By the time I got back to the room Bob was awake and getting dressed. The two of us returned to the lobby and had the somewhat-better-than-average free hotel breakfast. Our day's agenda was pretty loose and it was well after 9 am by the time we finished eating and checked out of our room.
While Bob had enjoyed watching sports on TV the night before, I had spent time on TripAdvisor researching some options for the second day of our road trip. This was so different from how I usually approached trip planning. Normally I would have had a detailed itinerary planned far in advance. But this time it was nice to just "go with the flow" and see where the day would lead us!
We began by driving to the Garvin Heights Park on a bluff overlooking the city of Winona. With a little color here and there, the view was quite beautiful. Lake Winona borders the city on the western side and the Mississippi River to the east. In the distance we could see the bridge leading across the river to Wisconsin.
|Good morning, Winona!|
One of the TripAdvisor "things to do" in Winona was a visit to the Watkins Store and Museum. We arrived at 9:50 and discovered it wasn't opening until 10 am and didn't feel like it was enough of a priority to even wait 10 more minutes. Changing our focus, we spent some time driving around the town and checking out the campus of Winona State University. The city is the county seat of Winona County and we drove by the castle-like courthouse.
|On the other side of the Mississippi River is Wisconsin.|
Shortly after crossing over to the Wisconsin side of the river, we stopped at Lock and Dam No. 5. We parked and walked down to water's edge and watched as a boat went through the locks on the far side.
Heading north on Route 35, our next stop was at Lock and Dam No. 4 in the tiny town of Alma. This time the locks were on our side of the river. It would have been fun to see a barge go through the locks, but who knows how long we would have been waiting. There was an elevated walkway above the railroad tracks to get to the locks and reviews I read said it was quite a rush to be standing on the open grate walkway when a train passed by underneath!
|Just a smaller version of the Panama Canal!|
|Walkway above the railroad tracks.|
|Every town needs a claim to fame!|
It was a little out of our way, but we drove north 7 miles past the town of Pepin to reach the Little House Wayside. The wayside is on the plot of land where Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1867. The site contains a replica of the cabin that Laura described in the book "Little House in the Big Woods."
|The room on the right was the pantry and the bedroom on the left |
was where all five members of the family slept.
|Photo on display inside the cabin.|
The area was a dense forest when Wilder was born, but now is surrounded by farmland. Bob wandered in to the corn field which looked a bit like a scene from "Field of Dreams!"
|Is this heaven? No, its Wisconsin.|
Rushing through lunch, we made it just it time to the National Eagle Center to attend their 1:00 pm classroom program. An "eagle ambassador" shared many facts about eagles and then gave us an up-close chance to see one of the birds feeding.
|The National Eagle Center looks out over the Mississippi River.|
|The bird was quite excited to get a yummy snack of raw meat.|
|The birds that are in the Eagle Center have been rescued and|
are not able to live in the wild. The one we saw being fed had lost
it's left eye and was not able to see well enough to hunt.
Following the program we wandered around the center looking at the two floors of exhibits and then made a pass through the gift shop.
|An eagle's nest on display. It was huge! Some nests weight up to two tons!|
A rare, strange bird had landed in this nest while we were there. 😅
The National Eagle Center is located on the banks of the Mississippi. Outside is a statue of Chief Wapasha, whom the city is named for.
Wabasha was celebrating "Septoberfest" and the whole city was decorated with pumpkins and all things fall-ish. One of the employees at the eagle center suggested we walk down the street to where huge pumpkins were on display under the bridge.
|A pumpkin the size of our La-Z-Boy recliners!|
|Each pumpkin had the weight and the name of the grower written on it.|
Some were over 1,000 pounds!
Leaving Wabasha, we drove up Minnesota Route 61 along the shores of Lake Pepin...a beautiful lake formed by the Mississipi River and known as the birthplace of water skiing. The final stop on our two-day tour was in the city of Red Wing. The town is home to the manufacturers of two products that bear the name of the city...Red Wing Pottery and Red Wing Shoes. We opted to walk through the Red Wing Pottery Museum but will have to return some other time to view the world's largest boot which is on display at the Red Wing Shoe Store and Museum. (FYI...it is a size 638 1/2 D...16 feet tall, 20 feet long and weighs over a ton!) Don't you just love stuff like this!
|I have a couple of these Red Wing crocks that I use as flower pots in the summer.|
We had to face the reality that our trip...and the nice weather...were coming to an end as we reached the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Clouds were rolling in, the wind was starting to blow and to make matters worse, we had to deal with rush hour traffic through the city.
Going through the Twin Cities wasn't the most direct way to get home, but it was the best way because it took us straight to our son's house west of the city and gave us a chance to see our grand-kids!! We enjoyed a delicious dinner that my son had cooked (he has become quite the chef!) and then spent the night. The next morning we woke up to rain which continued all during our drive home and into the next day...and now has turned into a full day of snow.
After our little trip I realized that I get so focused on our big trips that I forget to take time to enjoy the sites close to home! Hopefully there will be more of these shorter road trips in our future!!