Thursday, September 21, 2017

Scenes from the North

Our cruise on the beautiful Upper Mississippi took us to Stillwater, MN, on the St. Croix River. Along they way we connected with Gold Loopers Ken and Pat on 20 Buck$ in Wabasha. They introduced us to 2 really good restaurants- Stacy's Kitchen for breakfast and Olde Triangle Irish Pub. We cruised through Lake Pepin and on to Red Wing, their home port. We can recommend the pizza at Red Wing Brewery!

We said good-bye to Ken and Pat and continued upriver after breakfast at Bev's Cafe. After transiting Lock 3 we turned up the St. Croix River, which here becomes the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin, and continued about 24 miles upriver to Stillwater, the first capital of Minnesota. We spent a night on the free municipal dock with our Gold Looper friends Clay and Sally and their guest Caroline on SasSea Sally. Mark's cousin Janet and her husband Ralph drove over from their home in Roseville to have dinner with us at the Dock restaurant.

We were in Stillwater just one night, but we had plenty of time to check out the local shops. The River Market was closeby and is much like the Pioneer Food Co-op we know in Iowa City- lots of local, organic produce and meat, a bakery and deli, etc.

We then moved just 5 miles or so to Bayport to enjoy a relaxing "down" day to to laundry and relax. What a beautiful marina!

Next stop, Red Wing again. SasSea Sally caught up with us and we shared dock tails and dinner at Kelly's Tap and Grill. Their claim to fame is their location on highway 61 and the 61 beers they have on tap. 

Mara Beel is now in Wabasha. We were so impressed by the National Eagle Center here that we became members today. This facility does an amazing job of treating injured eagles and housing those that are unable to live in the wild, and educating visitors about these majestic birds. We caught the 3 pm feeding for 2 of the birds- lovely dead rats! Good thing we ate lunch first! We really like Wabasha. It has shops and restaurants within easy walking distance of the marina, the eagle center, and lovely bike and walking paths,

Stillwater- Can you spot our tiny boat? Hint: we have a dark blue hull. Our friends are in the white trawler next to  us.

The famous boat houses of Red Wing

There's light up ahead.

It's Septoberfest in Wabasha, MN

These folks are scattered around downtown Wabasha.
The National Eagle Center at Wabasha

Columbia, hit by a car while feeding on a dead deer. 
Donald, a Golden Eagle from California, whose wing was broken when he was hit by a car.
Things we didn't know:
  • Eagles can see a rabbit 3 miles away
  • Their eyes are so large they can't move them- they must move their heads
  • Eagles have 7,000 feathers
  • It is illegal to own an eagle feather

Chief Wapasha

Mark and Friar Tree
The good friar's expression is a bit wooden

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Cruising on "Our" River

We are re-enacting a cruise we took on our 24-foot Sea Ray in 1987. At that time our boys were 6 and 7 1/2 and were super excited to be exploring the Upper Mississippi on the boat we had owned for a month or two. It was a memory making trip for sure! This time it's just the two of us on our Ranger Tug- only our second cruise on this boat. We are still getting used to the feel and sounds of her.

We left from Guttenberg on September 14 and are headed to Stillwater, MN,  on the St. Croix River.
The trees are already showing some color!
Jonathan Erickson near McGregor, IA

Our first day of travel included 2 locks and about 82 miles, to La Crosse, WI. We stayed at the Pettibone Boat Club and enjoyed dinner at their excellent restaurant. We even met some Gold Loopers on their way south.

Near Marquette, Iowa

Saw LOTS of these.
The bluffs along the Upper Mississippi - the Driftless Region- are as spectacular as we remembered.

This Nativity scene is perched high on a Wisconsin bluff.

Day 2 took us from La Crosse to Winona, MN. We seemed to play tag with a group of towboats along the way and waited an hour or more at both Lock 7 and Lock 6. That's the way it goes on the river.  Fortunately the locks alternate recreational vessels with tows so we never have to wait for more than one towboat, even though several may be waiting to lock through.

Waiting for Lock 7 with Brooke McKenzie near La Crescent, MN

Waiting for Lock 6 at Trempealeau, WI.
We arrived in Winona in time to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, which is currently exhibiting the Mississippi River Photo Shootout Juried exhibition. Since I won 2nd prize in this event last year, Mark insisted we go take a look. The marina guy assured us the museum was an easy 1-mile walk. Apparently they measure distance differently in Minnesota. After walking a mile Mark's GPS said we still had 1.5 miles to go in the 91 degree heat. We stopped in a hardware store to make sure we were on the right track, which we were. But the final leg of the walk was along a busy highway with a narrow shoulder. I was not excited about getting hit by a car to see a photograph that hangs in my family room, so we went back to the hardware store to call a taxi. At that point, a gentleman working in the store offered to drive us to the museum- an offer we gladly accepted.

The museum itself is impressive! Their focus is on art inspired by water. In addition to the traveling Mississippi River exhibit, their permanent collection includes works by Renoir, Picasso, Manet, Monet, Degas, Whistler, and many other well-known artists. My photograph, however, was not in the same gallery as those! It was fun to see it hanging in a museum. We perused the entire facility and then decided to call a taxi or Uber. As luck would have it, both are non-existent here. Another couple was leaving at the same time, and after hearing us brace ourselves for the long, hot walk back to the marina, they loaded us into their open Jeep and drove us back to our boat! After all the kindness we encountered here, I guess I will have to stop telling Minnesota jokes!