apple Capital) just off I-90, will begin to see the bluffs towering above you as you drive north.  Exiting I-90 you can travel south to La Crescent and visit their apple stores, etc. or one can get on to hi way 61 from the interstate by turning left to go north heading towards Winona.  Along the way you will have one or two observation sites to take in the Mississippi river view.  About 10 miles south of Winona there is the little town of Pickwick.  The sign on
Abby playing with Nelson's cats.
Hi way 61 will show that it is a left turn that will take you away from the river for approximately 5 miles to the town of Pickwick and the Pickwick flourmill, a very beautiful little village and mill site.  This mill still grinds flour! 

Traveling still further north into Winona, you will see Sugar Loaf Mountain overlooking the town of Winona, Minnesota.  There are two fishing lakes with parks nearby within the community.  One can check out canoes, etc. on the Winona Lake Lodge to explore the beauty of the lake and bluffs.  Winona has two universities, and one can find many hiking paths, fishing, and state and local parks in the area.  There are always community and college events taking place.  From plays to outdoor and athletic events to people walking by the lakes, one never tires of the scenery.  When traveling through the town you will see many grand homes that were built by lumber, railroad and river boat barons of the last century.  These homes have been maintained and will surprise you as to their grandeur and size.  You will also observe the many local shops, bed and breakfast’s, and stores housed in buildings built during Winona’s hay day from the last century.  This part of Minnesota is relatively unknown even to many Minnesotans.  I would encourage you take a weekend and enjoy the area and all it has to offer. 

I would encourage one to go to the individual tourism online sites for each of the communities you plan to visit before taking your trip into the bluff country.    One such site gives you many cities located in Minnesota, “Explore Minnesota.” 



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