A couple of extra vacation days and a forecast for sunshine sent me to Minnesota’s eastern boundary last weekend to admire the beauty along the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers.
I know I’ve said it before, but I just love this time of year. The variety of maples, combined with the river bluffs, made for spectacular views on a journey that included my parents and eight-year-old niece, Katie.
My Kindle was charged and ready to keep the little girl happy on the road trip, and Greta Garmin was programmed to lead us northeasterly to my favorite needlework shop on the western edge of the Twin Cities. From there, we wove through traffic across the metropolis to Stillwater.
The premise for the trip was to visit a little shop in one of Minnesota’s oldest towns — Kathe Wohlfahrt. My mom and I visited the Christmas shop by the same name while in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, in July. Little did we know then that there is one Kathe Wohlfahrt shop in all of North America, and it’s just a few hours’ drive from home.
While the Stillwater shop is much smaller than the one we spent more than an hour in while in Germany, it was neat to see so many of the same ornaments. Still, Mom and I found extra-special trinkets that will garner prominent placement on each of our Christmas trees for years to come.
Day two took us through a couple of Wisconsin towns — including Ellsworth. Since Katie attends school in southwest Minnesota’s town by the same name, we had to snap pictures of her standing by the city’s population sign, boasting nearly 3,000 more residents than our Ellsworth; along with another sign declaring Ellsworth, Wis., as the Cheese Curd Capital of the World. Unfortunately, we did not find any cheese curd shops on our brief jaunt through town.
A quick stop at the Red Wing Shoe Factory back on the Minnesota side of the river left Katie in awe as we admired a giant leather boot — Size 638.5 D — to fit a giant of a man, the sign exclaimed. We also strolled along the riverfront at Red Wing before getting back into the Buick and heading toward Wabasha.
While you may remember the Grumpy Old Men movies were filmed here, the town is also home to the National Eagle Center — a new addition since the last time I visited this Mississippi River town.
The center’s exhibits and programs held appeal for all of us — the greatest being our front-row seats to hear about the center’s five eagles, the wing injuries that have left them incapable of being returned to the wild, and the habitat and environment that draws them to the river at Wabasha by the hundreds each winter.
The featured eagle for the program we attended was Angel, but we learned the favorite among frequent visitors to the center is Harriet, the eagle who suffers from a bad hair day every day due to the injuries she suffered when she was struck by a vehicle.
Harriet was the model for Minnesota’s Support our Troops license plate. Thanks to a little airbrushing, she will always have a good hair day for the people who see her outside of the center.
I will think of her, and our great little get-away when I see that majestic eagle on license plates from now on.
With a forecast calling for warmer temps through next week, here’s hoping you have some time to get outside — perhaps take a little road trip — and enjoy these wonderful fall days.
** Click on the photo to enlarge the image.