October Surprise


Watching the leaves float on the wind as they drop one by one to the ground and viewing the beautiful colors that dot the landscape, is just a couple reasons why Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota.  It was a beautiful Fall day that pulled us both outside; breathing in the crisp cool air that this season brings is what we both needed. The vibrant colors, the personality of “Mr. Ed”, and the travels to and from Minneapolis was just another day to add in the banks of my mind. Take a journey with us as we show you some highlights of the day.

E.T. Phone Home


About 60 miles east of downtown St. Paul, MN lies a small rural town named Elmwood, WI.  Dan and I have traveled through this small town many times on our photography excursions. As with any small town, there is some story that surrounds the town history.  Elmwood, WI has its own special history and it has to deal with little green men and shiny round discs. The town is the home of several reported UFO sightings since the 1970s and embraces its otherworldly connection. In 1978, the town started celebrating UFO days; at that same time, the UFO sightings stopped.  The annual celebration includes food and beer tents, a UFO medallion hunt, and a parade.  For more information surrounding the UFO sightings in the 1970s, please visit UFO Evidence.  As always, in Elmwood, WI all are welcome (human and aliens alike).

Please enjoy the images from in and around this small rural community.

Southwestern MN

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5884

Charles Bennett and Daniel Sweet founded Pipestone, MN in 1876.  By 1890, Pipestone had train service on four different rail lines and had become a travel and business center hub for southwestern Minnesota.  A lot of the buildings within the city are constructed with local Sioux quartzite. The county courthouse, built in 1899, is made from this stone and is considered the most stylized of the quartzite buildings located in the city. It is rectangular in shape with a 110-ft clock tower topped with a dome and a statue of Lady Justice.

Pipestone county courthouseHistoric American Buildings Survey, HABS MINN,59-PISTO,1-E-1

Another building constructed with the Sioux quartzite stone is Moore Block which was built in 1896.  This 25 foot by 85 foot building was built by Leon H. Moore, a local businessman who owned and operated a Sioux quartzite quarry. One of the more distinctive features of this building are the gargoyles that embellish the north and west facades.
Pipestone MN-5931Within the grounds of the Hiawatha Pageant, the”Song of the Hiawatha” was performed for the last time in 2008 due to the lack of volunteers, funding, and attendance. For 60 years, busloads of tourists were brought to this small town in Southwest MN.

Hiawatha Pageant grounds-5737

After exploring Pipestone, we decided to make our way to Blue mounds State Park. It was a gorgeous, although hot day when we decided to venture out on the hiking trails.  Usually, before visiting a park, we do our research and know the terrain so we are prepared for what comes our way.  This day, we were not prepared and unknown to us, we were about to embark on a 13 mile hike.  Not a problem, but when you are not dressed or prepared for the occasion, it can become difficult.  I remember falling many times due to the slippery shoes I had on my feet, at one point in time- right in a small stream.  Saving my camera came first so my body took the brunt of the fall.  I appreciate Dan not laughing at the time as I’m not sure I could have contained my laughter.  We eventually came up to the visitor’s center where I washed up and we both grabbed some water to quench our thirst. I would like to revisit that state park and come prepared.  Blue Mound State Park has a lot to offer such as one of the last remnants of preserved native prairie, the Sioux quartzite cliffs, wildflowers and cactus, Buffalo, and bird watching.

Blue Mound Pano-5997

Traveling in the Southwestern portion of the state gave way to many interesting finds, as our travels always do.  According to Wikipedia, “this region is a transition zone between the prairies and the Great Plains”.  From hiking trails found in Blue Mounds State Park and appreciating the landscape, to exploring southwestern cities such as Luverne, Marshall, and Pipestone to absorb the history and architecture, we stumbled upon many surprises along the way that of course we had to capture.

Pipestone National Monument

Pipestone National Monument-5772

“For countless generations, American Indians have quarried the red pipestone found at this site. These grounds are sacred to many people because the pipestone quarried here is carved into pipes used for prayer. Many believe that the pipe’s smoke carries one’s prayer to the Great Spirit. The traditions of quarrying and pipemaking continue here today.”                                                                    Source: National Park Service

Dan and I enjoyed our hike on the well groomed trails and visiting the quarry itself. As you walk the trails you encounter cloth ties on trees and rocks; the ties represent a prayer or an offering and are placed here for spiritual purposes.  While visiting the center and the daily demonstrations of pipestone carving, we met and visited with the talented Travis Erickson. Travis is a fourth generation self-taught artist who learned the basic techniques from his mother and other male elders.  The grounds and the trails are wonderful to explore, so full of history and tradition.

For more information please visit : National Park Service, Pipestone National Monument, MN

When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.
-Black Elk

Off the Beaten Path

Blue Mound-5663-

When Dan and I travel, we rarely take the direct route.  Venturing off the beaten path is where the fun is.  On this particular trip, the end goal was Pipestone, MN which is located at the very Southwestern corner of MN.  There were many towns along the way that we made a mental note to stop back and explore further at a later date and time.  A few mentionable towns we decided, for some reason or another, to stop in were Gibbon and Walnut Grove MN.

To Pipestone we go

As we traveled through Gibbon, MN a few of the business caught our eye and seemed to bring us back to another point in time. Gibbon Village Hall is an extremely interesting building;  the unusual building was built in 1895 with medieval-themed Romanesque Revival architecture.  We also took some time out of our travels to walk into Bad Dog Antiques and Other Attractions and were pleasantly surprised.  What a very interesting and unique store… I am still kicking myself for not purchasing the complete antique set of alphabet wooden blocks!  If ever in the area, stop in and chat with the friendly staff. To see more images from Gibbon, MN take the time to view Dan’s blog, “Gibbon, MN/MN South Central”.

Located in the Southwest corner of Redwood County, Lies a small town called Walnut Grove.  Walnut Grove is known nationwide today as the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Every year, the town holds a Wilder Pageant which is an outdoor drama based of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although there are no pictures of the historical site in this blog, I remember visiting the banks of Plum creek often as a child since my grandmother lived and taught school in a small town located east of this area in Lamberton.

What is Good for the Goose

Lake Pepin Drive-5554

On this day, Dan and I decided to take a short trip and venture down to Reads Landing in Southeast MN.  We followed the mighty Mississippi as it twists southbound from Red Wing; our first stop was a small beach in Old Frontenac.

This small town was originally established in 1857 with the name Westervelt, the name changed in 1860 to Frontenac by brothers who owned large tracts of land in the area.  At that time, Frontenac soon began to attract wealthy residents and became a community of summer homes with Lakeside views of Lake Pepin.  Frontenac is indeed a beautiful little town, we visit Frontenac State Park often and will stop by the little beach on occasion.  On this day, the girls had fun in the sun and sand.

Frontenac Map

Heading south on Hwy 61, our next stop was Lake City.  We did not stay long but had enough time to walk the marina to see the sails that are waiting for warmer weather.

Lake City Map

Our final destination was Reads Landing, MN and Reads Landing Brewing Company.  Originally founded in the mid 1800’s, Reads Landing soon grew to a major river town located at the mouth of Lake Pepin.  In the late 1880’s the town began decline and most businesses relocated to Wabasha.  Interesting fact:  According to Wikipedia, “At one time Reads Landing was considered a possible site for the Minnesota State Capital.”  Although there is not much left in Reads Landing, it is home to Reads Landing Brewing Company.  I would recommend a stop in to try some of their hometown craft brew and a snack.

Reads Landing Map

The birds were out, the sun was shining, and we all had such a wonderful time making memories that will last a lifetime.

The Pasque Flower

River Terrace wildflower walk-0142-Edit


The Pasque Flower
Genus: Anemone
Species: patens

The Pasque flower is plentiful in the wild. It can be seen any where from northwest U.S. to northern Alaska, and is the state flower of South Dakota. In Red Wing, MN we mainly notice these plants growing in the bare and sometimes rocky ground of the bluffs surrounding this area. The flower is found close to the ground among the old grasses of last year. It’s lavender petals and leaves are covered in fine silky hairs, which help to insulate it in the sometimes cold temperatures of Spring in the north. The flower is a welcome sight that triggers the notion of warmer days ahead.