Monday, October 21, 2013

A Lovely Weekend Along the River

In this part of the world, "the river" means the Mississippi River. Friends who live in Winona, a place I lived in the mid-1970s -- a time my children call the "dark ages" invited me for the weekend.

I thought I would sleep late on Friday and then be on my way. Much to my surprise, suddenly I had a conference call at noon on Friday. This had been proposed as a date, but never confirmed by the originator of the call. On Thursday night I sent an e-mail saying I thought no news must be bad news -- meaning the others were unavailable. I got back a very panicky answer saying the call was still scheduled. So at noon I was on the phone at the faculty development office at this university where I have emerita status. This was done in about 30 minutes and then I was on my way down the river. Google Maps sent me on Highway 61-Highway 10 down the river. I exited on Jamaica Avenue in one of the southern suburbs to get gas and also look for a place to get a bite of lunch. No luck finding a place for lunch, or at least I wasn't hungry enough to think Taco John's was a good choice!

Taking off from the gas station I went down a small road for a distance and then Google maps routed me down river on Wisconsin Highway 35. That was fine with me for I hadn't been on the road for a long time. The views were beautiful. After about 45 minutes I turned on Highway 63 and went west across the river to Red Wing, with lunch in mind.

I parked my car and walked to the edge of the parking area to get a view of the American Queen which was in port there.

Then I turned the opposite way and walked through a charming square.

This area has three charming sculptures, but alas no information about the artist.

I headed for the St. James Hotel.

Inside I admired the "Old Lobby."

I went to the new lobby and was told that all the restaurants had just closed at 2:00. The Brick House restaurant across the street was recommended to me.

I walked in there at 2:15 in the afternoon and was surprised to find all the tables full. I found the very last table with two chairs way back in one corner.

The restaurant was charming and the food was good!

This restaurant will stay on my list of restaurants to visit again.

Walking back to my car I enjoyed the street decorations.

As I continued down the river on the Minnesota side I found a good place to pull off the road and take a couple of photos of the area called Lake Pepin. Here the river becomes much wider. This is caused by the entry of rivers from the Wisconsin side which over the centuries have dropped silt which created a natural dam forcing the river behind to become different.

 I got to Winona a bit after 4:00 and my friend and I retired to her sun room for drinks and conversation. Later we went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for supper. I really wasn't very hungry after having lunch in the middle of the afternoon. Most of my entree was carried home in a box. My friend froze it and now it's my freezer for some other day.

We stayed up talking until after midnight. The next morning when I woke up I was astonished to see the clock said 10 AM. I didn't feel so bad after I found out my friends slept in until 9!

After breakfast in the late morning we headed across the river to the Sacia Orchard. I got some Cortland apples and a jar of apple butter.

Apple Tasting Table
Then we headed down river to Trempealeau, WI. This is a town of about 1500 located right on the river next to Lock and Dam # 6. We discovered a historic sign that said the Great River Road in this area were the first miles of a roadway that now extends from the start of the river in Lake Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota and all the way down to New Orleans.

We stopped for lunch at "the hotel" as my friend called it. This was a new place to me.

My friend asked for a table on the porch. We enjoyed lunch while overlooking the train tracks and the river. My friend said there would be a train every 15 minutes -- well perhaps, more frequently, because we saw five while having our lunch. And we saw a very unusual barge go by -- one was built to transport liquids of some kind. I've never seen one like that on the river around where I live, and the wait staff in the hotel, who must see many barges go by every day, said it was very unusual. My photo below is not the best.

We drove back to Winona with rain for about 10 minutes and then sun for a bit and then back to rain. I thought there should be a rainbow and then we found it. Since I was a passenger I could take photos galore. Here's one.

My friends told me the American Queen would be stopping in Winona on Sunday. That really surprised me since I had found it going upstream in Red Wing on Friday, but there it was on Sunday afternoon. I've seen this boat many times here in Saint Paul but the vantage points are much better in Winona.

I didn't crop out the car in the foreground, for I thought that helped us to understand how to large the American Queen is.

By the time we arrived a the Levee the passengers had left the boat and boarded buses to attend a concert in a museum elsewhere in Winona.

The buses surprised me because I've never seen them in Saint Paul. Here passengers leave the boat by taxi to either hotels or the airport, and board the boat in an opposite fashion.

In the late afternoon I headed back to Saint Paul, but did stop for a couple of minutes at Lock and Dam # 5.

I picked up a brochure here that explained this lock was built in 1935 and renovated in 1998. The brochure explains that 12 million tons of cargo grow through the lock every year along with about  9000 recreational, pleasure boats.

It was a great weekend!

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