Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Late Autumn Stroll

The weather here yesterday, Tuesday October 30, was gorgeous, and at this time of year we know it will probably not last much longer. After attending a library meeting at my university and then having my manicure, I came home to a bowl of soup. Then I headed off to do a short Volksmarch in Saint Paul. This one is placed in my old neighborhood, but in an area where I've never walked much since it was quite a bit north of my house. There were always things to do that were closer to home.

I parked my car, I hoped safely. Much of the area is permit parking to control parking associated with the University of St. Thomas. I found my way to a Super America station and asked for the walk box. Often this request is met with a blank stare, but there is always someone around who knows what I want.

I picked up the directions for the 5K walk and was out the door. The first part of the walk was along the very western end of Summit Avenue. Summit Avenue was named as one of the 10 great streets in the United States by the American Planning Association and is also a National Historic District.

First I walked along the campus of the University of St. Thomas. All the buildings are done in limestone block.

The building above is a classroom building. It forms part of the south side of a quadrangle area.

Soon the views turned to homes. Summit was developed from east to west, so the homes on the west end are some the "newest."

Here are a couple.

I've never before noticed the house just above. It is set back from the street, and when driving by, one doesn't notice it if paying attention to driving!

At one residence I found some unique Halloween decorations.

The "guy" on the swing was moving so fast with the wind that I thought for a moment that the only way I'd capture the view would be with video, but a fast shutter did the deed!

Summit soon joins Mississippi River Boulevard and there is a small park area here. This walk gave me a good view, now in particular since the leaves are off the trees, of a ravine that Mississippi River Boulevard curves around. I've driven around countless times, but never before looked down into this deep ravine.

The view of the upper Mississippi River from here is quite nice.
The bridge in the distance is the Lake Street - Marshall bridge.

In this area there is a monument, again something so close to home I've never before really looked at it!

From the distance it appears to be a religious monument, but it in fact a veterans' monument.

I know readers can make out what is in the photo above. The plaque says the monument is honor of those from Ramsey County and Saint Paul who served in the Great War. It was erected in 1922, and little did those responsible know this was not in fact the war to end all wars. The monument has logically four sides and I find it curious nothing was done to place a memorial for other wars such as WWII.

As I continued down Mississippi River Road I continued to enjoy seeing the houses from a walking rather than driving perspective. These are grand homes, too, but tend to be just a bit "newer."

I had been anticipating photos of the above home as a "newer" home as I walking towards it, but when I got there I found something even better.

Take a close look and see if you can find the spiders on the volleyball net. One is rather camouflaged again the window. The other is just at the boundary between the house wall and the front door.

I continued on Mississippi River Boulevard until I reached Hartford Street. On the corner is Temple Aaron, one of the three synogogues in St. Paul.

From here the route doubled back on less scenic residential streets. I found my car where I parked it, and without any parking tickets for being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

In the evening I went to a very informative presentation about the Hungarian-Transylvania Unitarian church. I got to use just a few words of Hungarian to the guest speaker, and few words is just about all I remember. If one doesn't use a language, it surely disappears quickly.

So that's what I did on one of my "retirement" days!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Comparative Education

I went to a terrific lecture today at PACIM (Polish American Cultural Institute in Minnesota). The speakers were Marta Shaw and Brad Winer (perhaps spelled wrong). Both are PhD candidates at the University of Minnesota. Marta is from Poland and will be returning there in January; Brad has been involved in higher education in the United States at a number of universities. They compared the values of the two higher education systems, who goes to college, and how it is paid for. It is obvious there are strengths and weaknesses in both systems.

I was struck by Marta's discussion of rich kids and poor kids in Poland, and the idea that rich kids get into the excellent Polish universities and don't have to pay, the poor kids don't and go into the private system where they must pay. I have been involved with a lot of teenagers and young adults in Poland and didn't regard any of them as rich.

Would love to have some comments from either the US or Poland about our higher education systems!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bummin' on the Border

After doing the walk in LaCrosse I drove up river to Winona to spend some time with friends. On Saturday my friend drove us across the river to the Galesville  WI area.

Our first stop was to buy apples. The dry weather has severely impacted the apple crop. I was very glad to get a half peck of Courtlands, one of my favorite apples for making salads, for these apples do not turn brown when they are cut. I also got some apple butter and a jar of apple-based barbeque sauce.

Then my friend suggested we backtrack slightly to Galesville. It is a town of about 1500 persons set in rolling hills. It has a very picturesque town square.

In the center is a band shell, a somewhat new building to replace something damaged by fire recently. Behind there is construction. This unfortunately is a BP gas station and convenience store, not being build at all in the style of this historic district.

I enjoyed two of the old buildings.

I particularly liked the building with an embedded sign for a harness shop.

We went to wander through the general store/gift shop. Next we went to the cafe for what we decided to call second breakfast. Very good food and great service by a couple who had recently purchased the cafe, helped by members of their family.

People in the town also recommended that we drive out of town a bit to the Craft Barn. What a combination.

The Craft Barn had some beautiful home decor objects.

I found a back room lined on one side with cookie cutters of every description. On the other side of the aisle, people were bringing in their cross bows for repair. This was certainly a new combination for me!

Leaving the shop we noticed all the cats.

Never did figure out what was intriguing them about the hole they had dug.

We headed from here to Fountain City. We stopped in the Lefse Times gift shop. I made my only purchase here, something I plan to give away to a usual reader of this blog, so no more said.

Then we went to a winery and tasted some of the Wisconsin wines. Here I picked up a brochure and learned that we are seeing more wine-growing areas because the University of Minnesota has developed cold climate grapes. Two of the common varieties now being used in wine making can survive temperatures of -30 F.

A lovely day wandering around on the border!

This afternoon I drove back home, following the Mississippi River much of the way. Going through Red Wing, I happened upon the  American Queen in the port there. I think it is to be back here in Saint Paul sometime tomorrow.

Great weekend!

Walking in LaCrosse

Friday morning turned up to be a cloudy, cool day, but no rain. The monitor on the wall of the hotel lobby promised sun by 9 AM, but I surely didn't see that during my day there -- but again, no rain! Got lucky.

After breakfast I left the hotel and headed towards the walk start.
Fall decor in the garden along the hotel walkway
I decided to walk there rather than drive my car just a short distance. Glad I did for I would have missed the Regional Art Center.  A sculpture attracted my attention so I did a bit of a detour.

Here's the first one I found.

Logically the title is Dancer and the artist is Donna Cuta.

I also found "pelicans" here. These appear to the types of sculpture a city picks and then subsequently the figures are auctioned for some type of charity. In any event the pelicans are cute.

This one is called Catch of the Day.

Soon I turned left towards Main Street and then a right turn brought me to the cathedral in LaCrosse. This is St. Joseph the Workman church.

 The route map advised seeing if the church was open, so that one might see the windows. I got lucky. No only was the church open but it was empty. I could wander around as I liked without disturbing any worshiper. And the windows are indeed something.

Here is one.

 I chose this one because the second panel from the top shows Father Marquette. This keeps me with thinking about the Mississippi River. Marquette and Louis Joillet are remembered as being the Europeans who first explored the upper Mississippi.

The view below shows a portion of one side of the church.

Below is a photo of a portion of one of the side chapels.

I turned to leave and saw this.

What's this? Well obviously the door, but when entering one has no clue of what one will see when leaving.

Main Door --Exterior View

The route turned and I walked by a city park and then to a corner that features the Hixon House.

The route map explains this home was built in the Italianate-style. Hixon apparently made his money in the lumber industry. He is remembered with a statue across the street from the hall that explains how he used his money to the benefit of the LaCrosse. The home is now operated as a museum, but is closed after Labor Day so I didn't have a chance to make a visit.

The route took me next through the historic district of LaCrosse. My map explained the building below, the John Vogel, is the oldest building in the district.

The next part of the walk went along the Mississippi River.

I very much liked this sculpture.

I was walking along Riverside Park and when I got to the end of the park, the route turned right to the International Friendship Garden.

Here are some views.

For the sister city in China
For the sister city in Germany

For the sister city of Dubna, Russia

Painting in the dome

 And I loved the trolls in the Norwegian garden.

In a little bit I was walking along the LaCrosse River which enters the Mississippi very close to this point.

The walk here got serious, hiking across a marshland. I was grateful to be doing this part of the walk on a cool October day. This would not have been fun on a hot, humid summer day.

With the dry, dry weather in the Midwest, the marshland is drying up. The interpretative signs along the trail explain this 1100 acre marshland is critically important. It holds water during flood season and releases it during the dry parts of the year. But because of the extreme dryness, this marsh is nearly dry.

I did find something on the trail that was entertaining.

This is a bit hard to read. It says" 50 kinds of laundry powder, 2 political parties, seems legit!" I think I would have written legit?

I did find a bit of water to produce a couple of nice reflection pictures.

The route ended in the UW-LaCrosse campus and I was directed to the clock tower to find the name as proof I was really there. I got to the clock about 11:57 AM so sat down to see if anything interesting happened at 12 noon. When the time past I started walking only to hear the clock begin to do its thing a few minutes after 12:00.

Now I was directed back towards the business district to walk along Cass Street where there are houses built in the late 19th century by the "prominent" families of LaCrosse. It is indeed a wonderful collection of old houses.

And at last I came to a restaurant. Since it was 12:45 and I had walked 10K I was very glad to see it. There is a bottling plant for Pepsi in LaCrosse, so that was only choice. I had not seen the glass below for a very long time anywhere else.

Really enjoyed this walk. Hope you enjoyed seeing LaCrosse. One really learns and sees a lot by walking.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Adventures Along the River

Today is one of the days when the garage gets cleaned in the building in which I live. We must have our cars out of the garage between 8:30 AM - 6:30 PM for this. I decided this was a perfect day to take myself out for breakfast. I went to Panera and cashed in one of the "surprises" on MyPanera account. It was great fun to sit there, drinking coffee and reading.

Took myself home and packed a bag. Carried it all to where I had parked my car on the street. Up the hill I went to a parking ramp. Then I walked to the Traveler's Insurance building to attend a scholarship luncheon for my university. Traveler's is a great partner for our university.

This was my first time on the plaza outside the building.

Standing there I got a new view of the cathedral.

There is a lovely monument on the plaza, but I don't know why it is a Braille Monument. There is no sign on the plaza that tells one about the monument, nor the does an Internet search reveal anything about the monument.

Standing on the plaza I also got a view of window in the Roy Wilkins Auditorium that I've never before noticed.

I jumped in the car and in a bit more than 2 hours found myself in LaCrosse, WI.

Staying right along the Mississippi River.

I have come here to do the volksmarch.

Walked down to the start point to pick up the maps of the routes so I can decide about whether to do a 5 K or 11K walk.

Found two very interesting buildings on my way.

The first is the Mons Anderson House.

This house was built by a Norwegian immigrant in the mid 1860s. It has had many different uses including being a YWCA and now appears to be a restaurant. It is now on the National Historic Register.

Then I found this building.

The medallion on the top of the building says USWB. USWB? What's that? I walked up on the porch and discovered this was a Weather Bureau building when it was built in 1907.

And look at this great mail box.

Now to see what tomorrow brings on a walk about!