Days Gone By

There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot
be realized until personal experience has brought it home.
– John Stuart Mill

In an attempt to organize photo albums in Lightroom, I ran across a few that I have not reviewed.  The images published today are from back-roading in the charming area surrounding our home, Southeast MN and Southwest WI.  Working on these images brought back wonderful memories and will display buildings that are not standing any longer.

For instance, the images of the one room school house in Elgin, MN seen below, is no longer standing.  Visit an earlier post from 2014: When the School Bell Rang

The next couple of images are views seen around our area due to Frac Sand Mining.  I still remember passing by the beautiful trees, hills, and marshes, when all of a sudden we ran into a large mound of golden sand.  Thankfully, the Frac Sand Mining industry here in our area is dying down.

While we are blessed to share our lives now with “the new kids” on the block, Clover and Lucy, we will forever miss the two inseparable, mischievous, opportunists we called Tindra and Audrey.

Enjoy the sights from this day as we traveled the small towns and dirt roads.

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I See Fields of Green

Recognizing that our country is losing its natural landscapes, Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes founded an organization in 1982 to protect and preserve North America’s native plants and natural landscapes.  The organization opened a new facility southwest of Austin TX in 1994, now named Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center after the former First Lady. The wildflower center is devoted to help preserve and restore the beauty of North America.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-8204

The Center’s many gardens display the native plants of the Central Texas Hill Country, South, and West Texas, while the Plant Conservation Program protects by conserving its rare and endangered flora. One out of every five plant species in the world is threatened by development, invasive species, climate change or other factors. The centers core principles are in set place for plant conservation by developing botanical expertise, partnering with the public and private landowners, educating and training Texas Master Naturalists, Seed collecting and banking, identification and control of invasive plant species, and conservation research on rare and endangered plant species.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center-8084

Not only was this one of my favorite albums to post process, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the center as we walked along the paths that highlighted the beauty this land has to offer. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers a little bit of something to everyone.

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope”
~Lady Bird Johnson

A Time to Love

After leaving the Badlands, Dan and I (along with Tindra) spent the next few days in and around Custer, SD.  This was Tindra’s last trip with us and we were so grateful that we had this time with her. The magical views of the Black Hills National Forest never do get old.  The Black Hills get their name from the Lakota Sioux, “Paha Sapa”, meaning the hills are black. From a distance, the hills of this area do appear black due to the towering Ponderosa Pine forest; however, up close, these forests are teeming with color.

Needles Highway is another favorite of mine. Completed in 1922, the highway is named after the needle-like granite rock formations that were carved over many years by erosion.  Such beauty is found in this area and surprises are noticed around every turn.

We camped out for the week, but decided to move into a log cabin when a snow storm hit the area leaving 3-4” of the fluffy white stuff.  The snow blanketed the Pines in the Black Hills creating a peacefulness that I will never forget…  A Time to Love.

Badlands National Park, SD

Badlands National Park: The Lakota named this land “Mako Sica”, meaning “land bad”;

Badlands National Park

The park consists of roughly 244,000 acres of prairie grass mixed with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.  Looking out over the sometimes lunar landscape, it is desolation at its best… You can look for miles and see no sign of civilization.  Despite the solitude, the land has been so ravaged by the elements it has become quite stunning. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash). These striking geologic deposits also contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds; prehistoric bones are still being uncovered today by park officials.

I cannot even tell you how many times Dan and I drove the 30-mile Badlands Loop, how many times we stopped to hike the trails to absorb the surrounding beauty, or view the abundance of wildlife that roam the park’s boundaries. We stayed in the area for 2 days and with each entrance into Badlands National Park, we encountered something new and exciting.

If ever in the area, stop in at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center situated near Cedar Pass Lodge to learn more about what the park has to offer.

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.

Off the Beaten Path

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

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.