Monday, September 30, 2013

Top-Down Road Trip: The Great River Road

This past week we took an overnight trip along Wisconsin's Great River Road.  We've been taking late summer or early fall drives along the Mississippi almost as long as we've been married, and the scenery never disappoints.  

One of our favorite places to eat on these trips is the Harbor View Cafe, in Pepin.  The place is always busy; I suspect it is a favorite of lots of Twin Cities folks as well.  The menu changes daily, and is posted on a tall chalk board behind the bar.  There are usually several seafood options, some red meat and chicken, and vegetarian choices.  My stuffed risotto fritters with roasted vegetables tasted as good as they look.

Another of my favorite places is the tiny village of Stockholm.  There are several galleries, a pub, and a nice park on Lake Pepin.  We stopped so I could poke around in a gallery/home furnishing place called Abode, and later I spotted this man working in his little garden between two shops.

We like to take little side trips, and explore out of the way places.  Alma, a charming river town with a lock and dam, is fine, but the view from Buena Vista Park, high on the bluffs over the Mississippi.  This photo captures the view fairly well.

We stayed one night in Trempealeau; this photo was taken from our balcony in a mom and pop motel with great views of the river, and of all the freight trains that follow it.  The trains are fun to watch, though once or twice they sounded like they were headed right into our room during the night.  Still, trains are part of the experience.  Their whistles echo weirdly between the coulees, and over the water.

We hadn't been to Grandad's Bluff Park overlooking LaCrosse, in years, but we heard that the park and visitor's center had been renovated, so we took a side trip to see.  The whole area is beautiful, and is now handicapped accessible, with good places to sit, and safe railings.  With views like this, it's no wonder that the spot has been popular for so long.

A few weeks ago I watched a Wisconsin Public Television documentary about the state's rustic roads.  That sent me to the internet to find maps, and to the library for a book about the rustic roads program.  It turns out that Wisconsin has 114 beautiful rural roads designated as rustic, covering over 600 miles.  These are roads that are preserved for their beauty, and many are narrow, hilly, filled with twists and turns, tree lined, and dotted with scenery that has not changed for many many years.  I took this photo on Rustic Road 70 in Grant County, through the windshield of our convertible, and even though there is some dash reflection, I think the beauty of the road shows clearly.   Sometimes the fun is mostly in the journey, isn't it?

1 comment:

JoAnn said...

Great post and pics